Predicting total build‐time and the resultant cure depth of the 3D stereolithography process

Calvin C. Chen (Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA)
Paul A. Sullivan (Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA)

Rapid Prototyping Journal

ISSN: 1355-2546

Publication date: 1 December 1996


Accurate build‐time prediction for making stereolithography parts not only benefits the service industry with information necessary for correct pricing and effective job scheduling, it also provides researchers with valuable information for various build parameter studies. Instead of the conventional methods of predicting build time based on the part’s volume and surface, the present predictor uses the detailed scan and recoat information from the actual build files by incorporating the algorithms derived from a detailed study of the laser scan mechanism of the stereolithography machine. Finds that the scan velocity generated from the stereolithography machine depends primarily on the system’s laser power, beam diameter, materials properties and the user’s specification of cure depth. Proves that this velocity is independent of the direction the laser travels, and does not depend on the total number of segments of the scan path. In addition, the time required for the laser to jump from one spot to another without scan is linearly proportional to the total jump distance, and can be calculated by a proposed constant velocity. Most profoundly, the present investigation concludes that the machine uses a velocity factor which is only 68.5 per cent of the theoretical calculation. This much slower velocity results in an undesired amount of additional cure and proves to be the main cause of the Z dimensional inaccuracy. The present build‐time predictor was developed by taking into account all the factors stated above, and its accuracy was further verified by comparing the actual build‐time observed for many jobs over a six month period.



Chen, C. and Sullivan, P. (1996), "Predicting total build‐time and the resultant cure depth of the 3D stereolithography process", Rapid Prototyping Journal, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 27-40.

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Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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