Nanotechnology update: Nanoparticle composite resin cuts parts finishing time

By Control Engineering Staff February 6, 2007

Elgin, IL —A nanotechnology-based composite resin material now is available commercially. NanoTool, from DSM Somos , is heavily filled with non-crystalline nanoparticles that allow for faster processing and reduced finishing requirements that speed part production, compared to current composite stereolithography (SL) materials. SL technology, also called 3D printing, can speed products to market, avoiding re-engineering costs during manufacturing by moving any design changes earlier in the product lifecycle.

NanoTool is the third-generation of Somos ProtoComposite materials. Features include a flexural modulus of 10,500 MPa, a heat deflection temperature of 260 °C (at 0.46 MPa after thermal post-cure), and linear shrinkage of less than 0.001 in. NanoTool SL parts reportedly have the best sidewall quality of any composite SL material available. Better sidewall quality is said to reduce the amount of finishing time required to sand layer lines, making NanoTool well suited for applications that require highly finished parts such as rapid tooling for injection molding and metal plating for prototyping metal cast parts.

NanoTool parts are said to be easy to clean. Residue left on parts can be removed with a simple water honing process. The smooth surface quality and high initial modulus of the material also make it well suited for metal plating. Said Sean Wise, president of RePliForm Inc., “The issue of part cleanliness becomes extremely important when plating composite resins because the RP parts will not metallize completely if residue is present. RePliForm is currently working with DSM Somos to study metal plated strength improvements achievable with NanoTool. To date, flexural modulus values of greater than 55 GPa have been reached, based on a metal-to-resin volume ratio of 1:4. The technology, called MC2, is believed to greatly enhance the effectiveness of prototyping metal parts.

DSM Somos is a materials supplier to the rapid prototyping industry, providing stereolithography liquids used for creating 3D models and prototypes directly from digital data for use in a variety of areas including automotive, aerospace, medical, and telecommunication. SL permits the rapid creation of 3D pieces using a computer-controlled laser that polymerizes light-sensitive resins. The process enables the production of complex forms that are difficult or impossible to fabricate by traditional machining or molding techniques.

—Control Engineering Daily News DeskEdited by Jeanine Katzel , senior editor

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