Creating PCBs with 3D Resin Printers

PCB

The folks over at Full Spectrum Laser are Kickstarting their own 3D printer – a stereolithography machine like the Form 1 and B9 Creator printers. During their testing, they discovered a new application for these SLA printers that should prove to be very useful for the makers and builders using machines – manufacturing PCBs with UV-sensitized copper clad boards.

Full Spectrum Laser’s printer – the Pegasus Touch – uses a near UV laser and a galvo system to build objects in UV-curing resin layer by layer. In retrospect it seems pretty obvious a UV laser would expose UV sensitive boards, but this discovery simply reeks of cleverness and is a nice ‘value added’ feature for the Pegasus printer.

The Pegasus printer has a laser spot size of 0.25mm, meaning the separation between traces on Pegasus-produced PCBs will be just under 10 mils. That’s a bit larger than the limits of laser printer-based PCB fabrication but far, far less complicated. Making a PCB on an SLA printer is as easy as removing the resin tank and putting a sensitized board on the build platform. Draw some traces with the printer, and in a few minutes you have an exposed board.

We’d really like to see if this technique can also be used with other SLA printers. if anyone out there would like to experiment, be sure to send the results into the tip line.

Video from Full Spectrum Laser below.

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3D Printering: You Want UV Resin?

printering

Just a few short months ago, 3D printing with stereolithography was an uncommon and very expensive proposition. Consumer-oriented SLA machines such as the Form1 and the B9Creator are as expensive as the upper echelons of squirting plastic printers and the community behind these machines isn’t even as diverse as the forums for the fly-by-night printers featured on Kickstarter every week.

This may be about to change with last month’s reveal of the Peachy Printer, a remarkably clever stereolithography printer that requires no special equipment, hardly any electronics, and costs $100. Even if the folks behind Peachy never ship a single unit, their clever engineering ensures that stereolithography will be a staple in the makers toolbox in the near future.

There is, of course, the problem of material. While plastic filament can be bought  just about everywhere, UV curing resin is a little harder to come by and much more expensive per kilogram or liter. Where then does the stereolithography experimenter get their hands on some of this magical material from the future?

Before we get to the article…

I’ve been writing a 3D Printing column once a week for a few months now, and I’m running out of ideas. If you have something in the 3D printer world you’d like to see covered in a little more depth than the standard Hackaday post, send in a tip. I’ll send you a few Hackaday stickers if it’s a good idea.

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A $100 Stereolithography 3D Printer

The Hackaday tip line has been blowing up with a new Kickstarter for a 3D printer. Although this is a pretty common occurrence around here, this printer is actually very interesting: it’s quite possibly the simplest and cheapest laser resin printer ever.

Most of the 3D resin printers we’ve seen, like the Form1 use mechanical means to raise a print up to the next slice. At $100, the Peachy printer doesn’t have the budget for such luxuries as servos or motors, so the layer height is increased by dripping salt water over the liquid resin. The X and Y axes are controlled with mirrors and voice coils, allowing this printer’s electronics to be controlled by a computer’s sound card. It’s really amazing in its simplicity, and from the looks of it the Peachy can produce some fairly good prints.

For a great explanation of how the Peachy printer works, you can check out the video below.

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Interview: Another Kickstarter round for the B9Creator

The Dawn of the 3D Printing Age - Art by Dennis HarrounNearly a year ago, the 3D printing scene saw a few new printers based on a technology other than squirting plastic out of a nozzle. These printers used DLP projectors underneath a vat of UV curing resin to build objects one layer at a time with incredible resolution.

Probably the most successful of these printers is the B9Creator from [Michael Joyce]. His original Kickstarter took in half a million dollars – 10 times his original goal – and still managed to deliver all the kits to backers within 2 weeks of the promised date. Now, [Michael] is running another Kickstarter before taking his printers to select distributors. We played some email tag with [Michael] for an interview discussing the perils of a hugely successful Kickstarter, and the future of the B9Creator ecosystem.

Check out our interview after the break.

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And so the deluge of resin-based 3D printers begins

It looks like 2012 is shaping up to be the year of the resin-based 3D printer. The latest comes from [Michael Joyce] and is called the B9Creator.  Like other resin printers, [Michael] used a DLP projector to cure the print one layer at a time. The layer height is on the order of 100 microns – crazy for a kit-based printer.

There is a  Kickstarter for the B9Creator where kits are available for $2400 USD. Everything is included in this kit, including the DLP projector and a kilogram of resin. $2400 is much more expensive than even the fanciest melted-plastic 3D printer such as a Makerbot or RepRap, but that’s the price you pay for high-quality prints.

Of course this project comes a month after an earlier, similar, and shadier project called the Veloso 3D printer. The B9Creator promises to be open source once all the Kickstarter machines are shipped out, and [Michael] is very open about his designs and his resin formula – an admirable quality in a maker.

You can check out a load of videos of the B9Creater we found after the break.

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3D printer with insane accuracy uses a DLP projector

After years of work, [Junior Veloso] is finally getting his 3D printer project out to the public. Unlike the Makerbots and repraps we usually see, [Junior]’s printer uses light-curing resin and a DLP projector to build objects with incredibly fine detail.

One highlight of [Junior]’s project is the development of low-cost resins. Normally, light curing resins are extremely expensive, but [Junior] is actively trying to get the price of resin down to $150 USD per kilogram. A quick back-of-the-wolfram calculation tells us you should be able to print about 7-800 cubic centimeters with a kilogram of resin. It’s much more expensive than plastic filament used in other 3D printers, but that’s the price you pay for quality.

There’s a very popular Indiegogo campaign that is trying to raise money to mass produce the resin and some components of this kit. We’re not impressed with the rewards for this campaign – $59 for a .PDF description of the printer without any dimensions, $159 for a BOM, dimensions and the formula to make your own resin, and $400 for the closed-source software [Junior] devleoped – but hopefully this Indiegogo gets cheap resin out onto the market. There’s a short FAQ about this printer, so we’ll leave our readers to tactfully discuss the merits of this printer in the comments below.

You can check out the process of printing a remarkably detailed alien skull in the video after the break.

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