One thing that was not lacking at the Inside 3D Printing Seoul Conference & Expo last week were new printers. Some of these 3D printers had just launched, while some just hadn’t been exported out of South Korea yet. There were a few that caught my eye, whether it was a unique casing, the sheer size of the printer or some unique technological feature. I knew I had spied something special when I laid my eyes on the Morpheus printer by Owl Works LLC.
There were a few curious things about this not so little printer by Owl Works. First, there are the names. SJ Park, Chief Marketing Officer, explained that the startup company is called Owl Works because the team behind the Morpheus 3D printer works at night. The printer was named after the ultra cool resistance leader in the Matrix films famously played by Lawrence Fishburne, naturally. True to its namesake, the Morpheus offers you the red pill and turns all those preconceived notions about desktop 3D printers on their heads.
The Morpheus is a resin printer, but it’s not SLA. It doesn’t use lasers or DLP projection to cure resin. It uses a new process that Owl Works calls LIPS (Light Induced Planar Solidification). The way the process works is quite interesting. Morpheus employs a commercial grade LCD to create photo masking of the model being printed in the resin tank. It then uses UV LEDs to cure the resin, one layer at a time. If LIPS reminds you of the CLIP process, it should. While it prints at a respectable 30 sec/layer, Park notes that the company has plans for a continuous printing method, but was tight-lipped as to how the process will work.
The creators of the Morpheus wanted to make a new kind of resin printer that was very small, until the iBox Nano beat them to the punch. So, they did an about face and went in the other direction. Owl Works claims that the Morpheus printer is “The Largest Build-volume Resin 3D Printer Ever,” and it just might be that. It is really big! The pre-specs for the machine are 13” (w) x 7.1” (l), 7.9” (h). That would be a pretty big build volume for a FDM printer, but this is a resin-based printer! For comparison, the Form 1+ has a build volume of 4.9” (w) x 4.9” (l) x 6.5” (h). The Morpheus also features a 170 micron x/y resolution and a layer height resolution of 25 – 300 microns. And the prints show it. They’re large, precise and beautiful.
Park was very effusive about the capabilities of the Morpheus and noted its simple operation. It’s perforated metal build plate is easily removable and it’s basically plug-and-play. He says Morpheus will not only be easy to operate, it will be affordable to operate, as well. According to Park, the Morpheus was designed specifically to use MakerJuice resin to help with the cost of ownership. It seems the Owl Works team is very serious about upholding Morpheus’ motto, “Make Things Larger, Easier & Faster but… Spend Less.”
Owl Works is based in Seoul, South Korea and San Jose, California. There are 15 employees at their Seoul office and 2 in San Jose. It’s no easy feat bringing a new printer to market, especially one with a new technological process, but Park is confident that Owl Works is the little startup that can. He says that they will be launching a Kickstarter for Morpheus in late July. The printer will be priced at $3,800.00 for backers. Park expects to start shipping printer rewards in October and to finish delivery by December. When asked if that was a bit ambitious to ship the printer that quickly, Park was quick to point out that the current model, called the ‘Mark3’ is a fully functioning model, and that they will be shipping a more streamlined Mark4 version to backers.
The Morpheus looks solid, it features a hotrod red painted metal body with an acrylic top and self-leveling feet. The footprint of the machine is not dramatically larger than the build plate, unlike many 3D printers. It’s a well-designed, if not attractive machine, but I can see why he wants to make it sexier. Park says that following the Kickstarter, the Mark4 Morpheus will officially launch at CES, along with a new even larger model. He also says that both the hardware and software will be released as open source at that time.
It will be interesting to see Morpheus lead SLA enthusiasts down the rabbit hole. I wonder how deep it goes. Let’s hear your thoughts about this new machine and LIPS technology in the Morpheus 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of the Morpheus 3D printer in action below.: