As many in the 3D printing industry know, ensuring that light-sensitive inks or bonding materials are transferred properly during printing can be a challenge. For one, inks and bonding materials are extremely sensitive to light and contamination. Different technologies have unique fluid-handling challenges; StereoLithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP), Material Jetting (MJ), and Binder Jetting (BJ) all use light-sensitive inks or bonding materials but these technologies also use light sources to cure liquid plastics.
Another complication is the presence of chemically corrosive and solvent-based ink or binder materials. Finding a tubing transfer solution for this unique set of challenges has many facets: ink chemistry cannot be altered in any way that impacts the curing process, tubing must have adequate opacity to prevent the inks from curing prematurely during the delivery process.
Mechanical properties such as flexibility and damping must be considered due to the dynamic movement of the printing heads (MJ and BJ) or vibration during the printing operation while ensuring easy routing during printer assembly and maintenance.
What many don’t know is that the use of appropriate tubing material can help preserve the integrity of inks and binders and protect the composition of the final printed product. Furthermore, a properly designed tube will provide ease of installation and adequate lifetime, thus minimizing replacement needs and associated costs while protecting the manufacturer’s brand.
One firm, Saint-Gobain, is addressing this issue. Their take is to co develop materials with their clients to be able to deal with Multi Materials.