Desktop 3DLPrinter offers high resolution at a high price
April 24, 2013
Digital Light Processing (DLP) is the method of choice for the next generation of personal 3D printers. The DLP process prints objects with a very fine resolution that surpasses that of typical Fused Filament Fabrication (RepRap) printers which extrude molten plastic layer by layer. An Italian company called Robot Factory has created the latest prosumer printer. If judged by appearances alone, the 3DLPrinter would be one of the more attractive 3D printers we've seen – but can it measure up to its competition?
Like most 3D printers, the 3DLPrinter outputs sliced STL files at a minimum X/Y resolution of 50 microns, and a minimum Z resolution of 1 micron. However, this is somewhat difficult to verify as the example objects have a layer thickness of 50 microns and 100 microns. If it can actually print at 1 micron in the Z axis, it would qualify as one of the most accurate printers available today.
Measuring 44 x 38 x 57 cm (17 x 15 x 22 in) and weighing 40 kg (88 lb), the 3DLPrinter is relatively compact and quiet. It has a print volume of 102 x 78 x 160 mm (4 x 3 x 6.3 in) – similar to the B9Creator – and a tilting resin tray to ensure the resin doesn't settle. It comes with an ultrasonic device for cleaning finished pieces, a UV oven for hardening parts, and other tools to clean and maintain the printer itself.
If this is all sounding pretty good, there's a catch. The 3DLPrinter costs a whopping 6000 Euros (US$7,800). Unlike the B9Creator and the Form1, Robot Factory was unable to launch the printer through a crowd funding campaign due to its location. Since it can't manufacture the printer in huge quantities, it is difficult to reduce its cost, which makes it a tough sell compared to other options. For the time being, it seems the B9Creator remains the best all around pick for DLP-based printing.
You can see some example objects in the video below.