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United States Patent

This report consists of two sections; the first part gives details of a new improvised stereo
lithography apparatus whereas the second part gives a description about the post curing
apparatus that is used for post processing operation.
The paper describes a new and improved method and apparatus for the stereo lithography
apparatus. In the first improvement described a portion of the part that is built by SLT is kept
immersed in a liquid solvent mixed with a vapour degreaser. Further the part is subjected to
ultrasonic agitations while being immersed so that the excess and uncured resin that is present in
the part is removed. In the second the improvement a dense, immiscible intermediate liquid
instead of the liquid solvent- vapour degreaser mixture. The intermediate liquid is chosen such
that it is UV transparent. In this method also the part is partially immersed in the intermediate
liquid and subjected to either ultrasonic agitations or UV light illuminated on the immersed part,
this way the excess resin is removed.
The post curing apparatus described in this paper is designed such that the STL part is
subjected to UV light illumination while it is being rotated at a very low speed (1 rpm). It uses
three strong UV light sources placed at the top of the box. Uniform exposure is ensured by using
reflectors. The very same apparatus can be used for obtaining better surface finish.

Blair Thesis
Stereolithography increasingly is being used to make injection molds for test and small
production runs. Stereolithography is a process in which photopolymerizable epoxy is used to
make the molds by exposing individual layers of resin to light in the pattern desired for that
layer. The individual layers are built up to produce the final structure. The vertical surfaces of the
final structure are limited in surface roughness by the thickness of each layer (0.002-0.008 in).
Smooth molds are critical in producing parts in injection molding as rough surfaces prevent
ejection of the part and play a role in the overall quality of the part. Currently, hand postprocessing is performed on the stereolithography molds, and the results are not consistent. The

parameters that affect the polishing behavior of the stereolithography polymers are not
understood fully. The life of stereolithography molds in injection molding is limited because the
heat and the pressure of the process eventually cause the mold to fail by warping and cracking of
the mold face. Material properties, such as hardness, may affect the life of stereolithography
molds. The parameters that affect the hardness of the stereolithography polymers are not
understood fully.
An understanding of the polishing behaviors of the epoxy-acrylate resins 6110 and 7110 is
developed. This is accomplished through an experimental investigation. The experimental
investigation involves determining the effects of the applied force, the polishing time, the
abrasive size, the stereolithography resin type, the UV post cure time, the hardness, and the
initial roughness on the final roughness of the stereolithography polymer surfaces. The abrasive
size and the UV post cure time affect the final roughness of the stereolithography polymer.
Polishing with smaller abrasives yields smoother surfaces. At the time of polishing, all of the
surface hardnesses were between 85 and 86 Shore D, and the hardness did not affect the final
roughness. However, the polishing of stereolithography polymers that have 1.6 hours or more of
UV post cure time yield smoother surfaces than those that have 0 or 0.4 hours of UV post cure.
The results of the stereolithography polymer polishing tests are compared to models used in
describing metal polishing. As with the polishing of metals, the final roughness achieved in the
polishing of the stereolithography polymer depends on the abrasive particle size. The Archard
number, which relates the material hardness, the material removal, the length of contact, and the
applied force, was constant for each of the abrasive size and material combinations. Additionally,
an understanding of the post build cure of stereolithography polymer is developed. This is
accomplished through an experimental investigation that determines the way that the post cure
method, the UV post cure time, the age of the material, and the location of the material within a
part effect the hardness and the degree of cure of the stereo lithography polymer. Stereo
lithography polymer with more UV post cure time is cured more fully and thus is harder. The
inside material of stereo lithographic samples is less cured than the outside material, as the inside
material does not receive as much UV energy during the post cure. Stereo lithography polymer
that undergoes a thermal cure is cured more fully than that which is only UV post cured. The
thermal post cure also yields a material hardness 85 Shore D, while UV post cure yields material

hardnesses from 65 to 85. Inside material hardnesses are 87 to 92 percent of the hardnesses of the
surface material.
The results of these experimental investigations were used to develop a post-build
process that yields quality, long lasting stereolithography molds for their use in injection
molding. Given the increased hardness and degree of cure achieved during the thermal post cure,
a thermal post cure at 150C for 30 minutes is recommended. For the polishing of
stereolithography molds, an abrasive paste with a mean particle size of 30 microns and a fluid
pressure of 600 psi is recommended.

Rapid prototyping technologies and build time models by Lisa


Armano
Rapid prototyping, a processing technique that produces parts quickly, has proven
to be valuable' in product development. The unique method of building a three-dimensional part
by layers from bottom to top is advantageous since it is done directly.
from a computer-aided drawing. Although there are a variety of rapid prototyping
processes being used in industry, improvements. In each process are still necessary.
These improvements are driven by the need to further reduce product cycle time, whether rapid
prototyping is used for design feasibility or manufacturing reasons. The aim of this paper is to
study each of the developed rapid prototyping processes and to formulate mathematical
equations that predict prototype build time and prototype cycle time. The total cycle time
includes any pre- and post- processing times and the total build time focuses only on the layerby-layer building portion of the process. A study is presented for one rapid prototyping
technique, laminated object manufacturing', comparing the automated and manual assembly
times associated with building, a prototype, and identifying the most important factors affecting
these times. A practical application of the mathematical model created for this process is also
presented, as well as existing problems and research issues associated with it.

STEREOLITHOGRAPHY CURE PROCESS MODELING


A Dissertation

By
Yanyan Tang
Although stereolithography (SL) is a remarkable improvement over conventional prototyping
production, it is being pushed aggressively for improvements in both speed and resolution.
However, it is not clear currently how these two features can be improved simultaneously and
what the limits are for such optimization.
In order to address this issue a quantitative SL cure process model is developed which takes into
account all the sub-processes involved in SL: exposure, photo initiation, photopolymerizaion,
mass and heat transfer. To parameterize the model, the thermal and physical properties of a
model compound system, ethoxylated 4 pentaerythritol tetra acrylate (E4PETeA) with 2-2dimethoxy-2-phenylacetophenone (DMPA) as initiator, are determined. The free radical
photopolymerization kinetics is also characterized by differential photo calorimetry (DPC) and a
comprehensive kinetic model parameterized for the model material. The SL process model is
then solved using the finite element method in the software package, FEMLAB, and validated by
the capability of predicting fabricated part dimensions.
The SL cure process model, also referred to as the degree of cure (DOC) threshold model,
simulates the cure behavior during the SL fabrication process, and provides insight into the part
building mechanisms. It predicts the cured part dimension within 25% error, while the prediction
error of the exposure threshold model currently utilized in SL industry is up to 50%. The DOC
threshold model has been used to investigate the effects of material and process parameters on
the SL performance properties, such as resolution, speed and maximum temperature rise in the
resin bath, and maximum DOC of the green part. The effective factors are identified and
parameter optimization is performed, which also provides guidelines for SL material
development as well as process and laser improvement.

A neural network approach to the modeling and analysis of


stereo lithography processes

Stereo lithography has attracted more attention due to better part build accuracy than other rapid
prototyping technologies. However, this build method still limits wider applications due to the
unsatisfactory level of dimensional accuracy that remains with the current technology. To
improve accuracy and reduce part distortion, understanding the physics involved in the
relationship between the operating input parameters and the part dimensional accuracy is
prerequisite. In this paper, this causality is identified through a process model obtained via an
artificial neural network based upon 140 actual build parts. The network is so constructed that it
relates the process input parameters to part dimensional accuracy. The neural network model is
found to predict the effects of the input parameters on the accuracy with reasonable accuracy.
The prediction performance is discussed in detail for various process parameter ranges.