DALLAS -- Texas Instruments said this week it is adapting its HD digital light processor (DLP) chipset for rapid prototyping systems that can print 3-D objects.
By optimizing the DLP for UV light, the surface of a receding photo-activated polymer can be formed into 3-D objects for custom and one-off precision manufacturing. UV-optimized DLPs are also used for exposing photo-active resists in pc boards with a virtual mask, laser repairs and computer-to-plate printing.
"Engineers had been taking apart projectors to get at the DLP chips for years, but now we have several lines for different applications such as our UV models optimized for curing polymers," said Mariquita Gordon, a TI vice president. "Our latest UV optimized model will offer higher resolution—1920 by 1080 pixels--over our current XGA model with 1024 by 768 pixels."
The HD model, like its XGA predecessor, is optimized for UV light by tweaking the gas mixture inside the package, enabling the DLP to cure photo-active polymers without being damaged by the corrosive effects of the high-energy light source.
EnvisionTec Inc. (Ferndale, Mich.), 3D Systems Corp. (Rockville, S.C.) and others currently offer DLP-based 3-D printers for rapid prototyping, one-off- and personalized manufacturing. PC-board makers are also using UV-optimized DLPs for mask-free lithography, enabling them to quickly revise circuit board layouts.
The new HD models available later this year are being promoted as delivering better quality for rendering detailed structures at the surface of the photo-active polymer and doubling throughput for maskless pc-board makers.