Posted on: June 22, 2018, | By Candy, WayKen Marketing Manager
Rapid prototyping using 3D printing is fast, easy and saves you money. It is one good way to convert useful ideas into affluent products. There are different technologies used to come up with a functional prototype with the main ones being stereolithography (SLA) and selective laser sintering (SLS). Let’s have a look at each one of them (SLA & SLS).
This is a type of 3D printing technology which is mainly used for rapid prototyping and also additive manufacturing. It was invented in the early 80's and works by healing resin with the use of light. Ultraviolet rays are commonly used in this procedure. A liquid resin is solidified using light through a process known as polymerization. Objects are created layer by layer. This procedure is one of the most accurate used in 3D printing.
It is one of the most suitable and accomplished technologies which can be used in the manufacturing of concept models, presentation designs, and parts to be used for vacuum casting. Stereolithography is often used during the early stages of product development. It is known for the production of pieces that have a smooth and quality finish, great visual clarity, high levels of accuracy and thin, vertical, straight walls.
The variety of materials you can use in this procedure gives room for a range of resistance and property flexibility. The two main types of stereolithography involve the use of laser and projections. Stereolithography is best for single, low run production of prototype parts for actual designs, tooling masters and presentation models that are required very fast and at low prices. Parts can be delivered within a short period.
In laser SLA 3D printing, the model is first introduced to the cleaving program in the form of a preform. A tank is later filled with a fluid photopolymer resin. A physical structure platform is let down into the container, and an Ultraviolet laser tracks one tier of the model. The laser is later put in place with the help of galvanometers which is an assortment of mirrors that revolve and reverberate the laser. The liquid resin solidifies into a hard substance creating one layer of the product. This procedure is done again, and the built platform increases until the object is created.
Benefits of SLA
The SLA process is essential in ensuring your products get to the market within a short period. There are a couple of benefits you get to enjoy with the use of this procedure. They include:
It is one of the most common prototyping procedures among product designers. Stereolithography gives engineers and other designers the chance to come up with top quality designs very fast. SLA designs can be turned around within a very short period.
This procedure helps save a lot of money because small parts can be produced very fast and efficiently. The accuracy that comes with it does not require one to spend extra money on modifications.
Stereolithography printers are known to be the best in the production of very accurate and intricate designs. The layers are bonded with each other chemically which allows the parts to bond with high mechanical strength.
SLA produced parts have other essential properties like moisture resistance, excess heat resistance, quality surface finish and a range of model sizes.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective laser sintering, commonly referred to as SLS is a 3D printing technique used in the additive manufacturing of three-dimensional parts with intricate shapes and also rapid prototyping. You can produce a wide range of part sizes with selective laser sintering. This procedure was started and chartered in the early 80's by Carl Deckard who was an undergraduate during that period.
Selective laser sintering works with the use of high laser power. A computer-regulated laser ray selectively joins together fragments in the powder base, by increasing the temperature of the powder slightly above the glass changeover point after which particles that are adjacent to it flow together.
The laser is used to intermix glass, tiny metals, plastic and ceramic particles to come up with a 3D model. Selective laser sintering machines also use computer-aided design files to develop the prototypes and also selectively integrate powdered materials. The blending is acquired by flipping through cross-sections that are also extracted from a computer-aided design data.
Once all the sections have been scanned, the bottom part of the machine is leveled down to spread the next layer. The additive manufacturing procedure also gives room for the use of a wide range of materials. A variety of polymer choices are available for your exclusive rapid three-dimensional prototype.
The available polymers include nylon, polystyrene, titanium, steel mixtures and alloys. This procedure does not need the use of additional supports to keep an object together when it is getting printed. SLS allows companies to print materials that can be digitally stored as .STL files which can, later on, be designed again or printed as required.
You can use SLS to produce parts that have properties which resemble those of complete parts, especially where top accuracy levels are needed. In this procedure, materials are meant for straightforward operational use where performance requires strong defiance to wearing out, heat, chemical and other pressures.
Benefits of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
There is a wide range of benefits that come with the selective laser sintering procedure. It is a procedure that will see you save a lot on costs. Parts can be printed fast and efficiently which helps save time and money. It reduces capital in tied up stocks. The manufacturing costs are also cheaper. The assembly time used is very minimal because of integrated functions. This brings about direct cost savings.
There are also no restrictions or limitations on the measurements or geometry to be manufactured. Little time is taken to get your product to the market because of the fast production procedure. SLS helps in the production of strong and durable goods. Products produced have excellent mechanical characteristics which is the perfect alternative for conventional injection molding of plastics. The high scratch-resistance nature is ideal for the production of mobile parts.
Both SLA and SLS are good for the production of a functional prototype. However, SLA is considered best because it is perfect for the creation of a quality surface finish. You can try both because they top the list of the best prototyping procedures available.