In Short – Todd Grimm on VAT Photopolymerization Machines

In this episode, highlights from the vat photopolymerization class of 3D printers. These machines use light to solidify a liquid photopolymer. New announcements span $5,000 to nearly $1 million, and technologies include stereolithography, 3SP and DLP.


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5 new 3D Printers: In Short
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In this episode, highlights from the vat photopolymerization class of 3D printers. These machines use light to solidify a liquid photopolymer. New announcements span $5,000 to nearly $1 million, and technologies include stereolithography, 3SP and DLP.

 

3D Systems
3D Systems announced new 3D printers at both ends of that price range.


The new ProJet 1200 is a small desktop unit that uses DLP, or digital light projection. Even though 3D Systems calls this a micro SLA, which would seem to imply that it uses the stereolithography process, this little 3D printer projects light using a DLP chip that you can find in small projectors.


It has a build envelope of 1.7 X 1. X 7 inches that will make small parts and cashable patterns. It uses 0.0012 inch layers and has 0.0018 inch resolution for fine details.


Onboard it has a post-curing station where printed parts are placed after cleaning them with alcohol. áThe ProJet 1200 uses a new material, VisiJet FTX Green that is delivered in a proprietary cartridge. The cartridge concept provides a new print window, that's the film through which the DLP shines its light, with every cartridge change so you don't have the hassle of replacing Teflon.


Although 3D Systems touts this as revolutionary, to my eye it appears that it has licensed this little 3D printer from Taiwan-based MiiCraft, which introduced its version in mid-2012 following its IndiIndiegogo funding campaign.


For much, much bigger parts or hundreds of small parts, 3D Systems introduced the ProX 950, which replaces the iPro 9000 XL.


The ProX name is also new, too. ProX is the brand for the larger, production-oriented machines. ProJet is the label for small and mid-sized professional 3D printers.


The ProX 950 has a large 59 X 30 X 22-inch build envelope. áTo keep throughput high, 3D Systems has outfitted this 3D printer with dual 1,450 milliwatt lasers that draw at up to 1,000 inches per second with a 0.030-inch spot size. It also focuses the beam down to 0.005 inch for finer detail and smoother surfaces.


Those lasers are part of the ProJet 950's new PolyRay print head technology, which 3D Systems claims is up to ten times faster than other 3D printers.


 

envisionTEC


In mid-2013, envisionTEC introduced a new technology that it calls 3SP, which stands for Scan, Spin and Selectively Photocure. Most recently it incorporated 3SP in its large frame 3D printers, the Xede and Xtreme.


3SP is a big departure for envisionTEC, which has built its business on DLP-based 3D printers. According to the company, 3SP does what DLP can't: large, high resolution parts without a huge expense for the DLP light engine.


3SP uses a low-cost, blue laser that sweeps across the build area after bouncing off a spinning mirror. But before it reaches the photopolymer, the laser beam passes through two sets of optics that redirect the beam so that it is perpendicular to the resin surface ù from dead center to the outer fringes.


3SP is a simple concept with very few moving parts, so it is user serviceable.


The Xede and Xtreme differ only in build size. The Xede is 18 X 18 X 18 inches and the Xtreme is 10 X 15 X 13 inches. áBoth offer 0.002- to 0.004-inch layers and XY resolutions of 0.004 inch, which makes for nice looking parts.


 

Prodways


Prodways, a new company out of France, has taken a different approach to the challenge of making larger parts with DLP. It mounts two DLP light engines on a gantry that moves side-to-side and front-to-back. MOVINGlight, as the company calls the process, allows Prodways to deliver high resolution across build areas u