One of the exciting things about offering rapid prototyping services to our clients is the ever-changing nature of the work. We never quite know what will come our way, so it’s important to be as flexible and versatile as possible. With that in mind, we have a variety of techniques that we use to achieve the desired part or parts for the project in question. In this post, we are going to discuss additive layer manufacturing, which is one of the techniques we employ, along with options like CNC milling and 3D printing.
Let’s take a look at seven different types of additive layer manufacturing processes. The right process for the job will depend on many factors, so feel free to contact us to learn more about what we offer and what may be right for your needs.
Solid Ground Curing
One additive layer manufacturing process that we can use here at Laszeray Technology, LLC is solid ground curing. This is a useful process for generating rapid prototypes, in addition to patterns, production parts, and more.
There are several steps involved in using solid ground curing to produce a part, with each layer being cured through the use of an ultra-violet lamp. Wax is used to fill the voids in the part, meaning no support structure is necessary and extremely accurate parts can be created. On the downside, there is a significant amount of waste generated with this method.
While this is also a type of additive manufacturing, it is one that is generally more suited to the hobbyist working at home rather than a professional commercial environment. As the name would suggest, this technique sees the material in question extruded through a nozzle so it can be placed on a building surface.
As layers are added, the part can gradually come together into a finished product. What this method offers in terms of simplicity is a selling point, but there are limitations such as the accuracy of the product and the time it takes to produce a single item.
Powder Bed Fusion
Another option for additive layer manufacturing is powder bed fusion. With this technique, a powder is placed onto a platform and is then fused into place through the use of a laser. That initial layer will then serve as the starting point for additional layers that are just a tenth of a millimeter in thickness. One at a time, new layers can be fused to the previous layers, until a finished product has been created.
A long list of different materials can be used on powder bed fusion, as long as the desired material can be turned into a powdered form. This technique can be a good option for prototyping, thanks to a relatively low cost, at least compared to other options. However, it isn’t the fastest method available and does consume quite of bit of energy.
That’s right. 3D printing itself is another form of additive layer manufacturing, so it deserves a place on this list. You may already be familiar with the basics of this process, but we can provide a quick rundown here anyway. It’s important to understand that the type of 3D printing used in a commercial setting is typically different from what is used by the hobbyist at home.
For a professional application, a binder jetting technique is typically used to create accurate parts in a short amount of time. The alternating layers of powdered plastics and liquid bonding agents allow the process to produce parts without the need for heat to be applied. As more and more innovations and breakthroughs take place in the 3D printing space, the possibilities for what can be accomplished continue to expand.
If you have the chance to watch a part be created through VAT photopolymerization, you might think you are watching a little bit of magic. Of course, there is nothing magic about it but, rather, it is just the logical application of science to mold physical material into the desired form.
The approach to creating a part with this method is quite different from most of the other additive layer manufacturing methods available today. Rather than starting with a clean build platform, the platform itself is submerged into the resin that is going to be used to create the new item. A UV light is then applied to the proper places across the platform in order to create a solid material in the desired shape.
That process continues until all of the layers have been solidified and the part is completed. When the platform is taken out of the vat, the excess liquid will simply fall away, and the part will be left standing. Among the benefits of this process include the accuracy of the finished product and the ability to create larger items.
For rapid prototyping that comes at a relatively low cost, it may be wise to turn to sheet lamination. There are a couple of types of this method available, including laminated object manufacturing and ultrasonic additive manufacturing.
To create a part using this technique, sheets of material will be laid down, one after another, and those sheets will then be attached (through either the use of adhesive or ultrasonic welding, depending on the material in question). The desired shape for the layer can be cut after the sheet has been placed or the shapes can be cut before the sheets are placed—either option is possible. It is the speed and cost-effective nature of this method that is desirable, with the main drawback being the wasted material that is generated along the way.
Directed Energy Deposition
This last type of additive layer manufacturing on our list is a bit different from the rest, but it is worthy of discussion. Although directed energy deposition is not a commonly used method at the moment, it does have benefits—particularly as it relates to adding new material to an item that has already been created. The process works by depositing material out of a nozzle and onto an object, where it is immediately melted through the use of an electron beam or laser. Commonly, either powder or wire is used for this method, depending on the project at hand.
Contact Laszeray Technology, LLC
If you are ready to get started on a new prototyping project, please contact Laszeray Technology, LLC right away. We will be happy to speak with you regarding your ideas for the new project, and we’ll explain what we have to offer. Thanks for learning about what we do. We hope to work with you soon!