DSM Somos Brings Stereolithography One Step Closer to Direct Manufacturing

DSM Somos has introduced DMX-SL™ 100 - the industry’s first stereolithography (SL) resin targeted for high durability applications and a significant new chemistry platform for direct manufacturing development.

Developed via the joint efforts of DSM Somos R&D and the Netherlands-based DSM Research group, DMX-SL is based on a unique technology which produces resins with extremely high impact strength and resistance to breakage.

“DMX-SL is very different from traditional SL resins,” says Somos Product Development Manager Brian Bauman. “With an impact strength up to 0.80 J/cm, yet a flexural modulus ranging from 2000-2400 MPa, it has the stiffness of standard ABS-type resins but with more than twice the impact strength - plus up to 20% elongation at break.”

This closer approximation of thermoplastic type properties brings stereolithography one step closer to direct manufacturing - that is, the cost effective direct building of custom plastics parts without the need for tooling. Though stereolithography has successfully been used to date for some specific direct manufacturing applications (i.e. hearing aid shells, jigs/fixtures for product assemblies and interior products such as custom lamp shades), its widespread use has been limited by material properties.

“Current SL resins on the market - and there are over 40 between Somos and other suppliers - are more brittle than traditional engineered plastics such as polypropylene, ABS, polycarbonate and nylon,” says Bauman. “In addition, SL parts often become more brittle over time, which is unacceptable for direct manufacturing applications.” Therefore, while SL resins perform well in rapid prototyping applications, their usefulness in direct manufacturing has been restricted to products that do not require much durability.

“We believe Somos DMX-SL 100 is a revolutionary product for the RP industry,” says Somos Marketing Manager Eva Montgomery. “Until now, other RP technologies that utilize molten or sintered thermoplastics have traditionally been chosen when part durability was critical, but with a sacrifice in part aesthetics or dimensional consistency. DMX-SL combines the accuracy of SL with the durability of a sintered nylon. Now RP users can have custom-built parts that are durable, accurate and have excellent detail.”

Early users of the material agree. Mark Jones, SLA Manager at Laser Reproductions (www.laserrepro.com) in Gahanna, OH, says “DMX-SL is rigid yet bendable - the perfect combination. Its impact reliability is much more then ‘semi-rigid’ or ‘rigid’ materials currently on the market. I’ve doubled parts over with no breakage. Compared to typical SLA materials, DMX-SL is heads above the competition.”

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