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3D Systems Collaborates with TE Connectivity on Innovative Solution to Additively Manufacture Electrical Connectors

3D Systems has announced its collaboration with TE Connectivity, a world leader in connectors and sensors, to jointly develop an additive manufacturing solution to produce electrical connectors meeting stringent UL regulatory requirements.

3D Systems Collaborates with TE Connectivity on Innovative Solution to Additively Manufacture Electrical Connectors
  • Novel workflow enables production of end-use parts in weeks versus months without tooling investment
  • Unique photopolymer introduced with full UL recognition capable of meeting stringent connector application needs
  • First known 3D photopolymer to complete long-term thermal aging for electrical and mechanical relative thermal index (RTI) certification.

The solution comprising 3D Systems’ Figure 4® Modular, Figure 4 material, 3D Sprint® software, and services was designed to meet TE Connectivity’s unique requirements for material performance and high tolerance, reliable printing. The foundation of the solution is a newly developed photopolymer 3D Systems engineered specifically to meet TE Connectivity’s requirements. In addition to a world-class flammability rating at 0.4mm thickness, it is the first known printable photopolymer to complete a UL®-recognized long-term thermal aging (RTI) study.

This material combined with an optimized print process enables the necessary reliability and accuracy required for TE Connectivity’s products. Using 3D Systems’ Figure 4 technology, the combination of new material properties, speed, and accuracy allows the production of rugged industrial products for the first time, targeted at appliances, cellular and data-center applications. Additive manufacturing provides TE Connectivity freedom of design to create complex geometries that would be difficult to create using injection molding. It increases flexibility for low volume, quick turn production runs, and tooling avoidance, allowing TE to quickly demonstrate its capabilities and its customers to more efficiently meet demand.

3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) collaborated with TE Connectivity’s team to develop a full production workflow from design to a finished connector. The program included the development and UL certification of a new Figure 4 material. UL regulatory approval has been obtained, including UL94 V0 flame rating at 0.4mm, Glow Wire Ignition (GWI) of 800°C, Comparative Tracking Index (CTI) of 600V (equivalent to a PLC of 0), and Relative Temperature Index (RTI) for long-term electrical and mechanical use of 150C and 130C, respectively.

“As 3D printing technology evolves, we’re seeing more opportunities for using it to manufacture products for customers who need a low volume of parts in a short timeframe,” said Philip Gilchrist, VP and segment chief technology officer for Communications Solutions at TE Connectivity. “Our work with 3D Systems enables us to provide our customers with functional parts in just weeks instead of months.”

“Customer-centric innovation is at the core of everything we do,” said Reji Puthenveetil, executive vice president, industrial solutions, 3D Systems. “The collaboration with TE Connectivity provided the understanding and requirements of the unique application being addressed and enabled the development of the solution. Our materials scientists and print process experts worked very closely with the TE team to formulate a material that, when used in conjunction with our Figure 4 technology, delivered on the high quality, high-reliability standards their customers have come to expect. This is yet another example of how 3D Systems is partnering with industry leaders to accelerate innovation and build competitive advantage through additive manufacturing solutions.”

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