Supernova to Drive New VLM 3D Printing Technology, A Strategic Spin-Off by BCN3D
VLM, or Viscous Lithography Manufacturing, is a completely different 3D printing process that doesn’t use a vat of resin, as most resin processes do. Instead VLM uses a transparent film to carry a single layer of resin to the build chamber. This process repeats to build entire objects. The advantage is that VLM can produce objects using vastly thicker resins, hence the “viscous” in the process name. They say the resins can be up to 100X more viscous than typical 3D print resins.
The benefit comes from the ability to infuse different additives into the resin that could not be used by non-viscous processes. This has opened up a very wide range of possible materials, which BCN3D could exploit in the future. VLM sounds very promising, yet it is utterly different from their traditional FFF process. The process is different, the materials are very different, the applications are different, and therefore the customers will be different. Because of this divergence from the FFF trajectory, BCN3D has decided to spin off their VLM business into an entirely new and separate entity, Supernova.
Nissan Accelerates Assembly Line with 3D Printing Solution
Previously Nissan outsourced all of its prototypes and jigs to mechanical suppliers who used traditional manufacturing methods, such as CNC and drilling. Although the quality of the finished product was good, the lead times were long and inflexible and the costs were high. Even simple tools could cost in the region of 400€ for machining. By printing some of these parts in-house with 3D printers, Nissan has cut the time of designing, refining and producing parts from one week to just one day and slashed costs by 95%.
Eric Pallarés, chief technical officer at BCN3D, adds: “The automotive industry is probably the best example of scaling up a complex product with the demands of meeting highest quality standards. It’s fascinating to see how the assembly process of a car – where many individual parts are put together in an assembly line – relies on FFF printed parts at virtually every stage. Having assembled thousands of cars, Nissan has found that using BCN3D 3D printing technology to make jigs and fixtures for complex assembly operations delivers consistently high quality components at a reduced time and lower cost”.