3D Printing ESD-Safe Jigs & Fixtures

| The Essentium Team

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ESD-Safe Jigs & Fixtures

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden transfer of an electric charge from one object to another. While not dangerous to people, these tiny shocks can ruin sensitive electronic equipment such as printed circuit boards (PCB) and microchips. This article explores how you can solve many of the problems associated with traditional methods of 3D printing ESD-safe jigs and fixtures with Essentium’s High Speed Extrusion (HSE™) technology and Z Collection of filaments can solve many of the problems associated with traditional methods of 3D printing ESD-safe jigs and fixtures.

The Dangers of ESD

Given the presence of electronic components in all manner of transportation, communication, and life-saving devices today, undetected ESD events that result in premature product failures in the field can have far-reaching consequences.

Manufacturers may be subject to recalls, excessive warranty claims, expensive repairs, lost production time, and decreased consumer confidence in the brand going forward.

To prevent this, manufacturers take great pains to eliminate ESD from the factory floor and assembly line such as:

  • Employees wearing ESD-safe clothes, gloves, and shoes.
  • Robots are fitted with grippers and customized end effectors made of ESD-safe materials.
  • Assembly line workers use ESD-safe tools, alignment jigs, trays, and holding fixtures during manual product assembly steps.
  • Boots, covers, and caps are made of ESD-safe materials to protect PCB contact points and connectors during chemical baths and conformal coating processes.

Anything that contacts an electronic component must be grounded and offer surface resistance sufficient to allow any buildup of static electricity to flow harmlessly into the ground, not into the part.

When producing handheld tools, jigs, and fixtures, some form of carbon is usually added to a base material to give it the desired properties.

The problem is that these ESD-safe jigs and fixtures are usually injection-molded or milled from solid blocks of expensive plastics like Delrin® or DuraStone™ infused with carbon particles.
The tools are usually specialized, made in small quantities by outside vendors, and require long lead times. All this translates into high cost-per-part, which means workers sometimes “do without” until a new or replacement tool can be justified.

Maintaining ESD-Safe Environments With Essentium Technology:

Additive manufacturing (AM) offers game-changing ROI for electronics manufacturers. Rather than wait for suppliers to deliver jigs and fixtures or spend huge sums to bring subtractive equipment and expertise in-house.

AM equipment such as the Essentium High Speed Extrusion (HSE) 3D Printing Platform and family of ESD-safe filaments offer an excellent alternative for making ESD-safe jigs and fixtures in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional manufacturing.

Essentium HSE 3D Printing Platform for 3D Printing ESD-Safe Jigs & Fixtures

More than your average 3D printer, Essentium provides a total ecosystem including the proven line of industrial-grade 3D printers like the Essentium HSE 180 3D Printing Platform and dual-extrusion machines HSE 280i HT 3D Printer and the HSE 240 HT 3D Printer to:

  1. Quickly iterate new designs with complete control over form, fit, and function.
  2. Eliminate the need for molds and reduce turnaround of new tools from months to days.
  3. Replace lost, broken, or worn-out jigs and fixtures in a matter of hours.
  4. Print them on-demand with no minimums for only the cost of filament.

Essentium Z Collection of ESD-Safe Materials for 3D Printing Jigs & Fixtures

Essentium offers a broad portfolio of engineering-grade ESD-safe filaments optimized for use with the HSE 3D Printing Platform. With properties ranging from flexible to rigid, all deliver the necessary electrical resistance values for safe use in all types of electronics manufacturing environments.

Our high-temperature filaments make it possible to 3D print ESD-safe fixtures that can be used for wave soldering, in reflow ovens, and other extreme temperature applications without melting or degrading.

Essentium uses only the highest quality carbon additives in the minimum quantities required to achieve surface resistivity.

Therefore, all Essentium ESD-safe materials are non-marring and non-marking, meaning they will not damage or mark the parts they touch.

When manufacturers use AM to create the ESD-safe jigs and fixtures they need to keep production lines moving they use only the materials needed. There’s little waste, no shavings of expensive materials swept into landfills, and no relying on outside vendors.

To learn more about how Essentium industrial-grade 3D printers and our Z Collection of materials can enable 3D printing ESD-safe jigs and fixtures on your factory floor, download our white paper, Enabling ESD-Safe Electronics Production Through Additive Manufacturing, and contact us at Essentium.com for a first-hand demonstration of the power of Essentium AM.

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