Review of the Moai SLA 3D Printer

It is funny how we always seem to pay the same for a new computer. The price stays the same, but the power of the computer is better each time. It would appear 3D printers may be the same story. After all, it wasn’t long ago that sinking a thousand bucks or more on a 3D printer wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. Yet today you can better printers for a fraction of that and $1,300 will buy you an open source Moai SLA printer as a kit. [3D Printing Nerd] took a field trip to MatterHackers to check the machine out and you can see the results in the video below.

The printer uses a 150 mW laser to make parts up to 130 mm by 130 mm by 180 mm. The laser spot size is 70 micron (compare that to the typical 400 micron tip on a conventional printer). The prints require an alcohol bath after they are done followed by a UV curing step that takes a few hours.

The process for slicing is slightly different, as the video explains how that works. More software will likely incorporate SLA settings as these printers become more common. You also want hollow prints since the resin inside won’t cure. There’s also the need for holes to drain resin from the interior.

The prints look fantastic and the video does a good job of pointing out many of the differences in printing with this technology, including the effect of bed tilting and how that is handled in the Moai’s software. We wished we had seen more of the actual build process, but we suppose with the working parts locked away to protect eyes from laser beams, there wasn’t much to see.

We’ve seen one of these machines printing a lens, by the way. We also saw it at the Midwest RepRap Festival last year.

26 thoughts on “Review of the Moai SLA 3D Printer

  1. Why would the model need to be hollow? The printer could make a solid first layer, so why not make solid layers above that?
    The more I read about SLA printers, the more they seem like they’re only useful for small, highly detailed models with no need for mechanical strength. So D&D miniatures and not much else.

    1. The article says the layers when printed are not fully cured, they have to go in a UV oven. Obviously UV light is only penetrating but so deep unless the material is really transparent.

      Presumably the reason for this is to allow a less powerful laser to do the printing, lowering cost and reducing power of the printer. The brute force work is done by a cheaper high intensity UV bulb in the oven.

  2. Putting that thumbnail part into an aquarium looks like a very quick way to kill all of the fish. I thought many UV printer resins were very toxic to fish? Especially if not fully cured (and this requires post processing).

    1. Better yet, fill the entire fishtank with the gel. Set up a laser and a galvo. Put a tiny drippy hole in the bottom of the tank. A bit of math and a raspi later and you’ve got an SLA 3D printer with a huge volume.
      Maybe 3D print some fish. (:

  3. Ahh, another entry in the “Stuff You Have Already Seen On YouTube Blog”

    Seriously though, can we just have a curated list of YouTube creators that HaD recommends subscribing to instead of you guys just hijacking their material every time they post a video?

      1. You realize that clicks is what give YouTube creators revenue, right? I’m sure Joel appreciates the publicity but would rather have you subscribe and maybe even hit up his Patreon.

    1. Calling it hijacking is not really fair, I mean this is what HaD is – they get tips about X thing on the internet and then write an article on the topic. Are Youtube videos off limits? I also read the news every day and follow stuff on social media, etc and sometimes come here to find HaD has posted an article about topics I am aware of already. I would agree with you if they were just lazily posting links to videos, but this is an original article with some added commentary on the topic. Not to mention sending new views/subs to the channel.

      1. Yeah, I guess the last 2 sentences adds a little bit with links to past HaD content, but the other 12 are just “you can see the results in the video below” “as the video explains how that works” “and the video does a good job of pointing out”. Is recapping a work in a different medium really ‘original’?

        1. It’s funny. We’ve only really been doing original content with any serious frequency for a few years. Before that it was all “recapping work” from people’s blogs.

          Here’s the deal. We have smart, well-read hacker-type writers. They find something cool, add their two bits, and pass it on to you. You can either waste your time clicking on everything on the Internet, or you can let us guide you through the good stuff.

          And then post enlightened, contributory comments that are relevant to the meat of the post.

    2. I don’t mind that it is already somewhere on Youtube. The prints are really something.

      However, I would not object to warnings that the video is a stand-n-yack with no demos.

  4. “It is funny how we always seem to pay the same for a new computer. The price stays the same, but the power of the computer is better each time. It would appear 3D printers may be the same story.”

    I’m waiting for the fictional fabricators in Prey™.

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