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News

DSM Somos ProtoFunctional Materialsfuel continued success of large-frame Stereolithography Technology

DSM Coating Resins : 28 November, 2005  (New Product)
With help from DSM Somos ProtoFunctional stereolithography resins, European rapid prototyping service bureau Materialise NV is expanding capacity for its large-frame SL machines, after more than five years of unprecedented success with the technology. Materialise's patented 'Mammoth' technology (as it is known in-house) produces single-piece prototypes as large as 2100 x 680 x 800 mm, using Somos 9120 and Somos WaterShed 11120 resins exclusively. The resins are used for their particular ability to generate accurate, stable parts which closely mimic the performance properties of production plastics.
With help from DSM Somos ProtoFunctional stereolithography resins, European rapid prototyping service bureau Materialise NV is expanding capacity for its large-frame SL machines, after more than five years of unprecedented success with the technology.

Materialise's patented 'Mammoth' technology (as it is known in-house) produces single-piece prototypes as large as 2100 x 680 x 800 mm, using Somos 9120 and Somos WaterShed 11120 resins exclusively. The resins are used for their particular ability to generate accurate, stable parts which closely mimic the performance properties of production plastics.

Mammoth technology has enjoyed overwhelming industry response since Materialise unveiled its first large-frame SL machine at EuroMold 2000 in Frankfurt, Germany. Today, 'Our strongest demand is for automotive interior and exterior components such as dashboards and bumpers,' says Materialise Prototyping Division Manager Bart Van der Schueren (though the company regularly services a number of other industry sectors). 'Large, single-piece SL parts are much more stable and rigid than units comprised of multiple smaller parts. That makes them particularly useful for functional testing.'

Van der Schueren credits the use of DSM Somos ProtoFunctional stereolithography resins for much of Mammoth technology's success. 'Our ability to offer these parts has been greatly facilitated by the availability of these materials − specifically the polypropylene-like Somos 9120 and the ABS-like WaterShed resin,' he says. 'These resins are consistently proving their value, not only in terms of accuracy and surface quality, but, most importantly, in stability over time.'

Though many of Materialise's clients already have their own in-house prototyping capabilities, they often turn to the service bureau when larger prototypes are needed. Such was the case with Plastic Onmium Auto Exterior, a global leader in the design and manufacture of automobile bumpers, fenders, body panels and body modules. In 2003, the company introduced an entirely new design concept of fixing headlights to a bumper instead of onto the vehicle itself. One year later, project leaders needed a functional bumper skin prototype in order to be able to demonstrate the technology to automotive manufacturers. The demonstration bumper was finally made on one of Materialise's Mammoth machines, using Somos 9120 polypropylene-like resin.

'When we had previously needed such a large prototype, we had to make do with hand-assembled parts that took ages to get hold of, as well as a technique that did not allow us to obtain the correct thickness or technical functions,' says Robert Jantet, Prototyping Manager at Plastic Omnium. 'Today, we have the luxury of getting large SL parts that are much more representative delivered in record times. Our confidence in the technology, and the fact that Materialise proposed a functional material similar to polypropylene, convinced us to go for it. In the end, it was a success.'
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