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Solid freeforming and rapid prototyping
These two unnecessarily complicated terms describe the same set of techniques. On your pc, you can press ‘print’ and get a two dimensional image of what was on the screen. In solid freeforming, you press print and a get a three dimensional replica of the CAD picture on the screen. There are only a few methods of doing this. Some deliver material to the building platform point-by-point, some line-by-line and some layer-by-layer. Perhaps the most well known is stereolithography in which a UV laser scans across a thin layer of photo-sensitised monomer, converting it to polymer in the forming areas and leaving it as monomer in the non-forming areas. Then a new layer of monomer is spread across and the next layer is scanned. In this way a 3D object is created and if ceramic powder is included in the monomer, a ceramic object can be made by removing the polymer and firing the assembly of particles. Another well-known method is selective laser sintering. It’s a similar idea but this time the laser is more powerful and scans a layer of powder (polymer, metal or ceramic) in order to melt it. The non-forming areas are left as powder to support subsequent layers.
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