It’s been amazing, how over the past year or so, the prices of consumer based 3D printers have come down so considerably. We have seen printers like the Micro3D come to Kickstarter for $299, and are expecting to see the MOD-t come to the crowdfunding site next week, for under $300. It’s no denying that most of the 3D printers that we have seen significant price drops on, are printers that utilize fused deposition modeling (FDM).
When you are looking for extremely high resolution 3D prints, you may want to opt for a printer that uses a system of curing liquid resin, such as DLP / SLA technology, rather than FDM. These printers use a light source or laser to cure a liquid polymer, and can create 3D objects with very minute details, at an extremely small scale. However, these printers are much more expensive. For example, the Form 1 SLA printer currently sells for $3299.
One man, by the name of Brad Hill (aka goopyplastic) hopes to change this. He is the founder of LittleDLPer, an open source DLP 3D resin printer. The printer, which Hill tells us he hopes to have up on Kickstarter prior to Maker Faire, Kansas City (June 28), will be available for a live demonstration at the MakerJuice booth during the faire.
Unlike most resin based 3D printers, the LittleDLPer won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
“For the kit, excluding projector, the Kickstarter price should be just under $500,” explained Hill to 3DPrint.com. “The projector I recommend, runs about $310, however the printer is flexible in that you can re-purpose used DLP’s which can drive the cost down for the builder. For example I was initially using a Dell 2300mp projector that I purchased used off eBay for $95.”
For those who wish to source the materials themselves, and build the printer completely on their own, Hill tells us the costs will be “a little cheaper than the Kickstarter kit pricing”. While he’s not 100% sure yet, Hill also thinks he will offer a very limited number of pre-built 3D printers for around $1,000.
The goal of the printer is not only to provide an affordable entry into SLA printing for the maker crowd, but also to make it extremely easy to assemble, as well as source. He compares the process to that of one of the simpler RepRap kits. Another one of Hill’s goals for the printer, is to allow for high quality prints in a small build volume.
“While the design is flexible for different components I will recommend a specific configuration,” said Hill. “I initially designed the printer as a cheap way to get into investment casting for jewelry. It would also be great for scale model builders. The Form 1 and other higher priced DLP printers are excellent printer choices, however the LittleDLPer will provide comparable print quality, at a fraction of the cost, for those comfortable building the kit.”
There is already a working prototype of the LittleDLPer, which Hill has printed over 50 different prints on, using different brands of resin and different layer height settings. He has printed some objects with layer heights as low as 25 micron (see examples below – click to enlarge).
The recommended build volume of the 3D printer is 60mm(X) x 40mm(Y) x 100mm(Z), although this can easily be modified. As for speed, the LittleDLPer takes approximately 2 minutes to print 1mm at a .05mm layer height. A 40mm (1.57 inch) tall print would take about 80 minutes to complete. It will print with most general UV curing resins, including MakerJuice and MakerSolid.
Be sure to keep an eye out for this on Kickstarter, prior to June 28. You can sign up to be notified when the campaign goes live via the LittleDLPer website. Discuss this new 3D printer, and let us know if you plan on backing it on Kickstarter in the LittleDLPer discussion thread on 3DPB.com