VLM aims to overcome barriers to 3D printing

A 3D printing system designed for the rapid production of high quality parts at low cost has been developed by Barcelona-based BCN3D.

Three years in development, Viscous Lithography Manufacturing (VLM) was designed by BCN3D for manufacturers to overcome barriers to 3D printing such as accessibility, part performance and productivity.

Eric Pallarés, CTO at BCN3D, said VLM is a resin-based technology that uses UV light and an LCD screen to photopolymerize high-viscosity resins in a four-step lamination process. The resins – up to 50 times more viscose than industry standards and three times more impact resistant – are single-component formulations that are pressed at room temperature.

High viscosity creates chemical formulations that improve the performance of finished parts (Image: BCN3D)

The resin is first picked up with a roller and laminated to the underside of a transparent film which is then transferred to the printing area. The build plate rises and comes into contact with the laminated resin at the desired layer thickness. UV light cures the resin in a specific area, creating the new layer of the object to be printed. The build plate then retracts, releasing the cured later from the film while the unused resin is recovered and recirculated in the system’s reservoir.


VLM’s mechanical system also allows the resin to be laminated to both sides of the film, which can speed up printing times or allow combinations of different resins to create multi-material parts and manageable supports.

In a presentation, Dario Destro, BCN3D’s Main Materials said: “VLM resins can contain a high fraction of oligomers. When light is illuminated, a loosely cross-linked polymer network is obtained. This internal structure is able to flexibly withstand mechanical stresses and behaves like cast elastomers industrial grades such as vulcanized rubbers, silicones and polyurethanes. This significantly improves mechanical properties such as strength, toughness and tear resistance. For this reason, VLM resins aim for a 200 percent increase in tear strength compared to current industry standard formulations.”

Arkema has partnered with BCN3D through a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) in which the two companies jointly develop new materials for VLM that obtain properties that are currently not possible with other resin-based 3D printing processes. BCN3D has also partnered with Prodrive, which has assembled end-use parts made with VLM mounted directly on off-road vehicles.

BCN3D offers its solution for less than €50,000 and has a Technology Adoption Program for companies of all sizes that want to use VLM.

Abhishek Maheswari
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