VLM™ which stands for Viscous Lithography Manufacturing is a relatively new term for the industry. The 3D printing process recently launched by Spanish manufacturer BCN3D is a patented lithography-based 3D printing process that laminates thin layers of high viscosity resins onto a transparent transfer film, producing high-performance parts rapidly and affordably.

What distinguishes VLM from other resin technologies on the market is its ability to process resins 50 times more viscous than the industry standard. By eliminating a strict low viscosity constraint, a whole new set of ingredients and modifiers can be added to the resin to achieve the desired effect on thermal and mechanical properties, BCN3D recalls.

The thing is, high viscosity resins can only be fabricated by a handful of material producers. During the launch, the 3D printer manufacturer had announced that Arkema had been a key partner to develop first formulations that the technology could process. However, as you may know, in this industry, the more you have a diverse range of materials produced by material producers, the better it is for the user experience. 

This makes Henkel the second material producer that will work alongside BCN3D for this technology. Although its collaboration with 3D printer manufacturer Nexa3D is often the most highlighted, the expert in adhesives, sealants, and functional coatings Henkel Adhesive Technologies leverages its century of expertise across industries to delivers AM services under its brand Loctite

“The BCN3D team has developed a novel technology that removes the limitations of viscosity and allows the printing of a wide range of new materials which we have witnessed firsthand over the last few years of collaboration. Thermal & mechanical properties are enhanced by additives that typically increase the viscosity of the resins, which in other cases makes them more difficult to print”Sam Bail, Director of 3D Printing & Partnerships at Henkel notes. 

The materials currently under development by Henkel and BCN3D cannot yet be fully disclosed;  however, one of the primary areas of research is in elastomeric applications – one that is indubitably beneficial from high-viscosity resins. These materials can include a high fraction of oligomers to obtain a loosely crosslinked polymer network: a structure that can flexibly withstand mechanical stresses, act like industrial-grade molded elastomers, and provide improved mechanical properties. Henkel’s 3D printing resins will be implemented in BCN3D’s new Applications Center, where the VLM Technology Adoption Program is taking place. Participants will join renowned companies Saint Gobain and Prodrive in being the first to discover VLM and experiencing its full potential for themselves with real 3D printed parts, accompanied by individual attention to cater to their exact printing needs, a press release concludes.

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