Fast, and unsurpassed for high resolution detail, accuracy, and surface finish, SLA and DLP based resin printing is proven technology that has taken a solid foothold in the prosumer 3D printing market. There are fewer entries here than the overladen FFF/FDM field for several reasons, but it can still be difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
I’ve been considering the upgrade to resin printing for several years because of its particular suitability to jewelry production. Build volumes can be somewhat limited because of focusing limitations with the relative resin-curing light sources (laser for SLA and digital image projector for DLP), but that doesn’t affect most jewelry applications. Castable resins are available to allow printing “wax” for lost wax casting. DLP allows curing an entire layer at once, relative to the slower process of tracing a line with a laser, so it lends itself to printing trays full of densely packed small parts.
Promises abound in the 3D printing world, but delivery is another thing. With extrusion based FFF/FDM printing, the market has years of industrial and open source development to build upon. Resin printing has only more recently broken loose into the wild. There are open source projects you can follow here, but there are fewer examples, and a smaller community. There are also larger problems to solve and the whole thing costs more than building your own filament printer. For this reason, I would highly recommend choosing an established and proven performer, like one of the following printers.
Formlabs is the original low-cost truly professional level machine. They jumped they gun on patents expiring but survived their lawsuit and emerged the market leader. You can pick up a Form 2 for $3499. You get high resolution, reliability and a large user group.
B9Creator uses DLP to give the Formlabs SLA a run for it’s money. It’s a smaller company but has been consistently at the front of reviews right alongside the Formlabs machines. The assembled machine will cost you $4595, but if you are willing to build it, you can save $1100–which is $9 less than the Form 2. For that you get a machine that produces even higher resolution and is faster. Castable resin from B9 runs $139 a kilo. Formlabs resin is 299 a liter. I’m not sure how they compare by equal measures, but I’m pretty sure the value falls on the side of B9. Be sure to check if your favorite printer can run 3rd party resin as this can cut costs too.
There are couple notable competitors in the same price range and quality of output. The Titan 1 is a DLP printer from Kudo 3D. It offers a larger build volume than the B9Creator, but almost the same level of resolution. This at a lower price too, just $2999. The extra speed really makes it stand out though.
The last close entry at this price range and quality is the Pegasus Touch, from Full Spectrum Laser. The Pegasus is an SLA machine with a large build volume and high resolution that like the Form 2, features Wi-Fi and stand-alone operation. Like the rest of the competitors in this list, FSL is a U.S.-based company. They also have the advantage of being a laser and laser cutter manufacturer.
Kudo 3D posts this comparison chart:
|Form 1+||Pegasus||B9Creator||MakerBot Replicator 2|
|Technology||DLP-SLA with PSP||Laser-SLA||Laser-SLA||DLP-SLA||FDM|
|XY Resolution||37 to 100μm (Native pixel size)||300μm||250 μm||30 to 70μm (Native pixel size)||> 100μm|
|Minimum Mechanical Resolution||5μm||25μm||5μm||6.35μm||100μm|
|Max Speed||Very fast 2.7 in/hr for Z 100 μm||Fast 1.2 in/hr for Z 100μm||no info on vertical speed||* Fast 0.47 – 0.8 in/hr for Z 100μm||Slow|
|Finish||Great||Great||Great||Great||Decent at lower speed|
|Max Build Volume (in inches)||7.5 L x 4.3 W x 10.0 H||4.9 L x 4.9 W x 6.5 H||7 L x 7 W x 9 H||4.03 L x 3.02 W x 8.125 H||11.2 L x 6.0 W x 6.1 H|
|Material||Photo Resin||Photo Resin||Photo Resin||Photo Resin||PLA|
|Price||USD$2,999||USD$3,299||USD$2,750||KIT: USD$3,490, Assembled: USD$5,495||USD$1,999|
You can’t really go wrong with any of these machines and it comes down to your priorities. If you want more and better for your money and you just aren’t ready to throw down for a resin printer, be sure to stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on disruptive technology poised to make it all bigger, faster, and better.