Technology & Engineering

Stereolithography Prototyping Technology

How Time Travel Helps Polk Make Better Products

SLA RoomThe light bulb lights, and you think: eureka! You have an idea. You’re convinced that your idea will really change things. But, you have no way to know because... you can’t predict the future. Unless your idea is for a time machine, of course, there's no way to jump ahead in the development process and confirm that your new direction is the way to go.

When it comes to industrial design, you can save a lot of time and money if you have a time machine. You’ll know instantly whether your good idea is really good enough.

Guess what? Polk engineers have a time machine! And they use it to save you money by going into the future and testing their innovative ideas to make sure they work before they commit today’s expensive resources to building them.

No Morlocks Here, Just Us Time Travelers

Our time machine runs on stereolithography technology. It’s a three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) tool that allows us to model parts and components and products in three dimensions, instantly!

Our stereolithography, or SLA system, produces an actual model constructed of a liquid plastic resin, from our computer designs. It follows our design schematics and quickly builds, layer by layer, a highly accurate three-dimensional model, which slowly emerges from the pool of resin like a horror movie monster.

An ultraviolet laser cures the liquid resin into very thin layers, as thin as 0.002 (0.05mm) of an inch, incrementally building up walls around interior and exterior cavities. The result is just like a finished, injected molded part, at a fraction of the actual manufacturing cost, ready for testing.

Passing the Savings on to You

This level of design perfection and cost efficiency allows us to model even the tiniest parts and components, which will fit together and work just like actual manufactured pieces. If parts don’t fit, or ideas don’t work, we can change direction without incurring massive manufacturing costs. We use these early stage models to test ideas about fit and finish, as well as size and component compatibility.

Using SLA prototyping technology allows us to radically reduce the costs of designing innovative new products. It keeps us competitive by cutting our development time, with less time wasted following dead end ideas. It’s like having a time machine to jump into the future to see how our innovative ideas work in the real world.

Plus, it has a laser. And that’s just cool.

This article was last modified on Mar 26, 2013

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