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April 2nd, 2008

Nanotechnology brings ancient sarcophagus to life

To faithfully reproduce the fine detail of the piece also required an SL material with hardness and surface qualities similar to marble. Although Alphaform also use laser sintering techniques [SLS] they decided to use SL because of its superior surface finish and detail resolution. Being thermoplastics, SLS materials can't reproduce mineral-like qualities. The material that could was the SL photopolymer NanoTool® from DSM Somos: a high modulus material designed for high-end engineering applications - in automotive and wind-tunnel testing as well as for rapid tooling. NanoTool is heavily filled with non-crystalline nanoparticles allowing for faster processing. Being a virtually zero shrinkage polymer, build lines don't detract from the smooth finish.

"We have a lot of experience with NanoTool for the rapid prototyping of F1 aero sections and other parts that need high surface quality," continued Deuke, "it provides extremely fine detail resolution compared to other SL materials. Professor Brinkmann evaluated the material and found it easy to finish and paint - far superior to the plaster normally used to create replicas."
"After first creating a small section less than half a meter wide [shown above] we move on to replicating a full three meter side of the sarcopghagus. The complete piece was built in three sections which were then seamlessly fitted together. Without rapid prototyping it would have been impossible to create this part. It's ironic that a material and process designed for next generation prototyping and manufacture has replicated a 2,500 year old sarcophagus!"


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