What is the best way to show off how well a 3D printer can handle minute details? The best method would probably be to 3D print something that is incredibly small. Just last week I covered a story about a company called Zealot Miniatures, which had 3D printed 3mm tall minatures for a client who was in the process of creating a model navy ship. He had wanted to have tiny miniature sailors on board his ship, so Zealot used their SLA B9 Creator v1.2 to 3D print these tiny men.
Our story inspired a man named Andrew Bougie to give this a try himself. Bougie is a 3D Technology Specialist at ScanSource 3D. His job is to provide internal pre-sale technical support for their 3D sales team, as well as pre and post-sale support for their customers.
“The article you posted about Zealot Miniatures in the UK got me curious about what my own machine could do, Bougie told us. “We have a 3D Systems ProJet 3500 HDMax that I was eager to test out.”
The 3D Systems ProJet 3500 HDMax features a maximum resolution of 750 x 750 x 1600 DPI (XYZ) with a Z-layer thickness of 16 microns. It works by using a print head with 618 jets to lay down individual layers of a part, as well as its support material. Once laid down, a roller smooths the liquid resin, before a UV flash bulb cures it. When parts are finished printing, they are typically put into a low-temperature oven at around 60-65C, in order to melt away the wax support material.
“I wanted to print a human figure similar to the one done by Zealot,” Bougie told us. “We distribute Artec 3D Scanners in addition to 3D Systems printers, so I grabbed our Artec Eva and captured a full body scan of my coworker.”
While, it probably wasn’t needed, Bougie captured his co-worker with the Artec Eva scanner with a mesh that was decimated to about 500,000 polygons. “That is probably way too much, but I wanted to leave as much detail as possible,” he explained.
He then scaled down the model to multiple different sizes and printed them all at once on the same build platform, with them all laying on their backs. The entire print took approximately 9 hours to complete.
“The prints came out very clean with her nose only disappearing in the smallest model. The smallest model is 5mm tall and 1.3mm wide,” said Bougie. “Each leg is about .3mm at the widest.”
While Bougie’s prints were not quite as small as the ones created by Zealot Miniatures, the detail appears to be a little better. Bougie told us that he could have made them smaller, but his scaling calculations ended up being a bit off. As you can see in some of the images, the edges appear to be a bit jagged. This is not due to poor print quality, but in fact is some left over wax residue which Bougie was afraid to clean off due to the extremely small scale of the objects. “ It is very difficult to handle objects this size when you are worried about breaking the legs off!”
What do you think about these miniatures? Discuss in the ScanSource 3D Printed Miniature forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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