The 3D printing industry is a special one. A 3D printer has several necessary components: heat beds, bed surfaces, the printing materials (resins or filaments), extruders, hobbed gear, and more. Depending on the kind of printing materials engineers use, different printers are necessary. These several technological parts that make up a 3D printer can be sourced from around the globe from several manufacturers.
Thus, it takes quite a lot of engineered parts to make up an SLA workshop. What is a SLA workshop, you might ask?
It is a 3D printing facility that utilizes the printing method known as stereolithography (SLA) - less commonly known as additive manufacturing. Companies are building 3D printing factories, turning the advent of newer, improved 3D printing into businesses.
A SLA workshop utilizes the kinds of 3D printers that convert liquid materials into solid parts by printing them layer by layer using lasers or light sources. Using light sources to turn liquid materials into solids is done through a process known as photopolymerization.
It is known to be the most accurate method of 3D printing.
YouTube channel ‘Strange Parts’ went to investigate how Chinese 3D printing company Lexcent prints its parts.
Lexcent uses resins provided by a company in Europe named DSM Resins & Functional Materials. They are the leading global supplier of high-quality resins for 3D printing and other liquid material based applications. The lasers at Lexcent are manufactured in Germany.
The company offers a printing service. All you do is place an order, and their facility works around the clock to print a design that is sent to them for a nominal price.
It is important for companies doing high-profile additive manufacturing to have high-quality resins and precise printers. If any cutting of corners occurs in the additive manufacturing industry, printed solids can come out with rough exteriors or have uneven edges.
Thus, Lexcent has to regulate temperatures within its facility to ensure the printers do not overheat - if the resins are exposed to temperatures of 104 Fahrenheit or over, the items will not print properly. The company also has to utilize different colored lighting so that no white light interferes with the SLA printing method which utilizes its own laser-focused light.
Nonetheless, once a print has been completed, parts are sent into a workshop for polishing. This ensures that any rough edges are eliminated. Then, the parts are shipped off to the paying customers.
Each SLA 3D printer at Lexcent’s headquarters costs around US$55,200 - the company has eight of them. They also have 13 CNC machines for heavier duty additive manufacturing; they make titanium alloys, aluminium alloys and harder plastics.
Fused Deposition Modeling
Another company making their bread and butter off 3D printing is Voodoo Manufacturing. They have introduced something called the ‘Large Format 3D Printing’ service. Customers who require large scale, industrial-sized prints can send it to Voodoo Manufacturing - their printer, considered the biggest in the world, prints a customer’s file. They have added 10 Raise3D N2 Plus Printers which uses a form of printing called Fused Deposition Modeling.
The Fused Deposition Modeling 3D printing method uses fused filament fabrication. Instead of solidifying liquids, a continuous filament is melted and pushed out of a nozzle. The filament eventually becomes the solid it was instructed to print.
In many universities there are now 3D printing facilities which allow students to become familiar with these printing technologies, they often print t their own CAD files. And the emergence of 3D printing businesses allow customers to have rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing work done at reasonable prices.
“Voodoo Manufacturing Introduces Large Format 3D Printing Service.” Advanced Manufacturing, 21 Feb. 2018, advancedmanufacturing.org/voodoo-manufacturing-introduces-large-format-3d-printing-service/.