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Rapid Manufacturing Machine Designed for Higher Accuracy


Rapid Manufacturing Machine Designed for Higher Accuracy
Stephanie Steward

The Araldite Digitalis offers increased accuracy over traditional stereolithography systems.
Huntsman Advanced Materials has spent the last 20 years developing stereolithography resins for rapid prototyping and product development companies. During that time, the company became familiar with problems such as inconsistent accuracy, which can occur when using laser-based additive fabrication systems for high-speed rapid prototyping. To address these problems, the company is breaking into the rapid manufacturing market by offering a more accurate and functional machine.

Traditional automated stereolithography systems produce multiple prototype parts by constructing layer upon layer of the models and fusing the material. But these systems, which typically use light-reflecting microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), can provide only limited speed and accuracy because they use a laser to expose only one point on the part at a time. “The laser-based system has an inherent weakness in this respect,” says Magnus Wied, manager of global public affairs and communications for Huntsman’s advanced materials and textile effects divisions.

To make its Araldite Digitalis machine, which the company claims can produce multiple complex parts faster and more accurately than traditional systems, the MLS MicroLightSwitch system was designed. This system enables micron-sized spots of radiation to be selectively irradiated onto a resin surface so that the system can expose a larger surface area of radiation-curable resin at one time. “The design of the Araldite Digitalis machine allows the irradiation angle to always be vertical to the surface of the resin,” explains Wied. “The accuracy is not limited to the certain space in the center of the building plate [as are laser-based systems]. This avoids the variances in accuracy of parts depending on where they are placed on the building plate.”

The machine’s controlled radiation is achieved using shuttering mechanisms that are built into silicon MEMS chips. Instead of relying on traditional laser-based systems or light-reflecting MEMS, the company uses MEMS that cure liquid resin with UV light. “As a UV chemistry company that offers a variety of products in adhesives, solder masks, and coatings, we see the vast potential in UV chemistry to offer a completely new range of materials for rapid manufacturing,” says Wied.

Operating at a 90º angle, the shuttering mechanisms guide 40,000 UV light pixels at a time, exposing a large surface area on the building plate in a single step. The machine comes with a build envelope that measures 650 × 370 × 600 mm, but it can be made larger or smaller by increasing or decreasing the number of MLS MicroLightSwitch modules.

Huntsman Advanced Materials

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