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LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing): 3D Printing with Layers of Paper

There are a lot of different 3D printing processes available nowadays, but have you ever heard about Laminated Object Manufacturing? Laminated Object Manufacturing (or LOM) is a very fast and inexpensive way to 3D print objects in several kinds of materials. Sheets of material are bonded together and cut in the right geometry according to the 3D model. Laminated Object Manufacturing is mainly used for rapid prototyping processes, not for production.

MCor multicolor 3D printing
MCor developed a paper based technology that allows multicolor 3D printing. Courtesy of MCor.

What is Laminated Object Manufacturing?

Laminated Object Manufacturing is a 3D printing method, developed by Helisys Inc (now Cubic Technologies). but what happens during this process? Layers of material, plastic or layers paper are fused, or laminated, together, using heat and pressure. 

You may have never heard of this 3D printing technology before and that is normal. Even though this technique is efficient, affordable and quite fast, it is still not really popular.

In the LOM technology, the layered material is rolled on the building platform. Usually, the material is coated with an adhesive layer and the feeding roller heats in order to melt the adhesive. The layer is then glued to the previous one. A blade or a laser is used to draw the geometry of the object to build and draw crosses on the rest of the surface to facilitate the extraction of the final objects. At the end, the building platform contains a block composed of the final objects and the parallelepipoids that are to be withdrawn.

Objects printed using paper then taking on wood-like properties, and can benefit from a sand casting finish, while paper objects are usually sealed with a paint or lacquer to keep out moisture.

The technology has been brought to the public by Cubic Technologies (formerly Helisys inc.) that propose a plastic LOM machine. Recently, MCor launched their paper-based machine adding color to the technology.

What materials can be used with this 3D technology?

This technology is very versatile as almost any material can be glued. During this additive manufacturing process, layers of adhesive-coated paper, plastic, or metal laminates are successively glued together. The more common material used is paper as it is easily cut. Plastic can also be used, using a blade or a laser during the cutting stage. Metallic sheets are more unusual because the cutting stage is more complicated.

What are the particularities of this technology?

This is a very simple process making it easy to use, cheap and fast. The printing precision depends on the layer thickness and thus depends on the material. Compared to other technologies, it is not considered as very precise. The withdrawal of the support parallelepipoids is an exhausting and critical task that can lead to damaged objects.

What are the applications of Laminated Object Manufacturing?

LOM machines are mainly used for rapid prototyping plastic parts. Its low price and fastness make it convenient to make prototypes, even though the produced objects are far from end-use parts. Moreover, Laminated Object Manufacturing can’t create really accurate models such as technologies like Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), or even Stereolithography (SLA). It is not possible to print intricate and complex geometries, but its cheap process and freeform fabrication process are making it a good prototyping technique.

Mcor technologies proposes a particular kind of LOM, they named this additive manufacturing process Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL). It is a paper based technology that adds color in the print. Sheets of paper are colour printed, selectively glued and cut with a blade. The glue is only applied in the surface corresponding to the object, then it is easier to excavate the final object. Plus, the addition of colour allows this technology to compete with binder jetting technologies to produce multicolor objects, even if the quality is not the same.



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