VLM™ which means Viscous Lithography Manufacturing is a relatively new term for the industry. The 3D printing process recently launched by the Spanish manufacturer BCN3D is a patented lithography-based 3D printing process that laminates thin layers of high-viscosity resins onto a transparent transfer film, producing high-performance parts quickly and affordably.
What sets VLM apart from other resin technologies on the market is its ability to process resins 50 times more viscous than the industry standard. By eliminating a strict low viscosity constraint, a whole new set of ingredients and modifiers can be added to the resin to achieve the desired effect on thermal and mechanical properties, recalls BCN3D.
The problem is that high viscosity resins can only be made by a handful of material producers. At the launch, the 3D printer maker announced that Arkema had been a key partner in developing the first formulations the technology could process. However, as you may know, in this industry, the more diverse range of materials you have produced by material producers, the better it is for the user experience.
Henkel is therefore the second materials producer to work with BCN3D for this technology. Although its collaboration with 3D printer manufacturer Nexa3D is often the most highlighted, functional adhesives, sealants and coatings expert Henkel Adhesive Technologies leverages its century of expertise across industries to provide branded AM services Loctite.
” The BCN3D team has developed a new technology that removes the limits of viscosity and enables the printing of a wide range of new materials, which we have witnessed first-hand over the past few years of collaboration. The thermal and mechanical properties are improved by additives which generally increase the viscosity of the resins, which in other cases makes them more difficult to print” , note Sam Bail, director of 3D printing and partnerships at Henkel.
Materials currently under development by Henkel and BCN3D cannot yet be fully disclosed; however, one of the main areas of research is in elastomeric applications – an area that undoubtedly benefits from high viscosity resins. These materials can include a high fraction of oligomers to achieve a weakly cross-linked polymer network: a structure that can flexibly withstand mechanical stress, act like industrial-grade molded elastomers, and offer improved mechanical properties. Henkel’s 3D printing resins will be implemented in BCN3D’s new application center, where the VLM technology adoption program is taking place. Participants will join renowned companies Saint Gobain and Prodrive in being the first to discover VLM and experience its full potential with real 3D printed parts, accompanied by individual attention to meet their exact printing needs, concludes a Press release.
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