I’m a daily Weather Channel watcher. Mostly because I’m a geek, but I can tell you this: lightning simply fascinates me. Lightning is one of the most dangerously beautiful phenomena in nature. It also happens to be a form of sudden ESD, or electrostatic discharge, which is what we’re going to discuss today, only on a much smaller scale.
As I mentioned, ESD is a natural phenomena which usually occurs when two objects touch each other causing an electrostatic charge. Positive charges accumulate predominantly on organics, such as human skin or animal fur. Negative charges are more common to synthetic materials, such as Styrofoam or plastic components. Would you believe that the human body can store up to a shocking 25,000 volts!
Moving forward, electrostatic dissipation, even on a small scale, can destroy sensitive electronic components, erase or alter magnetic media, and even cause fires or explosions. Typically, one ESD event will not cause noticeable damage to equipment. However, repeated events will damage or degrade electronic components over time. Conductive, antistatic and dissipative plastics materials are typically used to minimize these risks.
You may be wondering, “What does this have to do with 3D Printing?” Stratasys’ Fortus 400, 380/450, and 900 Production Systems are all capable of printing a diverse line of materials, including ABS-ESD7. This FDM material has been in use since 2011, and is especially ideal for electronics manufacturers, but is targeted for use in various industries and applications such as:
- Jigs & fixtures
- Medical devices
- Production lines and conveyor parts
ABS-ESD7 eliminates attraction and buildup of particulate, such as dust or powders, and helps avoid attraction of atomized liquids. It’s also used for building functional prototypes of fuel storage and delivery systems…because no one wants to blow up at the workplace.
Like some sort of wizardry, Stratasys concocts an elixir by adding just the right amount of fine carbon powder to enhance the electrical conductivity of its parent ABS material, which prevents the buildup of static electricity. While thermal properties are echoed, mechanically, the addition of carbon slightly improves tensile and flexural resistance, conversely increasing its brittleness.
ABS-ESD7 filament comes only in black and uses soluble supports. Also, it can be printed in layer thicknesses of 0.007” (0.178 mm) and 0.010” (0.254 mm).
The following are some guidelines for handling and finishing ABS-ESD7 material:
Sanding ABS-ESD7 material will release carbon particles into the air. An N100 respirator and eye protection are critical PPE. N100 respirators are rated for airborne carbon and must be worn while sanding this material. It is also important to always sand this material in a well-ventilated area, away from anyone not wearing a mask. A sanding room with a dust-collection system or a paint booth is ideal. Follow this link to download the MSDS sheets: http://www.stratasys.com/materials/material-safety-data-sheets/fdm/model-materials
ABS-ESD7 can be finished by standard smoothing and/or bonding techniques. As with all FDM materials, standard sanding processes should be undertaken while practicing the aforementioned safety precautions. It can easily be bonded using standard methods including solvents, epoxies, hot-air welding, ultrasonic welding and super glue. But here’s the rub: unlike ABS, ABS-ESD7 cannot be smoothed using the finishing touch station.
To keep this material free from foreign particles, be sure it is not exposed to packing peanuts or other lint-type shipping materials. Place components in a plastic bag for transportation to avoid any issues.
Stratasys geeks work around the clock (not really) to development new materials such as ABS-ESD7 in order to provide our customers the tools to augment their additive manufacturing capabilities. Please contact us for additional information regarding ABS-ESD7 or the line of Stratasys’ Production Systems. Thanks for reading!