3D printing is revolutionizing the way in which companies manufacture products. Since its rise in the 1990s, it’s become an increasingly common process used in the manufacturing industry. Research, in fact, shows that product prototyping is the leading application for 3D printing, followed closely behind proof-concept models. Resin 3D printing, however, is a specific type of 3D printing that’s characterized by the use of light as a curing agent.
The Basics of Resin 3D Printing
Also known as stereolithography (SLA), resin 3D printing is defined by its use of liquid-based resin as the material, as well as light as the curing agent. Most other types of 3D printing, of course, use solid materials, such as polymer powder. A traditional 3D printer will deposit layers of the polymer material onto a substrate to build the desired object. Resin 3D printing is distinguished from its counterparts by using liquid-based resin as the material, which is later exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light for curing.
Resin 3D printing has origins dating back to the 1970s. Around this time, research papers were published proposing the use of liquid-based resin to produce objects. With that said, the world’s first resin 3D printer didn’t appear until the mid-1980s. In 1984, American engineer Chuck Hull filed a patent for a 3D printer that used liquid-based resin and light.
How Resin 3D Printing Works
You might be wondering how resin 3D printing works. While there are several subsets of resin 3D printing, most use a similar method to build objects. The process begins by building the bottom layer at the top of a resin-filled tank. The tank is filled with the liquid-based resin. A UV laser then solidifies specific particles of resin within the tank to build the desired object. As the UV laser moves back and forth, it cures the resin particles, converting them from a liquid to a solid state.
Pros and Cons of Resin 3D Printing
There are both pros and cons associated with resin 3D printing. In terms of advantages, resin 3D printing is fast and highly capable of producing complex objects very quickly. Larger objects obviously take longer to build than smaller objects, but resin 3D printing is still a fast process nonetheless. Resin 3D printing is also capable of producing strong objects. In its liquid state, the resin is soft and weak. Once cured, though, it becomes rock hard.
Because it’s a more advanced form of additive manufacturing, resin 3D printing is somewhat expensive. Manufacturing companies must purchase a special resin 3D printing machine, which can run up to $200,000 or more, and they must also purchase the liquid-based resin to use in the machine.
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