Saturday, December 3, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Laser 3D Printer - Stereolithography at Home

It's working! It is a bit of a work in progress still but so far it is working pretty well. This is mainly an experiment which started as a Delta Robot Stereolithography Printer but ended as a more traditional Cartesian Stereolithography Printer. For how it was built, check out the instructable here.

"I'll be honest, we're throwing science at the walls here to see what sticks. No idea what it'll do." - Cave Johnson

Stereolithography (SL or SLA from Stereolithography Apparatus) is an additive manufacturing process using a vat of liquid UV-curable photopolymer "resin" and a UV laser to build parts one layer at a time. On each layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section pattern of the part onto the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the UV laser light cures, solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and adheres it to the layer below.

I have wanted a 3D Printer for a while now and there are some very reasonably priced kits available like the MakerbotUltimaker and the RepRap project. I could have just bought a kit and started printing things but at the time I had not seen great resolution or print quality from those. I started looking around at the other 3D printing technologies and found SLA made some amazing quality prints, so I decided to try making my own. Since I started this a while back those projects have come a long way and they can make some beautiful prints now. There are also people working on a UV resin and DLP projector 3D printer which is showing promise. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


It just crawled from the depths of a resin vat...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Delta Robot 3D Printer. Sounds cool doesn't it?

Alright, I've been meaning to post an update for a while now, I was just hoping to have finished the rebuild by now... Anyway, I have been working on a UV/Visible cure resin 3D printer using a 405nm laser. I started off thinking if I could mix a Delta Robot and a resin printer in one it would be ultra double awesome. While it was pretty darn cool and fun to build, it just didn't work great.

I first started with a dynamixel servo based delta robot design thinking they should have a decent resolution.

Then after I built it, I found that was not the case, at least for 3D printing purposes. Also the controller started resetting every couple of moves so I probably fried it somehow.

At that point I did some more research and found some people working on a delta robot for use as a reprap printer. Following their design I used steppers and gears. The gear ratio was chosen mainly for what would be easy to cut on the taig mill. All worked out on paper it looked like it would have a decent printing resolution. My brother drew it up and we got to work cutting it.

We made the Z axis pretty much out of scraps and it didn't work the best. (linear servo... what was I thinking?) It was good enough to test the theory though.

After assembly and mangling the reprap firmware into a usable shape for a delta robot we were ready to go.

Yeah, it printed an awesome lump! It was supposed to be a small hexagon.

So, what went wrong? First off I think that shooting a laser at a shiny aluminum plate is going to make the laser reflect all over... Yup, also I think dye needs to be added to the resin to help with the reflections and diffraction. The delta robot worked alright but I just didn't feel it would make the best quality prints. There was a little too much backlash and the inverse kinematics is not my thing.

So now we have redesigned, again, but this time back to the tried and true (but boring) Cartesian robot. Here is the X and Y axis, still working on the Z axis redesign but hopefully soon we will have more acrylic lumps cool 3D stuff printed.