Eric Utley, application specialist at Proto Labs.
We’ve been 3D printing for a while now, and our facility in Raleigh, North Carolina is packed with 3D printing specialists. For this installment of our Q&A, we spoke with one of those experts, Eric Utley, application specialist, for a chat about stereolithography and why product designers and engineers need it for prototyping.
To start off, can you give a quick overview of the stereolithography (SL) process?
Stereolithography uses UV light shot from a laser to cure a liquid thermoset resin called a photopolymer. In fact, even though 3D printing is often thought of as a new technology, SL has been around since the 1980s. But there’s a reason it has stuck around for so long — it has some key features that product designers need for prototypes.
What are some of those key features unique to SL?
I’d say the most important feature is that it creates a very high-resolution part with excellent surface finishes.
It can handle micro-sized features so it’s most suitable for parts that have a high level of detail. Most SL parts will have a nice, smooth finish and, although it’s typically used for prototyping, it leaves you with the feel of a final part — and looks go along way when sharing your new product design.
Another important benefit of SL is that it’s our most flexible process in terms of geometry it can handle, which gives designers a lot of freedom to work with.
HP Inc. made its announcement Tuesday morning at RAPID, the 3D printing trade show underway this week in Orlando. Here’s a glimpse of HP’s booth at RAPID.
Proto Labs has been selected by HP Inc. as a product testing site for the printing and PC giant’s new HP Multi Jet Fusion technology for industrial-grade 3D printing.
HP announced its new technology today at RAPID, a 3D printing and additive manufacturing trade show underway in Orlando, Florida through May 19. Proto Labs is at RAPID. You can find us at booth #443 to talk with a customer service engineer about our industrial-grade 3D printing services.
We’re excited to test drive this new technology that looks to be a dramatic leap ahead in 3D printing. We are looking forward to collaborating with HP on this new platform that promises to be faster and more economical than currently available 3D printing options.
Proto Labs’ staffers take a short photo break during RAPID underway all week in Orlando. From left, Joe Cretella, Greg Thompson, Rob Connelly and Thomas Davis. Visit Proto Labs at booth #443.
Proto Labs is one of several companies HP is working with as part of the company’s Early Customer Engagement Program, which conducts product testing and garners user feedback.
We were chosen because of our extensive experience as a prime user of industrial-grade 3D printing technology (also known as additive manufacturing) for our prototyping and low-volume manufacturing services.
READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE ANNOUNCEMENT
Join us for a webinar on improving part manufacturability. Our technical specialist Tony Holtz will demonstrate how to navigate ProtoQuote to optimize your design for 3D printing, CNC machining or injection molding.
In case you’re unfamiliar with ProtoQuote, it’s our fully automated quoting and design analysis software. Simply put – it makes your life a whole lot easier. It allows you to know exactly how much a part will cost and provides an analysis of your design within hours.
Sign up and learn how to tap into the full potential of ProtoQuote and its design for manufacturability analysis:
TITLE: Improving Manufacturability with ProtoQuote
DATE: Thursday, May 26 at 1 p.m. CDT
LINK: Click here to register!
At the end of the presentation, there will be time for a Q&A session. Have a colleague who might be interested? We’d love to have them join as well. And if you can’t make it at the specified time, you can still register and we’ll send you a recording afterward.
By Heather Thompson, Senior Editor, Medical Design and Outsourcing
As product development speeds up, the design rules are changing. Nowhere is this more apparent when looking at the industrial 3D printing process of direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). Direct metal laser sintering is an additive manufacturing technology with significant potential in the medical device space. But it requires a new way of thinking even at the early design phases. In many ways it represents the transition designers must face when looking at new technologies to make medical device design and manufacturing faster and more innovative.
Internal channels that are impossible to machine are achievable with DMLS.
There are several benefits of DMLS explains Tommy Lynch, metals project manager at Proto Labs Inc., primarily that designers can prototype designs in unusual shapes at both time and cost savings. “DMLS is different from other 3D printing because you are using real metal. Many of these materials have been used for industrial applications for decades.”
Lynch says designers like the process because they can experiment with organic shapes that can’t be readily machined. For example, one intriguing opportunity is the ability to build implantable body parts that are custom fit to the recipient. “These implants would normally need to be delicately built on a 5-axis machine at a high expense,” he says. “Technology exists to scan a person’s actual bone structure, and print a direct DMLS replacement.”
Did you know that living hinges are possible with 3D printing? Here are a few things areas to keep in mind when designing hinge functions so your part’s functionality and integrity remain intact.
We offer two processes for 3D printing thermoplastic or thermoplastic-like materials: selective laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography (SL). But only SLS will produce parts with the functionality required for a living hinge.
An SLS part with living hinge functionality.
Anytime we see the potential for a living hinge in a 3D-printed part, we will strongly guide you to SLS. SLS uses nylon thermoplastic, primarily PA 850 Black, which is a nylon 11 material. PA 850 has an increased EB of 14-51% followed by ALM PA 650 with an EB of 24%.
However, you can’t take a part that was produced in PA 850 or ALM PA 650 and expect it to function as a living hinge without a secondary process first. When you have a living hinge, we need to know what direction or the range of motion in which the hinge may function. This is critical as we anneal the part by heating it to 250-275°F and flex the hinge in the intended range of motion. This extends the life of the living hinge by stretching the material instead of fracturing the links of resin.
SL offers thermoplastic-like materials, but they are not be recommended for living hinge applications. Somos 9120 is our most flexible material of all SL resins with an elongation at break (EB) of 15-25%.