Nanoparticle stereolithography

DSM Somos claims to have introduced the first composite stereolithography material that incorporates ‘nanoparticle’ technology.

Specific information regarding the actual nanoparticle technology is ‘strictly proprietary and not available at this time.’ However, the company will say that the NanoForm 15120 material,as it is known, is a composite material that exhibits many properties similar to fused deposition materials and glass-filled polyamide sintering materials, with the accuracy and precision inherent in stereolithography.

According to DSM-Somos, in the rapid prototyping industry, until the introduction of its ACT-SL technology, the possibility of obtaining extremely high modulus and superior heat resistance was limited to selective laser sintering (SLS) or fused deposition modelling (FDM) technologies, whereas the possibility of obtaining superior quality in surface finish and precision was limited to Stereolithography (SL). ACT-SL, it says, combines the inherent precision of stereolithography with many material properties, previously only available via SLS or FDM.

ACT-SL was developed by DSM Somos for use on traditional stereolithography equipment that uses liquid resins incorporating fillers, reinforcements, modifiers and other additives to achieve composite properties. A new product line, called ProtoComposites has been developed for the ACT-SL technology and currently includes two new product lines that are in the final stages of research and development and commercialisation: ProtoTool 20L and NanoForm.

DSM claims that the mechanical performance of the NanoForm 15120 type material includes an exceptionally high modulus of >5,000 MPa, and an elevated temperature performance (HDT) of greater than 132 degrees C. ProtoTool, on the other hand, has a modulus of around 10,000 Mpa. According to the company, traditional SL materials have a (best case) modulus of approximately +/- 3,800 MPa.

‘The composite technology of NanoForm contributes to exceptional dimensional stability, low shrink, and low coefficient of thermal linear expansion,’ says DSM Somos Application Development & Technical Service Manager Matt Cantwell.

Although exact specifications are unavailable at the present time, the company will say that the fillers are not subject to photo-sensitivity or shrink factors, and thus contribute to the part’s dimensional accuracy and long-term stability.

NanoForm 15120 is currently undergoing beta testing throughout both Europe and the Americas and is scheduled for full commercial release in the first quarter this year.

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