Whether it’s light shows or interplanetary communications, lasers just seem to make things better. And that’s apparently part of the thinking behind Las Vegas-based Full Spectrum Lasers’ (FSL) Pegasus Touch; a desktop 3D printer that uses lasers to print objects faster and in finer detail than most other printers in its price range. Available for as little as US$2,000 via a Kickstarter campaign, its performance is claimed to be comparable to machines costing 50 times more.

In recent years, 3D printing has come into its own. In everything from horseshoes to Tornado fighter jets, the technology finds more and more applications. The thing is, not all 3D printers are the same. There are several different principles for various printers, and one that uses melted plastic is very different from one that uses titanium. It also means that some printers are very fast, very accurate, and very expensive, while others are not as fast, not as accurate, but much cheaper.

This is where the Pegasus Touch comes in. Instead of building up an object by melting plastic filaments and depositing the liquid like ink coming out of a printer, the Pegasus touch uses what’s called laser-based stereolithography (SLA). Instead of melting filaments and depositing layers of plastic, the Pegasus touch uses pulsed 500 kHz ultraviolet lasers moving at 3,000 mm/sec to solidify curable photopolymer resin. As the object rises out of a vat of resin, the laser focuses on the surface, building up layer after layer with high precision.

So far, there’s nothing out of the ordinary, since the technology has been around for many years. What is different is that FSL has shrunk the printer down and made it more economical. Normally, SLA machines are huge and cost in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, the Pegasus Touch measures just 11 x 14 x 22.5 in (280 x 360 x 571mm) and costs only a few thousand dollars.

FSL says that part of the reason for the low price is that the wide availability of Bluray players made UC laser diodes much more affordable. In addition, FSL is a company already established at making laser cutting and engraving machines. This allowed the company to base the Pegasus Touch on modelling software and electronics already developed for these machines. According to FSL, this allows the device to operate at tolerances equivalent to a $100,000 machine.

The Pegasus Touch has an on-board 1GHz Linux computer with 512 MB memory that can do much of the 3D processing computation itself. Files that need to be transferred are relatively small and there’s no need to keep a PC connected while printing. There’s also an internet-connected 4.3-in color touchscreen, which allows the user to access pretested models that are printer-ready, plus the machine comes with multi-touch-capable desktop software.

FSL claims that the Pegasus Touch produces the highest quality printing for its price range. It has a relatively large build area of 7 x 7 x 9 in (177 x 177 x 228 mm), which the company says is one of the largest in the consumer 3D printer market. It also says that the Pegasus Touch is 10 times faster than a filament deposition modelling (FDM) printer and up to six times faster than other SLA printers, and that is has finer control than an FDM, which produces a better finish and more detail.

The Pegasus Touch's Kickstarter campaign is running through February 3, and is aimed at funding an expansion of Full Spectrum’s assembly line. The printer is available for preorder by pledging $2,000. When and if it goes on sale, the asking price will be $3,499.

The video below introduces the Pegasus Touch.

Sources: FSL, Kickstarter