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A new 3D printer for rapid prototyping


Eadon have invested in a new resin stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer to enable us to produce prototype parts more quickly, facilitating our R&D processes. 

An SLA printer uses a UV laser to cure very thin layers of resin that build up to form a solid, 3D object. They are able to work with a wide range of materials within the polymeric family – including those filled with glass and ceramics. An SLA printer will easily produce parts in specialist materials that are a match for those found in more traditional machining or moulding processes. This means that we can print components with the mechanical properties that we need, rather than the largely aesthetic solution that our other, more traditional, fused deposition modelling 3D printer produces. 

The main advantage of the SLA resin print method is that it produces parts to a much higher resolution – making them more dimensionally accurate, with tolerances between batches more repeatable and the finish much smoother in comparison to traditional additive manufactured parts. The range of materials available for use with SLA also means that the parts printed can be relied upon mechanically because the structural properties of the finished product is so much better – in part due to the materials available to work with, and in part due to the laser printing technique used by an SLA printer.  

The SLA resin printer was purchased initially by Eadon to progress the next development phase of the REACH remote handling system. However, it will also be an asset for all future R&D projects undertaken on site in our workshop, and will be used to make accurate models of parts for clients, and to visualise or check fits before manufacture or work on-site. Dan Cunningham, the Engineer who has overseen the purchase and installation of this new piece of equipment, said, ‘It’s great because not only is the 3D printing technology more cost effective than traditional manufacture methods for us, it will also cut the development and trial time substantially – at the moment we often have to wait 4-5 weeks for a machined part to arrive for testing; this machine will cut that to just a few hours.’ 

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