Nearly 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.
Q: Did you have any problems getting enough parts in time to ship for the first Kickstarter?
A: We were surprised by the response but most items not an issue. What did slow us down was a delay from the Projector factory when we doubled our original estimated order amount.
Q: Will this Kickstarter’s units be different?
A: They will. Thanks to feedback from our first machines we’ve been able to make some improvements which simplify the design a bit and more importantly, increase the quality of the output. We’re also offering upgrade rewards so our previous backers can easily upgrade to the new version if they desire.
Q: Your Kickstarter campaign is only 2 weeks long, most company’s tend to run 30 days or longer. Why so short?
A: Well, we knew we had a fair number of customers that have been patiently waiting so we wanted to give them the opportunity to back us but still not extend their wait any longer than needed. After this Kickstarter ends, we plan to only sell via distributors. So this will also be the last chance to get a B9Creator at a wholesale price point.
Q: Were there unexpected issues that people brought up when they received their units?
A: Not really, it’s a Kit so we spent a lot of time on both instructions and videos. We also have a great community forum where it’s pretty easy to find an answer to your question quickly.
Q: Any plans to offer resin in different colors than the red you already have?
A: The pigment used in the resin must absorb Blue to Near UV light frequencies because we use the pigment to limit the depth of cure. So Yellow, Orange, Red, Black are good choices, Green, Blue Violet are not. We are working on a dark gray to black right now and hope to be offering that by late April.
Q: After this, you said you’ll be selling through distributors. Care to drop any names?
A: No “big names”, I’m focusing on distributors that are experts in their field and that can offer good support to their customers.
Q: Any long-term plans for an upgraded machine with a larger build area?
A: Scaling this technology to larger build areas (in the XY plane) faces some pretty big challenges. The Z axis is fairly easy (we already offer 210 mm ~8″). Larger projection areas must trade resolution for size. HD projectors (1920 x 1080 pixel) offer some help (vs the 1024 x 768 pixels in the B9Creator) but that’s only a small increase. The other challenge is the projector power required does not scale linearly (ie, double the X & Y dimensions and you quadruple the power required to cure at the same speed). Where these DLP based machines really shine is their ability to create very detailed and smooth surface finishes. So that’s where we’ll focus our continued development.
We’ve got to say the B9Creator looks really cool and has already proven itself as a capable machine able to produce lost wax casts for jewelry making and amazingly detailed resin figurines. While the material for resin-based 3D printers is more expensive than the RepRaps and Makerbots we see around here, if you want extremely high-resolution for small parts, you might want to check out the B9Creator Kickstarter.