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August 9, 1987

3D SYSTEMS DISCOVERS PHOTOPOLYMERISATION

By CBR Staff Writer

A revolutionary prototyping system developed by 3D Systems Inc of Sylmar, California is generating a deal of excitement among those who have seen – or even are aware – of it: the company has discovered a liquid plastic that solidifies when a beam of ultraviolet light is played on it – photopolymerisation, it’s called – and has developed a $250,000 machine that takes the output from a computer-aided design solid modelling system to drive the light beam – the beam starts by tracing out the bottom-most annulus of the solid on the liquid, pushes the resulting solid disc or whatever into the liquid a few millimetres, and draws the next annulus on top of it, carrying on until the entire solid shape has been created from the liquid plastic; producing prototypes takes minutes, or hours for very complex ones, against anything from nine months to a year using conventional methods; the system is at present limited to objects no bigger than one foot square, and drivers still need to be written for the major CAD systems, but Sylmar hopes to have the system out on the market next year.

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