Cathy Phan is a 3D Systems Process Engineer with 17 years’ experience in SLA printing.
Can you tell me a little about SLA?
Stereolithography is the first rapid prototyping process, and is still the most used of all machine types on the market. I love it because it has the best accuracy, the fastest build time and the most reliable finished parts.
Do you have any tips and tricks to working with SLA?
Well, we optimize our systems with the best hardware, software, laser technology and material portfolio to give you a good starting point. Then, each time we release a product, we always have our experts and senior team optimize it for the best build styles. We also release a new CIB (Customer Information Bulletin) full of information and tips, including how to match build styles to applications, how to build with supports, and how to post process. We likewise study and test our materials to give the best solutions we can. With all that being said, the best thing our customers can do is to use our default testing build styles. We really work hard to make it high performance without high energy.
What do you see as the supreme advantage of 3D printing?
It’s super reliable, infinitely repeatable, and a huge time saver. You’re basically taking a blueprint of your idea and turning it into a real thing in a matter of hours. And since you build up layer-by-layer, nothing is too complex; you can have internal parts, movable parts, assemblies, you name it. It’s awesome.
Do you have a favorite application for SLA?
There are so many great applications for this technology that it’s hard to choose one as more favorable than another. Tracing my experience in the industry, I guess I first fell in love with it with its rapid prototyping applications, getting parts to engineers for testing in just a few hours. After that, I remember being blown away by the application with Align. And from there? Jewelry, hearing aids, toys, medical… like I said: It’s hard to pick a favorite!
What areas in 3D printing do you want to explore further?
I would say medical modeling. I love the idea of having “spare” body parts printed for future use.
What’s your mission?
I look for every opportunity to play with new geometries, new designs and new challenges in SLA. I love working with the files, machines and materials to optimizing printing for challenging parts. I’m on the team that tests and enhances new systems to provide feedback and troubleshooting before we release to our customers so we can turn over a system that’s “plug and play.” If you ever get the chance to stop by our Rock Hill Headquarters, I have a whole collection of prints to share.