We are once again ramping up our 3D print capacity with the addition of another new NEO 800 machine!
Read more here.
3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing
The type of 3D printing technology chosen for a product development project is determined by its intended purpose, or final application. Process suitability can change along the design and development stages depending on functional requirements. Stereolithography (SLA) is ideal for concept models, fit, form and functional testing, as well as master models for casting processes.
What is Stereolithography (SLA)?
After a number of 3D printing developments in the 1980’s, the first patent for Stereolithography apparatus was issued by Charles (Chuck) Hull of 3D Systems Corporation in 1986. SLA is a now a popular 3D printing process for a large variety of applications across different industries, such as the Automotive, Architectural, Medical, Defence and Security, Industrial products, Consumer products and TV and Film sectors.
Models produced using the Stereolithography 3D printing process are physical components made from a photo-curable, epoxy resin that are formed according to supplied 3D CAD data. The process involves the curing of the resin with an ultraviolet laser, layer by layer.
- 3D CAD Data is first converted into an STL file and sent to the machine.
- Using a UV laser beam the first layer of the build is traced out onto a platform within the photo-curable resin.
- The laser causes the resin to harden.
- When the first layer has finished the platform is lowered and a fresh layer of resin covers the part.
- The next layer is then traced out, curing and bonding the resin to the layer below.
- This process is repeated until the 3D build is complete, along with any support structures.
- Once complete the platform is raised, allowing excess resin to drain away before the model is removed from the platform.
- The SLA model is then washed and support structures are removed, so the model can be finished as required.
Models are built to an accuracy of +/- 0.2mm, typically in layers of 0.1mm thicknesses.
Stereolithography applications can vary from simple raw models for urgent requirements, right through to fully finished rapid prototypes or even tried and tested parts for use in the field.
Benefits of Stereolithography (SLA)
As with any 3D printing process, a major benefit of Stereolithography (SLA) is that it allows the realisation of multiple iterations of a design early in the product development cycle, without any tooling investment. This cost effective customisation and reduced time to market allows more efficient product testing before committing to tooling for higher volume production, ultimately resulting in a better proven product.
Specific benefits of Stereolithography (SLA)
- As one of the most developed 3D printing processes, SLA is widely considered the most accurate, offering the best surface finish for high precision rapid prototypes.
- SLA prototypes can be produced in a variety of materials, displaying varying mechanical properties for specific applications and functionality.
- Excellent optical clarity can be achieved when WaterShed® 11122 is polished, making this material ideal for lenses, packaging and water flow analysis.
- WaterShed® 11122 is also Class VI USP rated for medical applications, meaning it is durable and resistant to environmental factors, highly protective, non-absorbent, and non-toxic.
- SLA models can be fully finished to match specific colour schemes and surface finish requirements.
3D Printing for Basic Models
For some engineers, a basic 3D printed model is a sufficient rapid prototype to represent a visual or ergonomic concept for design verification purposes.
While our specialism lies in producing high end functional models, we realise that sometimes you just need basic parts very quickly.
To cater for this demand, Paragon’s 48hr Express Service through our dedicated 3D print department allows the fastest possible turnaround for basic Stereolithography components.
Send us your STL files and we’ll send you a quote quickly. Upon receipt of your order and final CAD we’ll build and ship your part all in under 48hrs.
Where alternative suppliers often remove the people from this process, we stand by our personal service. Our friendly 3D print team provides a point of contact for all your questions.
3D Printing for Rapid Prototyping
Moving on from basic models, Paragon’s strength lies in more complex models. Whether it’s a scale model or functional prototype our Stereolithography provides rapid prototypes from a range of materials.
Combining our dedicated 3D printing department with more traditional CNC machining, Vacuum Casting and Reaction Injection Moulding processes Paragon offers rapid prototypes that are setting the industry standard.
Where other suppliers fall short, we can offer a full finishing, painting and texturing service for a truly customised “Model of Excellence”. Our inhouse model shop boasts a team of fully qualified, time-served model makers with individual specialist disciplines and an unrivalled eye for detail.
Alongside offering the functionality for clip features etc., Stereolithography materials are also robust enough for fitting and evaluation purposes for many automotive, medical and consumer electronics applications.
WaterShed® XC 11122
For applications where both water resistance and good dimensional stability are key, our WaterShed® XC 11122 epoxy resin is Paragon’s resin of choice. Paragon’s new NEO 800 large frame machine runs this low viscosity liquid photopolymer, which produces strong, tough parts that mimic traditional engineering plastics including ABS and PBT.
3D printing with WaterShed® 11122 produces nearly colourless parts that look more like true, clear engineered plastic components. In addition, this resin has been formulated with the DSM Somos Oxetane Advantage™— an advanced chemistry platform that produces parts with outstanding water resistance and high dimensional stability.
WaterShed® 11122 is also Class VI rated, which means it has passed biocompatibility protocols set by the U.S. Pharmacopeia Convention (USP) for plastics and polymers used in medical devices or surgical equipment that may come into contact with human tissue. The compounds approved are durable and resistant to environmental factors, highly protective, non-absorbent, and non-toxic.
Our SLA service also offers 3D printed parts in Somos 9420, a white epoxy resin with excellent strength and mechanical properties. This SLA material produces parts with very similar characteristics to PP and ABS, and has always proven very popular with product designers, because it does have the feel of an injection moulded component.
ProtoGen 18920 is a grey epoxy resin with good thermal stability up to 97°c, whilst allowing very good, crisp definition. This liquid photopolymer produces accurate, ABS-like parts ideal for general purpose applications.We regularly use this material to produce tooling elements for our in-house silicone moulding process.
NeXt LV Grey
Somos® NeXt LV Grey creates tough, ABS-like parts with a high modulus while maintaining a low viscosity for effortless cleaning. Somos® NeXt LV Grey has good water resistance and thermal properties. This third generation Somos® high impact material focuses on creating quality resins that can produce tough, complex parts.
Why Choose Paragon?
One of the Largest Build Platforms Available
Our growing 3D Printing department now houses 6 SLA machines, offering a build envelope of up to 800mm x 800mm x 600mm in one piece – one of the largest offered by a 3D Print bureau in the UK!
Capacity and Fast Turnaround
At Paragon, we are committed to investing in new technology and innovations that will further improve our capabilities. In turn, our growing 3D printing department will ensure that your expectations are met, in terms of quality, delivery and budget. With 5 SLA machines at your disposal, our superior 3D printing lead times cater for your tighter deadlines. We’ll always do our very best to meet your delivery expectations.
Quality and Investment
As one of Europe’s leading producers of precision high quality 3D printed components and assemblies, quality is paramount. To compliment Paragon’s offer of superior resolution, unrivalled aesthetics and finesse, we offer 3D Scanning and reverse engineering using the latest FARO Arm Technology as well as design engineering in both Delcam PowerShape and SolidWorks Pro.
We have also added the new "E stage software" which further minimises support structure contact and has improved both the efficiency of the process and the quality of parts. Furthermore, our Quality Management System is certified to ISO 9001:2015, underlining our company-wide commitment to delivering superior parts to our customers.
With traditional model making expertise at our core, Paragon adds value through its unparalleled execution of model finishing through its team of fully qualified, time-served model makers. This attention to detail at an early stage ensures high quality levels are achieved every time.
We come highly recommended!
“A great result – the best level of detail and finish of anything Paragon has produced so far.”
HEAD OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, JCB