On the brink of closing its doors forever just a few months ago, Cyprus-based 3D printing company Ilios 3D came back from the edge soon after with a renewed sense of purpose, and its new Ilios Photon 2 DLP 3D printer. Ilios 3D’s founder, CEO, and lead developer Demetris Ruslan Zavorotnitsienko told us last month that the development of the Photon 2 was going well, and the first sample print tells the same story. He reached out recently to say that they had been “printing on our new Photon 2 non stop,” and they are getting some pretty great results.
“Lots of tests have been done on Photon 2 to clarify its resolution, quality and capabilities,” Zavorotnitsienko wrote in an article on the Ilios 3D site. “I really tried to push the new 3D printer to its limits to see what is possible even with a 1280 x 800px UV Projector, without upgrading it to the HD version at full 1080p.”
The test prints all begin at 50 microns per layer, and thanks to the Photon 2, have had consistently aligned layers. The Ilios 3D Suite lets users set their own exposure values, to play around with the print speed and quality for different materials. Zavorotnitsienko explained that when using SLA resins in 3D print jobs, it’s important to consider the pigmentation: for example, colors on the red spectrum are good for print jobs requiring high levels of detail, while blue and green colors are better for simple, quick prints. The Bird in a Cage model, used by many people in need of print comparison, shows the quality and layer separation of a small model. Ilios 3D’s printed its test Bird in a Cage in Red Opaque pigment and Spot-GP resin, and the Photon 2 worked hard to merge the layers.
“Overall the layer consistency and contrast are very good for 1280 x 800px of resolution which were not scaled down,” said Zavorotnitsienko. “This means that this resolution per voxel is available on the entire build area.”
A more difficult lizard model, with lots of small diameter holes, was printed as a second test, to further demonstrate the layer separation and contrast. The Photon 2 performed well, with no pesky clogging of the holes on the lizard, and the model printed quickly and smoothly, even with layers of lower thickness. Later, a highly detailed model was printed at 25 microns, and though it wasn’t set to its highest layer detail, it still came out with sharply defined small features and no overexposure.
This last model was also printed on a Form 2 3D printer, using the same layer height, so as Zavorotnitsienko put it, it was natural to compare the prints. The Photon 2 model, on the left, was printed with a 1280 x 800 projector; you can judge for yourself which print came out better. You can also see more sample prints Zavorotnitsienko shared with us below.
Speaking of models, the winning Clementine model of a recent Pinshape contest was printed on the Photon 2. The model took first place in the Character Design Contest with MakerGeeks, and 3D artist gokcen_yuksek won a Form 2. You can see that the design is very detailed, and Zavorotnitsienko said it was definitely something Ilios 3D wanted to try printing, both to test the Photon 2’s capabilities and to play with different resolutions and resins.
A total of 18 Clementine models were printed, over 16 hours, starting with 12 microns on some of the smaller parts, and going all the way up to 50 microns per layer for the bigger pieces. A special Spot-A Materials mix was used to print out the Clementine models, and Zavorotnitsienko also mixed in Spot-GP and a little pigmentation. Also, while most of the parts could be printed from a single file, Zavorotnitsienko said it was better to spread the models “over several groups just in case the exposure was wrong.”
“Plenty of space was left so the resin can flow through the model and leave while the lift is lowered to those 12-50 micron heights,” said Zavorotnitsienko. “Viscosity is very important in these situations since if it is too high, the resin tends not to leave completely from each layer, resulting in thicker prints.”
Some more good news for not only the Photon 2, but also the rest of the Ilios 3D printers, including the Ilios Beam 3D printer, is the new Ilios Resume Print feature. Now that all of Ilios 3D’s printers have specially designed firmware and custom operating systems, its latest firmware version has the Resume function.
Zavorotnitsienko told 3DPrint.com of the new feature, “Now you can Resume SLA prints where they left off due to power failures or other reasons without losing print time or resin to start over. The functions are specifically designed to avoid corruptions during printing or even an event where you simply unplug the printer during a print.”
This feature is really ideal, because things happen and 3D printers turn off when you don’t want them to, and this function will just about get rid of any print fails. Specific functions of the Ilios 3D printer system actually log the entire print process, layer by layer, to “create an environment safe from corruption which may occur in an event of a failure.”
Zavorotnitsienko said that Ilios 3D had been thinking about this feature for a while, but it made a lot of sense to release it after the Photon 2, since the firmware was already being updated during the testing phase.
“Due to a limited supply of resin there really was no window for failed prints during testing so we designed the Resume function to continue prints without removing them from the build plate,” Zavorotnitsienko said. “This was used and tested in the Clementine model a couple of times as we were printing with new features which needed corrections.”
This function can save not only time, but also print material, and therefore money…and who doesn’t like to save money? The new firmware is currently being uploaded to all ordered Ilios 3D printers, and current users will soon get an update they can download. Here’s hoping that this new Resume feature, and the Photon 2 3D printer, help Ilios 3D claw its way back to the top. Discuss in the Ilios 3D forum at 3DPB.com.
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