Electroforming services manufacture 2-D and 3-D components which are otherwise not easy to fashion by electrodepositing a thin layer of metal on a mandrel. Electroforming is a specialized, high-precision process that fabricates naturally-flat, two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D) products without burrs or stress. Because it is an additive process, electroforming differs from etched metal, electrical discharge machining (EDM), laser machining, and other material-removal processes. Electroforming services are often less expensive than EDM and laser machining, and are able to fabricate high-quality, metal precision parts and sieves with excellent sharp-edge definition. Electroforming is also a cost-effective method for prototyping both small and large series runs.
Electroforming services manufacture a variety of two-dimensional (2-D) components. In 2-D electroforming, metal is deposited on a flat, electrically-conductive sheet that has been masked by a non-conductive, photosensitive lacquer. Electroforming services then use an exposure process with a photo mask of the product to define the product shape by selectively exposing the lacquer to light. After the exposure process, unwanted lacquer is removed from the mandrel leaving masked and unmasked areas. Metal is deposited on the unmasked areas and the final product is removed from the sheet.
Electroforming services manufacture many three-dimensional (3-D) components. In 3-D electroforming, a machined aluminum mandrel defines the shape of the product. The metal is deposited on the mandrel in a similar manner to what is used in the 2-D process, and then the aluminum is chemically dissolved leaving a thin wall component. The process can be precisely controlled, allowing electroforming services to maintain tight dimensional tolerances (e.g., thickness and aperture sizes). Nickel is most often chosen, but copper and other metals can also be used depending upon the application.
Low cost tooling and design flexibility make electroforming services a good choice for manufacturing custom-designed products. Examples of 3-D products include large molds for the aerospace industry, security holograms on credit cards, and micro devices for medical and electronic products. Two-dimensional electroformed products include optical components such as encoder disks and masks, orifice plates, filters, electric shaver foils, and components in medical devices. Electroforming services also conform to various quality standards.