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Advanced Lithographic Electroforming: what makes Veco the industry leader of precision engineering

Jan 27, 2022 3:33:25 PM By Hua Fan

Veco, as the world leader and largest independent supplier of Electroforming, has been moving the industry forward, with unparalleled experience of Electroforming, advanced lithography technology, and accumulated knowledge of metallurgy.

So what is Advanced Lithographic Electroforming, and what does it mean for the manufacturing industries? 

Electroforming: a brief introduction

Electroforming is known as a metal forming process by means of electrodeposition, similar to Electroplating and Electrorefining.  Compared to other traditional metal forming technologies, for example casting, forging, stamping, or deep drawing, Electroforming can deliver mass volume at superior accuracy and extreme design complexity, due to the fact that it can replicate the shape of the mandrel at extreme accuracy.



Electroforming is also an additive manufacturing process specialized for the production of high precision metal parts. Its uniqueness is that you can grow metal parts atom by atom, providing extreme accuracy and high aspect ratios. Typical precision of a electroformed part goes down to 1 to 2 μm, which is beyond what most other manufacturing technologies can reach.

From traditional Electroforming to Advanced Lithographic Electroforming

Photolithography refers to the process where a geometric design pattern is projected to a photosensitive resist on a substrate by the means of light. Traditionally, this is done by placing a mask on the photoresist layer and exposing light to the entire mask. Laser Direct Imaging is the next step in the evolution of the Photolithography technology.

As the world leader in Electroforming technology, Veco is the first in the industry to apply the advanced Laser Direct Imaging technology in high precision metal parts manufacturing.

At Veco nowadays, 90% to 95% of our photolithography process is done by Laser Direct Imaging. The combination of LDI and our leading Electroforming technology has enabled us to further push the boundaries of the industry with our Advanced Lithographic Electroforming, providing our customer with high precision metal components in higher quality, at lower cost, and with quicker turnaround.

(1) higher quality
Higher resolution (between 25.400 and 63.500 dpi) is possible with LDI, which is beyond traditional film quality and can potentially replace glass masks. 

Moreover, In case of multi-layer electroforming, the second/additional layer needs to be perfectly aligned. Doing this manually is inaccurate and time consuming. With the Laser Direct Imager, perfect alignment can be done automatically and efficiently.

(2) lower costs
Laser Direct Imaging (LDI) is a maskless photolithography technology. Compared to the conventional way that needs a mask for exposure, using the maskless photolithography process means reduction of the costs of glass masks. One such mask costs around 5000 dollar.

In product development and prototyping , it is common to have corrections or different versions of product designs, which means more masks will be required, and more costs involved.

(3) quicker turnaround

The elimination of traditional masks in the procedure not only reduces tooling costs, but also reduces lead time.

Production of one mask needed takes up to a week, and when there’s corrections the procedure needs to be repeated again. With maskless LDI, on the contrary, corrections can be processed immediately in the next exposure. The LDI is capable of projecting high resolution images directly from a CAD file, thus allows fast and easy adjustments to be done to new photoresists.

Want to learn more about Electroforming? Don't miss out our Electroforming Whitepaper!

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