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Micro UHMW-PE column array molded by the utilization of PCB as mold insert

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to present a method for ultrasonically molding polymer powder in a micro plastic part mold. In the method, a printed circuit board (PCB) in which micro-hole arrays are drilled is used as a micro cavity insert. With the utilization of ultrasonic vibration, the polymer powder, which is prefilled and compacted in a micro cavity, mutually generates great sliding friction heat so as to be rapidly plasticized and molded. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Micro carbide drill bits of which the diameters are 100.0?µm, 150.0?µm and 200.0?µm, respectively, are used for drilling the PCB to form a micro-hole array insert. Next, two kinds of various ultra-high molecule weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE) powder with various grain diameters are directly filled into a charging barrel and a mold cavity with the micro-hole array insert. Proper process parameters are set on ultrasonic plasticizing and molding equipment so that a molding test can be performed. The melt of UHMW-PE can be rapidly filled into the cavity. Finally, micro-column array plastic parts are successfully prepared. Findings ‐ The micro-hole array PCB is a mold insert which is quite applicable for the ultrasonic molding of the powder in the mold. When a molding material is the coarse UHMW-PE powder with the grain diameter of about 350?µm, the diameter replication rates of the micro-column array plastic parts become good in order with the increased micro-hole diameter of the PCB. When the fine UHMW-PE powder with the grain diameter of about 80?µm is adopted, the diameter replication rates of the micro-column array plastic parts become good in order with the decreased micro-hole diameter of the PCB. Originality/value ‐ In this paper, the micro-column array plastic parts with good replicability are successfully prepared by a technique for ultrasonically plasticizing and molding in the cavity. The technique can be applied to the fields of medical treatment, communication, optics, chemistry and so on, such as biological micro needle arrays, micro biological chips, optical memories, and micro chemical reaction chips.
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Keywords: Materials with purpose; Micro-hole array PCB; Micro-molding; Mouldability; Physical properties of materials; Plasticizers; Ultra-high molecule weight polyethylene (UHMW-PE); Ultrasonic vibration

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 10, 2013

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