Student Creates Super Fast ‘Membrane Based’ 3D Printer – Prints 40 x 40 x 100 mm Objects at 10 Microns in 12 Minutes
It is truly amazing how quickly the 3D printing space is developing. Just two weeks ago we stood stunned as a company called Carbon3D unveiled a new breakthrough 3D printing process called CLIP. This process can supposedly print objects 25-100 times faster than other SLA 3D printers. Then just a week after that, Gizmo 3D unveiled another super fast SLA-based 3D printer which looks to challenge Carbon3D as far as speed and resolution go. Then just earlier this week we reported on a Chinese company, called Prismlab, which has shown off their incredibly fast SLA line of 3D printers, rumored to be able to print 2,712.27 cm3 of material per hour.
Now, 3DPrint.com has discovered yet another super fast SLA 3D printer created not by a large company, but by a college student named Bo Pang. Pang, a University of Buffalo student, majoring in Industrial Engineering, and graduating with a degree of Master of Science in May, has been researching 3D printing for the past 2 years.
It was also 2 years ago that Pang got the idea of creating a “continuous 3D printing process,” one which could greatly speed up 3D printing in general. The printer Pang has created was designed and fabricated last summer, and it’s just now that he is unveiling it to the world.
“Our machine is mostly similar with Carbon3D’s, but there is one important way in which we are very different,” Pang tells 3DPrint.com. “The Carbon3D machine uses an oxygen-permeable window to create a ‘dead zone’ (a thin layer of uncured resin between the window and the object). This dead zone guarantees the part can grow without stopping, and this is the key to the CLIP process. For our machine, we don’t use that oxygen-permeable window, but we instead use a special membrane to create that thin layer of uncured resin. There are 2 advantages of this special membrane. First, this membrane is much less expensive than the oxygen-permeable window, as it only costs about 1/100 of the price of the oxygen-permeable window. Second, this membrane is very easy to mold, meaning we can make this membrane almost any shape we want.”
So how fast is Pang’s innovative new 3D printer? Very! Featuring a relatively small build volume, it can print with an incredible X-Y axis resolution of 15 microns, and a Z-axis resolution of just 10 microns. He was able to 3D print a miniature Eiffel Tower measuring 10 x 10 x 20 mm in just 7 minutes and 26 seconds, a cubed truss measuring 7 x 7 x 7 mm in just 2 minutes and 7 seconds, and a larger 40 x 40 x 100 mm Eiffel Tower in just 12 minutes and 6 seconds (seen on videos provided).
While Pang’s invention is quite impressive, he is still working out some issues that his new system is experiencing.
“There are still some short-comings, and I guess even Carbon3D can’t solve this problem now,” Pang tells us. “The continuous process can print truss structures very well because there is a very small suction force for these prints. But for solid parts, like a cylinder, this process doesn’t perform well. When you’re printing solid parts, the suction force between part and the bottom of the tank will be extremely large. How to overcome this force is the key to printing solid parts. We just got an idea today for a solution to this problem, but we need time to test it. I believe we can figure it out soon.”
As for the cost of creating this unique 3D printer, Pang tells us he would estimate that it costs much less than $3,000. As for when he would plan to bring this printer to market, that still remains up in the air. Currently he just considers it a research project, but says that if he can obtain the right resources, he will consider mass production. He also said that he may consider using crowdfunding in order to raise money for the project.
Without a doubt, this is another super fast 3D printer that could challenge the likes of Carbon3D. While the build volume is pretty small, Pang tells us that he thinks that with some calibration he can expand this quite a bit. His next project is to attempt to 3D print a part measuring 50 x 50 x 140 mm in dimensions.
Pang himself is set to graduate from the University of Buffalo this May, and he has hopes of finding a job somewhere related to 3D printing. He feels that he has a very in-depth knowledge of the technology and could help many companies looking for someone with an interest and education in the field.
“I mainly focus on design, as well as build and calibrate new concept 3D printers, especially for the hardware and testing part,” Pang tells us. “I am also skilled in CAD software and hand-on skills. I have enthusiasm within the realm of 3D printings, I really hope I can work in this area for my whole career.”
Certainly any employer would be lucky to obtain the experience and knowledge that Pang has to offer. If anyone has any interest in speaking to Pang about a job opening, you can contact him via phone at (716) 435-7766, or on his LinkedIn account. (Note: the test was initially started on an EnvisionTec 3D printer, which Pang tells us is a very reliable printer).
What do you think about Pang’s new 3D printer? Will this be something that revolutionizes the desktop 3D printing space? Discuss in the Super Fast SLA 3D printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.
by EDDIE KRASSENSTEIN | APRIL 2, 2015