By controlling light we can customise products

Gwendoline Anand, a MADE PhD at DTU, has built a prototype of an Additive Manufacturing (AM) machine that uses UV light to create 3D printed components. Her research in MADE FAST, enabling customisation of the product to any application, opens up for a whole new field of potentials.

Gwendoline Anand from Switzerland is doing research on additive manufacturing.

”I am trying to build a photo projector which is one of these big boxes you have in a classroom. But mine is trying to use UV light to make 3D printed components. The idea for this project is to understand the process better. How photo projectors work. This will help us gain a lot of control over the process and also even to customise it,” explains Anand. She is literally working on a bright idea in the MADE FAST research platform.

Why is this research important?

”Light makes the resin harden. If you control light and can understand how it works then the photopolymerization process can enhance the quality of the components and even add new elements which we perhaps could not do before,” says Gwendoline Anand.

She is in her 3rd year which means that her PhD is drawing to a close. She feels ‘very confident’ because she has a working prototype.

What is the end goal?

”The end goal is not only to understand this process but to have control and better quality and a new field of possibilities by being able to customise the product to whatever application we have. For instance, we could have something that allows us to move the image over the printing field allowing us to print bigger components. We could print hearing aids in series or similar,” explains Gwendoline Anand.

Watch the video above to learn all about the prototype and the work that lies ahead.

The video is part of a MADE Researchers’ Baton, where researchers in MADE present their research and pass on the baton between them, each time posing a question for the next researcher.

The next MADE researcher for the baton will be Pravin Kumar Mallick from DTU who is investigating how to map potentials for making systems for taking back used Novo Nordisk insulin pens to reuse the materials in different countries.

Unique AM process

The AM process used is called Mask-Projection Vat Photopolymerisation (MP VPP). In this layer-by-layer method, each layer of the 3D object is created sequentially and then stacked with the others to form the final product.

The technology employs a photo projector, like those you can find in classrooms but with UV light, that displays a 2D UV pattern onto the liquid resin placed in a vat (container).

The part of the resin that is illuminated undergoes a chemical reaction called photopolymerisation and hardens, forming one single layer of the final object. After the formation of each layer, the build plate is raised to let the liquid resin in between the last layer (attached to the build plate) and the photo projector, and thus the process is repeated until the AM object is finished.

The UV pattern is created using a digital mask; in this case, a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD). This technology enables the creation of complex parts with precise control.

MADE research project

Name: Light Engines for Vat Photopolymerisation

Partners: DTU – Mechanical Engineering

Timespan: 2020-2024

Goal: A strengthened research capability for the fundamental understanding of how light can be masked, modulated, and projected in vat photopolymerization based additive manufacturing technologies.

The project is part of MADE’s research platform MADE FAST, under the initiative “Sustainable upscaling through digitalization of manufacturing processes”.

MADE FAST is an industry-led research, innovation, and education partnership developing the next generation of Danish advanced manufacturing capabilities.

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