3D printing uses additive manufacturing processes that use gradual creation or addition of materials to form an object. 3D printing is widely used for manufacturing prototypes in many industries, including automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, and medical device, since it produces prototypes with complex shapes relatively quickly and at a significantly lower cost than traditional methods.
There are a few different 3D printing methods, but the most common 3D printing methods that use light to form the desired 3D shapes are stereolithography (SLA), UV inkjet, and digital light processing (DLP).
- SLA – SLA uses a UV laser to crosslink a liquid resin in a specific area with a specific depth. Once the first layer of the desired object is formed, it is lowered and the liquid resin is re-applied on top of it. Successive curing of layers will form the desired object with high precision.
- UV Inkjet – The 3D UV inkjet printing method works like a 2D UV inkjet printer. Instead of printing on paper, successive layers are printed and cured on top of the previous layer.
- DLP – DLP uses a digital light projector to project a 2D image and cure the resin. Successive curing of the 2D images form the 3D shape desired. Compared to the other methods, the light irradiance used in DLP is significantly lower.
Replacing traditional mass manufacturing processes with 3D printing is very appealing from a commercial perspective, especially in applications where only relatively small numbers of parts are required. Unfortunately, there are several challenges preventing the realization of this potential; speed of manufacturing and meeting the material performance properties are the most important ones. From a materials perspective, it has been a challenge to match the performance of common plastics like PC and ABS. It is often difficult to match deformation resistance of plastics at elevated temperatures with thermoset materials.
Dymax Oligomers & Coatings investigated oligomers used in the 3D printing industry and how to improve their heat distortion temperatures without having to significantly take away from other performance attributes. A new white paper discusses the structure-property relationships of these oligomers for 3D printing in detail.
Equipment for 3D Printing Post Cure and Rework
After a 3D model is built, it may be necessary to supply additional curing energy to the part to ensure that optimized material properties are achieved. Several Dymax curing system configurations are ideally suited for post-cure process or rework.
UV Light-Curing Flood Lamp Systems
Ideal for Post Cure
Dymax flood-lamp systems are designed for area curing or for curing multiple assemblies at once. These flood lamp models use a powerful UV light-curing lamp (up to 225 mW/cm2) for fast curing over a 5″ x 5″ (12.7 cm x 12.7 cm) area. Typical systems are composed of three main components: a UV flood lamp, manual or automatic shutter, and a light shield. The flood lamps can also be mounted on UV conveyor systems for consistent, fast, safe automated curing of multiple parts.
BlueWave 200 3.0 UV-Curing Spot Lamp System
The BlueWave® 200 3.0 is a high-intensity, light-curing spot lamp system that emits energy in the UVA and visible portion of the spectrum (300-450 nm) and is ideally suited for either manual or automated processes. The unit contains an integral shutter which can be actuated by a foot pedal or PLC and a universal power input that provides consistent performance at any voltage. Light guides in a variety of configurations are available for use with this system, providing application flexibility.
Dymax Oligomers & Coatings is a leading innovator of advanced-performance materials for energy (UV/EB), light, and other free-radical cure applications. We couple our technical strength in acrylate and urethane chemistry with a strong emphasis on new product development. Our scientists synthesize a broad range of select specialty oligomers, custom-designed to satisfy the unique performance requirements of emerging application technologies, while providing customers an edge in formulating products with outstanding performance, reproducibility, and cost effectiveness.
About the authors: Heather Francis is a Chemist, Research and Development, Americas at Dymax; Ahmet Nebioglu is the Sr. Director R&D Chemistry, Global, Dymax O&C.
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