Like all technology, 3D Printing technologies – including the ever-popular SLA – have evolved over the years, enabling product designers to push the boundaries of rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing.
3D systems invented SLA machines back in the 1980s. The SLA machines used by Prototype Projects are the Projet 6000 and 7000 (the former having replaced the Viper SLA machines as announced in our recent new SLA machines press release).
The excellent range of materials are still available, and so this, together with the evolution of new 3D printing machine processes, technologies and engineering skills, means that the range of possibilities available with 3D printing has never been greater.
In this article we’re going to look at the Projet build styles.
What does Projet 3D printing offer?
The combination of Projet 3D printing technology and the wide range of materials extends the range of options and opens new possibilities for design engineers.
It also means new industrial and product applications (see below).
Among these the key factors are:
- Excellent aesthetic build (by using very fine build layers)
- Fine details and wall thicknesses
- High levels of stability
- High levels of precision and accuracy (rivalling injection molding and CNC)
- Greater part complexities
- Wide range of finishing possibilities, including painting and spraying
- True line drawing in X and Y for accurate curve definition
- Fast (overnight) production turnaround.
Projet 3D printing is used for:
- Master patterns for vacuum casting
- Complex assemblies
- Air flow testing models
- Orthodontic customised parts
- Medical applications
- Custom jigs and fixtures
- Design verification models
- Concept and Marketing Models
Different levels of surface finish quality, feature detail and mechanical properties can be achieved, depending on whether the part is required for visualisation and presentation, functional testing, form and fit or production.
On the ProJet 7000 the build platform can accommodate a single part of up to 380mm x 380mm x 250mm in size in fine detail (or several smaller SLA parts).
Parts are accurate to +/-45 μm with features reproducible down to 0.050mm depending on geometry, orientation and build mode.
The build modes: UHD and XHD (formally normal res and hi res)
The maximum resolution of Prototype Projects’ Projet SLA machines is 4000dpi. The “dual spot” laser delivers fine feature parts as standard with the 0.1mm layer Ultra High Definition (UHD) build mode. This has combined the old hi res (0.05mm layer) / normal res (0.1mm layer) laser beam size into one build style.
However, the machines are still capable of printing in a 0.05mm layer Xtra High Definition (XHD) build mode. This may be used if you have very small or fine side wall features you need to replicate. The laser beam sizes used are the same for XHD as it is for UHD. If you think the 0.05mm XHD build mode might be more suitable for your part, please send us your files so we can interrogate and offer advice.
The intelligent scanning software determines when the fine point laser should be used, in either UHD or XHD build mode. The laser scanning beam size is:
- Borders and Fine features: down to 75 µm
- Infill/Hatching: 750 µm
SLA is very good. But it isn’t everything
As we have said before, the decision on which 3D printing technology to use for your part should be based on:
- The design of your specific part
- The job the part is intended to do
- The desired properties of the part.
The real question that design engineers should ask their prototyping bureau
The most important question to ask before contacting your prototyping bureau is “How fast do I need my SLA or SLS part?”
With competitive pressures and time to market being so vital, it’s common for all the factors involved to boil down to speed of delivery.
Of course, quality, consistency, customer experience and process all come into the mix but the turnaround time for delivery of your finished prototype part may be the key defining aspect of who you choose as your prototyping partner.
And that’s what we will look in our next article.
For any questions about 3D printing or to request a quote, please contact Prototype Projects. We can advise you on your choice of prototyping technology and can also help you optimise your designs for prototyping. Contact us now!