Switzerland Innovation Park Biel/Bienne utilizes Stereolithography (SLA), Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Material Jetting (MJ) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) in research and production. These technologies are used in Rapid Prototyping and are also offered to our clients for their needs and projects.
Stereolithography (SLA) uses a build platform submerged into a translucent tank filled with liquid photopolymer resin. Once the build platform is submerged, a single point laser located inside the machine maps a cross-sectional area (layer) of a design through the bottom of the tank solidifying the material. After the layer has been mapped and solidified by the laser, the platform lifts up and lets a new layer of resin flow beneath the part. This process is repeated layer by layer to produce a solid part. Parts are typically then cured by UV to improve mechanical properties.
Vat polymerization processes are excellent at producing parts with fine details and give a smooth surface finish. This makes them ideal for jewelry, investment casting and many dental and medical applications. Material developments have also allowed the printing of low run injection molds. The main limitations for vat polymerization are the build size.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) (sometimes also referred to as fused filament fabrication or FFF) uses a string of solid thermoplastic material (filament), pushing it through a heated nozzle and melting it in the process. The printer continuously moves this nozzle around, laying down the melted material at a precise location, where it instantly cools down and solidifies. This builds up a part layer by layer. FDM is the most widely used 3D printing technology.
A quick and cost-effective method for producing non-functional prototypes, FDM has some dimensional accuracy limit- ations and is very anisotropic.