A revolution in miniaturisation and object complexity

Tomorrow's products will be smaller, lighter and more intelligent. Their creation relies on command of new technologies and involves a number of challenges, particularly in the field of plastics. Indeed, the reduction in product weight is, more than ever, made possible thanks to the use of plastic materials and to their modelling at microscopic scale. Yet, whereas injection molding is an efficient and economic method for manufacturing large plastic elements, the production of miniaturised and/or complex parts requires the use of specific technologies.

Ultrasonic moulding

Ultrasonic moulding is a genuine breakthrough compared to standard injection molding processes.

Traditionally, plastic is fluidified by thermal heating and shearing before being injected into the mould. We can now melt matter by applying ultrasound. Ultrasonic moulding uses a process of plasticisation and injection by ultrasound that enables matter to fill the mould at very low pressure.

As such, the limits of traditional molding technologies, in particular when producing very fine parts or when facing deteriorated matter, can be overcome.

Advantages of ultrasonic moulding

This technology offers potential well beyond the limits of classical injection. Ultrasonic moulding produces more fluid matter to work with, hence increasing precision and reducing constraints. But it also enables:

  • very small parts to be filled 
  • extremely thin layers to be obtained 
  • extremely accurate replication of the aspect ratio of a structure
  • top quality surface reproduction 
  • reproduction in the finest detail, even submicrometric
  • highly accurate dosage 
  • economy in both material and energy 
    Furthermore, reducing injection pressure enables internal constraints to be reduced, which is a considerable advantage for optical applications in particular. Tool and mould wear is also reduced, hence resulting in a significantly longer life cycle.

Infinite potential

The possibility to produce very small and detailed parts promises applications in a vast range of sectors. Here are a few examples:

  • biomedical: microneedles, surgical instruments 
  • mechanical: gearing, interface parts, microactuators
  • electronic: component packaging, microconnectors 
  • optical: microlenses, beam shapers 
  • automotive: mechanical parts, connectors 

Pushing past the limits

To benefit from the progress offered by ultrasonic moulding, Sirris has acquired a Sonorus 1G machine, built by Ultrasion, the world leader in this technology. Within the Sirris Product Development Hub, 2 or 3 experts will be trained and will conduct trials to test all possible applications, as from January 2018. This investment was made possible thanks to the ERDF 2014-2020 programme (Micro+ budget, Volet Socle.Sirris).

Sirris Product Development Hub

This Sirris department, located in Liege, boasts 25 experts and a state-of-the-art machine fleet. Its mission is to help businesses to create innovative products and to accompany them throughout the fast development of Proof of Concept for lightweight, miniaturised or intelligent products. Its 'microproducts' unit reunites skills in machining, polymer replication, electronic printing and microscale metrology. Its vocation is to accompany and coach businesses throughout the development of miniaturised products in an aim to rapidly convert to their industrialisation.

If you would like to receive more information on Sirris's services, please feel free to contact us.

(Source of the picture above: Ultrasion SL)