Basics of SLA 3D Printing

Basics of SLA 3D Printing

SLA 3D printing, or Stereolithography, is an additive manufacturing technology. It is best known for printing complex, fine-featured parts fast and accurately with a perfect surface finish. This resin 3D printing process is becoming more and more popular due to these capabilities.

Let’s first start with what SLA (Stereolithography Apparatus) 3D printing is and how it works. SLA produces parts layer by layer. It is also a form of vat photopolymerization, which is a resin 3D printing technique that produces objects by curing photopolymer liquid resin through light-activated polymerization selectively. Then, a laser beam (UV light) must be
focused on the surface of a photosensitive liquid. A set of mirrors then reflect the UV light onto the photopolymer resins, which causes the photopolymers to stick to the platform. As layers are cured, the build platform is lowered or raised, followed by a new photopolymer later. The process repeats itself until the object is complete.

SLA 3D Printing has many key benefits among which is the wide range of configuration of SLA resin materials including standard resins, high-temperature resins, flexible resins, clear resins and castable resins.

Industrial SLA 3D Printers have many advantages in production. They have large builg volume, speed, high-quality and complex part production with a smooth surface finish. It is possible to produce end-use parts, manufacturing tools and injection mould on industrial SLA 3D printers easily.

Advantages of SLA 3D Printing

As mentioned before, it is possible to build complex parts with repeatable accuracy with SLA 3D printing. SLA 3D printing gives us the ability to adjust the laser, pixel resolution and layer height to achieve the right accuracy. Also, SLA 3D printing removes heat from the light source and keeps the printer’s temperature consistent, which is a big plus. SLA 3D printers can also print in various materials for many different industries. Among these are polymers, rubber-like materials, biocompatible polymers and many more. Furthermore, SLA 3D printers can print at resolutions like 10 microns, which means that the final part will have fine features. This reduces the need to post-process the materials, while at the same time increasing accuracy in complex parts. As a result, you get smooth surface finish and shorter lead times.

Contact our expert staff for more information on our services and technologies today.

INDUSTRIAL 3D PRINTING

INDUSTRIAL 3D PRINTING

3D printing has multiple purpose the most popular of which is prototyping. However, production is also becoming more and more commonplace, which brings together the need to dive into the area of industrial 3D printing. It is widely assumed that industrial 3D printers are old, take too much space, expensive and not very fast. All this is a misbelief. Industrial 3D printers today are Professional machines in terms of throughput, build volume, repeatability and precision. Now, let’s see some of the industrial 3D printing technologies there are so that you can decide which one fits the needs of your business.

First of all, it must be known that by 3D printing, we mean highly reliable and consistent 3D printers with high resolution, can print engineering-grade materials, fast, compatible with many materials and software, have large build volume, need rare maintenance and are equipped with safety features. Industrial 3D printing includes Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) and Vat Photopolymerization or resin 3D printing along with other advanced technologies.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

Also known as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), it is a 3D printing extrusion process which melts thermoplastic filaments and prints it layer by layer on the print bed. They can print with engineering-grade thermoplastics, have low cost of technology acquisition, simple to understand, run and operate.

Vat Photopolymerization / Resin 3D Printers

It includes resin 3D printing processes such as Stereolithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP) and Masked Stereolithography (mSLA). These technologies make use of liquid thermosetting resin, meaning they cure or harden when they are exposed to laser or UV light source. This process must be repeated until the object is printed. Via this process, you can get high resolution and accuracy, achieve tight tolerances fast.

Selective Laset Sintering (SLS)

SLS 3D printers are widely used in a variety of industries and they are also used in many different applications. They are ideal for low volume manufacturing and they offer reliable part quality. In SLS, polymer materials are in powdered form. Then, the powder particles are sintered and fused by CO2 laser and form a bond. Then, the laser goes on tracing all individual points layer by layer until the whole object is printed.

For further information on these industrial 3D printing technologies and many more, get in touch with our team of experts today!

What are STL Files?

What are STL Files?

If you own a 3D printer, it is highly likely that you have an idea of what you want to print and how to print it. It is also possible that you also have the ability to design 3D prints. However, you might be confused or lost when it comes to start the process of 3D printing. You simply may not have the time to create and design files yourself. So, let’s try to explain what an STL file is to provide more detailed information.
First of all, let’s start with what an STL file is. STL stands for “Standard Triangle / Tessellation Language”. STL file format is one of the most used file formats for 3D printing and CAD (Computer Aided Design). These contain geometric information of a design which will be 3D printed. These designs are symbolised by triangles in STL files, which gives the format its name. Since these triangles have edges, where they will be located can be decided by a computer or a slicing program, thus creating an image to be 3D printed. As the design gets more complex, more triangles will be used to represent it. There is no data in an STL file regarding texture, colour, or qualities like flexibility or strength, they only include information on shape and geometry. On a side note, there are some alternatives to STL files, such as OBJ files, which contain colour and texture profile information. When an STL file is downloaded, they are exported into a 3D printing slicer, where they are converted into G-code.
When an STL file is downloaded, it is exported into a 3D printing slicer. At this point, the file is converted into G-code, which is a language your 3D printer understands and uses to print your part.

PLA 3D PRINTING

PLA 3D PRINTING

In FFF 3D printing, PLA is one of the most common materials used as it is versatile and easy to print. It is possible to use it for a wide variety of applications. 
First of all, let’s start by explaining what PLA is. PLA, or PolyLactic Acid, is a plastic material which is widely used in FFF or FDM 3D printing due to its cheapness, accessibility and ease-of-use. Most applications used in PLA printing do not usually require high thermal or mechanical resistance.
 
PLA presents a very detailed surface finish. Despite the fact that some PLAs on 3D printing presents a more matte colour, the majority of PLAs are generally shiny. There are many colours for PLA, including transparent or multicolour PLA. 
PLA has good flexibility and it also has fragile aspects. At the same time, it has a good UV resistance, which allows you to use PLA parts for other applications as well. It is also odour-free and water-tight, making it ideal for education and office environment. Furthermore, PLA is able to endure up to 50ºC. 
Secondly, there are several points to take into consideration before the printing process irrespective of material. Still, achieving the best result is possible via understanding the basic printing settings. There are more than one kind of PLA, which means the settings can change. The first thing we must take into account is the printing temperature. It is important to know which temperature to apply for a specific type of PLA. This will help you avoid possible extrusion problems and thus guarantee the best surface quality. Another important setting is build plate temperature. Through this setting, you will be able to achieve the best quality on the first layers, which is the most important layer in PLA 3D printing.
 
After setting up the basic parameters, it is important to keep in mind that plastic absorbs moisture from the air. Thus, it
must not be forgotten that if the filament is exposed to humidity for a long period of time, there may be some trouble printing it. It is essential to print in a ventilated area.
Using PLA in 3D printing is effective and easy, but it must not be forgotten that there are important steps to follow, among which is printing temperature.
 
Contact us for more information on PLA printing and more!

3D Printing and Sustainability

3D Printing and Sustainability

3D printing is becoming more and more popular as it reduces lead times and is now much more economic and reliable than traditional manufacturing methods. More and more companies choose to manufacture their products via Additive Manufacturing methods. However, companies are also getting more conscious about the environment, searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and manufacture without waste. Let’s see what makes 3D printing a sustainable manufacturing method and why it should be chosen over traditional methods.
To begin with; owning a 3D printer, or having your parts 3D printed for you, means the part will not be transported many times. This means that you will not waste your time trying to get your parts via traditional supply chain manufacturing. Being able to produce parts on a 3D printer means no outsourcing, and thus no shipping, which removes pollution problems that come with them. Furthermore, 3D printers are faster than traditional manufacturing methods, which cuts energy consumption almost by half. 3D printing is also environmentally friendly with its material options. 3D printers use less material compared to any other manufacturing method. They use exactly the same amount of material needed to print a specific part. A majority of printers use recycled filaments in prints, which makes the whole process sustainable. In other words; waste is minimised in 3D printing as we print exactly what we need without wasting any material. As the designs are digitised, only the amount necessary to print that specific geometry is used. This whole process brings the waste down from %30 to nearly %0. As a plus, all this is possible without having to sacrifice part quality.
To sum up, 3D printing is definitely sustainable. As it reduces transport, there is less (or no) transport cost, which brings about less carbon dioxide emission. It gives us a chance to produce the entire part together with its packaging locally, minimising transportation costs and removing any harm to the ozone layer. Furthermore, the materials used to print are commonly biodegradable. Then, less carbon emission, less energy, less waste and the use of biodegradable materials all make 3D printing an ideal and sustainable manufacturing method.

Ultimaker: History of 3D Printing

Ultimaker: History of 3D Printing

The history of 3D printing is an ongoing and an interesting one. Although it feels like it is a relatively new technology, the first examples of 3D printing dates back to 40 years ago. It first began when Dr. Hideo Kodama invented the first rapid prototyping machines that were able to create parts layer by layer in 1981 What Kodama did was to use a resin which could be polymerised by UV (ultraviolet) light. Then, in 1986, Chuck Hull filed the first patent for Stereolithography technology, or SLA. In this sense, Hull is considered to be the inventor of 3D printing as he created and commercialised both SLA and the “.stl” file format, which is the most common file type used in 3D printing. Then, Carl Deckard licensed SLS technology in 1988 when he was still a student studying in University of Texas. After that, Scott Crump filed the patent for Fused Deposition Modelling, or FDM, technology, which is also known as FFF. It was in the 1990s that a great deal of growth for the early 3D printing industry took place. However, the first SLS printer became commercially available in 2006 The RepRap Project made 2005 an important year for 3D printing. The project aimed to re-think Additive Manufacturing starting with FDM/FFF technology as a low-cost technology. The RepRap Project became an inspiration for every successful low-cost 3D printer. The RepRap 3D printer is made of many plastic parts, which can also be printed by RepRap. This project was successful, which became a catalyst for the rise of commercial 3D printers. Furthermore, 2011 marked the foundation of Ultimaker in the Netherlands, inspired by the RepRap project as well. Today, 3D printers are used in industries such as aerospace, architecture, manufacturing, automotive, healthcare, construction and many others.

ULTIMAKER CURA 5.1 IS HERE!

ULTIMAKER CURA 5.1

Metal FFF Printing, Better Supports, Higher Surface Quality

Ultimaker Cura 5.1 is here and it brings with it simple metal FFF printing, better supports and a higher surface quality. There are some features which came with Metal Expsnsion Kit containing the new DD 0.4 print core and Ultrafuse Support Layer materials. Here are some of them:
  1. There will now be a shrinkage plate which will automatically occur when you are using an Ultrafuse metal material profile. This will prevent the part from being deformed.
  2. The new DD print core is now supported to be used specifically with the new Ultrafuse Support material.
  3. There will now be an interface layer which will automatically be created between the model and the metal support, and between the model and the automatic shrinkage plate. This will make it easier to remove the supports.
With these features, it will now be possible to have a simple and affordable metal FFF workflow. In this way, part printing and debinding & sintering processes will be possible via BASF’s network.

High Segment Resolution & Better Surface Quality

It is now possible to print parts with a higher segment resolution on Ultimaker S-line printers. Models that have smooth curves; such as spheres, cones, cylinders and much more complex parts will have better surface quality because the printing will be carried out with twice as many segments. This was made possible with a new resolution algorithm and removing unnecessary jerks and acceleration from the command within G-code. Removing redundant commands led to less vibrations. G-code files ended up becoming %20 smaller.

Faster printing with support materials

With the new update, it is now possible to achieve faster and more reliable printing with support materials using either Ultimaker PVA or Ultimaker Breakway supports. When printing with the support materials, a new zig-zag pattern will be used rather than the previous triangle pattern. Also, the outer wall around these supports was removed and the density was increased.
It is now possible to print %20 times faster and PVA supports will dissolve faster, which will bring about faster removal of supports. Furthermore, the slicing process will be more intuitive.
If settings are changed from the default ones, you will be notified. In that case, you can identify which ones were changed by going into custom mode, where you will see the altered settings in italics accompanied by an arrow symbol.

Extra:

  • Material profiles for the upcoming Tough PLA colors (blue, yellow, and gray)
  • Several bugfixes such as security fixes and an issue with monotonic ordering that prevented it from applying to the topmost surface layer of prints
Check out our website for more information on Ultimaker printers and technologies: Ultimaker

Printing technologies and Nexa3D LSPc Technology

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Printing technologies and Nexa3D LSPc Technology

The Differences Between a 3D Resin Printer and a Filament 3D Printer

It is important to differentiate between a 3D resin printer and a filament 3D printer especially for Professional use.

Filament 3D Printers

Filament 3D printing is also referred to as fused deposition modeling technology (FDM or FFF). In filament 3D printing, a solid polymer filament goes through an extruder assembly. After that, a motor drives it through a thermal core. It is then heated up to the point where it melts prior to being extruded onto a build plate with the help of a nozzle. The molten material is then deposited layer.

Resin 3D Printers

Resin 3D printers use liquid resin material which cures when it is subjected to UV light. It’s use depends on factors including surface quality, part throughput, proprietary technologies and more. Resin 3D printers have good surface finish quality, accuracy and precision and fast printing. There are in total three generations of 3D printers: SLA, DLP, and mSLA.

Stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printing

SLA is the first 3D printing technology invented in 1986 A liquid resin material is held in a vat which is exposed to a laser source reflected onto the resin using a set of mirrors. The polymer resin cures, the laser traces the entire cross-section of the geometry to complete one layer. Then, the process repeats itself until the part is completely printed.

Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D Printing

DLP 3D printers use a light projector which flashes the image of a section, thus printing an entire layer, which brings about fast printing speeds.

Carbon DLS™ (Digital Light Synthesis) technology

A digital light projector generates a series of UV images through an oxygen-permeable. A small amount of oxygen passes through, which brings about a dead zone. The process leads to high quality surface finish and part production in fast speeds.

Masked Stereolithography (mSLA)

LSPc technology is the patented technology of Nexa3D and a variant of mSLA resin 3D printer. 3D image slices are projected onto the vat where photopolymerization takes place layer by layer. It also ensures high performance. The LSPc membrane creates a no-stick zone between the printed part and the vat, which makes this. technology ultra-fast.

Contact us to receive more information on Nexa3D printers and the benefits of LSPc technology, or visit our website: Nexa3d

Ultimaker Cura 5.0

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Ultimaker Cura 5.0

Ultimaker has announced the latest version of Cura: Cura 5.0! The new version offers a lot of advantages such as higher print quality with finer details and stronger part production in less time.

The slicing engine is the most important part of the software. As it is known, a slicing engine is what transforms a 3D model into G-code and prepares it to be printed. Ultimaker 5.0 offers a new slicing engine with an important feature: variable line width. Sliced files used to use a consistent line width that depends on the nozzle diameter and the setting. Basically, if less noticeable lines are desired, a smaller nozzle was used and vice versa. So, if part of the print was two and a half lines thick, two lines would occur which led to a gap between them. This resulted in errors and inconsistent lines, and thus there were many gaps in a printed part. Because of this, printing took a much longer time and caused vibrations and noise.

Cura 5.0 offers a new slicing engine that unlocks variable line widths. The extremely fine details used to be omitted by the slicer as it was not possible to print them successfully. Ultimaker Cura 5.0 solves this problem with its new slicing engine. In the new version, the width of lines is adjusted, so there are no uneven lines. As a result, parts are much stronger and have finer details. Furthermore, thanks to increased toolpath efficiency, print time also improved. The new slicing engine allows us to improve print profiles, thus printing them faster. Printing time can now be reduced up to 20%. Also, there are fewer gaps between the lines as they are increased and are thinner, giving way to stronger parts.

To find out more, watch the recent Ultimaker showcase where Ultimaker Cura 5.0 was announced:  ultimaker

Jigs and Fixtures

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Jigs and Fixtures

When assembling a product, we can’t often use off-the-shelf tools during product development. It is through custom jigs and fixtures that help us get repeatable work. Custom jigs and fixtures can be adjustable, or specifically designed for a certain part, which makes production easier, faster and more accurate. However, producing these jigs and fixtures via traditional manufacturing methods might be expensive and time-consuming. Traditional methods are 100 times more expensive than 3D printing these jigs and fixtures, and much faster. 3D printing helps reach the final design faster, making it easier for engineers to print replicas, thus minimising lead times.

Ford’s engineers in Cologne produced a tool that they can hook at the back of the car, enabling them to position badges and emblems quickly. This tool was 3D printed with tough PLA in two parts on the Ultimaker s5 and glued together later on.

Volkswagen Autoeuropa’s engineers in Portugal developed a wheelgun jig, which helps them to place their wheelgun into the wheel. The part was 3D printed in multiple parts so that it can be quickly replaced in case of damage.

Traditionally, it takes a very long time to attach the pedal to a bicycle as one has to tighten it manually using a wrench. eBike Manufacturing 3D printed a tool using polycarbonate, which fits perfectly around the pedal and holds the nut in place. The pedal can be attached in less than a minute with the help of a drill.

At Ultimaker, several tools, jigs, and fixtures are 3D printed on Ultimaker 3D printers. The main axis of an Ultimaker 3D printer is connected to its motors via sliding blocks. Ultimaker uses a custom-designed pressure fixture that helps assemble the sliding blocks. This tool is 3D printed from XSTRAND™ GF30 PA6 (nylon with 30% glass fiber) which provides strength. It is combined with Ultimaker TPU 95A, which is a soft and flexible material, protecting the sliding block from any type of damage.

Factories may subject jigs and fixtures to high stress or temperature. So, it is important to choose the correct material. Ultimaker provides an open filament system, which offers a variety of industrial-grade materials from any brand, including industrial plastics, carbon, steel, or glass-fibre reinforced filaments. Therefore, you are provided with strong, tough, high-temperature resistant, flexible, rigid materials to choose from. Also, it is possible to have custom-designed filaments specifically designed for your requirements.

With Ultimaker’s dual extrusion 3D printers, it is possible to combine many materials. Many companies prefer Ultimaker Tough PLA for strength, combined with the protectiveness of TPU 95A. Another advantage is that you can use two colours. If you choose to use another colour for the outer surface of a part, the colour of the inner surface will show whether a part is ready for replacement.