Laminated object manufacturing (LOM) is a rapid prototyping system that uses heat and pressure to fuse a stack of paper, plastic, or metal laminates into a single 3D shape. LOM produces functional parts in high-quality plastics and metals, including aluminum, steel, titanium, and magnesium.
Parts are built up layer-by-layer by feeding assembly line style out of a roll of sheet material, similar to how paper is fed into an office printer. A roller spreads a thin layer of adhesive across the top surface of the material. Another roller presses the laminates together and through a heated die where high pressure and temperature fuse. The printed part is then ejected onto a conveyor belt by pushing it through the die. The fusing process takes between 30 seconds and five minutes, depending on the size of the part.
The finished part will be about 1/4” more minuscule than the sum of its laminates’ thicknesses (e.g., 4mm laminate + 6mm adhesive = 10mm thick part). This ensures there are no air bubbles in the fused material, which compromises strength. Laminated object manufacturing can build up to 6” x 6” x 6” parts in standard metals or plastics. Larger scale rapid prototyping systems use similar concepts but roll out flat panels of materials over large beds by using belts roller wheels.
Both stack lamination and rapid prototyping systems like the LOM allow engineers to create quick and inexpensive functional prototypes. Stack lamination can produce durable, high-quality parts at a fraction of typical cost (e.g., $5 / square inch), whereas 3D printing costs around $50 / square inch.
Application of LOM
LOM can be used for both production and short-run designs since it has short build times and requires only one run to make multiple copies. It is possible to print functional metal brackets, gears, cogs, pulleys, clips, springs, screws, nuts, bolts, bamboo guitar necks, airplane propellers, M16 rifle components, and even aluminum engines blocks for out of production motorcycles. Parts have been printed in steel, titanium, nickel alloy, stainless steel, and even aluminum.
Details are commonly printed in ABS plastic, PCABS, POM, nylon, steel, and aluminum. LOM can be used to print with any sheet material between 30-250 microns thick (e.g., 3 -1/2 sheets of paper).
Advantages and disadvantages of laminated object manufacturing:
The following is a list of advantages and disadvantages of laminated object manufacturing (LOM) (also known as the “laminated object method” or “laminating process”).
- LOM can create durable, high-quality objects quickly.
- Mass customization is possible without having to change machine setup or tooling.
- Can use many different materials for the lamination, including fabric, paper, leather, metals, and plastics; it can also be used with dissimilar materials simultaneously.
- Many different types of laminates are available, which means that objects with various functions could be produced. For example, laminates for strength combined with those to improve insulation should allow clean rooms to be created in the home.
- It can also be used to combine dissimilar materials or different types of finish on each surface. For example, it can be used for wood surfaces laminated with plastic, foam insulation, and fabric. This means that the aesthetic appearance of an object could be varied based upon one’s desires.
- They can also produce shaped objects by using molds similar to those made with injection molding processes.
- Fast setup time due to the simplicity of tooling required because no punches or dies are needed to make the shapes desired.
- Depending upon the lamination chosen, LOM can reduce waste material due to its ability to use thin sheets of fabric instead of having excess material out via other methods such as injection molding.
- Low risk means a low barrier of entry for tinkerers and start-up companies since it doesn’t require as much capital or technical knowledge as other processes such as injection molding.
- Formed materials could be recycled into new objects with LOM.
- Using flat lamination sheets limits the potential shapes of parts, so they must be curved in an axial direction (lengthwise) if needed. However, multi-material laminated object manufacturing allows for custom shapes by using different shaped sheets stacked on top of each other with adhesive between them, allowing for actual 3D shapes to be realized by stacking 2D shaped material layers together. This also means that internal cavities may need to be cut within the object after being created.
- Color options are limited because of the flat material format (i.e., only one side can be colored).
- Some materials might not come in large enough sheets or might be too thick, resulting in waste since the end product must use all of the lamination material supplied. For example, the fabric cannot cover larger objects entirely because it does not come in large sheet sizes and is too thick for LOM’s limitations. In these cases, additional stitching or sewing could be done by hand if desired, but this requires more time and effort from the user when compared to other manufacturing processes.
- The process requires an initial setup time which can be expensive for larger objects.
- The process is limited to flat shapes (i.e., axial, planar). If complex 3D shapes are needed, then it is suggested that injection molding or subtractive manufacturing methods should be used instead.
- More material waste because of the sheet-based approach means more post-processing steps are required to cut down excess part size or shape if they do not fit inside the lamination machine.
- There are no quick prototyping capabilities since there is no build platform on LOM machines, so parts cannot be produced with internal voids or hollowed-out areas due to space limitations in the equipment.
What is the type of product used for lamination?
In lamination, a layer of Plastic is applied on the object. Card sheets can also be used instead of paper. The purpose of lamination is to protect the thing from scratch. There are different types of laminators that we can use. Glass, gold or other metals can be used for this purpose. Books, cards, matt and other some type of these things are be used for this purpose.