RE: How fine can you go?

From: Lightman, Allan J (
Date: Tue May 18 1999 - 16:53:36 EEST


General comment: There is usually a trade-off between resolution achieved
and maximum dimension of the overall part. This results from the need to
build the component in an acceptable time. Accordingly, as the build
primitive (the smallest resolvable 3-dimensional element) gets smaller, the
overall size of the object built decreases correspondingly.

If the engineer is prepared to work within these bounds, then there is a new
class of microfreeform fabrication systems evolving which can provide very
high resolution - primitives are on the order of 1 - 10 micron in every
direction (possibly even smaller). These are NOT layer fabrication systems
but they do build in photopolymers (similar to stereolithography). Examples
of devices built at Caltech can be seen in the cover article of the March 4,
1999 issue of Nature magazine - components shown with features of 7 microns.
These systems are only now in the demonstration phase and are not available
commercially. At the University of Dayton, we are looking into fluid
mechanics applications where stairstepping can create turbulence problems.

Allan Lightman

> ------------------------------
> Allan J. Lightman, Ph.D.
> Senior Research Scientist
> University of Dayton Research Institute
> 300 College Park
> Dayton, OH 45469-0150, USA
> Voice: +1-937-229-3966
> FAX: +1-937-229-3433
> E-mail:
> WWW:
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Glyn Churchman []
> Sent: Monday, May 17, 1999 6:31 PM
> To:
> Subject: How fine can you go?
> I wanted to pass this along for the RP community to comment on.  It
> appeared today on the model making list. I am guessing that it is not
> possible. If you make the assumption that they are going to investment
> cast a metal part, would anyone have any ideas? Here is the post:
> Has anyone come across any new RP machines with build levels smaller that
> the Sanders machine?  The Sanders has a Build layer: 0.0005 in.  An
> engineer came to me with a upcoming project that will have small channels
> for a medical instrument.  Micro Fluid Dynamics is greatly affected by the
> steps left behind.  Believe it or not  he is looking for one in the 5-10
> microns.  (This is where you might be tempted to laugh)
> Sincerely,
> Glyn Churchman@Prototech, Inc.

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