As a company, we do a lot with plastics; from high pressure injection moulding of steel strong composites to poured urethanes, to constant rapid prototyping and even a little 'rapid manufacturing'. We make sensor housings and we make tools, we make models and even test jigs. This week we got a new toy, in the form of a low cost SLA printer.
SLA (the rather cool sounding StereoLithography Apparatus) is exceedingly precise when compared to FDM printing (the one with the filament and the print head whizzing around). Of course, we did some test prints, we made some miniatures of our large products and were blown away by the detail. We even coped with OK with the smell. For a company like ours, where we make a lot of prototypes, tools and test fixtures; we immediately put the new SLA system to work.
We are testing out SLA in combination with FDM printing; creating smaller intricate parts of tools and fixtures using SLA and the housings, bodies, or stands using FDM. This mixed approach is yielding positive results, improving quality of mouldings and precision of test jigs. We will write more on these possibilities in the coming weeks and include some examples. For now though we are incredibly impressed by SLA, knee deep in resin and thinking about larger format versions.
Shown below, miniatures of the DMS Smart Gully. Notice the detail; most clear in the centre of the models where the company name has not been reproduced in the FDM version.