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Using Photopolymers for Your 3D Printing Projects – IndustryWeek

by • July 27, 2016 • No Comments

On the surface, it seems that stereolithography and PolyJet are identical twins. They both use UV energy to cure liquid photopolymer, after all. But a nearer appear reveals they’re additional fraternal than identical.
Despite sharing a much like printing foundation, they use various print methods to deplete a fully cured product. The divergent turn it into styles mean these methods are not always suitable for the same applications, making it significant to know the differences between the two systemes. Chief one of those are resolution and dimensions, making speed, materials and applications.
This article can dive into stereolithography’s and PolyJet’s respective traits and contribute tips on maximizing effectiveness for both systemes.
It is All About the Process
With its satisfactory print nozzles depositing plastic photopolymer droplets, coupled with water-soluble assist material onto a clean turn it into platform, PolyJet prints pretty much like to a 2D printing device. The plastic is simultaneously deposited by the print nozzles and cured with UV energy. After completing a layer, the turn it into platform lowers and the following layer is turn it intod on top of the previous one. This system repeats itself until the turn it into is deplete. With layer resolutions of 0.00063 inches at its satisfactoryst and 0.00118 inches for standard definition creations, PolyJet prints in the satisfactoryst layer resolution of any 3D print innovation.

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Stereolithography, in addition known as vat photopolymerization, 3D prints creations inside a bed of liquid resin. After a thin layer of resin is evenly spread across the turn it into platform, UV energy, directed by dynamic mirrors, cures a cross-section of the turn it into to the turn it into platform. This system in addition comes with the depositing and curing of assists to anchor the turn it into and preserve delicate showcases. Similar to PolyJet, once a layer is cured, the turn it into surface shifts downward and a thin layer of resin is applied to the previous layer.
Stereolithography prints in satisfactory layer thicknesses of around 0.002 inches at its tinyest and 0.005 inches for creations without specific resolutions, and its parts are turn it intod in a “green state” — i.e. they are not fully cured during printing. After they are turn it intod, parts are cured in a UV oven once excess resin has been removed.
After the Build: Post-Processing
The preparation and post-systeming of stereolithography and PolyJet are much like in that they both require of the same amount of touch labor. This post-systeming comes with removal of assist material utilized to turn it into overhangs, holes or tiny showcases. For PolyJet, assist generation is fully automated and usually does not require alterations. Stereolithography in addition (usually) uses an automated software program that applies assists to the file. So, to reduce turn it into time or manufacture sure a showcase is turn it intod as requireed, a turn it into operator may reorient the turn it into in a way that decreases the amount of assist material. As an example, a tall and thin part may be turn it intod lying flat instead of upright, for the reason the former’s turn it into orientation may not require assist material and thus be turn it intod quicker.
These two systemes in addition differ slightly in how their assists are turn it intod and removed. Most stereolithography assists are breakaway assists turn it intod with the same material as the final part; any remnants of the breakaway assists are and so removed by hand finishing systemes — e.g. sanding. With PolyJet, assists are turn it intod with a separate water-soluble assist material that’s eliminated by a water jet. After the water blasting, residue of the assists may be cleared away via special brushes.

Time is Money: Part Size Affects Build Speed
It shouldn’t surprise you that part dimensions and resolution are big facts in determining turn it into speed. Because they turn it into parts variously, stereolithography and PolyJet each have their own specialties. Stereolithography is additional cost-effective for bigger parts, such as hovia and panels, while PolyJet is efficient for tiny, detailed parts.
The perfect turn it into dimensionss for PolyJet are of 5 to 6 inches cubed. Anything sizeabler significantly slows down the turn it into system. That’s for the reason the additional surface area PolyJet’s print head has to cover to place a layer, the longer the turn it into system can take. When time is money, the alter in speed directly effects the cost.
Stereolithography, on the other hand, uses quickly moving mirrors directing UV energy to turn it into parts, so it does not slow down the way PolyJet does when making sizeabler parts. The difference is big: SL can turn it into a few sizeable parts up to 70% cheaper than if they were turn it intod with PolyJet.
Materials and Applications
Just like their turn it into systemes are most suited for sure types of parts, PolyJet and stereolithography’s materials are tailored to unique applications.

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PolyJet’s ability to turn it into via multiple materials and colors simultaneously manufactures it unique in 3D printing. Because of this, the system has created a niche in creating color models for consumer prototyping.
Stereolithography innovation, on the other hand, is utilized for functional prototypes, patterns, concept models etc. — especially for sizeable parts. Additionally, it has played a big role in creating investment casting patterns. Whilst lost wax patterns require tooling, investment casting patterns do not, thus decreasing capital costs for one-off patterns. Investment casting patterns are in addition turn it intod with mostly hollow interiors and reinforced outer shells, making the patterns lighter than those created with lost wax.
Stereolithography and PolyJet: The Decision
On the other hand they share most much likeities, stereolithography and PolyJet should not be utilized interalterably. When it comes to choosing between the two, a project’s application should be the deciding factor for any user. Force-fitting one system for all applications can most likely leave your team with additional hand labor — in other words, longer turn it into times and higher costs. It may in addition mean a part that does not meet the performance or aesthetic expectations.
One way to iron out the wrinkles and confirm that system is right for your project is to prototype. One other is to consult with a project engineer. By enabling users to test out all the major 3D printing systemes, service providers can assist your team find the most fit.
Andrew Graves is a lead additive making engineer with Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. Andrew has been working in rapid prototyping and additive making (or 3D printing) for additional than 25 years and manages Stratasys Direct Manufacturing’s Stereolithography systems and operations.


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