While it’s been been said that direct light processing (DLP) 3D printers are the technology to watch for as the next best thing for hobbyists and anyone looking to 3D print with higher resolution and superior speed, there’s one thing holding most back: cost.
As 3D printers are coming down in price, so has most everything else. And if you invest a lot of time in 3D printing, most likely you are constantly looking for better speed coupled with higher quality. With equipment and materials that are still cost-prohibitive, what we often see is that the making community finds ingenious ways around that — as they are motivated for speed, quality, and a variety of different results in 3D printing.
Eschewing the hassle of plastic filament by using resin instead, DLP 3D printers do not extrude in the traditional sense. The DLP 3D printer uses a projector that beams onto a light layer of resin, curing it expediently.
The DLP is attractive and attention-getting in that it is fast and is able to produce finer details in 3D models. And as Bazzz uses in his Sx2 Simple SLA DLP resin 3D printer, the top-down approach can be a good fit for the DIYer as it allows for a more simple and affordable design, with files available here.
Bazzz (Bas Molkenboer), a Thingiverse user from the Netherlands, brings us some Scandinavian style from IKEA combined with the streamlining of the up-down DLP 3D printer and a fairly simple list of DIY ingredients.
He purchased an expensive projector locally and recommends using one with at least 2000 lumens. For even shorter curing time, he removed the UV filter. It’s crucial to measure how sharp an image your projector can produce while enclosed, with his at 27 cm. After careful measuring and attaching the projector to a piece of wood, Bazzz simply hinged it to a small IKEA cabinet.
With exposure times at roughly six seconds, Bazzz used MakerJuice SubG+ Resin, in green, with the following:
- Exposure time of 16 seconds for 100 micron layers
- A 3 second lift with 125mm/m for 3mm
All the .stl files you’ll need to produce the printer are provided, with the advice that you will need to remember to print both the rod mount and the z-coupler in duplicate. The electronics are fairly straightforward also since you can use any standard RepRap board. Bazzz used “a standard sanguinololu with just 1 stepper driver and 1 endstop which is located all the way to the top to function as emergency stop”
“No expensive lenses or surface mirrors needed but still great print quality!” says Bazzz, regarding his end product, which is encouraging regarding expense.
Bazzz used Creation Workshop software, which was created and released on Thingiverse by PacManFan (Steve Hernandez), including a helpful manual. PacManFan is another DLP enthusiast and maker whose projects are worth taking a look at as well.
With speed and resolution exceeding other 3D printers, the cost of purchasing DLP machines as well as using the resin is what usually causes 3D printing enthusiasts to shake their heads and go in another direction. Bazzz was able to build his printer around an Infocus IN2104 1024×768 projector with only 1800 lumens, and recommends even better results with higher lumens.
While there’s no exact breakdown or figure on what your costs might be in comparison to other types of 3D printers, with the top-down design, you may find that the simple construction outweighs cost of resin.
Affordability has been the challenge with 3D printing technology as a whole from inception, but thanks to an extremely dedicated and persistent community of makers worldwide, popularity and curiousity in 3D printing has created an international industry that has bred competition in the marketplace and a lot of more affordable equipment and material to choose from.
The DIY and making community, forever rebelling against limitations such as restrictive cost and availability, is populated by many tinkerers and hackers who are willing to take the time to experiment and build their own machines that often work at a better pace and provide higher quality at a fraction of the price. We’ve seen this with other 3D printers, peripherals, and a number of 3D scanners produced by DIY’ers as well.
We had the chance to catch up with Bazz, after having written this piece, to ask him a few questions about his creation and himself in general. You can see the entire interview below:
3DPrint.com: What gave you the idea to create this 3D printer?
Bazz: Seeing all those nice SLA printers on Kickstarter but being still frustrated with their high prices and long delivery times, I started to search around the internet and the open source communities to find out how they work. With a bit of effort you can find some details of people who have build a DIY SLA-DLP machine before but most of the time they simply show just one print and don’t give a lot of extra information. I learned that top-down printing with resin is possible and I found a supplier of those resins (makerjuice subG+)nearby in Belgium, called 2engineers.com for €62 a litre. Next thing to do was buy a second hand beamer and simply start discovering!
3DPrint.com: How did you go about designing it?
Bazz: I started with some parts I found on Thingiverse and printed them on my Prusa i2, but quickly discovered that they did the job but were quite large to print and it was difficult to assemble everything. as some mounting holes weren’t reachable. But they were good enough for a functional prototype. Without even opening my beamer I was able to print some parts. It took around 10 tests before my prints where sized correctly, and I understood how the exposure times needed to be tweaked. Then I started to scale down my prints to prove it’s accurate. I can print 14mm high rooks with “functional” stairs.
3DPrint.com: Overall how does this 3D printer operate?
Bazz: The beamer projects the first slice of the model into the resin which adheres to the platform. Because I use an old beamer I have to expose for 16 seconds and then the platform dips into the resin for 3mm and then comes up 2.9mm which gives me a 100 micron z-resolution. During this “dipping” the beamer goes black. This process is repeated until your model is printed — a 50mm high model gives you 500 layers which will take 500*(16 seconds for exposure + 3 seconds for dipping)=9500 seconds = 158 minutes = 2hours and 38 minutes. This will give you a print speed of around 30 minutes per 10mm. With a brand new beamer you can go down to 6 seconds of exposure or even less to really speed up the process. But don’t forget with SLA-DLP it doesn’t matter for the printing speed how many different objects you put on your platform. It is the z-height which defines the printing time. Printing 4 tiny chess sets takes less time on my SLA-DLP machine than printing the enclosure for it on my FDM Prusa i2!
3DPrint.com: What other electronic devices does this 3D printer use to operate?
Bazz: Standard sanguinololu v1.3a with just one pololu driver and one endstop. Actually every reprap electronics would do.
3DPrint.com: Could you provide some additional specifications on this printer?
Bazz: The specs depend greatly on the beamer you use but mine prints with 100 micron layers and the platform is 153x115mm wide. The beamer has an 1024×769 resolution which gives you a resolution of roughly 7pixel/mm. A nice HD beamer would be a really nice upgrade to improve this!
3DPrint.com: Do you plan on selling it, and if so for how much?
Bazz: Maybe. I gave a workshop in a local hackerspace and there were more people interested in building a Prusa i3 than a SLA-DLP resin printer. People have to discover this technique and find out that it is really affordable! It is great for miniature figures or jewelry! For that workshop, I charged a hacker space friendly fee of €200 for every kit (excluding beamer). That included all of the electronics and mechanical parts, IKEA cabinet and the first 0.5 liter of resin.
3DPrint.com:Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Bazz: I am a 25 year old electrical engineer by origin. Right now I am graduating in business engineering. I started in 2011 with building my first RepRap 3d printer and in between studies I have sold quite a lot of RepRap kits and gave workshops. I have also done some projects in supporting artist with 3D printing knowledge and/or building/converting their 3D printer so that they could produce their unique ideas (for example, Erick Larenbeek, for his mycelium chair. It is printed on a Mendelmax that I built and for a newer version I have written a Cura plug-in so that he can print mycelium and PLA at the same time with a dual head.
Is this a design you are interesting in 3D printing? Have you used a DLP 3D printer previously, and if so, what are your thoughts on the quality and costs associated with the technology? Tell us your thoughts in the Sx2 Simple SLA DLP Resin 3D Printer forum over at 3DPB.com.