I hate to admit, but, often times, I find the design aspects of Indiegogo campaigns to leave a little to be desired. It’s a superficial thing because good aesthetics may not reveal much about the technical quality of a project. But human beings can be pretty superficial, favoring pretty swans over ugly ducklings. This time, though, a new direct light processing (DLP) 3D printer has come to the crowd funding site and, surprisingly, it’s one gorgeous goose.
With a build volume of 102mm x 76.8mm x 180mm (4″ x 3″ x 7″), the Stalactite 102 uses a projector to harden UV curable resin into objects with a minimum layer thickness of 25 microns. DLP printers can achieve much finer details than more common FFF/FDM machines. For comparison, a MakerBot Replicator 2 is capable of producing objects with a layer resolution of 100 microns. The Stalactite can operate in two modes, NORMAL, which reaches a DPI (dots per inch) of 100 microns across the X/Y plane, and FINE, which has a DPI of 50 microns. They also have the potential to print more quickly than stereolithography (SLA) machines because, rather than use a laser to move point by point across the build plane, DLP printers project light at the entire plane at once.
The company behind the printer also has a patent pending for a “decoupled dual peeling system” for easy removal of objects from the build area. The Stalactite 102 is accompanied by its own software, which its designers promise to be “elegant and minimal”, allowing for automatic support generation that can be modified in terms of thickness, base size, and rod diameter.
The Stalactite team has also developed four different resins for printing objects for a number of different purposes. They’ve got an entry level Standard resin, cheap and meant for leisure projects. More interestingly, the company is also offering Prototyping, Elastic, and Waxy resins. Their prototyping resin is meant to resemble ABS or nylon for more durability. As you might imagine, the elastic resin is somewhat stretchy and flexible. And the wax-like resin is meant for investment casting objects in metal.
All very exciting stuff, so you may want to watch their campaign video:
The Barcelona-based company let us know that they decided to launch now after the announcement that HP would be opening its Head Office for 3D Technology Development in Barcelona, saying, “That will put Barcelona city to reference in 3D printing industry for southern Europe countries,” and adding, “Besides, a special day has been chosen for the launch: Sant Jordi (23rd of April). Sant Jordi is an important both national and international day, the book feast.”
Indiegogo backers can purchase the Stalactite 102 for upwards of €1,850 (about $2,600), but if you’re too late for the early bird prices, you can eventually purchase the machine for €2,895 (about $4,000) on the company’s website. With the ability to print precision parts at relatively low prices, Stalactite hopes to achieve similar success through crowd funding as projects like the Form1 SLA printer. As someone who is easily fooled by sleek design and interesting, but relevant product names, I believe that Stalactite might have what it takes to produce a quality product.