Additive Manufacturing New resin-based 3D printing technology unlocks manufacturing autonomy

Source: Press release

3D printing solutions manufacturer BCN3D has announced a new 3D printing technology to advance alongside its FFF solutions: Viscous Lithography Manufacturing. According to the company, this novel technology surpasses stoppers such as initial investments in money or space, mechanical properties not up to standard, or incapability of large batch production.

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VLM is a patented lithography-based 3D printing process that laminates thin layers of high viscosity resins onto a transparent transfer film.
VLM is a patented lithography-based 3D printing process that laminates thin layers of high viscosity resins onto a transparent transfer film.
(Source: BCN3D)

With the aim of unlocking manufacturing autonomy, where companies should have the tools to design and manufacture their own products and full control over the Additive Manufacturing fabrication life-cycle, BCN3D has developed its new VLM technology. It is the first 3D printing technology to simultaneously encompass high part performance, production capacity as well as accessible and frictionless operation.

VLM is a patented lithography-based 3D printing process that laminates thin layers of high viscosity resins onto a transparent transfer film, producing high-performance parts rapidly and cost-effectively. What distinguishes VLM from other resin technologies on the market is its ability to process resins 50x more viscous than the industry standard. The mechanical system allows the resin to be laminated from both sides of the film, making it possible to implement strategies to speed up printing times or even to combine different resins to get multi-material parts and easy-to-remove support structures.

Without a strict low viscosity constraint, chemical companies obtain the freedom to formulate, as a whole new set of ingredients and modifiers can be added in the resin to achieve the desired effect on thermal and mechanical properties, the company claims. VLM processes resins that obtain 3x the amount of impact resistance for rigid materials and a 200 percent increment in tear strength compared to industry-standard formulations.

Specialty materials company Arkema has been part of the process, through a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) in which the two companies are co-developing new materials capitalising the singularities of VLM. “Thanks to the proven capability of VLM to manage high viscosity resins, we envision a great prospect to develop new building blocks and enable game-changing formulations to meet applications requirements that have not yet been reached with existing photocure technologiess,” says Hélène Egret, Europe 3D Market Manager at Arkema.

BCN3D has also partnered with Prodrive, motorsport and advanced technology company and one of the first in the world to put VLM technology to the test. They’ve been assembling end-use parts made with VLM mounted directly on cross-country cars.

By using a light source consisting of UV light and an LCD screen, VLM delivers a constant time per layer, regardless of whether one or 100 parts at once are printed. Furthermore, since it is not limited by the vat dimension, a complex temperature, or tricky components, all that’s needed to scale up is a bigger LCD screen. This combination of a quick layer time and a large surface area makes VLM the most productive additive manufacturing solution on the market, BCN3D claims.

VLM also uses monocomponent resins formulations at room temperature to avoid pot life limitations and speed up setup times. Thanks to its proprietary lamination system, the absence of a resin vat means that no initial investment of resin is required. Additionally, designed to filter and recirculate resin, every drop of resin eventually becomes a printed part.

BCN3D has devised the VLM Technology Adoption Program, aimed at businesses of all shapes and sizes. Its new Applications Center will be operated by dedicated AM specialists and host the upcoming VLM-based hardware solutions. Partakers will join Saint Gobain and Prodrive in being the first to discover the new VLM and experiencing its full potential for themselves with real 3D printed parts and individual attention on their exact printing needs.

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