An Australian start-up has announced an innovative approach to SLA 3D printing that fundamentally changes the design of the printer, at a consumer-friendly price level.
Hardcotton’s Elemental stereolithographic printer includes a proprietary pressure control system that regulates resin levels within the tank during the build process.
Unlike traditional SLA printers, in which the object is moved within the resin, the resin is moved around the object using the pressure system. During the build process, resin is cured onto the surface of a removable build platform in the center of the vat to create the first layer of the object. The pressure control system allows the flow of material from a control chamber in the vat into the build chamber. The 405nm laser system cures the next layer, and the process is repeated.
The printer can also use a resin suspension technique, in which the resin floats on a denser support material like saline solution, instead of the unit having to print supports connected to the object. The design eliminates several moving parts from the printer, which the company says has helped simplify and lower production costs
“When you use Elemental you aren’t faced with a daunting set up and you don’t need to worry about fiddly calibration procedures,” said Hardcotton co-founder and CEO Scott Probihun. “All you need to do in setting up Elemental is to ensure that the printer is level, with its adjustable feet, then simply fill it up with printing material and it’s ready to go.”
The basic concept is similar to the Peachy Printer, but with more precise control of the Z-axis.
The printer will feature custom hardware, firmware, and client software. It has a 140mm by 140mm by 200mm build area with dual control chamber configuration; the single control chamber configuration build area is 200mm by 200mm by 200mm.
The Z control is accurate to 1 micron, depending on the resin, with XY resolution up to 24.4 microns. It is Bluetooth capable.
The Elemental is in its final stages of development, and the company plans to launch the printer through a Kickstarter campaign. Initial units will be available to backers for less than $1,000.