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Build a Laser 3D Printer - Stereolithography at Home

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Step 14: Wrap up

Picture of Wrap up
So, there it is. It works, but should you build one? Well that depends on what you want to get out of building/buying a 3D printer. If you just want to print 3D things for cheap then no, I wouldn't build one. Get a Makerbot or an Ultimaker or build a RepRap. If you want to tinker and possibly get some amazing prints and don't mind that they cost a bit more to print than the others then go for it. I would love to have some other people testing and thinking up new ways to tweak this. 

As for cost of building the machine, I think I spent about $600 - $800 for everything. Less than the extruder printers but the material cost is about 4-5 times more so it's not really the economy option. 

There are also other ways to print with UV cured resins, like using a DLP projector to show images for long enough to cure a layer. There is one person that has made one that seems to work well but it looks like it is closed source and going to be expensive when he starts selling it. There is also a Yahoo group called diy_3d_printing_and_fabrication with people sharing their DLP based builds and resin tests.

You should have used a laser galvanometer (galvo)! Sounds great, if you find one accurate enough for under a few hundred dollars let me know!

Just for fun, the picture above shows most of the bad prints I've made so far.

I probably missed something so let me know if you have questions and I will get to them as soon as I can. Thanks for reading. 
 
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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.
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....
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.
bpark10002 years ago
I noted something in your last video of the machine running. You run the stepper at a fixed speed, then suddenly reverse it at the end of the scan (it makes a bang noise). You are limited to the "start/stop" speed, which is slow. If you instead overscan slightly, and decelerate/accelerate in this overscan area, you can run the steppers at "slew speed", which is a lot faster. Since you indicate that you have plenty of laser power, you could print faster, without risking skipping steps.

Do you post-cure the objects with UV light?
razor71772 years ago
Thanks mate....but the altogether which part
was the hardest to obtain...?
RobHopeless (author)  razor71772 years ago
Mainly the custom cut aluminum shapes, I have a small taig cnc mill that I cut those on. I am working on a way to make those easier.
razor71772 years ago
Great instructable.....but i want to know how much was ur budget for this project...?
RobHopeless (author)  razor71772 years ago
I think it was about $600 - $700 not counting resin. I need to go through and add everything up sometime.
gfwilliams2 years ago
Looks amazing! If only the resins would come down in price a bit...

I ordered a laser galvo from www.spacelas.com for something else - you have to enquire for prices, but the G100 I looked at was $230 + shipping 1 year ago. They even do a 445nm (500mw!) blue which seems to be in the absorbtion range of your resins, but also sell just the galvo and controller assembly, which may be even cheaper.

The ILDA signal they run off is IIRC a +-10v differential analog, which you could get from a hacked USB sound card (capacitors removed) and a simple amplifier circuit.
DJJules2 years ago
Excellent project! I am in process of building a CNC router but what I learn from that, I can apply to these machines.

Good Job!

Jules