Interview with Manuela Pipino of Stereolithography & DLP Company Lumi Industries


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Lumi Industries is an Italian company specializing in stereolithography 3D printers. We covered the company’s Kickstarter launch in 2015, the launch of their DLP printer, the Lumifold foldable printer and their debut at MakerFaire Rome. In addition to printers the company also develops and sells resins and does projects such as a handy text to braille converter or a low-cost braille display. The company now has VVD a Volumetric Visualization Device for 3D files, the teeny tiny Lumifold Tab and the LumiPocket LT. A few years on we found it pertinent to catch up with Lumi Industries via Co-founder Manuela Pipino to see what the company is up to.

What is Lumi Industries?

Lumi Industries is an Italian startup born in 2014 from a maker’s dream with a mission: to make 3D printing’s benefits available to a wider number of users. In 2013, Davide Marin, Lumi Industries founder, presented a project in 3D Printing called Lumifold, the first portable and Foldable 3D printer. The project was showcased at the first European Maker Faire in Rome the same year and launched through an Indiegogo campaign. Lumifold received a lot of interest globally and we understood we were on the right path. We decided to dedicate full time to this project and, thanks to Italian startup incubator H-Farm, we created our own company.

What do you do?

Lumi Industries is specialized in the invention, development and production of resin-based 3D printing devices based on solid principles: high quality, user-friendliness, affordable price, compactness and personality. We could just replicate existing projects, but we prefer to differentiate ourselves from what is already available in the market with something different and a bit of Italian touch when it comes to product design.

We have already launched and sold 4 different types of 3D printers, dedicated to both hobbyists and professionals. With our machines we were able to make it easier for a freelancer, designers, artisans, small & medium enterprises to approach this world and start adopting resin-based 3D printing technology for their work.

With our printers, we provide dedicated consumable materials thanks to our line of 3D printing resins LumiReact which are optimised for the use on our 3D printers, while we are also Dutch FunToDo resins official distributors in Italy.

From 2016, thanks to our team ingenuity and competence, we are also more widely work in hardware development, not specifically related to 3D printing, for third parties. We are collaborating with local partners and also with a big multinational company in the medical field. We proposed an idea, they approved, and we are now developing it according to their needs and requirements, as an external R&D department, to become one of their major products.

Why should I work with you?

“Lumi Industries is a small team, but ideas are our power together with expertise and knowledge.”

We like to experiment and find new point of view.

Our team has experience and capabilities in mechanical engineering, electronic and software development, so that we can fast and easily move from a mere idea to a final prototype in short time, both when working at our projects or third parties’ ones. So, we are the ideal partner for any company looking for fresh ideas for their open innovation projects.

When it comes to our devices, since we are end users before being producers and sellers, we like to guide our clients and assist them as much as we can, exactly as we would like others to do with us.

What is the LumiPocket?

The Lumipocket was our first project as a real company.

We wanted to create a resin-based 3D printer that could be:

  • versatile: with the possibility to have an adjustable printing area according to needs
  • Good quality: it was able to reach up to 37 microns on the XY axis and 50 on the Z
  • fast: using a Full HD commercial projector we were able to reach 3 to 5 seconds per layer according to the resin used.
  • reliable and requiring little maintenance: the mechanical and electronic structure was extremely basic for such a high-performance printer
  • easy to use: no resin vat to clean or change, very intuitive software, easy set-up

The Lumipocket was a revelation, at that time, when we launched it through a new Indiegogo campaign, we did not expect professionals to be among our users, but these were our main clients, especially from the jewelry sector. They were incredibly happy with the quality and many of them are still using the Lumipocket, which is now a bit outdated and out of production, to create their jewels. Early this year we were forced to sell some of our last examples, because some clients insisted in having it, since they saw their friends using it with success.

In 2016 we launched Lumipocket LT, an entry level resin 3D printer for people who want to approach this technology without big investments. We integrated the light source using a UV laser allowing the 3D printer to be not only very compact but even multifunctional. The same UV laser can be used for 3D printing with resin or for engraving on several soft materials.

The LumiFold?

The New Lumifold is the evolution of that idea of compactness and portability we have launched in 2013. Davide’s idea was there since the beginning, to create a 3D printing device which could be extremely compact and portable because it folds back on itself. We filled a patent request on this innovative mechanism in 2015 and officially launched the project.

Unfortunately, we had so many things going on, first of all our collaboration with this multinational company, we still cannot mention, at this important development project, which of course distracted our attention from our own products for a while.

However, Davide went on, during spare time, experimenting, developing and testing. At Formnext, last year, we only exhibited a mock-up, this year New Lumifold was finally a real working device.

New Lumifold is a system which can be applied both on resin and filament-based devices.

Since we have a lot of experience with resin, we decided that our first interaction will be a resin-based 3D printer. But since we don’t like easy things and we wanted to take compactness to the extreme, we launched New Lumifold TB: a 3D printer working with special day light resins cured by the simple backlight of a tablet screen. We chose the Apple iPad Mini, which is one of the most common devices.

A proprietary App we have developed, is installed in the tablet itself to slice the STL file which has been previously loaded, to project the different layers and manage the printing process with the device through a Bluetooth connection.

The printing quality we were able to get is very high and we would like to start applying Lumifold mechanics on other UV light systems and even to launch a filament version.

Nobody is thinking about compactness and portability in 3D Printing, but from feedback we got from many people we met at fairs and went in the past years, convinced us that it can be a great value.

In the 40’s, when big mainframes were created, nobody was even dreaming about carrying an even more powerful computer in a pocket, like we do now with smartphones. We are visionaries, we believe that something similar can happen with 3D printing.

What is your Volumetric Visualization Device?

We heard engineering complaining often because what they design with 3D CAD their mechanical component looks correct until they receive the real piece after prototyping and find out that what looked correct on a screen was not exactly the same thing in reality.

The Volumetric Visualization Device was born from the need to get a real preview of what you are then going to 3D print or prototype, to save time and money. We created a very simple mechanical system, for which we have filed a patent request, that takes advantage of the “persistence of Vision”. The phenomenon which creates the illusion of movement when viewing motion pictures, since a visual image is retained for a short period of time after it has been removed from our vision.

Such a device lets us load a simple stl file, which is processed by our software to create an image projection synchronized with the extremely fast vertical movement of a special film.

When the film starts to vibrate, the user, together with as many people he/she wants, can watch the 3D model as if it was a real object in front of him/her and can explore it from any point of view, exactly what we call an “hologram”, a real “hologram”.

The fact that many people can see at the same time, without the need of special visors or glasses, makes this affordable solution extremely interesting and opens to multiple uses besides product design to preview before prototyping.

It can be used by a dentist to show the patient a real 3D vision of his/her mouth intraoral 3D scan, by a professor to teach students chemical structures, body parts, mathematical functions, by a museum to create a more interactive way to present artefacts or archaeological finds, or by a company to create a new way to present a new product.

VVD is still at prototyping stage and a lot of improvements can be applied like multicolour projections, possibility to move the object and interact directly with it. For this reason, we are looking for companies interested in a specific application of this technology and willing to support its development.

What are some tips you can give me when doing SLA at home?

Resin based 3D printing is quite safe if you follow the appropriate guidelines for use. We strongly advise against using a 3D printer at home. This kind of devices are not to be used in any room where you and your family live and eat. A 3D printer shall be placed in a dedicated workshop or laboratory, which can be easily aerated

What are some safety tips you can give me?

Resins must be used according to appropriate safety rules. They are chemical products and must be always handled using gloves. Most of them have a reduced odour now, but it still can create nausea or dizziness in some people, so the use of a mask is suggested. Moreover, when using UV light during 3D printing or post-processing always wear specific protective glasses. The user must also be careful to material disposal after use, since most of materials are not recyclable. The producer or distributor of consumable material should always provide an MSDS with indications on how to handle and dispose of it.

What do I need to consider if I want to use SLA for industrial production?

Mainly timing: production of resin-based pieces is still slow and expensive compared to traditional plastic moulding. But it is perfect for prototyping and for production of small batches.

Resins tend to be less stable materials since they change from liquid to solid and may undergo degradation with the passing time. But new industrial resins seem to be overcoming this problem.

What are the developments in SLA materials?

Many 3D printing technologies have all been invented. New machines can be higher performance, more precise, faster, less expensive, more compact, with different designs, but part of their potentiality relies on the material quality. The real evolution now is in the materials. Year by year we are seeing a very fast evolution in terms of typology, performance, mechanical characteristics and year by year new players are coming into the market, sometimes launching really innovative products.

What do you see as future trends for SLA?

With the reduced price of resin-based 3D printers, more people are approaching this technology which lets us reach an extreme detail in 3D printed parts.

This, in addition to the evolution of materials, becoming more stable and with more specific mechanical characteristics to allow a final use of the 3D part, we believe that this technology will be adopted more and more.

If we can provide 3D printers that are also easily storable and so compact to be moved around, this user curve can only increase.

What are ideal applications for your technology?

Traditional applications of resin-based 3D printing are in the jewelry and fashion accessory sector, for the creation of 3D models which can be directly cast in metal. In the dental field, where 3D printers use is now booming thanks to the diffusion of new 3D scanning systems for dental models, removable partial dentures to be again cast in metal, or for temporary teeth with new dental biocompatible materials. In precision mechanical component development and miniature niche market: in all of those sectors extreme detail is required. Of course, the continuous evolution of materials can open to a whole range of new applications for SLA.

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