Nanofabrica has introduced a first for industry, an AM system that achieves single micron resolution. The technology, therefore, has become a game-changer for mass manufacturing applications in the optics, semi-conductor, micro-electronics, MEMS, microfluidics, and life sciences sectors. These sectors demand accuracy and complexity, and until now have had to rely on disproportionately expensive or restrictive traditional manufacturing processes.
Nanofabrica’s Tera 250 brings the benefits of AM to micro manufacturers for the first time, including hitherto impossible part complexity (enhancing design and functionality), no tooling costs, minimal set up costs, and the ability to mass customise and personalise products. A versatile technology appropriate for prototyping, small batches, and mass manufacturing, the Tera 250 is stimulating innovation in the micro manufacturing sector.
The Tera 250 is driven by innovation in hardware, software, and materials. It uses adaptive optics which electronically control critical optical working point parameters such as focus, tilt, and astigmatism. In addition, it incorporates an optomechanical apparatus which facilitates real-time corrections of other working parameters — mainly location and accuracy in the XY plane — and which also corrects for degrees of freedom such as wobbling to allow for better surface finish on parts.
The Tera 250 also uses a “multi-resolution” strategy, which means that areas where fine details are required are printed relatively slowly, but where the details are not so exacting, the part is printed at a speeds 10-100 times faster. This makes the entire printing speed anything from 5-100 times faster than other micro-AM platforms.
Other enabling technologies in the Tera 250 are algorithms used to control and optimise the hardware.It uses feedback algorithms in a closed loop to increase accuracy and repeatability in production, and positioning errors are corrected using laser distance measurements. Another algorithm family is focussed on customised file preparation, optimizing print angle, build-plate orientation, and supports, all to ensure accurate, timely, and cost-effective part production.
Rigorous R&D has led to the development of proprietary materials for the Tera 250 (based on the most commonly used industry polymers such as ABS and PP) with modifications in polymerization radii, viscosity, surface tension, and spectral-optical penetration depth which enable the manufacture of ultra-high resolution in parts.
The combination of hardware, software, and material innovations means the Tera 250 can be applied to the most exacting micro manufacturing applications.
Avi Cohen, Executive Vice President at Nanofabrica, with the Tera 250 AM Systems