According to BCN3D, this newfound technology was specifically developed to address the company's vision of unlocking manufacturing autonomy to allow manufacturers to gain full control over every stage in their production processes with AM solutions.
BCN3D’s R&D team spent three dedicated years testing and improving this technology to come up with a technology that was able to circumvent barriers related to AM such as initial investments in money or space, mechanical properties not up to standard or incapability of large batch production.“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. 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” – Xavier M. Faneca, CEO of BCN3D
What Exactly is Viscous Lithography Manufacturing?
VLM is a 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.
BCN3D claims the difference in VLM versus other resin technologies is that it has the ability to process resins 50 times more viscous than the industry standard.
The resin can 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.
Chemical companies can now have the freedom to formulate since a whole new set of ingredients and modifiers can be added to 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, says BCN3D.
By using a light source consisting of UV light and an LCD screen, VLM delivers a constant time per layer, regardless of whether printing one or 100 parts at once.
Additionally, since it's 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.
VLM also uses monocomponent resins formulations at room temperature to avoid pot life limitations and speed up setup times. Thanks to its proprietary lamination system, the absence of a resin vat means that no initial investment of resin is required.
With VLM, zero waste becomes a reality: designed to filter and recirculate resin, every drop of resin eventually becomes a printed part.
First Results are Promising
Specialty materials company Arkema has been part of the process, through a Joint Development Agreement in which the two companies are co-developing new materials capitalizing on the singularities of VLM to obtain properties that can’t be reached with other resin-based 3D printing processes.
“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” – Hélène Egret, Europe 3D Market Manager at Arkema
BCN3D has also partnered with Prodrive—a motorsport and advanced technology company—who is the first in the world to put VLM technology to the test by 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. 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.”. – Callum Harper, Design Engineer at Prodrive
Lastly, BCN3D partnered with Saint Gobain where 7,000 positioning fixtures have been fabricated in seven days with VLM, for 0.79€ per part and a subsequent annual saving of 70.000€.“VLM technology has empowered us to see significant improvement in the future. Our main goal is to reduce our dependence on external mechanization suppliers and do it internally instead with technologies such as VLM. Doing so is what would give us the power of manufacturing autonomy.” – Alberto Rodriguez Fernandez, World Class Manufacturing Manager at Saint Gobain
If you'd like to test out VLM in your applications, BCN3D has a Technology Adoption Program complete with dedicated AM specialists for innovators to be the first to try this breakthrough technology.For a first-hand experience with VLM technology, visit BCN3D at the Rapid event on May 17-19th 2022, at Huntington Place, Detroit, Michigan.