Instructables

Build a Laser 3D Printer - Stereolithography at Home

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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

 

 
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RobHopeless (author) 2 years ago
Venus de Milo
IMG_5440.JPG
sniffrumble1 month ago

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.

Very cool!

sheepbars3 months ago

This is effin' amazing! Great work!

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.

zcapitani5 months ago

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.

alcurb5 months ago
This is effin' amazing! Great work!
gazumpglue5 months ago

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.

chimplost6 months ago

Thanks, I'll have to look into that too.

chlluk7 months ago
hi
great piece of work, is the Iris a must or will it work without.
Clive
macrumpton7 months ago
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?
steveazhocar7 months ago
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.
regaltaxlaw7 months ago
Breathtaking
sambalbij8 months ago
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.
navidsabet10 months ago
hello mr andy rawson
thank you for your amazing 3d printer
but i cant upload UVL Printer code to my arduino mega
when i click verify Button strand with : 'HIGH' was not declared in this scope errore
do you try upload it to mega?
please help me!
thanks
clickworried11 months ago
Nice
mrwolfe1 year ago
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)

Just for info, there is now a nice DLP projector instructable by TristramBudel:
http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-high-resolution-3D-DLP-printer-3D-printer/

I'm seriously thinking that merging the two ideas might prove interesting!
mrwolfe1 year ago
Great Instructable! Just for info, there is now a nice DLP projector instructable by TristramBudel:
http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-high-resolution-3D-DLP-printer-3D-printer/

I'm seriously thinking that merging the two ideas might prove interesting!
jetlag13201 year ago
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
zxcv5555781 year ago
Hello, very much like your project. Give me a "Arduino mega" using firmware do? E-mail: 297528783@qq.com Thank you very much for your help!
eranrom.me1 year ago
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.
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?

Thanks very much!
Eran
pvang11 year ago
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!
Edgar1 year ago
Good work!
Went to my Blog:
http://faz-voce-mesmo.blogspot.pt/2013/02/estereo-litografia-borla-exactflat-e.html
JensonBut1 year ago
Nice Instructable!

There are some really good things for people to learn here. (from your instructions, especially)
bsax2111 year ago
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!
curlrup1 year ago
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
curlrup1 year ago
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
Minizatic1 year ago
I went to all the suppliers' sites and added up the total cost not including CNC'd parts and it came out to about $550.
curlrup1 year ago
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.

Curly
RobHopeless (author)  curlrup1 year ago
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.
Minizatic1 year ago
I found this resin online, it seems like it would work.

http://www.solarez.com/productsnew/epoquart.html

It's cheaper, too, $22.50 for a quart.
bourno1 year ago
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" x 8" area instead of the more typical 3" x 3" or 3" x 4".

A great instructable, thanks for the work and sharing your experience.
RobHopeless (author)  bourno1 year ago
It shouldn't take too much more work. You would need to figure out the vat and how to keep the resin from sticking to it but other than that it is just shifting the parts around a bit. There is a lot of info about the vats people are using on the Yahoo group.
pjozsi2 years ago
Congratulations, great idea, well done!
Perhaps this could be used for galvanometer scanner, if blue the laser:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK14SaaYMoc&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL
Not so fast with the galvo! Your laser attack angle will change and distort your beam geometry at the target surface. If you really want to do it right you'll need a beam expander->Galvo->Ftheta lens. But if you want to print large objects and maintain your spot size/geometry you'll need a telecentric Ftheta. Believe it or not these optics pop up now and again at optics surplus stores.
BTW, I found this instructable to be 100% inspirational! I've been looking for something to do with my old HeCd in my basement...was just gonna give it to the university....
Hi jcapogna, I absolutely agree with you!
In my experiments I mainly geometrically precise mirror movements.
I can not get cheap F-theta lens .....
Thank you for your comment precision!
RobHopeless (author)  jcapogna1 year ago
Jcapogna thanks for the great info, good luck with the HeCd laser and let me know what you end up doing with it.
RobHopeless (author)  pjozsi2 years ago
Thanks, I'll have to look into that too.
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