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MODULAR VAT FOR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000247517D
Publication Date: 2016-Sep-13
Document File: 6 page(s) / 2M

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

This publication discloses a variable volume vat for a 3-D printing manufacturing process. The vat is used in conjunction with a plurality of spacers that can be selectively installed to vary the effective working volume of the vat.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 46% of the total text.

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MODULAR VAT FOR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING

ABSTRACT

This publication discloses a variable volume vat for a 3-D printing manufacturing process. The vat is used in conjunction with a plurality of spacers that can be selectively installed to vary the effective working volume of the vat.

BACKGROUND

Conventional 3-D printing machines include a vat that is configured to contain a liquid resin and to receive a build platform (shown empty in FIG. A). The vat also contains the final part built during a build process. The 3-D printing machine also includes an energy source such as a laser or DLP projector configured to direct radiant energy toward the liquid resin. In this manner, a part can be built in a 3-D printing machine.

Production of parts and operation of the 3-D printing machine can be understood as follows. At the beginning of a build operation, the build platform is positioned below and slightly spaced away from the surface of the liquid resin. The energy source is then operated such that a beam or patterned image of radiant energy is scanned across the surface of the liquid. When contacted by the radiant energy, curing of the material is initiated such that cross linking of the material occurs at the intersection of the radiant energy and the building material. In this manner, the liquid resin is converted to a solid part that is positioned on the surface of the build platform. As the radiant energy contacts the surface of the liquid resin, a layer of solid, cured material is formed. The build platform is lowered such that it is further away from the surface of the liquid resin and a layer of liquid resin is formed over the solid structure formed in the previous pass, after each pass. The solid polymeric material is formed on the build platform in a first pass. During subsequent passes the solid polymeric material is formed on the previously built layer of material.

After a part is built, at least some liquid resin remains in the vat. One problem with conventional 3-D printing machines is that when parts are made that have a height that is much less than the depth of the vat, an excess of liquid resin remains after a part is manufactured. For example, a


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conventional vat (FIG. A) might be about 12 inches deep. Therefore, builds that result in a part that is less than about 12 inches high do not use all of the available vat depth. The difference in the vat depth and the height of a given manufactured structure is referred to herein as wasted vat depth. The greater the wasted vat depth is in a given build, the greater the amount of excess liquid is and associated waste volume. When many identical parts are produced in series on a 3- D printing machine the amount of waste is multiplied.

The waste volume per build can be identified as follows. The volume of polymeric liquid used to form a structure during a build is referred to as the working volume. The working volume is determined by multiplying the working depth by the a...