Additive manufacturing is fast emerging as a buzzword. You sure have heard how it is revolutionizing the way in which organizations are able to design and manufacture their products. However, what exactly is additive manufacturing and is it right for your electronics PCB assembly? If these are some of the questions in your mind, here are all the details you need to know.
Simply put, Additive manufacturing is the process of using 3D data to make objects. This is as opposed to the traditional subtractive process where the entire surface of PCB is plated with copper and is etched away from the areas where it is not needed. In PCB electronics manufacturing, the importance of additive manufacturing especially lies in creating complex parts. Little surprise then that it with many advantages including but not limited to:
- Flexibility of design
- Improved speed
- Waste reduction, and more.
Advantages of PCB Electronics Assembly in some degree of detail:
Flexible Printed Circuit Board Design
When it comes to traditional manufacturing, you tend to face a whole lot of roadblocks especially with complicated and intricate designs. With miniaturization on the rise, this issue is only going to go up. 3D printing frees you from these hassles, as it offers ease even with complicated designs.
High Speed PCB Design
With prototypes, speed is of essence. After all, improved time to market can be a major competitive advantage. Besides with prototypes, you also need to have the ability to make design modifications quickly so that you do not have to face costly errors at a later date. 3D printing offers these exact advantages. It allows you to make quick prototypes, as also make quick modifications.
Reduced need to stock inventory
With additive technology you could print on demand. What it means is that you need not stock products. This not only takes away many logistical hassles it also significantly lowers cost as you do not have to incur warehousing costs
It follows from the above that you have reduced material cost as well as reduced wastage, both of which add to the product efficiency significantly.
Low on weight
The added advantage with additive manufacturing is that it relies on usage of thermoplastics or polymer. Check out the guide How to enhance the efficiency of PCB Assembly Manufacturing.
While 3D printing comes with the above advantages, any change needs to be undertaken for the right reasons. It is, therefore, imperative that you keep the following issues in mind when opting for it:
- With 3D printing, you will have to make provision for some amount of post processing essentially to clean up the surface finish.
- Since additive manufacturing involves printing in layers, one has to be prepared for some amount of risk of breakage as there is fear of the layers coming apart.
- Ideally additive manufacturing is better suited to manufacturing with complex and intricate parts
- If your requirement is to produce in low volumes, 3D manufacturing offers a good alternative as opposed to traditional manufacturing.
- If you deal with high value items where smooth performance is an absolute non-compromisable, 3D printing works well
- 3D printing also reduces lead times considerably and hence is well suited for production where time-to-market is critical.
- If you require the product to be customized to your bespoke needs, once again you could benefit from 3D printing. Traditional manufacturing may not be in a position to offer you a whole lot of customization.
- Another major advantage with 3D printing is that it allows you to consolidate the number of parts. What this, in turn, means is that you stand to benefit in terms of cost. The added advantage also is that with fewer parts, the possibility of errors is that much less.
To sum up, while 3D printing offers a whole host of advantages, you need to evaluate your distinct requirements before you make the decision of opting for it. Your electronics manufacturing partner, on account of experience in dealing with such requirements will be in the best position to guide you through your decision-making process.
Technotronix is one of the leading printed circuit board manufacturers based in the USA. We have over 4 decades of experience in providing innovative PCB Assembly services using modern technologies and latest machinery. We are adhering to strict high-quality standards and compliant with the RoHS quality management system. We capable to fulfill the varied need of our customer from the simple board to the most complex board for PCB prototype to production.