Why Stereolithography is Built for Prototyping

Stereolithography (SL) is an established additive manufacturing process that can quickly and accurately create complex prototypes. Parts are built by curing paper-thin layers of liquid thermoset resin with an ultraviolet (UV) laser that draws on the surface of a resin to turn it from a liquid to solid layer. As each layer is completed, fresh, uncured resin is swept over the preceding layer and the process repeated until the part is finished.

SL offers a range of plastic-like materials to choose from with several types of polypropylene, ABS and glass-filled polycarbonate available. Normal, high and micro resolutions are achievable at Proto Labs, meaning very fine details and cosmetic surfaces are possible. As a result, minimal “stair stepping” is seen compared to printed parts such as fused deposition modeling (FDM).

SL parts can also be built to a max size of 29 in. by 25 in. by 21 in., giving it the edge over other additive processes like selective laser sintering (SLS).

Our latest design tip looks at these and other manufacturing considerations for the stereolithography process.

Your Easy Guide to Digital Manufacturing

Due to the popularity of our first book, “Injection Molding Part Design for Dummies,” we’ve published a new 72-page book on digital manufacturing. It’s a comprehensive resource to help you navigate the increasingly tech-driven world of advanced manufacturing.

“Digital Manufacturing for Dummies” offers an in-depth look at the various rapid prototyping and low-volume production processes and provides tips to improve part design. Find out how to:

  • leverage 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding processes to bring your product to market fast.
  • evaluate suppliers with the proper criteria to meet your quick-turn manufacturing needs.
  • increase the manufacturability of your parts.

Order it for free today.

LSR Molding Gets Medical-Grade Silicone, Increases Size Envelope

The medical industry continues to grow and change, and Proto Labs is working to stay ahead of the curve with our capabilities by making some significant enhancements to our Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR) molding process. The most recent updates include the addition of medical-grade QP1-250 LSR to our material options and the ability to produce larger LSR parts. Continue reading

Hush Technology Aims to Provide People with Better Sleep

Hush Technology, Inc. is the latest recipient of Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award. The company has designed a first-of-its-kind smart earplug. (photo courtesy of Hush Technology, Inc.)

 

California-based startup, Hush Technology, Inc., is the latest recipient of the Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award. Its product, Hush, is the world’s first smart earplug that combines sound-eliminating foam and noise masking technology to keep unwanted noise out while allowing important alerts in.

Hush helps users sleep through snoring, loud neighbors and a host of other noises that disturb nightly sleep. It connects via Bluetooth with a smartphone app so users can choose which notifications, including emergency calls and alarms, can get through to them during the night. The device includes a tiny speaker in its design that can play soft soothing sounds like white noise, ocean waves, and rain drops for over 10 hours. Continue reading

3D Printing or Machining for Plastic Parts?

An SL machine displays a final ABS-like part with supports.

There are many questions to consider when determining if your plastic parts should be 3D printed or machined. Can you test form, fit and function by using plastic-like materials or do you require engineering-grade thermoplastics? Do you need a broader selection of plastic materials during protoyping? Is your part geometry simple or complex? What are the cost considerations for both methods?

Our latest April Design Tip takes a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of both 3D printing and CNC machining.  It aims to help you determine which method is better for your particular application. Continue reading