Here is how to make a Stereolithography 3D Printer. It is still a bit of a work in progress but so far it is working pretty well. This is mainly an experiment which started as a Delta Robot Stereolithography Printer but ended as a more traditional Cartesian Stereolithography Printer.
"I'll be honest, we're throwing science at the walls here to see what sticks. No idea what it'll do." - Cave Johnson
Stereolithography (SL or SLA from Stereolithography Apparatus) is an additive manufacturing process using a vat of liquid UV-curable photopolymer "resin" and a UV laser to build parts one layer at a time. On each layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section pattern of the part onto the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the UV laser light cures, solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and adheres it to the layer below.
I have wanted a 3D Printer for a while now and there are some very reasonably priced kits available like the Makerbot, Ultimaker and the RepRap project. I could have just bought a kit and started printing things but at the time I had not seen great resolution or print quality from those. I started looking around at the other 3D printing technologies and found SLA made some amazing quality prints, so I decided to try making my own. Since I started this a while back those projects have come a long way and they can make some beautiful prints now. There are also people working on a UV resin and DLP projector 3D printer which is showing promise.
I decided to enter this in the Epilog Challenge Contest because I could really use a laser cutter :-) I also have some ideas how to redesign this project, for creation on a laser cutter. I wouldn't mind making kits for people if I had one.
Something to keep in mind is the current cost of commercially available UV/Visible resins. 1 Liter is about $200 - $250 so compared to ABS or PLA for the plastic extrusion printers it is about 4 - 5 times more as far as I can tell. There are other types of resin that are cheaper but I do not know how well they will work.
Since I wasn't really sure if this was going to be a viable method of creating 3D objects, this was a fairly cheap and quickly designed project. I have a small Taig CNC Mill for cutting metal so the custom parts are made of scrap aluminum I had laying around. You can probably use wood and maybe even hand cut the parts if you are careful.
This project is Open Source Hardware.