Oct 2, 2015 | By Benedict

Bryan Moran, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) optical engineer, has won the 2015 Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) Far West Region Award for outstanding technology development. The award, given for his Large Area Projection Micro Stereolithography (LAPµSL) 3D printing technology, was presented to the researcher at the FLC Far West/Mid-Continent Region meeting in San Diego. Moran’s achievement was the 26th time since 2007 that a Far West Region award has been given to an LLNL researcher.

LLNL optical engineer Bryan Moran, image from LLNL

The Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer is the USA’s network of federal laboratories that provides the forum to develop strategies and opportunities for linking laboratory mission technologies and marketplace expertise. The organisation was founded in 1974 and formally chartered by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986 to promote and strengthen technology transfer nationwide. The FLC counts around 300 federal laboratories and centres amongst its members.

A 3D printing instrument, the LAPµSL device can print objects of substantial size yet contain highly detailed features. This gives it a unique advantage over other 3D printing techniques that generally have to sacrifice overall product size to achieve small features. According to LLNL, the LAPµSL is an image projection micro-stereolithography system which, by using optical techniques to write images in parallel, rapidly produces very small features over large areas. This marks the 3D printing device apart from conventional techniques, which require mechanical movement or the rastering of beams to expose pixels in series. LAPµSL gets to have its 3D-printed cake and eat it, by combining the advantages of laser-based stereolithography and digital light processing stereolithography. LAPµSL retains the large area and speed of laser-based stereolithography, but without the poor resolution, whilst harbouring the fine details and speed of digital light processing stereolithography. 

“The LAPµSL system is conceptually similar to building a mosaic of tiles that then combine to make a much larger picture,” Moran explained. “Each one of the tiles has a lot of detail and they go together to form the picture that, in turn, has significantly more detail. It’s a new instrument that can make larger-size parts very quickly and is more useful.”

3D-printed parts produced using LAPμSL can be used as master patterns for injection molding, thermoforming, blow molding and various metal-casting processes. In post-processing, components which have been 3D printed using LAPμSL can be coated with metal, ceramic, graphene, thin films and other materials. The original polymer ‘insides’ of the structure can then be removed using chemicals or heat, leaving structures that can either be back-filled with various materials, or left hollow for extremely light, complex and large parts.  

The LAPμSL 3D printing system, which Moran believes can play a role in medical devices, dentistry and microfluidics, has garnered “significant attention” at LLNL from potential users and collaborators, and is considered an excellent candidate for technology transfer, according to various officials from the Lab Industrial Partnership Office. Although the current LAPμSL 3D printing system has been built with commercially available components that are not optimised for this application, Moran has confirmed that he is in the process of developing a new system with LLNL-designed and customised optics.

Other contenders in the Process/Prototyping category included Carbtex Technology Inc’s Smarter Cotton, DeltaTrak Inc’s ThermoTrace TTI Time-Temperature Indicator Label, and Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology’s Elegant Laser Scalpel (ELS).



Posted in 3D Printing Technology





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