3D printing (3D printing) –is a revolutionary technology that has changed the life of mankind. 3D printing technology has become an integral part of production processes, industry, medicine, architecture, and education.
Today, there are a huge number of materials for 3D printing, as well as a wide range of printing technologies on a 3D printer. One of the most famous and popular is laser stereolithography.
Laser stereolithography (SLA)
Stereolithography – is a method of printing a 3d model of a product, in which, under the influence of laser radiation, a liquid photopolymer changes its physical characteristics and freezes.
Laser stereolithography as a technology was discovered and patented by the scientist Charles Hull in 1986. This technology allows you to “grow” from a photopolymer in a liquid state a pre-built 3D model of excellent quality and a layer thickness of about 0.1 mm.
Equipment for stereolithography
3D printers designed for SLA printing have a high print resolution compared to similar devices.
The minimum layer thickness is 0.03 mm. The finished model has a durable and smooth surface. A product made on a SLA printer can be made with a high degree of detail and have dimensions of 70 * 70 * 70 cm. Almost all SLA printers are large and weigh about 500 kg.
Features of laser stereolithography
The SLA printing technology is distinguished by the high accuracy of the finished model, as well as the ease of processing and correcting the source material. If necessary, the finished 3D model can be given a mirror finish.
Before starting the printing process, the prepared 3d model of the object must be dividedinto several separate layers using professional software products. During the printing process, a new product is formed on a moving platform. The product is lowered down to the thickness of one layer and the laser beam creates the first “slice” of the 3D model.
The layer does not completely harden, only its individual elements and details are held together, the environment itself remains in a liquid state. The process of solidification of the desired parts of the product under the action of laser radiation is called polymerization.
The second section is obtained by re-lowering the platform and filling the surface with liquid polymer. This process is repeated many times, resulting in a finished product, which is then washed to remove residual resin and placed under an ultraviolet lamp to give it strength.
Stereolithography can significantly reduce the time for the implementation of the production processdue to the fact that the initial material in the process of solidification is only 20% or less from the state of complete drying, which in turn allows you to remove the product from the equipment without deformation. Full strength is given to the product by being under the influence of initiating light for 15-20 minutes.
Applications and advantages of laser stereolithography technology
SLA technology is applied in such areas
- Creation of a design or engineering prototype of a product.
- 3D layout.
- Manufacture of tooling for various types of precision casting.
- Production of models used to create shaping equipment.
- Creation of master-models, necessary in the process of electrode production.
- Restoration of objects, according to the data obtained from acoustic and X-ray tomography in the field of medicine, archeology, forensics, etc.
The main advantages of stereolithography (SLA) are:
- the possibility of producing a finished model of an object of any level of complexity, objects with a large number of small elements and thin-walled ones;
- high surface quality of the finished product;
- high accuracy of the resulting models;
- ease of processing consumables;
- the possibility of using polymer resins as a starting material;
- wastelessness of production.
Prototypes obtained in the process of SLA printing have excellent mechanical properties and do not have geometric restrictions of the created elements and details. SLA equipment is characterized by economical consumption of raw materials, which is why stereolithography is considered one of the most profitable technologies.
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