Axis explains stereolithography technology to you in but a few words

Axis uses the stereolithography method: the reference technology for the production of prototypes!

Stereolithography is a method for manufacturing prototypes using additive manufacturing. The principle of this technology is one of photo-polymerisation of resin in liquid form in successive 0.10-0.15 mm layers in order to obtain a solid based on a 3D file or a digital model.

The different stages of this manufacturing process are explained in more detail below.

Several different resins can be used. Here is a sample of them, to allow you to distinguish the differences (colour, opacity, …).

comparatif sla
  1. The type ABS resin is a material which simulates the mechanical characteristics of a thermoplastic ABS. -> Resin GP Plus or Evolve or Xtreme
  2. The type PP resin has the approximate mechanical characteristics of a thermoplastic PP. Its surface state is smooth and has a very good resolution. This is the resin that is adapted for the development of master models for vacuum casting. -> Next or Acura 25 or Xtreme resin
  3. The type PA resin is a rigid material which simulates the characteristics of a thermoplastic PA. It’s a technical material which combines rigidity and flexibility. -> Taurus resin
  4. The type PC resin is a rigid material which simulates the mechanical characteristics of a thermoplastic PC. Just like thermoplastic PC, it is transparent. This is the resin that is adapted for the creation of translucent and transparent pieces. In cases where this resin is used, it is necessary to go through the sanding and varnishing steps. -> Clearvue resin 
  5. Composite resin is loaded. In our company, resin is loaded with ceramic. -> HPC resin

How does it work?

To be able to obtain a piece using stereolithography technology, several steps are needed:

  • Preparation:
    • Right at the start, having a 3D file is essential; these are obtained using 3D design software (.STEP or .STL format).
    • This file is then processed and cut in fine slices with care by us (depending on the possible layer thickness). The manufacturing supports are generated and associated with the piece. These supports serve as a scaffold for manufacturing.
  • Construction:
    • This information is transmitted to the production machine. This stereolithography machine is composed of a pilot computer, a trough of liquid state resin, a platform, a mirror and a laser. The construction of the piece starts with the platform immersed in the resin, resting at the surface.
    • The laser starts, and the mirror directs this beam (depending on the trajectory calculated by the pilot computer), to trace the contours of the piece.
    • When the photo-polymer liquid resin comes into contact with the laser, it hardens.
    • The platform will descend depending on the layer thickness, while immersing the hardened layers.
    • At the same time, a mechanical arm will come and scrape the resin from the tank, in order to standardise the level of resin and deposit liquid resin in the areas where it is lacking. This step allows for regular, flat layers.
    • It involves the following different phases in the succession stated: the laser comes into contact with the resin, the platform descends, the scraper smoothes the resin, etc. …
    • Once all the successive layers have been realised, the platform will once again rise to the surface of the resin trough.
  • Finish:
    • The piece is disconnected (removed from the platform).
    • It is cleaned – including being cleared of liquid resin – then it is exposed to UV to harden it further
    • Our designers will sand it manually, before applying to it the finish(es) that you request (varnish, primer, paint, including inserts, transfers metallisation, …).
Process SLA ANG

Explanation in images

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