Fabricating Polymeric Materials for a Host of Industries…
One type of additive manufacturing, 3D Printing, refers to a variety of cutting-edge processes used to create three-dimensional items. This manufacturing process involves successive layers of material being added to create an object via computer control. 3D printed objects are created from a digital 3D model which is used as the template for the printer to follow.
The polymers used in additive manufacturing vary depending upon the application. Liquid-based epoxy resin (our favorite of course) is used in most of the popular additive manufacturing processes including photopolymerization, material jetting, and powder bed fusion. These processes entail:
- Photopolymerization – this process builds objects layer by layer using focused UV or laser light on the surface of liquid polymer – turning the liquid layers into solid objects
- Material Jetting – creates solid objects using liquid polymer from a 3D printer nozzle, applied layer-by-layer on a platform similar to ink jet printing
- Binder Jetting/Powder Bed Fusion – a two-material process utilizing powder for the part build-up & binder to consolidate the powder; a thin layer of powder is applied to the building platform – then liquid-adhesive binder (Jetting) or a heat source (laser or election beam - Fusion) - is applied to fuse the powder together – the process repeats with subsequent layers until the part is complete
The advantages of Additive Manufacturing over Convention Manufacturing are many – and are still being discovered as new polymeric materials are introduced into the process. 3D printed parts and other items may be created more quickly, without expensive tooling, and with minimal waste. From a design perspective, objects made be produced of complex geometry, dimensionally accurate to extreme tolerances and allow for design flexibility.
Innovative manufacturing technologies like additive manufacturing have brought about beneficial application trends across many industries. For instance, parts customization and creation may be quickly adapted when needed in critical applications such as aerospace, medical and military - where time may be of the essence or remoteness of geography is a factor.
Industries that are already benefitting from additive manufacturing, or poised to do so, include aerospace and defense (as mentioned above) for just-in-time (JIT) parts creation as well as prototyping; the automotive industry for parts replacement and testing along with the creation of lighter-weight structures; electronics parts fabrication and the medical device industry for the creation of customized instruments, implants and devices.
Epoxy resin is used as both a building component of 3D printed objects as well as a post-production coating and sealant to reinforce structural integrity. It is one of a number of polymers whose formulas continue to evolve, and applications continue to grow.
3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing Using Polymers - Complete Guide by omnexus.specialchem.com.