A second-generation noncrystalline, nanoparticle stereolithography (SL) resin lets VG Kunststofftechnik in Germany manufacture limited production runs of small, detailed parts. The company commonly produces up to 200 parts from NanoForm 15120 SL using its Viper Si2 rapidprototyping system. The Viper Si2 from 3D Systems Inc., Valencia, Calif., coupled with the SL resin from DSM Somos, Elgin Ill., reportedly produce more finely detailed, higher-resolution parts than other directmanufacturing technologies, including selective laser-sintering and fused-deposition modeling.
NanoForm 15120 incorporates nanoparticles to boost performance, including ultrahigh stiffness and heat resistance. Heat-deflection temperatures of over 500°F (265°C) have been reported. NanoForm has a good combination of properties critical for direct manufacturing, says VG founder and Managing Director Volker Griessbach. Its accuracy, zero hydroscopicity, and exceptional surface quality with practically no "stair stepping" effects deliver the high level of precision and detail needed for today's electronics, he says. The SL resin is also dimensionally stable, has a completely water-resistant surface, and withstands temperatures as high as 250°C.
It's possible to build geometrically complex parts with a resin that has high dimensional accuracy, including in the thickness of the walls. You can also put holes with 0.0008-in. diameter (0.2 mm) through the resin. And building small run parts from the resin eliminates delays and costs associated with building tools for conventional injection molding or casting operations.
In a project for Siemens, VG Kunststofftechnik successfully produced 1,000 electromagnetic coils from NanoForm in just one week. The parts were immediately reeled up, mounted, soldered, and plastic coated. This saved Siemens approximately $40,000 in tooling costs, while taking four months off the schedule.
The use of rapid-prototyping systems like the Viper Si2 increasingly helps industry shorten development cycles and creates low-run, custom-tailored parts, says Griessbach. "For VG, combining the right technologies with effective new materials such as NanoForm 15120 lets us be a pioneer in direct manufacturing."