Tag Archives: SLA 3D Printing

PRISM adds SLA 3D printing to the FABtotum personal fabricator


This add-on module is expanding the capabilities of FABtotum’s already impressive all-in-one machine. 


You may recall FABtotum from the recent crowdfunding campaign for its low-cost, all-in-one fabrication device capable of 3D printing, scanning, CNC milling and engraving. Following the incredible success of the ATmega1280 powered machine, the Italian startup has returned to Indiegogo with an integrated SLA 3D printing platform.

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Dubbed PRISM, the 6.5mm thick module will expand the FABtotum personal fabricator’s functionality by bringing high-resolution, stereolithography-based manufacturing to the desktop of Makers. The add-on features a swappable laser head along with a removable resin vat that can easily be mounted to the printing bed.

With PRISM, Makers can 3D print in a wide range of filaments including the ordinary PLA, PETG and ABS, as well as more advance materials such as nylon, brass, wood and aluminum. Aside from that, its built-in high-res camera, touch probe and laser allow users to acquire 3D point clouds and models via multiple 3D scanning methods.

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“PRISM is a new manufacturing technology that merges the advantages of Selective Laser Synthering (SLS) with the precision of Digital Light Processing (DLP). Most DLP printers relies on integrating commercially available DLP home projectors wich are expensive and are not designed for 3D printing,” the team writes.

Resin is cured by shining a light with the right wavelength through an LCD matrix. Whereas similar systems use a simple yet expensive UV LED array, PRISM employs a a mirror and a set of collimated light emitters. This reduces the amount of energy consumed and tremendously speeds up the solidifying time.

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Impressively, the PRISM can also produce an unprecedented level of detail at around 80µm in XY and 0.47µm in Z.

Like with the rest of their products, FABtotum has made the module entirely open source and encourages feedback from the Maker community to help further improve the platform and solve any issues. Interested? Head over to its official Indiegogo page here, with the team is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in February 2016.

Building a $60 SLA 3D printer with LEGO and K’NEX


Don’t want to spend big bucks on an SLA printer but tired of FDM? Make your own with LEGO, K’NEX and Arduino.


While the market for 3D printers has surely grown throughout the years, up until now a majority of Makers have turned to Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) machines. These work by heating a material, extruding it out of a moving nozzle and giving it time to cool. On the contrary, Stereolithography revolves around UV lighting to harden the liquid resin, which enables Makers to create projects in one piece and with smoother surfaces. However, this convenience comes at a cost. Those seeking a higher resolution print have no choice to dig deep into their wallets for an SLA device. Unless, you are Instructables users “mastsermind,” who has created one for less than $60 using some LEGO bricks, K’NEX pieces and a few other electronic components.

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Inspired by the mythological creature comprised of three different animals, the Chimera 3D printer is made up of recycled parts from three different categories: projectors, toys and old computers. What’s impressive is that the unit doesn’t entail a whole lot of parts: just a projector, a computer disc drive laser deck with stepper motor, any ATmega328 based Arduino, an EasyDriver v.4.4, some tools and wires, along with the option to etch a circuit board and construct a wooden frame. That’s it.

“Top down DLP printers in their simplest form have only one axis of motion, a video projector, and minimal electronics. They do not require a heated or perfectly level bed, there is never a clogged or wrong temperature in the extruder as it does not use an extruder. And the resin used has a comparable price to FDM printers,” the Maker explains.

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The Chimera was built around two frames, one of LEGO to hold the Z axis, platform and resin tank, the other of K’NEX to hold and move the projector. Beyond that, the resin tank can basically be any container that’s waterproof and strong enough to hold the solvent.

Obviously, the most important component of the system is the projector, which matsermind employed an inexpensive Mitsubishi XD221u. He does recommend staying above a 1024 x 768 resolution for optimal results. In order to make this suitable for printing, a few modifications are required such as getting the focus distances closer and removing the UV filter to allow for more light through.

“Making it cure the resin faster is easy, just remove the filter (glass square) on the front of the bulb.  Making the projector focus at ≈7 inches was a bit more difficult. The service manual has been attached for assistance in disassembly if you are using an XD221u projector, but the modification should be similar for most projectors,” the Maker reveals.

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Meanwhile, the Z axis consists of a laser deck assembly from an old computer disc drive. An Arduino is tasked with driving the stepper motor salvaged from the drive and ensuring it moves at the right rate.

“The one I used is one that I have had around for a while, waiting for a good use for it. I do not know what model drive it came out of, but any assembly will work as long as it uses a stepper motor with four wires and not a DC motor with two wires,” he adds.

What’s nice about a top down system is the simplicity of its electronics. Whereas a vast majority of complex printers today are embedded with the combination of an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and a RAMPS 1.4 shield, this machine only requires an inexpensive Arduino Uno seeing as though there is only one axis to control.

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“If you want to put a little more work into it, you can program an ATmega328 chip with the firmware and etch an all-in-one board whose design is included in the files attached,” matstermind notes.

In terms of firmware, the Maker selected GRBL 0.9i and runs the open source Creation Workshop software on it. While as fully-functional as it may be, mastermind has a few more plans for Chimera in the weeks to come. These include increasing the size of the resin tan, designing a wooden frame out of MDF or particle-board shelving, enhancing its stability, as well as adding a shutter attachment to prevent the resin from being exposed to accidental light.

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s elaborate Instructables page here.

Elemental is the world’s first pressure controlled 3D printer

Designed by the crew at Australia-based startup Hardcotton, Elemental is the world’s first pressure controlled stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer.

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Powered by an Atmel | SMART ATSAM3X8E Cortex-M3 MCU, Elemental is destined to become one of the latest and greatest innovations in the consumer space thanks to its unique spin on 3D printing. The machine uses a patent-pending pressurization system to present a dynamic approach to once-traditional desktop SLA printing.

Whereas a vast majority of traditional devices rely upon a mechanical process to move a build platform away from the source of print production after each layer is printed, Elemental increases the volume of resin above the build platform. Once only found in low-end FDM machines, Makers will now be able to affordably create parts of complex geometries and intricate details necessary for professional grade design.

“We thought about what you need from a 3D printer before we thought about what we would develop,” a company rep writes.

By utilizing its pressure control technology, Elemental’s laser system can cure a layer of resin in a more accurate, efficient and quiet manner. According to Hardcotton, the first layer is cured onto the surface of the removable build platform in the center of the vat. The pressure control system enables the flow of material from one of the control chambers into the build chamber, thereby increasing the level of the resin by a certain, precise and extremely fine amount. The laser system then sets the next layer of resin to further create the object. This process is repeated until the object is completed.

“Pressure control provides an extremely high level of accuracy in printing layer upon layer during the print process,” the team explains. Impressively, 3DPrint.com notes that the entire process is extremely silent with no Z-axis movement, with no additional support needed, as the resin surrounding the printed object provides all the support required.

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The Elemental features a build area of up to 200mm x 200mm x 200mm, Z control accurate to 1 micron, 24-bit XY control resolution (variable through software), a 405nm laser, along with a stand-alone SDcard and Bluetooth functionality.

Hardcotton CEO Scott Pobihun says the Elemental fills the gap between low-end hobbyist machines with limited resolution and expensive high-end printers.

“There are many low-end 3D printers on the market that don’t have the capability to truly produce the high quality prints you’re looking to achieve. And those high-end printers that are able to produce high resolution prints are complex to configure and use, as well as being expensive.”

Interested in learning more about this ATSAM3X8E based device? Head on over to its official page here.