BCN3D announced a new 3D printing technology to advance alongside its FFF solutions: Viscous Lithography Manufacturing (VLM). This technology was derived to specifically address BCN3D’s vision of manufacturing autonomy, where manufacturers can experience full control over every stage in their production processes with AM solutions.
BCN3D’s R&D team spent 3 years developing VLM, addressing issues of cost and space, mechanical properties not up to standard, and large batch production challenges. One of the keys was the use of high viscosity resins to address mechanical property issues.
High viscosity resins for superb part performance
VLM is a patented lithography-based 3D printing process that laminates thin layers of high viscosity resins onto a transparent transfer film, producing high-performance parts rapidly and affordably. What distinguishes VLM from other resin technologies on the market is its ability to process resins 50x more viscous than the industry standard.
The mechanical system allows the resin to be laminated from both sides of the film, making it possible to implement strategies to speed up printing times or even to combine different resins to get multi-material parts and easy-to-remove support structures.
Without a strict low viscosity constraint, chemical companies have the freedom to formulate, as a whole new set of ingredients and modifiers can be added in the resin to achieve the desired effect on thermal and mechanical properties. VLM processes resins that obtain 3x the amount of impact resistance for rigid materials and a 200% increment in tear strength compared to industry-standard formulations.
Specialty materials company Arkema has been part of the process, through a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) in which the two companies are co-developing new materials capitalizing the singularities of VLM to obtain properties that can’t be reached with other resin-based 3D printing processes. As a global key player in the 3D printing industry and a pioneer in designing high-performance photocurable resins, Arkema used its experience spanning decades to ensure resins for VLM were of the highest quality.
BCN3D has also partnered with Prodrive, world-renowned motorsport and advanced technology company and one of the first in the world to put VLM technology to the test. They’ve been assembling end-use parts made with VLM mounted directly on cross-country cars.
Top-tier productivity and affordability
By using a light source consisting of UV light and an LCD screen, VLM delivers a constant time per layer, regardless of whether the printer is printing one or 100 parts at once. Furthermore, since it is not limited by the vat dimension, a complex temperature, or tricky components, all that’s needed to scale up is a bigger LCD screen. This combination of a quick layer time and a large surface area makes VLM the most productive additive manufacturing solution on the market.
BCN3D’s partnership with automotive glass manufacturer Saint Gobain illustrates these benefits perfectly in a use case where 7000 positioning fixtures have been fabricated in 7 days with VLM, for 0.79€ per part and a subsequent annual saving of 70.000€.
Frictionless operation accessible to all
While 3D printing has evolved from a rapid prototyping tool and moves into becoming a manufacturing tool, one of the missing factors is for it to be an affordable solution to reach all corners of manufacturing, from small to medium-sized businesses. VLM-based solutions will be under 50.000 euros, with a compact footprint, no dedicated space, or critical infrastructure needs.
This low entry barrier, in combination with its big printing volume and high throughput, puts the fixed cost of the solution ahead of the rest. By implementing the use of VLM, the cost per part is significantly lower than those of powder-based and resin-based technologies.
VLM also uses monocomponent resins formulations at room temperature to avoid pot life limitations and speed up setup times. Through its proprietary lamination system, the absence of a resin vat means that no initial investment of resin is required. What’s more, with VLM, zero waste becomes a reality: designed to filter and recirculate resin, every drop of resin eventually becomes a printed part.
BCN3D has devised the VLM Technology Adoption Program, aimed at businesses of all shapes and sizes. Its new Applications Center will be operated by dedicated AM specialists and host the upcoming VLM-based hardware solutions. Partakers will join Saint Gobain and Prodrive in being the first to discover the new VLM and experiencing its full potential for themselves with real 3D printed parts, and individual attention on their exact printing needs.
For a first-hand experience with VLM technology, visit BCN3D at the Rapid event on the 17-19th of May 2022, at Huntington Place, Detroit, Michigan.