BCN3D has developed a new 3D printing system based on Viscous Lithography Manufacturing (VLM) to rapidly produce low cost, high-performance parts, reports The Engineer.
According to the Barcelona-based electronics manufacturer whose clients include Nissan, BMW, NASA, Camper, Louis Vuitton and MIT, VLM could help overcome barriers faced by the industry while adopting 3D printing such as accessibility, part performance and productivity.
VLM is basically a resin-based technology that uses UV light and an LCD screen to photopolymerise high viscosity resins in a four-step lamination process, explains BCN3D Chief Technology Officer Eric Pallarés.
The resins which are up to 50 times more viscose than industry standards and three times more impact resistant, are mono-component formulations printed at room temperature.
According to The Engineer, the resin is first picked up by a roller and laminated to the underside of a transparent film which is then transferred to the printing area.
The build plate then rises and comes into contact with the laminated resin at the desired layer thickness. UV light in turn cures the resin in a specified area creating the new layer of the object to be printed.
Once all this is accomplished, the build plate retreats causing the cured later to peel away from the film while the unused resin is recovered and recirculated in the system’s reservoir.
According to Pallarés, VLM’s mechanical system also allows the resin to be laminated from both sides of the film, which speeds up printing times or allow combinations of different resins to make multi-material parts and manageable supports.
Shedding more light on the new technology, BCN3D’s head of materials – Dario Destro – said the VLM resins include a high fraction of oligomers.
When the light is shone a loosely cross-linked polymer network is obtained. This internal structure is capable of withstanding mechanical stresses in a flexible manner, behaving like industrial grade molded elastomers such as vulcanized rubbers, silicons and polyurethanes.
As a result, mechanical properties such as strength toughness and tear resistance are significantly improved, notes Destro.
He further adds that the goal for these new VLM resins is to obtain 200% increment in tear strength compared to current industrial standard formulations.
At present, BCN3D is offering its solution at a cost of under $55,000 and has set up a Technology Adoption Program (TAP) for companies of any size wanting to utilize VLM.
Image and content: BCN3D/The Engineer