This week brings together thousands of exhibitors and visitors at the 2017 formnext tradeshow in Frankfurt, Germany. This event is the leading trade fair for additive manufacturing and provides a platform for both household names and up and coming innovators to showcase their products and exchange ideas. One such exhibitor, UnionTech, hopes to further reach out to demonstrate the potential present in their marriage of stereolithography and established manufacturing technologies.
Stereolithography, which was first commercialized in 1988, is an additive manufacturing process designed to convert computer models into physical objects without the use of traditional manufacturing methods such as machining. This process involves the use of an ultraviolet laser on materials specifically designed to harden as the laser is applied and layers of material are built up. There are an increasing number of companies producing machines that utilize such a process as the mechanism for creation.
One such company is UnionTech, which has been around since their debut in China in 2000 and has since gone on to make a name for themselves worldwide. The core of their philosophy has been to create affordable stereolithography machines in a culture of open source sharing, while maintaining a firm commitment to those machines’ abilities to produce prints known for their accuracy, excellent feature resolution, and full density, smooth surfaces. As such, they offer four stereolithographic 3D printers, all with commercial and production level capabilities: the Pilot SC, RSPro450, RSPro600, and RSPro800.
In their booth at formnext, located at Stand C14 in Hall 3.1, they will have on display a variety of applications improved or enabled by an open design philosophy of equipment, materials and software. For example, they will showcase their capabilities in the area of investment casting, injection mold tooling, and metal clad composites.
Investment casting traditionally is a type of lost wax casting in which a pattern is created in wax and then coated with liquid ceramic. Once the ceramic coating has hardened, the wax is melted away leaving a ceramic material with an internal geometry appropriate for casting. With UnionTech’s SL machines, the casting pattern can be created directly and, when produced using Materialise’s Magics TetraShell module, creates the possibility of replacing the typical honeycomb structure with a fine lattice. Utilizing this process in combination with Somos Element, the latest generation of SL materials, results in improved overall processing.
Also on display will be products created with Somos PerFORM, a third generation filled composite material that increases the performance level of SL printing injection molds with elevated temperature performance. In addition, their capability to print layers as thin as 0.05mm thick creates a product with exceptionally smooth sidewalls, reducing the need for additional finishing.
Finally, the ability of UnionTech’s machines to utilize metal clad composites such as structural nickel plating processes allows them to create objects with mechanical properties not unlike those present when utilizing die cast aluminum or magnesium. According to a statement released by the company:
“Alternate plating strategies create composites with tailored wear surfaces and EMI/RFI shielding characteristics. The range of available UnionTech platform sizes, 250mm x 250mm to 800mm x 800mm, coupled with full density parts with excellent aesthetics opens a wide range of application possibilities including housings, wave guides and mechanical components. The appropriate plating strategy offers a bridge between the performance capability gap of the strongest additive manufactured polymer parts and direct metal.”
This is just one of a large number of innovative exhibitors to be present at this years formnext, which promises to be an exciting opportunity for exhibitors and attendees alike.
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