A new LAM (liquid additive manufacturing) 3D printer from German RepRap called L320 can print with liquid silicone rubber. With a build volume of 250 x 320 x 150 mm, the L320 is significantly larger than their first LAM printer, the L280.
German RepRap expects that manufacturers will fabricate end-use parts with the L320 as its printing technology creates objects with mechanical characteristics that are similar to those of injection molded objects. This is due to the level of control over the crosslinking that’s provided by the thermal networking system in the L320. According to the website, “a high-temperature halogen lamp releases activation energy to accelerate complete crosslinking, at the molecular level, between the individual materials. Due to this thermal cross-linking, the printing time is considerably reduced, and at the same time the printing result sets new standards.”
The printhead plays a major part in achieving that level of precision curing as it “enables precise metering and mixing ratios. Where conventional production processes such as injection molding require all molecules to be aligned, LAM technology can influence the application direction and therefore the molecular-level crosslinking.”
Each L320 comes with Simplify 3D, a powerful slicing program that provides maximum control over print parameters. The basic specs of the L320 are as follows:
- Build volume: 250 x 320 x 150 mm
- Machine size: 800 x 960 x 1957 mm
- Print speed: 10 – 150 mm/s
- Layer thickness: 0.22 mm – 0.9 mm
- Nozzle options: 0.23, 0.4, 0.8 mm
- Operation: Standalone use with touch screen and USB drive
With the L320, German RepRap is providing a solution to the problem that is turnaround time. 3D printing with liquid silicone rubber will provide end-use parts without going through the expensive and time-consuming process of injection molding. From creating custom orthopedic supports and insoles to electronics housing and protective sleeves, there are limitless possibilities for such a 3D printing system.