Reproduction of small or large scale products is called replication, which can be achieved with different processes for different volumes. Below are the most common techniques:
Hot embossing replication works by using a mould in a polymer substrate. This efficient replication method, suitable for medium-volume manufacturing, allows for the formation of smaller and smoother microstructures in polymer substrates compared to micromilling. Hot embossing and injection moulding, together with micromilled stamps and moulds, can be a suitable option for fast prototyping, medium volume production series and upscaling production runs.
High-volume polymer replication with very small features, down to a nanometre, and superior surface properties go through injection moulding. Here, the mould is made in a photolithographic process. This process takes more time than micromachining, but the tolerances are optimised with this technique.
- One product development partner is needed, from prototyping to high-volume production
- A clear understanding during development about the critical parameters for optimal polymer replication