Prusa Introduces A Resin Printer at Maker Faire NY

For one reason or another, the World Maker Faire in New York has become the preeminent place to launch 3D printers. MakerBot did it with the Thing-O-Matic way back when, and over the years we’ve seen some interesting new advances come out of Queens during one special weekend in September.

Today Prusa Research announced their latest creation. It’s the resin printer you’ve all been waiting for. The Prusa SL1 is aiming to become the Prusa Mk 3 of the resin printer world: it’s a solid printer, it’s relatively cheap (kit price starts at $1299/€1299), and it produces prints that are at least as good as resin printers that cost three times as much.

The tech inside the SL1 is about what you’d expect if you’ve been following resin printers for a while. The resin is activated by a bank of LEDs shining through a photomask, in this case a 5.5 inch, 1440p display. Everything is printed on a removable bed that can be transferred over to a separate ‘curing chamber’ after the print is done. It’s more or less what you would expect, but there are some fascinating refinements to the design that make this a resin printer worthy of carrying the Prusa name.

Common problems with a masked SLA printer that uses LEDs and an LCD are the interface between the LCD and the resin, and the temperature of the display itself. Resin is not kind to LCD displays, and to remedy this problem, Prusa has included an FEP film on the bottom of the removable tank. This is a user-replaceable part (technically a consumable, at least to the same extent as a PEI build plate on a filament printer), and Prusa will be selling those as spare parts on their store. The LCD is also cooled; one of the major drawbacks of shining several watts of UV through an LCD is the lifetime of the display. Cooling the display helps, and should greatly increase the lifetime of the printer. All of this is wrapped up in an exceptionally heavy metal case with the lovely hinged UV-opaque orange plastic lid.

Of course, saying you’ve built a resin printer is one thing, but how do the prints look? Exceptional. The Prusa booth at Maker Faire was loaded up with sample prints from the machine, and they’re of the same high quality you would expect from the Form 3D printers that have been the go-to in the resin printer world. The Prusa SLA also works with big-O Open resins, meaning you’re not tied to a single resin vendor.

This is just the announcement of the Prusa resin printer, but they are taking preorders. The price for the kit — no word on how complex of a kit it is — is $1300, while the assembled printer is $1600, with the first units shipping in January.

35 thoughts on “Prusa Introduces A Resin Printer at Maker Faire NY

  1. OK, I’ll bite.
    How does the FEP film keep the UV light from cooking and breaking down the organic Liquid Crystals in the LCD? If it filters then doesn’t that decrease the efficiency of the UV?
    After long term exposure to UV, LCDs are typically blackened and unusable.

    1. I think you’ll find satisfaction with FDM printers for years to come. SLA is an adjacent technology that has it’s place, but at hobbyist levels for FDM the build volumes will still be larger, consumable cost lower, and post processing much easier.

    2. Call me when you can get a 500X500X500 build volume in a FDM… or print in ABS on one, or TPU. or wax for lost wax casting… etc.

      Until then they are only good for tiny things like minis.

      1. Pretty sure you can print 500x500x500 in FDM. Did you mean resin? In which case, the same is also true for top-down SLA, though they’re not really consumer grade yet (though Peopoly might be bringing that closer with their upcoming project DFA with 300x300x300 build volume).
        There are also wax resins that people are using very successfully for lost wax casting

        1. I think he meant to say SLA. You can get a SLA that size, but at a minimum of $100 a liter, even a half-solid print that took that volume would cost about $7000. So once you buy the machine you’d have to have a really good reason to print that big.

    3. They’re not obsolete at all. The product development center I work at (it’s called an innovation lab but I think it’s more of a product development center) has a form 2 and a form 1, and several filament printers. We use the FDMs a lot more than the SLAs. The SLAs are good when you need a ton of fine detail. But for printing a specialized enclosure or anything larger than a few inches on any side you just can’t justify the cost and slow speed of the SLA. Plus it only prints in resin that isn’t that strong, the FDMs can do PLA, ABS, Nylon, flexible materials. We use the printers most for enclosures, fittings, spacers, and brackets, for most of those filament is the cheaper, stronger choice.

    4. Unlikely. Toxicity of SLA resins requires even more advanced precautions concerning dedicated space, ventilation and even hazardous waste disposal. Price point and limited shelf live of the resins is another point. I will get one for high detail small prints of sculpted objects but it won’t replace my filament printer.

    5. The day this community drops FFF to switch to SLA I fully expect sending away to board houses to go out of favor and home etching PCBs to be the new fad. They are actually kind of similar. One is commonly considered to be too messy and require too many nasty chemicals. The other is messy and requires super expensive nasty chemicals. It’s like printing with ooblek if ooblek were produced by HP!

      Don’t get me wrong. We WILL play with SLA and it will be the better choice for some uses. I don’t mean to discourage anyone from using SLA or etching boards. I’m just saying that FFF is NOT going away. Stay calm and enjoy your printers.

  2. ” The resin is activated by a bank of LEDs shining through a photomask…”

    Guessing a reflective technology like DMD/GLVs wouldn’t have worked? Course they could have gone with an LCOS, but still have the UV degradation issue.

    1. Yeah where I work we use a lot of 3D printing, and we use the SLA sparingly. Only when that amount of detail is called for. And we ended up springing for a automatic part cleaner because of how messy and time consuming the cleanup is.

  3. It’s fiddly, it’s sticky, the resin is expensive, and a lot of mucking around with a fair quantity of isopropanol consumed and a UV light source (or the sun) are needed for post-processing of each print. And you inevitably end up cleaning sticky resin off your fingers and off the bench after getting the print off and finishing it.

    Unfortunately I think these things are inevitable with all SLA printers.

    Prusa says “The SL1 isn’t trying to compete with the ultra-pricey Form Labs” … is the quality inferior to Form?
    If the quality is just as good then it competes very well with the Form!

    One problem I have with the Form is the Windows-only toolchain. (Well, it’s not really a “toolchain”, it’s a single piece of software that takes your STL and talks to the printer.) Being able to use the machine on Linux or OSX would be a huge benefit, and this is an area where Prusa could make big inroads – it’s not an intrinsic property of SLA printers.

      1. Yeah, nice idea, until they decided to rip everybody off with their crazy business model, restricting the thing to only the most financially insensitive applications. In the mean time, cheap LCD printing, water cooled LCD printing and grayscale masking made it obsolete. Serves them well.

  4. It would be interesting to compare it to the significantly cheaper Anycubic Photon or Wanhao D7 which are both DLP printers. It looks really similar, although of course the orange top is meant to make you think of the Form which is SLA.

    I recently bought a Photon (to go alongside my FDM printer) and so far I’m very impressed. Resin and filament have very different pros and cons.

    1. Thanks for the info! I had no idea that DLP machines had reached the sub $500 price point. I was planning to build one out of a projector, but it’s not worth my time for that price.

      Does anyone know the advantage of the LCD vs DLP? I would guess that with the LCD you could throw more light thru it, thus decreasing the print time, but I honestly haven’t compared the two.

      1. The main difference seems to be that you need more sensitive resins for DLP versus SLA as the overall light level is lower. Not sure on speed. I think both are slow but depend only on Z height for DLP. Print a few side by side just as quickly as one.

        1. Why is the light level lower with DLP? I would have expected the opposite. The DLP is a reflective technology which does not contain UV sensitive polymer parts, whereas the LCD has to absorb unwanted light an it’s organic liquid is easily degraded by UV light. I would have expected, that you could use much higher powered lights with DLP.

    1. Well the whole world of 3D printing basically ripped off Pursa and Adrian Bower’s work for the past decade and never gave anything back. Bre Pettis giving a keynote at OSHW confrence basically saying ‘we’re sucessful now, go to hell to you want source files’ was the biggest kick in the balls to the reprap and open hardware communities.
      Prusa made a sustainable business out of FOSS hardware with nothing less than 10 years of continious improvement and innovation. did he invent SLA printing? no, Will he design an open SLA printer backed with a strong community for support and sustained improvements? fk yeah!

  5. 3ntr.com

    A2 machine is 610x350x500

    Prints high quality parts in all materials you mentioned, plus many more.

    Can be purchased as a three extruder, multi-material machine as well. Example mught be hips support, asa part, TPU flexible hinge.

  6. One piece mentioned by Prusa at the booth was that it could be fitted with a hose for venting outside but would come stock with an activated carbon filter. Those tend to wear out pretty quickly when used continuously and then perform as more of a dust filter. Unless those filters are replaced regularly or the exhaust can be vented, it’s hard to see this as a machine that could be used in smaller spaces due to the noxious fumes that the resin emits.

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