At this point in the evolution of the additive manufacturing (AM) market the challenge isn’t finding a 3D printer to buy, it’s finding a worthwhile printer to buy. With AM systems popping up on Amazon, and with brick-and-mortar stores the likes of Staples putting 3D printers on the shelves, buying an AM system isn’t much more difficult than purchasing any other electronic doodad.
Most of the 3D printers within the price range of individual consumers are material extrusion systems that build up objects in layers using PLA or ABS plastic. A notable exception is Formlabs, which offers stereolithography with its desktop FORM 1. Now a new system named the Peachy Printer has arrived on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and offers photolithography builds at an astonishingly low price.
Let’s start by getting the price out of the way. For $100 you get a Peachy Printer kit, including 100 ml of resin. That sounds crazy, right? You have to be wondering if this thing is made out of paper mâché and chewed bubble gum to be that affordable. Some people spend near that much for a single tank of gas.
Rylan Grayston, inventor of the Peachy Printer, is a clever man. His decision to use photolithography is actually what makes the low price point possible. Grayston designed and developed his own parts, including what is essentially the print head. In place of a bunch of moving parts, the Peach Printer uses electromagnetic mirrors to bounce a laser beam to the appropriate part of the resin tub to build 3D objects.
The laser itself is directed by sound. Grayston wrote an add-on for Blender that translates a 3D object into sound waves. The sound waves are translated into X, Y coordinates by the laser and mirrors, projecting the image of the 3D object into the resin. The Z axis is controlled by the level of the resin in the reservoir. In the case of the Peachy Printer, the resin floats atop saltwater. As the build progresses, the amount of the salt water in the reservoir is increased to raise the level of the resin.
Solid details on specs for the Peachy Printer are a little sketchy yet. Grayston is willing to commit to a minimum wall thickness of 0.2 mm, but that’s about all. As far as build envelope is concerned, according to the inventor, the size of build is only limited by the size of the resin reservoir. The laser beam that directs builds will become more diffuse as it travels longer distances, but Grayston mentions a canoe as a potential build candidate.
Although I’m not fond of it coming as a kit, with a little more development time, the Peachy Printer may well prove itself as a viable contender for desktop AM. The sample prints look to have a fair amount of strata, but no more than what you’d expect from a low-cost material extrusion printer. Resin has also come down in price, making it a viable alternative to plastic filament.
Below you’ll find a couple videos about the Peachy Printer.