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China's UnionTech unveils affordable 'PILOT' SLA 3D printers at TCT Show


Shanghai Union Technology Corporation is launching its PILOT stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers at the TCT Show 3D printing event, which wraps up today in Birmingham, UK. PILOT 3D printers offer “excellent surface aesthetics, application range, [and] ease of use.”

UnionTech's PILOT 250 SLA 3D printer

This year’s TCT Show is almost over, but spectators at the UK-hosted event have been able to feast their eyes on a range of new 3D printing gear from all around the world—even as far as China. Shanghai’s UnionTech has brought its new PILOT SLA 3D printers to the massive additive manufacturing event, having commenced operations outside of China just last year following 17 years in the business at domestic level.

There are two new 3D printers in the PILOT range, one little and one large. The PILOT 250 offers a 250 x 250 x 250 mm build platform, while the PILOT 450 offers 450 x 450 x 400 mm. Both printers feature open design for third-party materials and slicing software, and have a similar industrial-level power to UnionTech's RSPro production 3D printers, a range of larger SLA machines already offered by the company.

UnionTech says the new PILOT printers offer scan speeds of up to 12 m/s, layer thicknesses as low as 0.05 mm, and an accuracy of +/- 0.1 per cent over part length.

The machines are made from decent components too. According to the Chinese company, parts are sourced from companies like Spectra-Physics, American Optowave, SCANLAB, and Panasonic, while the printers’ construction details include a granite frame, closed-loop control, pump-fed refill capability, and a high-efficiency vacuum re-coating system.

UnionTech’s new SLA machines are purportedly able to print components with a range of physical properties, with users able to adjust toughness, temperature resistance, and strength and stiffness. Potential applications include prototype tooling for injection molding, patterns for investment casting to create near net shape metal parts, and metal-plated composites.

UnionTech, based in Shanghai, has been developing SLA 3D printing equipment for almost 20 years, having entered the Chinese 3D printing market in the year 2000 and commenced to battle against the dominant CNC machining market in the expansive Asian nation.

UnionTech's PILOT 450 SLA 3D printer

“Our equipment is robustly constructed for low cost of ownership from the initial purchase onward while producing the highest quality parts,” the company says. “Parts produced on UnionTech [SLA] equipment are highly accurate with excellent feature resolution, full density, [and] smooth surfaces.”

There’s good evidence for the versatility of UnionTech’s SLA printers as well. Last year, a Chinese art student from the China Central Academy of Fine Arts used a UnionTech RS Pro600 3D printer to create 3D printed sculptures inspired by Chinese ink paintings. UnionTech also has a number of industrial clients.

Other 3D printers unveiled at the TCT Show this week include the FELIX Tec 4 and the BCN3D Sigmax.


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