What is Digital Light Synthesis? How it works?
Digital Light Synthesis, or DLS, is a 3D printing method that was introduced by Carbon Inc. This additive manufacturing method is similar to DLP and SLA methods as it uses prints parts by curing resins using a light source. However, it comes with certain advantages and uses some unique techniques which aims at making this method better than others. Let us look into what are they, the printing process, characteristics and more related to DLS 3D printing method.
Digital Light Synthesis technology uses Carbon’s Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP™). CLIP uses a digital light projector along with an oxygen permeable optics, which plays a crucial role in the DLS printing method.
DLS printers consist of five main components: Build Platform, Resin Container, Oxygen Permeable Window, Dead Zone and Light Source/Engine.
The printing process starts with the build head lowering down in the resin container. As the LED light system projects UV images, causing a thin layer of resin to partially cure according to the light projected. Oxygen passes through the Oxygen Permeable Window which restricts resin from curing which are closest to the window. This forms a thin layer of uncured resin in between the cured part and the window which ensures that the resin isn’t cured onto the window. Liquid resin flows beneath the cured part, maintaining a continuous liquid interface.
The print head moves up slightly, allowing fresh resin to appear in between the build head and window. The UV light cures the layer accordingly and this process is repeated until the entire part is printed.
Once the part is completely printed, it requires to be heated in an oven to achieve the desired mechanical properties. Heat initiates another chemical reaction between the chemical compositions of the part which increases the strength and improves overall characteristics of the printed part.
The part is ready for use after being taken out of the oven, although further post processing can also be performed according to the requirements.
Part printed using DLS printing method have higher resolution and provide various surface finish with engineering-grade mechanical properties. They also have isotropic properties i.e. they have identically in all directions.
DLS technology also reduces production time by eliminating the necessity of tooling, sanding etc. It also enables the use of wide range of materials such as Rigid Polyurethane (RPU) which can be a replacement for nylon, Elastomeric Polyurethane (EPU) which is an elastic material, etc.
DLS 3D printing provides avoids any layer lines and provides a smooth surface finish due to its continuous nature, which can be compared to the injection moulded parts. Printed parts have isotropic mechanical properties and Carbon also claims the printed parts to be water resistant.
DLS is a 3D printing method owned by Carbon Inc. It was designed keeping the modern requirements in mind and it is one of the most used additive manufacturing methods in the world. It shares quite a few similarities with the SLA and DLP printing methods however, it lacks the popularity compared to them.