rapid prototyping machines


China Rapid prototyping offers low volume production with prototype machines


Rapid prototyping machines were invented between the 1980 and 1990, the first rapid prototyping technology was invented by Charles Hull and is called Stereolithography or SLA technology. The patent was applied in 1986 and he stated in that patent that a beam of ultraviolet is beamed on a liquid photocurable in a vat.

A stereo lithography machine is an apparatus that can make solid models by successively “printing” thin layers of an ultraviolet curable material one on top of the other.

Advantages of stereo lithography machines:

Speed, their speed is a big plus, compared to e.g. conventional cnc machining of the same model. When using a SLA machine and the outcome , post processing is minimal, often the model is perfect due to very thin layers, layer thickness of 0.025 mm are common. Also an advantage of stereolithography is that design complexity is not an issue.

Disadvantages of a stereo lithography machine:

These SLA machines are very costly compare to other technologies such as FDM prototyping ; A SLA machine will cost you round 100.000 Usd whereas an FDM machine can be purchased for 10.000-25.000 usd. Furthermore solid state lasers, the core of such a machine , don not work fore ever and it is adviced to add service contract when you buy a stereolithogrpahy machine. ( such contracts are usually 10 % of the machine costs)

Another disadvantage is that the photo cureable materials are expensive aswell. To replace the basic material for example a SLA-700 machine will cost you 45.000 usd!

The size of 3d models made on a SLA machine is limited. A SLA-700 machine can build up maximal a model that is sized 20" x 20" x 23".

Sometimes SLA machines can have flexible output resolutions such as the Viper SLA, this machine enables operators to choice between a low or high resolution mode. ( the high resolution has a layer thickness for hi-resolution mode is 0.075 +/- 0.015 mm.



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