3D Printing 

Our customer manufactures industry-leading 3D printing machines that use large-area arrays of low-wavelength LEDs to cure photopolymers. Having prototyped their own LED array our customer came to us when they had difficulty achieving the required control over light wavelength and consistency batch to batch to ensure excellent 3D print resolution and reliability.
Aluminium Circuit Board populated with ultra-high intensity LEDs

Custom design
Faster more accurate 3D prints
Semi-automated optic placement system

The Challenge

Our customer had some specific demands to be met as part of our complete solution.
Significantly increase the uniformity, collimation and colour consistency of a large area LED array used to cure photoreactive resins in 3D printers
Maximize the irradiance on the printer's build surface to reduce layer build times

The Solution 

We selected custom LED kit to give very tightly controlled optical performance. This resulted in less wavelength & flux variation from one product to the next, thus greater 3D print performance.
LED Optic assembly – LED optic assembly – we developed a fully custom semi-automated optic placement system. Using the full vision system of a surface-mount pick and place machine, a custom algorithm was developed to handle and identify pre-assembled optics. Result - reduced positional tolerance of optic placement from ~±0.5mm down to ~±0.1mm, significantly increased uniformity from optic to optic and from product to product.
Optic adhesion – created a novel approach to adhering the optics onto the PCB by use of SMD adhesive and passing through the reflow oven at low temperatures. Result – no hand assembly of optics required, significantly greater assembly accuracy.
Overall system – LEDs reflowed using normal processes. SMD adhesive applied to PCB around optic mounting holes. Pick and place optics onto PCB. Reflow fully assembled board at low temperature to cure adhesive. 

The Result

The project was delivered on time and met our customer's specifications. With 50% improvement in light uniformity, when compared to an LED array with hand-assembled optics – faster, more accurate 3D prints compared to their previous models. The scalable production processes facilitated increased sales of 3D printers. Thousands of LED arrays manufactured and delivered.

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