One of the more common, and in my opinion valid, criticisms of stereolithography and other light-cured resin 3D printers is the expense of printer maintenance and required peripherals. Liquid resin already isn’t the cheapest 3D printing material on the market, and considering that a lot of SLA and DLP printer manufacturers actually calibrate their machines to only get the best results from their own expensive resins while making it hard or impossible to adjust settings doesn’t help. Vat liners often won’t even last as long as blue painters tape on an FDM printer, and cleaning off complete parts is messy and often wasteful. While the completed parts can be incredibly detailed and impressive, the cost and mess is still an issue that I don’t believe that most manufacturers are trying to address.
At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show an Australian company showed off their new 3D printer and actually addressed a few of those more common complaints. Gizmo 3D Printers‘ new line of DLP 3D printers has some features that set it apart from similar products on the market, and I see a lot of potential in what they’re offering. They presented their new printers at a press conference on January 7th, and had a live demonstration of their printers in action, including manufacturing a part in 19 minutes that takes a typical desktop FDM printer over seven hours to print.
The GiziMate series of DLP printers are unique in their top down printing process. Rather than a platform pulling a 3D print up and out of a vat of resin, the GiziMate entirely prints within the vat of resin itself, with the Z axis moving down rather than up. Some of the advantages that Gizmo says this orientation offers is no need for a silicone vat liner, as the part doesn’t need to adhere as tightly to the printing bed. Users have the ability to print multiple parts on a single printing bed with the addition of a multicolor vat that can be added on. There is little to no calibration required, and without the silicone PDMS layer parts are easier to remove from the stainless steel build plate, which cuts down on printer downtime.
Another significant benefit to the top down method is the fact that the resin vats on the GiziMate don’t need to be emptied after each use. Typically users would need to clean out the vat and remove any hardened bits that were cured and settled on the bottom while the model was being pulled up and out of the pool of resin. Not only is this time consuming, but it can often waste quite a bit of material. So not only is the printing process fast, but the ability to start a new print right away simply adds to that speed.
The GiziMate series of printers will be made available with a standard light projector and an HD light projector. Both the GiziMate 130 Basic and the GiziMate 260 Basic have similar stats and are manufactured using the same high-quality parts, but the HD projector offers some extremely high resolution parts. Unfortunately, as with most light-cured resin printers, the higher the resolution the smaller the parts. With the GiziMate printers printing a part with the HD projector set to maximum resolution will produce parts at 35 microns, but limit the build envelope to about 68 x 38 mm (2.6 x 1.49 inches). But printing at 200 microns provides a roomier 400 x 250 mm (15.7 x 9.8 inches) envelope. The standard resolution GiziMate offers parts as tall as 130mm (5.1 inch) and the HD offers 260mm (10.2 inch) tall parts.
Here is some video of the GiziMate in action:
Gizmo 3D Printers is also working on two larger series of DLP 3D printers, the GiziPro series which is taller than the GiziMate and offers parts up to 390mm (15.3 inch) tall. And the GiziMax will offer a staggering maximum height of 800mm (31.4 inch) tall parts. The series of DLP 3D printers will be launching in crowdfunding website Indiegogo in March and prices will range from $2,950 all the way up to $4,950. Let us know if you will be backing these machines on Indiegogo in the GiziMate 3D Printer forum on 3DPB.com.