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Micro part specialist delivers micro-acoustic application success

Tecan : 22 June, 2004  (New Product)
Enhancing its growing reputation as a world leader, micro-part specialist Tecan has highlighted its Photo ElectroForming expertise with the development and delivery of a customised micro-acoustic mesh device for a major OEM.
The design, joint-development and delivery of the new device typify the company's understanding of materials and manufacturing capabilities to cost-effectively produce leading-edge, fit-for-purpose micro-parts for the most demanding applications.

Originally, the third-party OEM had been buying 'standard' electroformed sheet mesh and using it to fabricate individual micro-acoustic baffles. Each cone-shaped part had to be fabricated by bending to shape individual cut-out blanks using fabrication tooling. The standard of the single-thickness sheet originally used was so inconsistent that yields were as poor as 60%. Tecan was convinced it could produce better results and offered the company a free R&D feasibility study of the problem.

What resulted, was a new mesh with far higher repeatability and yield percentages of up to 90%. The individual baffles however, were still being fabricated as folded metal parts, albeit being a significantly improved process, the single-thickness sheet was still time consuming, fiddly and so prone to defect.

In a second breakthrough, it was Tecan's ability to electroform fine metal sheets, with a multi-level cross section, which produced the most significant next-generation solution. Following in-depth meetings a radical new design was conceived - to directly electroform the individual parts in a single operation. Using the high-accuracy process, the parts are now produced, many hundred fold, as break-off parts supplied on a single sheet. The new all-in-one part significantly exceeds the original specification. It is cost-effective, consistently accurate, quick and easy to assemble and offers optimum yields.

'One of the greatest benefits to our customers, is the increasing appreciation of the capabilities available to their designers as they liaise with our own', said Noel Cherowbrier, Tecan's, USA based VP of International Development. 'Designers are now realising that we can make micro-metal parts with more exacting designs and tighter tolerances than they ever realised was traditionally achievable. Extremely sophisticated three-dimensional parts are now being conceived as OEM engineers and designers think laterally with the wider technology envelope available to them, through the traditional 'X/Y' axis, and now through exploitation of the 'Z' axis too.'

The company can produce prototype, low- and high-volume micro-parts with features down to 2 microns, with sub-micron accuracy. Parts can have multi-level profiles with high aspect ratios and with mesh apertures down to 2 microns. The company also manufactures sieves to the highly-demanding ASTM 161-E standard.
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