BCN3D unveils new resin-based 3D printing technology

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Leading 3D printing solutions manufacturer BCN3D has announced a new 3D printing technology. Viscous Lithography Manufacturing (VLM) has been derived to specifically address BCN3D’s vision of unlocking manufacturing autonomy, where all manufacturers can experience full control over every stage in their production processes with AM solutions.

VLM comes as a breakthrough from three years of dedication from BCN3D’s R&D team as a game-changing way of surpassing stoppers such as initial investments in money or space, mechanical properties not up to standard or incapability of large batch production. It is through the fresh perspective of using high viscosity resins for better mechanical properties, in combination with this huge leap forward in productivity and accessibility, that ultimately satisfies all demands to unlock manufacturing autonomy.

“If 3D printing is to be the future of manufacturing, and what leads us towards local production, customization, control of supply chains and sustainability, all the players in the industry should be pushing in this direction," said Xavier M. Faneca, CEO of BCN3D. "At BCN3D, we think that today is the first step in achieving this goal with the new Viscous Lithography Manufacturing (VLM) technology. We want to show 3D printing in a new light so that it becomes the pivotal point of manufacturing.” 

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 obtain 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 three times the amount of impact resistance for rigid materials and a 200% increment in tear strength compared to industry-standard formulations.

Speciality 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 utilized its experience spanning decades to ensure resins for VLM were of the highest quality.

“Thanks to the proven capability of VLM to manage high viscosity resins, we envision a great prospect to develop new building blocks and enable game-changing formulations to meet applications requirements that have not yet been reached with existing photocure technologies," said Hélène Egret, Europe 3D Market Manager at Arkema.

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.

“VLM technology seemed to combine all the best features of the different Additive Manufacturing technologies, and even offer some unique advantages. For Prodrive, materials are the key to making durable end-use parts," said Callum Harper, Design Engineer at Prodrive. "VLM allows us to continue to use the engineering materials that we know and love, but instead in significantly finer resolution in all three directions, and the material is much more homogeneous, making the finished parts behave much more like a traditional injection molded part.”

By using a light source consisting of UV light and an LCD screen, VLM delivers a constant time per layer, regardless of whether we are 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.