As 4K technology has become mainstream, it is now trickling into other markets where the benefits of high resolution is applicable. This includes 3D printing, where digital light processing (DLP) has potential advantages in improving the detail of 3D printed objects. Longer 3D has already developed a 4K UV LED projector for its Orange 4K 3D printer. Now, Austrian firm In-Vision is announcing a 4K UV LED light engine for 3D printing it calls Phoenix.
Phoenix is meant to provide stable, high-intensity and high-resolution light for 3D printing that In-Vision claims was previously unavailable due to the lack of proper chipsets. So, though 4K DLP projects have been on the market, the company wasn’t happy with the quality of the chipsets. It wasn’t until the release of Texas Instruments’ DLP670S chipset that In-Vision was satisfied with moving forward with their 3D printing light engine. The company said that the DLP670S chipset already offered improved optical performance in comparison with the consumer version of the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD).
“We had tested 4K projectors on our test rigs and had observed a lot of stuck pixels and a significant drop in light intensity already after hundreds of hours of operation,” explains Christof Hieger, CTO at In-Vision. “Our DLP projectors maintain a stable high intensity for more than 10,000 hours of operation, and they’re designed to avoid unusual damages to the DMD, so our customers can trust their reliability in the field. That’s why we waited for the industrial version of the chipset to launch our own version of the 4K projector for Additive Manufacturing”.
The Phoenix provides up to 6.5W of output power, higher than other 4K UV projects commercially available, though In-Vision says this does not increase the price of the system. They are meant to work for long periods of time with just the LEDs being replaced. Pre-series systems are now being evaluated by a customer before serial systems will be released in mid-May with a 385nm LED and a 76.5 μm lens. A 405nm version will then be released thereafter and other lenses can be designed and made on-demand.
Compared to something like the light source for the Orange 4K, this is surely more industrial in terms of quality. The fact that Phoenix is, according to the company, “the first industrial 4K UV DLP projector for Additive Manufacturing” may represent a new shift in DLP overall, meaning higher resolution across the board as 4K technology is adopted. It’s also interesting to note the manufacturers of individual components that are benefitting from the increased adoption of 3D printing, such as Texas Instruments.
Moreover, the use of DLP may expand beyond photopolymers, as is the case for In-Vision competitors Visitech, which recently launched a DLP engine for powder bed fusion (PBF). Interestingly, Visitech’s machine is based on Texas Instrument’s DMD designed specifically for PBF. And In-Vision has seen its light engines used for bioprinting, meaning that an improvement in the quality of DLP isn’t just an improvement for DLP, but progress for many areas of 3D printing and beyond.
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