Stereolithography Goes Big

When it comes to hobby-level 3D printing, most of us use plastic filament deposited by a hot end. Nearly all the rest are using stereolithography — projecting light into a photosensitive resin. Filament printers have typical build volumes ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 cubic centimeters and even larger isn’t unusual. By contrast, SLA printers are often much smaller. A 1,200 CC SLA printer is typical and the cheaper printers are sometimes as little as 800 CCs. Perhaps that’s why [3D Printing Nerd] (otherwise known as [Joel]) was excited to get his hands on a Peopoly Phenom which has a build area of over 17,000 CCs. You can see the video review, below.

He claims that it is even bigger than a Formilab 3L, although by our math that has a build volume of around 20,000 CCs. On the other hand, the longest dimension on the Peopoly is 40 cm which is 6.5 cm longer than the 3L, so maybe that’s what he means. Either way, the printer is huge. That’s nearly 16 inches which is big even for a filament printer. Regardless of which one is bigger, the Peopoly is certainly much less expensive coming in at around $1,800 versus the 3L’s almost $10,000 price tag.

You can see on the video the machine is huge. It also wasn’t packed very well and took some cosmetic damage. It is also very loud thanks to a giant fan within. The prints did look good, though.

In particular, watching the huge djinn lamp grow out of the resin bath was pretty impressive. [Joel] found that some of his techniques used with smaller printers had to scale up when dealing with prints this large. With some finishing and painting, [Joel] wound up with an awesome lamp that wasn’t short on printed detail.

If you are wondering about the differences between printing with filament vs resin, we can help. If $1,800 is still too rich for you, you can get by with a few hundred, but with a 750 CC build volume.

14 thoughts on “Stereolithography Goes Big

    1. Depends where you live, I get an OK resin for about $28.68USD per 1 liter delivered to North America

      My current test printer is a $226USD Longer Orange10 (comes with sample resin, but a spare membrane is useful)

      The material is quite different from a filament printer, but for mechanical parts feature scaling compensation is needed if you want <0.5mm precision. If you know Openscad: one can print a sample, correct each features' scale, and then reprint the final part.

      It is a messy, loud (fans needed as resin is exothermic on cure), and stinky process that should be done in a well ventilated garage. There are also safety precautions for avoiding skin and eye contact one should know before trying out the process. =)

      I am not sure how long this resin remains viable in air, but the manufactures tend to warn about leaving it exposed longer than 3 days.

  1. IMHO, the Elegoo Mars is only a tad more expensive than the Longer one, and has a much better build plate, and it’s also quieter (based on the reviews of the Longer I’ve heard).

    Resin printers are now at the inflection point that FDM machines hit a few years ago when you could finally get a really solid machine in the $200-500 range. Once the software catches up a bit, it’ll be really, really awesome.

    I’ve owned my Mars for a few months and I love it (if only resin cleanup/post processing was easier and cleaner).

    1. Note: this is mainly referring to the article link at the bottom of this article where it talks about the Longer machine. Not really talking about the machine that this article is about.

  2. I wonder if it would be possible to build a printer which squirts cold resin like a hotend squirts hot plastic and immediately cure it with a UV laser that trails just behind the nozzle.

    If so, I wonder if this would actually have any benefits or just be a “worst of all worlds” approach.

    1. That’s pretty much how the Connex pro printers work. Basically a fancy inkjet head lays down the resin and UV light on head cures it. Trick is it can’t use regular supports like SLA so it has another head that lays down a wax-like support that encases the whole print. Then have to blast it if with a water jet and lye bath.

    2. I was at a 3d manufacturing conference two weeks ago and saw HPs Multijet fusion printer. Just like a printer it has a head that moves across the build platform. It lays down powder in a layer and then runs back over it to selectively fuse the powder. Each layer of powder becomes a support for the next including the unfused powder. When it’s done the powder can be removed and you are left with the finished part.

      With this process you can print captive parts with really fine tolerances. It was pretty impressive.

    1. Resin parts are generally very hard, but much more brittle than any of the common FDM polymers. I don’t have modulus numbers handy, but I treat resin parts like I treat ceramics, “rated for zero drops”.

  3. There are much bigger resin printers out there… but they come at a price. I have a GiziMax Ultimate made by Gizmo 3D Printers in my basement right now that uses 100L of resin for its printing vat and supports continuous printing by having the print descend down into the resin instead of ascending up out of it. It had to be imported from Australia and ended up costing around $30K USD after you account for all the import duties and whatnot. The print capacity on this machine is 800mm tall(31.5 inches) and can manage up to 400mmx225mm(15.7in x 8.8in).
    The printer is used in conjunction with a large 40 DSLR photogrammetry rig and the skills of a good modeler to produce life busts of people and objects that are then printed in castable resin. The prints are sent off to a local foundry to be cast, typically in bronze.

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