AMS Spring 2023

BCN3D & Henkel Developing New Formulations for VLM Resin 3D Printing

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Recently, 3D printing solutions manufacturer BCN3D Technologies introduced a new resin 3D printing method called Viscous Lithography Manufacturing, or VLM, which the company says is able to process resins that are 50 times more viscous than the industry standard and thus open up new applications, such as footwear. Now, the Barcelona-based company has announced a collaboration with Henkel Adhesive Technologies, in which the two will develop more formulations for the patented VLM process to help achieve these new applications.

As part of the alliance between the two, which has been ongoing since 2020, Henkel’s 3D printing resins will be implemented in BCN3D’s new Applications Center, which is also where the VLM Technology Adoption Program is happening. Program participants, including Saint Gobain and Prodrive, will be among the first to use VLM and enjoy the benefits of BCN3D’s resin 3D printing as applied to their exact AM needs.

“BCN3D is very excited to announce this collaboration with Henkel, and it represents a significant milestone in the history of VLM,” Xavier Martínez Faneca, CEO of BCN3D, said in a press release. “The VLM Technology Adoption Program is showing us the potential of VLM technology and how it can help companies to overcome their current limitations. There is no doubt that this technology combined with new customer-targeted formulations will fulfill the needs of the AM sector.”

VLM is a lithography-based process that is said to print high-performance parts faster and more cost-effectively. The technology laminates thin layers of highly viscous resins onto both sides of a transparent transfer film, and by getting rid of what BCN3D referred to as “a strict low viscosity constraint,” the process makes it possible to add new modifiers and ingredients to the resin in order to achieve the necessary mechanical and thermal properties. Through the Technology Adoption Program, VLM’s “unique” properties can help partners come up with new solutions for viscous, high-performance AM resins.

As a long-time leader in adhesives, sealants, and functional coatings, Henkel has plenty of experience in multiple applications and industries, including additive manufacturing with its Loctite material brand. That’s why it’s likely to be a great partner for BCN3D and the manufacturing solutions enabled by its VLM process.

“BCN3D has unveiled a groundbreaking technology that enables printing high viscosity resins. Thermal & mechanical properties are enhanced by additives that typically increase the viscosity of the resins, which in other cases makes them more difficult to print,” said Sam Bail, Director of 3D Printing & Partnerships at Henkel. “The BCN3D team has developed a novel technology that removes the limitations of viscosity and allows the printing of a wide range of new materials which we have witnessed firsthand over the last few years of collaboration. We look forward to seeing the tremendous impact VLM technology brings to the additive market together with new Henkel Industrial resins.”

To speed up its goal of offering manufacturing autonomy and production control to manufacturers through its VLM technology, BCN3D will work with Henkel to develop new materials for the process, though neither company can disclose exactly what materials are being created. But, we do know that one main research area is focused on elastomeric applications, for which high-viscosity resins would be extremely useful. Because viscous resins often include many oligomers, a loosely crosslinked polymer network is enabled that can offer better mechanical properties, withstand mechanical stresses while remaining flexible, and perform like industrial-grade molded elastomers.

To learn more about this VLM-based collaboration between BCN3D and Henkel, visit Booth 1535 at RAPID + TCT next week at Huntington Place in Detroit, Michigan. Both companies will be there and happy to discuss the benefits of their partnership, and show off 3D printed resin parts made with VLM technology.

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