The majority of current DIY 3D printers on the market are based around FDM technology which is a great simple 3D printing process. Put simply it takes a plastic filament, melts it down and pushes it out a tiny nozzle which is directed on to a bed which moves around in the X and Y directions to effectively draw your object. The print head is raised and the next layer is drawn on top until the part is complete. The process is slow and is limited in resolution due to the size of the nozzle opening and the Z stepping for each layer.
DLP (Digital Light Projection) on the other hand is a much faster printing process that is capable of printing very high resolution models and is a technology that is slowly creeping into the DIY 3D printer scene. DLP works by shining a UV light source from a Digital Light Projector onto a thin section of UV curable resin. The cured resin bonds to a moveable bed which is raised up in the Z Axis each time a layer is cured. The advantages are high speed (as a whole layer is cured in a single exposure of the light) and super fine resolution (only governed by the DPI of the projector).
We have been following the development of a DIY DLP 3D printer by Junior Veloso’s for the past few years now. Veloso recently launched a project on the crowd funding platform indegogo to help him raise the required capital to produce his machines. Last time we looked he was $200,000 short of his $300,000 goal but still has quiet a bit of time left. There is also the MiiCraft DLP 3D printer which is still under development. But these guys are not alone….
Enter the “B9Creator” – A low cost High Resolution 3D Printer. From what we can tell the B9Creator has also been in development for a few years but has only recently gained awareness through its Kickstarter campaign. Michael Joyce, the designer of the B9Creator, launched his Kickstarter campaign to help raise enough funds to produce the first production run of machines only four days ago (9th of May) and has already doubled his funding goal of $50,000.
With the speed and resolution advantages of DLP the only thing that could stop it taking over from FDM is the cost and strength of the UV resins. No doubt resin manufacturers are already on the case so fingers crossed we’ll have a huge selection of low costs resins in every colour of the rainbow in the not to distant future.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that DLP will be the dominate technology in DIY 3D Printing in the next few years and you can quote me on that!