The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has produced a tiny, three-piece puzzle to show off the potential of its LIGA2.X technology, which is intended to advance the original LIGA process for producing large quantities of microstructures via mold inserts for injection molding.
LIGA, which stands for "Lithographie, Galvanik und Abformung" or "X-ray Lithography, Electroplating, and Molding", is suitable for producing microstructures for components in watches, engines, and medical devices.
The process enables microstructures with high aspect ratios, and was originally developed in the 1980s. The puzzle pieces in the photo are each less than 1 mm in size. LIGA2.X dispenses with the substrate linking all molded parts that until now has been required for demolding, allowing "direct and separate" injection molding of parts. The advance eliminates the time and cost of the demolding process wherein the parts had to be separated from the substrate.
"LIGA2.X not only reduces costs, but also ensures higher degrees of freedom in the arrangement of structured mold nests in multiple molds," said Jochen Heneka, a scientist at the Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT) and Institute for Applied Materials-Material Process Technology (IAM-WPT) of KIT in a release.
Three plates, to demold the parts, and four LIGA molds can be installed in a tool plate and exchanged. "By moving the first and second molding plate away from each other, the part is released from the LIGA mold." The third plate is used to remove the gate.
An in-depth explanation of the LIGA process can be found at the KIT website. http://www.imt.kit.edu/english/liga.php