Curl distortion is one of the main reasons for the part inaccuracy in the Mask Image Projection based Stereolithography (MIP-SL) process. During the building process, the photopolymerization of liquid resin leads to temperature increase. After cooling down, the cured layers will shrink while they are constrained by its supports or the previously built layers. Consequently, residue stresses exist in the built part and will lead to curl distortion after all the supports are removed. In this paper, we investigate the thermal effect in the building process by using an infrared (IR) camera as an in-situ temperature monitoring sensor. Test cases of cured layers with different shapes, sizes and layer thicknesses have been designed and tested. The experimental results show that the temperature increase of a cured layer is mainly related to its layer thickness, while its shapes and sizes have less effect. The temperature increase of a cured layer is also related to its building position in the Z axis. The calibrated temperature increases in the MIP-SL process can be incorporated in a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) model in order to simulate the curl distortion of a given computer-aided design model. Physical experiments of a simple test case have been built, measured, and compared with the FEA simulation result. A discussion of the curl distortion in the MIP-SL process including its prediction and compensation is given.

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