The stereolithography (SL) and DLP processes, which use photosensitive resins and a laser or other light source to cure them, are typically more complicated 3D printing processes, particularly when it comes to handling. Among the raft of entry-level 3D printers that have come on to the market the vast majority have been plastic deposition processes with only a couple of notable exceptions — namely the B9creator and the Form 1, which both employ DLP and SL respectively. However, both of these have been commercial start-ups offering the technology to a much wider audience based on proprietary research and development.
However, in the last week two new developmental 3D printers have emerged that are open source in nature — one using the SL process and the other DLP.
The first is Open SL, from a team at Pryntech headed by Justin Hawkins, which is sourcing modest funding on Indiegogo. With only a couple of days left to pledge, the project is just shy of 200% of its $5000 goal. The Open SL project goal, as the name suggests, is to open up the SL process by offering “a build-it-yourself, high resolution SL 3D printer that can be easily sourced and assembled at home.” The aim is to use easily accessible components and software AND keep the costs well under a $1000 and design files of the 3D printer will be openly shared.
Still at the beta stage the first generation prototype model is still under testing. Full specifications for the production model are still to be determined, but the print bed is estimated at being in the region of 80mm x 80mm x 100mm with configurable layer thicknesses between 0.001mm to 0.2mm.
To see more details on this project check out the pitch video below:
It will be interesting to see what the mighty 3D Systems makes of this, particularly in terms of its open source nature. But I am wondering if the modest funding goal is to keep the project below radar?
The other interesting 3D printer development comes from The Rochester Institute of Technology and the really compelling elements here are that it is a student project, led by teacher Rachel Levine, and that the ongoing developmental system is using an ordinary overhead light projector as the light source with which to selectively cure the resin by virtue of black and white images.
Each year different students are getting involved in the project and the current work is focused on working out the best method of adjusting the image size and focus and researching different photopolymers that will work productively. Further goals involve designing a movable platform and constructing an optics system to more successfully selectively transmit light.
The video below show’s how far the students have come with the project. Whether it remains an in-house teaching method that is shared or develops into a tool for the wider world remains to be seen, but either way it is a highly commendable project that will benefit the students in the future.