Currently there are two main technologies driving the market for consumer-based desktop 3D printing. The first is Fused Filament Fabrications (FFF) and the second is Stereolithography (SLA). FFF technology is used in printers, sold by companies such as MakerBot, which extrude a melted thermoplastic one layer at a time. SLA technology has only begun to make its way into the market, thanks to FormLabs. By relying on a DLP projector or a laser to cure a photosensitive resin, SLA technology is able to produce much more accurate results, and oftentimes at speeds just as fast as, if not sometimes faster than, FFF technology.
You might be thinking to yourself, why would anyone want to purchase an FFF machine when SLA technology is so much better? Well, price is one of the main issues. The lack of competition within the SLA desktop space has prevented a rapid drop in pricing like we have seen with FFF printers on the market today. This is all about to change, however, thanks to a company called SprintRay.
Headquarted in Redondo Beach, CA, SprintRay is the brainchild of co-founders Amir Mansouri and Jasper J. Zhang, both Ph.Ds out of University of Southern California whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Inside 3D Printing Conference in Santa Clara last week. The company, which has been developing a DLP-based SLA 3D printer called the StarRay for over a year now, has just announced its availability. The new printer features the following specifications:
- Printer Technology: SLA
- Printer Size: 16.9 x 13.3 x 28.7 inches
- Build Envelope: 4.8 x 3.6 x 9 inches
- Print Resolution: .12mm
- Printing Spped: 10-20 seconds/layer
- Minimum Layer Thickness: 20 microns
Priced at just $1,999, and available for purchase in a limited quantity on the company’s website, this machine should be a significant step toward more widespread SLA-based 3D printing. In addition to the StarRay, the company also has plans for a more compact DLP printer which will be called the MoonRay. With similar specifications as the StarRay, this printer, which will be launching on Kickstarter sometime next year, will be priced under $3,000 according to Mansouri.
Both machines utilize DLP projectors, which the company feels puts out quite high resolutions. The MoonRay will use an in-house manufactured projector, however, which should be superior to that of the current technology on the market today. I was able to see and touch some of the objects fabricated with the StarRay and I can tell you that the resolutions on almost all the objects were quite impressive. On top of all of this, the company will also include a software which will automatically create supports for the printing process.
Making SLA 3D printing even more affordable, SprintRay will also be offering their own photosensitive resin at a price which is about 50% of their competitions’. A one liter bottle will only cost $50, according to Mansouri. Check out some of the photos below from the conference, and as always, let us hear your feedback on this story in the SprintRay SLA 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.