Additive manufacturing has made the "Form Follows Function" principle consistently applicable to numerous products: 3D printing technologies can now be used to integrate pressure sensors, heat sinks, antennas, transistors and other components directly into housing structures. As a result, the design of the housing is no longer dependent on the size of an electronic component or circuit board.
New wireless technologies, energy harvesting, temperature management and other applications are easier to implement thanks to the use of additive manufacturing processes and, in many cases, more elegant and convenient. Smartphone antennas, which are printed into the housing at a suitable position, guarantee better reception.
Pressure sensors can be integrated directly into components, which can also be used for smart home applications based on EnOcean IoT wireless technology. The smallest movements, temperature fluctuations or light then generate the energy required to transmit a measured value or a signal via wireless technology.
Fine structures on any surface
For example, small antennas can then be applied to any imaginable geometric shape. By using several materials, even electronic components can be printed. This saves material, makes them more robust and, generally speaking, also more cost-effective in production than a comparable product in which electrical components have to be accommodated on a circuit board in a housing, fastened and protected against external influences.
Industrial 3D printing helps to save time, materials, waste, environmentally harmful substances and their disposal, and thus a great deal of money, in this area of application. Conductor structures between larger components can be printed and do not have to be etched out of light-sensitive metal surfaces.
The best overview of additive manufacturing technologies, the materials used here and solutions along the entire process chain can be found at Formnext, the world's leading trade fair for additive manufacturing and modern industrial production from 10 – 13 November 2020 in Frankfurt am Main.