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


Step 1: Materials, Tools and Safety

This is a list of the parts I used.

General Parts
3 - 16" x 171/2" x 3/4" Plywood for the back and sides of the case
2 - 16" x 16" x 3/4" Plywood for the top and bottom of the case
24 - #6 x 3" wood screws and washers
4 - Rubber Stoppers 1 7/8" x 1 3/4"
4 - 1/4-20 x 2 1/2" Bolts
8 - 1/4-20 Nuts and washers
1 - 4" x 4" x 1/4" Black Acetal sheet (Delrin)
1 - 1 Liter Beaker

Linear Rail and Blocks from Automation Overstock
4 - AG Linear Rail 15mm x 200mm
2 - 15mm Bearing Block, 2 Bolt Flange
2 - 15mm Bearing Block, 4 Bolt Flange

Electronics Parts from Sparkfun and others
6 - microswitches with roller
3 - ROB-09238 Stepper Motors
3 - EasyDriver Stepper Drivers (Pololu drivers should work too)
3 - Polarized Connectors 4-Pin housing
3 - Polarized Connectors 4-Pin Header
2 - 6 pin female headers
2 - DC Barrel Jack Adapters - Female
1 - Sanguino (Arduino Mega would work too with code modifications)
1 - 5V FTDI USB Cable
1 - Omron G5V-1 Relay
1 - LD33V 3.3V Voltage Regulator
2 - 9V 500ma or higher Power Supplies (could use one but they are cheap)
1 - 12V - 24V 2000ma or higher Power Supply (for Stepper Motors)
1 - TIP120 Transistor
1 - 1K Resistor
1 - Protection Diode such as 1N4148
2 - 2 pin screw terminals
Various Male and female .1" headers, wire and protoboard big enough to fit everything

Leadscrew from McMaster-Carr
1 - 1018 Carbon Steel Precision Acme Threaded Rod, 1/4"-16 Size, 3' Length

Leadnuts from DumpsterCNC
3 - Acme 1/4"-16 (1 Start) Leadnuts Square flange 4 hole
3 - Acme 1/4"-16 (1 Start) Couplers 5mm Bore

Laser parts from Aixiz
1 - Aixiz blue laser glass lens
1 - Aixiz 405nm violet laser 20mW
1 - Iris Diaphragm, Zero Aperture, 21mm Outer Diameter from Edmund Optics

The UV/Visible light cure resin from Ellsworth Adhesives
1 - liter Dymax 3099 Ultra Light-Weld Adhesive
1 - liter Loctite 3105 Light Cure Adhesive

Tools Needed
Drill and various bits
Drill Press
4-40 tap
Access to a CNC Mill 
Gorilla glue or similar
Long clamps

Laser Safety Goggles such as these. They must protect against 405nm light to be effective.
Well ventilated area, don't inhale the vapors from the resin or those produced when curing.
Venus de Milo
<p>New here, but found this bit:</p><p><em>Cut three 9&quot; (about 228mm) lengths of ACME rod. File the ends so that <br>the threads are formed well enough to thread into the ACME nuts. You may<br> have to use a small triangle file to form the threads back to a usable <br>shape. <br></em></p><p>We had a retired Tool and Die maker for our High School Metals shop teacher - funny guy, and some of the lessons have stuck for more than four decades.</p><p>While using a small flat file to dress the cut end of the threaded rod is always a good idea, dressing the threads is simpler: simply run a nut down the rod until it is clear below the level of the cut. As you turn the nut off the new end, it should roll any slightly damaged threads back into alignment.</p><p>(If you are really worried, use an appropriate sized die instead.)</p><p>ck</p><p><br></p>
<p><a href="https://peachyprinterks.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders" rel="nofollow">https://peachyprinterks.backerkit.com/hosted_preor...</a></p><p>Whether it may be something like this? This project printer that collect money it will cost only $ 100. Pretty impressive</p>
<p>hi </p>
<p>how much does this project cost in total?</p>
<p>Great Job Rob!</p><p>You said that galvos are expensives and you are right. I just would like to know if you have some idea about how much faster they cold be.</p><p>I don't read the complete tutorial but I saw the video and I can imagine that your printer is as fast as a Prusa or any other ABS extruder printer. Do Iam right?</p><p>Thanks for sharing!</p>
What kind of iris you used.thanks
Hey I have the printr bot simple would that work with a few mods and if so what mods would I need???<br>
<p>Laser on x-y axis</p><p>Vat plate on z axis</p><p>This would be hard, but definitely possible. Good luck!</p><p>-Max</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>Someone was ispired by your project: http://www.lumipocket.com/</p>
<p>Can not laser engraving to become this type of printer? I watched that engraving is for 80-90 dollars.</p>
<p>Hi All</p><p>I am working on a 3D printer using the Galvo principal</p><p>I picked up a laser light show box from </p><p>http://www.djcity.com.au/eclipse-term300r-1</p><p>They had them on special for AUD$80.00</p><p>The good thing is the mirrors are mounted on steppers and the blue laser has a focus adjustment. </p><p>I plan on the driving the steppers with an </p><p>Arduino Mega http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/161716154784</p><p>CNC Drive Shield http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/400737553267</p><p>1/32 Micro Stepping drivers http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/271884287667</p><p>And solid state relay http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/261861701056 (to drive the laser)</p><p>I found a linear guide and ball screw at work (Lucky me)</p><p>And I needed a stepper for the Z axis http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/201006654389</p><p>I have most of the main parts now, all I need is time to assemble and test</p>
<p>What prevents the beam from traveling under the surface to cure unintended dross? Is there a focal point? Does the resin have some absorption factor that prevents scatter?</p>
<p>hi im very new to this and was wondering if someone could tell me how to program the basic movements of a 3d printer and how you program the stepper motors and everything is it just g code ?</p>
<p>hi im very new to this and was wondering if someone could tell me how to program the basic movements of a 3d printer and how you program the stepper motors and everything is it just g code ?</p>
<p>Game changer in lowering the barrier to entry. What you&rsquo;re seeing <br> in the video isn&rsquo;t much more than a proof of concept, there&rsquo;s obviously <br> still work left to be done.</p><p>As for strength of parts, I don&rsquo;t see any reason to think they&rsquo;d be <br>weaker than low-end FDM printed parts which are notorious for splitting <br>between layers.</p>
<p>must to download pdf file to make a 3d printer sla?</p><p>or this structure is enough?</p>
<p>hi can i use this printer for making jewelry models?</p>
<p>I had the same thought exactly about other extruder based 3D printers. So nice to see you have done so much good work with this =)<br>And I don't know too much about this, but do you know of any way to improve accuracy?</p><p>Like a better lense etc.</p>
Ok great I got my firmware to work. Ij ust started over. I have one question. I have my Skeinforge profile set up and the machine set up in ReplicatorG. When I hit run I am getting errors saying that the g_Code is telling each axis to run faste rthan it is allowed to run...where would I tweak that? Thanks
<p>you have to double check if the acceleration is enabled. This error message is for makerbots I believe...as long as your motors are enabled to accelerate and able to pull the tourque you should be ok.</p>
<p>Hey, great project! I got one up and running based on your software. I still have one issue with the M113 code. This in reprap is for the power management...I was wondering if you used this command to reduce the power on your laser or of you eliminated it from the code with the replace files. If you did eliminate it, how is that accomplished? Did you use a replace and truncate command?</p>
<p>Hi there,</p><p>Nice work. I am interesting in laser module. Please tell me what is laser module name?</p><p>Sincerely, </p><p>Tahi</p>
<p>Very cool!</p>
<p>Hi RobHopeless, I have read with attention your projects and it is very interesting. I should know if with the laser system the final resolution of the object is the same of a DLP system I ask it because I am interested to built a 3D printer top/down but I don't know betwen the two system is the better. Regards Claudio.</p>
This is effin' amazing! Great work!
<p>Mostly what I have done so far is adjust the laser and iris then print a sample and measure it and either adjust the laser or the settings to fit.</p>
<p>Thanks, I'll have to look into that too.</p>
hi <br>great piece of work, is the Iris a must or will it work without. <br>Clive
I am planning to create a 3doodler type handheld device that uses resin instead of filament, and I was wondering if this type of resin can cure fast enough to support itself if it has a laser focused on the stream coming out of the nozzle?
any way to let the laser pulse and shoot dots like a co2 laser engraver does? now it follows the lines made by the software which I think is not as good for very fine work. let the laser pulse and overlap the dots resulting in even finer work.
hello mr andy rawson <br>thank you for your amazing 3d printer <br>but i cant upload UVL Printer code to my arduino mega <br>when i click verify Button strand with : 'HIGH' was not declared in this scope errore <br>do you try upload it to mega? <br>please help me! <br>thanks <br>
Great Instructable! You could use FDM to print the complex parts in PLA (although you'd errr ... have to have an FDM printer to do that) <br> <br>Just for info, there is now a nice DLP projector instructable by TristramBudel: <br>https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-high-resolution-3D-DLP-printer-3D-printer/ <br> <br>I'm seriously thinking that merging the two ideas might prove interesting!
Great Instructable! Just for info, there is now a nice DLP projector instructable by TristramBudel: <br>https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-high-resolution-3D-DLP-printer-3D-printer/ <br> <br>I'm seriously thinking that merging the two ideas might prove interesting!
you did an amazing job. making stuff in and of itself is easy and fun. the resolution is amazing compared to filament 3d printers. how does the accuracy from file dimensions to finished product compare? i would like to use a 3d printer of the resin variety for quality resolution, but i also want it to make parts with reasonable tolerances as well.
WOW. Great Work. I like your project
Hello, very much like your project. Give me a &quot;Arduino mega&quot; using firmware do? E-mail: 297528783@qq.com Thank you very much for your help!
To my understanding the laser ground switched by the relay needs to be 'switched' to the 9V ground. That is - when ever the TIP 120 transistor gives a signal, the relay coil is 'activated' and the laser ground needs to be connected to the 9V ground. <br>Now, in the circuit picture, the 9V ground is connected to the lower right leg of the relay (when looking from above), which according to the relay spec is indeed the leg that is 'switched' when the coil is 'activated'. In the Fritzing diagram, however, the 9V ground is connected to the lower left leg of the relay. Is that a mistake? <br> <br>Thanks very much! <br>Eran
Great work. I was contemplating attempting this or maybe just buying a formslab. Stereo-lithography seems to produce better quality part than the abs filament type 3d printer.
wow there is a great projects for beginners!
Good work! <br>Went to my Blog: <br>http://faz-voce-mesmo.blogspot.pt/2013/02/estereo-litografia-borla-exactflat-e.html
Nice Instructable! <br> <br>There are some really good things for people to learn here. (from your instructions, especially)
Hi. Sorry if you have already covered this, I haven't been able to read every word of your instructable....yet, but, what is the curing time for the adhesive you use? I know of some fiberglass resins that uv cure, really inexpensive, figured I could try them out as a viable option. Im pretty sure Im going to be making this soon. Thank you and awesome instructable btw!
Well I have firmware and my machine speed set correctly...I think. However, Replicator G is locking up when I do something siimple like open the manual axis controls and try to jog and axis. Also If I send a job to the machine Replicator G sits there and tells me that it is estimating a build time. Does this take a long time normally? Thanks
I just converted my old Darwin RepRap over to run just like your machine. I'm having problems getting the Firmware to compile for an Arduino Mega. It is getting hung up. Any suggestions? My coding skills are extremely lacking. I changed the mother board to the Mega in the code, and hooked up all pins accordingly. Any help would be appreciated. <br> <br>Curly
Without knowing what the error is you are getting, I would guess that you are using Arduino software version 1 or higher and I think some things need to be changed to work with that. Try it with Arduino version 0023 and let me know exactly what happens if you still have problems.
How much work do you think it would take to print from the bottom instead? Seems like this method has gained the most steam lately for the hobbyist level to reduce the initial resin volume purchase when looking at increasing the print size. I would like a 4&quot; x 8&quot; area instead of the more typical 3&quot; x 3&quot; or 3&quot; x 4&quot;. <br> <br>A great instructable, thanks for the work and sharing your experience.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am Andy Rawson and I make things. I usually end up making things that are expensive to otherwise obtain. Like a Stereolithography 3D Printer ... More »
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