Electroforming | Laser Evolved Electroforming
Conventional photo electroforming is an advanced method of creating components by electro-deposition (electroplating). By introducing Advanced Laser Direct Imaging (LDI) into the process route, Precision Micro's engineers have lifted accuracy and repeatability to new levels.
Components are grown on a mandrel, typically from nickel, although other metals can be used. A photo resist is applied to the mandrel and the component shape is exposed and developed. Where the photo resist has been removed, the component will "grow" molecule by molecule. The majority of components are made from hard nickel and have a highly polished surface, whereas the use of soft nickel produces a rougher surface that offers higher optical absorption.
Using Advanced LDI
The limitation of the conventional electroforming process is the accuracy and precision of the component image generated into the photo resist. The use of Advanced LDI in our LEEF process generates outstanding detail and crisp images, to exceptionally tight tolerances. This process enables a far higher feature density than can be achieved with single point machining technologies.
Advanced LDI has been used at the forefront of electronics manufacture for a number of years. Precision Micro is thought to be the first company to combine this 'high end' LDI technology within the electroforming process.
The adoption of LDI not only redefines the minimum feature size that electroforming can address, it has also brought dimensional and positional accuracy across large formats to new levels. (A four fold improvement in pitch accuracy across an 800mm x 600mm sheet has been achieved.)
The surface finish of the product replicates the finish on the mandrel on which it is ‘grown’, enabling a wide variety of surfaces to be produced and replicated accurately. The surface finish on the growth side (non-mandrel side) very much depends on the material being electroformed. Harder materials produce mirror-like finishes whereas softer materials produce duller surfaces.