It says a lot about how much exciting 3D printing news there was at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas when a new 3D printer as exciting as the Slash 3D Printer didn’t get more coverage than it did. As the first product of new 3D printer startup UNIZ, the Slash is going to completely change the game for desktop, light-cured resin SLA printers. Not only is it going to be able to print up to fifty times as fast as the Form 2 SLA 3D printer from Formlabs, but it also offers a similar layer resolution and is expected to cost almost half as much.
The San Diego-based company has been developing the technology for the Slash for the better part of eighteen months, and CES was the first time that anyone got a look at it. While it is a resin-based 3D printer like the Form 2, rather than using a single laser point to cure the liquid resin it uses a new LCD masking technology. It is that minor change in how the resin is hardened that makes all the difference and produced finished models at blisteringly fast speeds. A laser is only capable of hardening very small sections of resin at a time, like a pencil drawing a picture. But the Slash uses an LCD light projector that is capable of selectively filtering UV light, which allows the entire layer to be printed instantly.
The result is a desktop SLA printer that when compared to the printed volume of material will 3D print entire objects almost fifty time as fast as any laser-based DLP 3D printer. The process is capable of curing 1,000cc of material per hour and is so accurate that in addition to its speed, it is even capable of producing parts with a higher layer resolution. At its fastest speed the Slash will print parts with a 0.2mm resolution, but it can be slowed down a bit and produce fine details up to a 0.01mm resolution.
In addition to the new LCD curing method, the Slash also has what sounds like a proprietary automated resin leveling system that keeps the optimal amount of material in the tank at all times. The resin canister is mounted upside down on the outside of the printer in a pretty slick looking dock on the side, so theoretically the printer will never run out of resin mid-job. That makes the machine relatively autonomous so it shouldn’t need to be monitored too closely, and it also has built in Wi-Fi so it can be controlled and monitored from any mobile device.
UNIZ CEO Dr. Houmin Li explained to tech blog Fabaloo how the Slash works:
While the company did not have an exact cost available at CES, they did estimate that the final retail price would range between $1,500 and $2,000, which is considerably cheaper than the $3,500 Form 2. UNIZ did not announce a release date for the Slash either, but they expect to be launching it on Kickstarter in the near future and an estimated ship date near the end of 2016. According to Li, the printers that they had with them printing at CES were late-stage pre-production models, so just based on what was on display at the show, it looks like they are about as ready to launch as they are ever going to get. You can head on over to the UNIZ website and sign up for their mailing list to get notified when the Slash finally hits Kickstarter. Is that a campaign you are thinking about backing? Discuss in the Slash 3D printer forum over at 3DPB.com.UNIZ, Fabaloo]