Do it yourself, hobbyist 3D printer technology in the past few years has typically been of the Filiment Deposition Modeling (FDM) type—a long plastic wire that is melted through a computer numerically controlled (CNC) applicator layer by layer until a 3D form is made. The resolution on these is typically around 300dpi with .4mm layer height.
At Beyond Design, we often use Stereolithography (SLA) printing in our design process. SLA’s have a layer resolution of 375 dpi, but the layers are much thinner (as low as 0.06mm) and use lasers to cure each layer.
A new exciting development in the desktop/DIY world uses photo-reactive resins with DLP (Digital Light Processing) projectors. What makes this approach unique is the method. Most printers will create a layer, or slice, of the 3D object, then the platform it is on will lower by the layer thickness amount, then the next layer is printed, and so on until you have a 3D object. In these new Resin printers, the platform is upside down and starts at the bottom of the resin vat, which is made of glass. The DLP projects the layer onto the glass curing it. The platform moves up by the layer thickness, then the DLP projects the next layer. In this way a relatively inexpensive set of equipment can create very high-resolution parts (albeit smaller parts than a SLA machine can accomplish).
Two of the latest set-ups are from Miicraft and Junior Veloso. Miicraft’s high resolution 3D printer has a cost of $2,000. It has a resolution of 450ppi, a build area of 43mm x 27mm, and a DLP Pico Projector (WVGA 854 x 480). You can learn more about it here.
Junior Veloso’s Resin based printer costs $4,000 for the full kit. It has a resolution of 15 to 100 microns Z – 147 microns XY (XY resolution can be improved by reducing the building area – this will be possible in the kit). The building area is 150X112X200mm XYZ and the DLP Projector is 1024X768 (Native). You can learn more about it here.
It will be interesting to see what else develops in the world of 3D printing over the next few years.
Written By: Mark Eyman, Senior Product Development Engineer