Two Approaches to Break Through the DLP Resolution Barrier
Todd Grimm posted on January 27, 2014 |

envisionTEC and Prodways have two very different approaches 

Prodways M250 ProducerDigital Light Processing, or “DLP”-based 3D printers are one of the fastest growing segments in the 3D printer industry. But there is a barrier when making large, high-resolution parts. As the build area increases, more DLP chips are needed, and this can get quite expensive.

envisionTEC and Prodways have two very different approaches to break through this barrier. envisionTEC, which is well-known for its DLP solutions, created a new technology. Prodways opted to move the light engine around the build area.

In mid-2013, envisionTEC introduced a new technology that it calls 3SP, which stands for Scan, Spin and Selectively Photocure. 3SP uses a low-cost, blue laser that sweeps across the build area after bouncing off a spinning mirror. But before it reaches the photopolymer, the laser beam passes through two sets of optics that redirect the beam so that it is perpendicular to the resin surface — from dead center to the outer fringes.

3SP is a simple concept with very few moving parts, so it is user serviceable.

Most recently envisionTEC incorporated 3SP in its large frame 3D printers, the Xede and Xtreme. The Xede and Xtreme differ only in build size. The Xede is 18 X 18 X 18 inches and the Xtreme is 10 X 15 X 13 inches.  Both offer 0.002- to 0.004-inch layers and XY resolutions of 0.004 inch, which makes for nice looking parts.

Prodways, a new company out of France, has taken a different approach to the challenge of making larger parts with DLP. It mounts two DLP light engines on a gantry that moves side-to-side and front-to-back. MOVINGlight, as the company calls the process, allows Prodways to deliver high resolution across build areas up to 33 X 26. To make the process fast, it uses high-power UVA LEDs, which also means that it uses different materials, which are claimed to be better than those from DLP printers that use visible light.

The M350 Producer is the largest 3D printer with the 33 X 26 X 21 inch working area. It offers 0.0015- to 0.003-inch layers and an XY resolution of 0.0013 inch. Seeing the machine first hand, I can say that it is quite robust and industrial grade.

The company also offers the D35 Producer, targeted for biomedical applications, and the K20 Producer, which makes composite parts from UV-cured pastes.

For more insight into these and other new products, watch the latest edition of In Short.

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