Radhika Dhuru December 29, 2015
How do you create a showstopper display for an exhibition about lasers? You let there be LIGHT! For the LASER World of Photonics 2015 exhibition, the Fraunhofer Institute of Laser Technology ILT wanted to display a set of giant luminescent letters, each taller than an average person, spelling out the word LIGHT. And our Mammoth Stereolithography machines were happy to oblige—even when the size of the data set topped anything that we’ve ever sent to a 3D printer before. (For a detailed look into how this project was designed, prepared, and 3D-printed, check out our case study here!)
“The LIGHT design addressed both a focus upon lightweight construction as well as on new systems for Additive Manufacturing,” says Prof. Reinhart Poprawe, Director of the Fraunhofer ILT. In keeping with the lightweight focus, the letters were each printed without the use of any support structures—a real challenge for Stereolithography, but a challenge that our design and engineering team was happy to tackle. The team at Materialise came up with a creative use of lightweight structures inside the design, created in 3-maticSTL, to make the letters completely self-supporting.
Example of support structures: the Fraunhofer LIGHT project was designed to be self-supporting instead
An example of support structures (e-Stage): overhangs in this part would deform or collapse without support structures.

Printing LIGHT: The Heaviest Data Set We Ever Sent to a Printer

When the design process resulted in a data set so huge that would inevitably cause a 3D printer to crash, we called upon the Materialise Build Processor to compress and slice the data set into smaller segments that the Stereolithography machine could handle. After being 3D-printed on one of our Mammoth Stereolithography printers—which really are mammoth machines—the LIGHT letters were ready for the finishing touches: a spray of silver matt paint.

To learn more about how we realized this project, take a look at our case study.