Laser stereolithography, or 3d printing for short, is an additive manufacturing process that uses liquid polymer and an ultraviolet laser to make intricate objects. The object is produced by running the UV laser in the photopolymer, a liquid plastic that hardens when it is exposed to UV light. The object is created layer upon layer so it is possible to create objects that are hollow inside.
This process is particularly helpful in the manufacturing industry; as it lessens the time it takes for a prototype part to be produced. In an industry where time is money, it’s better if you can go through research and development faster.
You can create almost any shape you can imagine using 3d printing. As long as you can creates it in any CAD program you can use 3d printing to create a model. And because the whole process is controlled by computers, the possibility of human error is zero.
Though it is a very helpful tool in manufacturing it is not without its drawbacks. One is that you can only make relatively small objects, roughly the size of a 2 foot cube. This is because large scale 3d printing machines aren’t available as of yet, but maybe in the near future it will be possible.
The other disadvantage is the money involved. The photopolymer alone costs $300-$500, not to mention the machine itself which will set you back $500,000.
But nowadays there are a few companies that offer 3d printing services that are pretty affordable.
The advent of laser stereolithography just shows how rapid technology has evolved. Why, just a few years ago manufacturers used knives and modeling clay to sculpt prototype parts, now they’re using lasers. That’s a huge leap.