With ten of the most advanced and common 3D printing technologies, twenty different 3D printing material options and over a hundred possible colors and surface finish combinations, Belgian 3D printing company i.materialise has some of the most diverse 3D printing options available. From nylon materials like Polyamide, to high detail resins, to metals like titanium, bronze and gold, chances are, if it can be used to 3D print, then they have got it. The trick is, obviously, finding the correct material and making sure that the design is printable using it. Thankfully i.materialise includes lots of printing and design guides to make the decision of selecting the correct material easier.
This week i.materialise has added their newest material and posted a ton of information about how and when to use it. Smooth Detail Resin is the latest addition to their family of 3D printing materials and it is one of their highest detail options available. They have released the material as a trial option to see how their community responds to it, and to see how well it performs for a wide variety of different types of models and uses. The final prints have remarkably smooth surfaces and the material is capable of producing very fine details thanks to its 50 μm layers.
The material seems tailor-made for miniature figures, scale models or any object that requires a high level of detail — an array of applications for which users have been clamoring and companies such as i.materialise and Shapeways have been responding. Additionally, Smooth Detail Resin material’s surface texture and its gray color makes it extremely easy to paint or finish. Smooth Detail Resin is a light-cured liquid resin material that is used for Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printing, which is sort of like a close cousin to Stereolithography (SLA), it simply uses a different type of laser.
As with SLA models, DLP prints are built thin layer by thin layer on an upside down build platform that is suspended over a vat of the liquid resin. This process will produce remarkably smooth and striation-free models, and will need very little post processing work. i.materialise offers 3D prints as either finished or unfinished, with the former tasking their technicians with removing all of the support material and slightly post processing the model, and the latter simply leaving the supports intact for creators to finish themselves. Naturally the finished print will cost more than ordering an unfinished print.
Smooth Detail Resin material has a surprising amount of features that make it really stand out from other resin material and 3D printing options. The maximum printing size is massive, so users can take full advantage of the roomy 260 x 160 x 193 mm (10.2 inches x 6.2 inches x 7.5 inches) building envelope. The material is also very forgiving of wall thickness, so features on the model can be as thin as 0.4 mm, which is 60% less than most other plastic materials. Smooth Detail Resin will also produce details as small as 0.3 mm with an accuracy of less than 1%. The final part resolution is capable of so much detail that i.materialise actually warns users to make sure that no triangles from the original 3D design will be visible, because they will show up on the print if users aren’t careful.
The material will work very well for any hollow models, and users do not have to include any drainage holes in their 3D model file. The minimum wall thickness for hollow models is a super-slim 1mm. Unfortunately Smooth Detail Resin is incapable of producing interlocked or enclosed parts without a lot of support material that would need to be removed. i.materialise recommends that any models that are designed to be assembled include at least a 0.6 mm clearance between the two connecting parts. This allows the individual parts to easily fit together despite any surface finish textures that may prevent it, as well as leaving room for glue or bonding materials that won’t run or drip out of the cracks.
The new i.materialise Smooth Detail Resin is currently only a trial material, meaning that if it doesn’t perform as expected, or the community responds poorly to it, it may be removed and the formula altered or changed. You can see all of the i.materialise 3D printing material and finish options here, and you can learn more about Smooth Detail Resin design guidelines and specifications page here. Discuss further in the Smooth Detail 3D Printing Resin forum over at 3DPB.com.