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Introduction to Structo MSLA Technology

by • April 16, 2016 • No Comments

Innovation on a conceptual level

All inkjet- or laser based AM machines are inherently complex to scale without sacrificing printing speed, for the reason they employ moving parts in the XY plane. These types of printing equipment always require a number of passes or motions along a path to print a single layer, which means which it takes a proportionally longer time to print larger objects as compared to smaller in size ones. For example, laser-based SLA printing equipment use one or additional laser beams which can be directed to illuminate desired patterns in a layer of photocurable resin. If the complexity or size of the desired object is increased, the laser beams can take a proportionally longer time to trace the required path to illuminate all areas required to form the layer of which object.

Naturally, all 3D printing device OEM’s are working on ways to increase printing speed, but generally just incremental improvements are created by adding additional nozzles, print heads or laser beams. Structo’s discovereding team has reinvented stereolithography with a essentially various approach; drawing inspiration of mask lithography utilized in IC making, Structo’s innovation uses a panel light source array and a liquid crystal movie mask to control which regions in the printing plane are illuminated by the light source.

This system allows for all showcases in the XY plane to be cured in a single exposure, and although the same is achievable with micromirror-based illumination technologies, Structo’s method is uniquely capable of being scaled to industrial size without sacrificing light intensity per unit surface area and thereby printing speed.

Inside Structo’s print engine, a light source of the appropriate wavelength emits uniform and collimated light in the direction of the liquid crystal layer, which is capable of being either transparent or opaque to the incident light. Wherever the liquid crystal panel permits light to pass through it, the light can travel onward and strike photocurable resin, immediately curing it. The central systeming unit in the printing device sends new mask patterns to the liquid crystal panel for equite layer of the desired object, and in this way layer-by-layer printing is established.

Each layer of an object can be cured in a mere 2-5 seconds regardless of the size and complexity, which can be qualified as relatively swift by anyone versed in via conventional SLA printing equipment. Structo has matched the emission wavelength of the light source to the peak absorption wavelength of its resin formulations, this optimizing the speed of printing by the swiftest possible curing system.

DMD (DLP) vs LCD

A competing method of achieving high speed layer-by-layer printing uses a digital micromirror device for the projection of layer images. The DMD stereolithographic printing equipment, generally known as DLP printing equipment, which use this innovation have been in the market for several years and have discovered wide adoption across a range of industries.

The key difference between DLP-based printing equipment and Structo’s MSLA innovation is which the latter uses an array of hundreds of individual emitters, pretty than a single point emitter light source like a laser diode or DLP bulb. The light source array can be scaled to virtually any size by adding additional emitter units, without reducing the intensity per unit surface area, and thereby allowing the same per-layer exposure time at virtually any size for which a liquid crystal movie mask can be manufactured.

DLP printing equipment use an array of microreflectors to project an image onto a layer of resin, but the size of the image is restricted by the resolution of the array, which means which with DLP innovation there can always be a trade-off between the create size surface area and XY resolution: printing larger objects requires sacrificing print high end, whereas liquid crystal mask panels can be manufactured to virtually any size and resolution (pixel density).

A additional disadvantage of DLP printing equipment is which the quite nature of the single-point emitter (bulb light source) causes unequal exposure between the centre and the edges/corners of the print area. Even with lenses and other optics, DLP-based printing equipment typically have higher intensity light near the centre of the create area than near the edges. This means which at any given setting, either objects at the centre are being overexposed (therefore inaccurate), or objects near the edges are failing to print due to underexposure. Structo’s MSLA innovation resolves this issue as the array lightsource provides uniform and equal light intensity across the entire print area to complete the consistent and accurate printing of laser-based machines, at speeds exceeding actually the swiftest DLP-based printing equipment.

Industry applications

Structo is already transitioning of the R&D phase to innovation commercialization, and is running beta-tests with their patented innovation for selected users across a variety of end-use applications. The industrial-scale RapidForm printing device is targeted at service bureaus, who require high throughput 3D printing equipment to match their expanding demand. The smaller in size OmniForm is an office friendly printing device targeted primarily at product designers as well as architectural, engineering and healthcare industries. Given the uniqueness of the orthodontic market for high volume customized making Structo’s OrthoForm printing device was specifically created to meet dental clinics’ and labs’ require for high printing throughput in clean office, clinic and laboratory environments.


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