Mar 1, 2016 | By Kira

Octave Light, a 3D printing startup based out of China and Hong Kong, has spent the past few years designing, prototyping and refining a top-down DLP 3D printer that would not only match industrial-grade standards for accuracy and resolution, but also be produced from the most high-quality components possible, all while remaining affordable enough to enter the consumer market. Currently in its 4th prototype, the Octave Light R1 DLP 3D printer is now ready for mass-production, with an Indiegogo campaign launching this month, and delivery confidently expected for April 2016. 3Ders.org spoke with founder and lead developer, Charles Lo, to find out the details of this promising new 3D printer, and what the future of desktop, resin-based 3D printing has in store.

With a build volume of 203 x 96 x 54 mm, the sleek-looking Octave Light R1 may not be the largest DLP 3D printer on the market, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in precision. The Octave Light R1 features a Laser Measurement Sensor with a resolution of 3 micrometers, which measures the thickness of each layer as it is printing, self-adjusting and adapting to the resin's surface level. Thanks to this precise measurement system, the Octave Light can reliably 3D print objects at 25 micrometers per layer—that’s ¼ the thickness of a standard sheet of A4 paper, said Lo, and matches any industrial-grade SLA machine. He added that the Laser Measurement Sensor ensures that the projected image is always in focus, and solves the Z-axis 'inaccuracy' found in many other top-down 3D printers.

In terms of its light source, which is required in all DLP/SLA 3D printers to cure the photopolymer resin, the Octave Light R1 relies on a powerful ultraviolet LED, which offers both a longer lifetime and better energy efficiency than the projector bulbs used in other consumer DLP machines.

Speaking of the photopolymer resin, the R1 was designed with further cost-savings in mind: not only is the Octave Light R1 405nm model (shown above) compatible with most DLP 3D printing resins on the market today, but it works even if the resin tank is not completely full. “Unlike most top down stereolithography machines that require you to fill the resin tank full to function, the Octave Light R1 can print normally with any amount of resin you have in the tank between the min mark and the max mark,” explained Lo. While a full resin vat is required to 3D print objects at the maximum height, “this means our users can save on resin, because they only need to keep the resin level just high enough to print the objects they want to print.”

A second version of the R1 has also been created: the R1 365nm, which can output 356nm wavelengths of UV light (versus the 405nm, which can output 405nm of UV light). This option was designed specifically for dental or medical professionals, as it is compatible with medical or dental certified resins. Hobbyists, artists, jewelry makers, engineers, industrial designers and even dental professionals looking to bring their 3D printing in-house will find industrial-grade performance in the Octave Light R1, said Lo.

Originally from Hong Kong, Lo completed his BA in Computer Science degree in Minnesota before going on to manage two industry-leading global manufacturing facilities in China. Two years ago, his attention turned to desktop 3D printing, and he became completely devoted to designing and creating "the highest precision and most dependable 3D printer on the affordable desktop market". Since July 2015, when the company set up its engineering and manufacturing site in China (its admin office and warehouse remains in Hong Kong), Octave Light has grown to an eleven-person team of highly skilled engineers.

“I have seven years of experience running world class factories, and maintaining USA and European level quality standards. I do personally make sure that every Octave Light 3D Printer delivered are of USA level quality. And needless to say, I know how to correctly manufacture a product,” he told us.

To prove that point, the Octave Light’s structural components and parts are held to the same exacting standards as its technology. The 4th and current prototype, which is fully functional and mass-production ready, was made with the same large-format CNC machine used by Foxconn to manufacture Macbook Pro laptops. The chassis is made from 6061 T651 aluminium and stainless steel, and every detail, from the screw-balls to the large-size Nema 23 stepper motor underwent careful scrutiny to ensure higher reliability, lower friction, and high precision. The PCBs were also designed in-house, with firmware written by Lo himself.

After two years of refinements and the 5th and 6th prototypes already underway to adjust the manufacturing process, the Octave Light R1 desktop DLP 3D printer is ready to hit the market. The company is preparing a Flexible Funding Indiegogo campaign to help promote the initial round of orders, however Lo ensured us that whether or not it reaches its funding target, the R1 is ready to roll:

“We are not depending on Indiegogo in any way to put our Octave Light R1 into mass production. The pre-sales on Indiegogo will help make our lives much much easier. But my goal of delivering the world one of the best desktop 3D Printers will be achieved, with or without Indiegogo pre-sales. It is realistic for me to say that the purchase orders received in the Indiegogo pre-sales in March will be delivered in April, 2016, in mass-production quality and quantity.” It's an ambitious claim, but for now, the Octave Light appears to be a unique option amongst the relatively small range of consumer DLP 3D printers currently on the market.

Octave Light's Indiegogo campaign is set to launch March 13th, 2016. While the exact retail price has not yet been released, there will be a pre-sales discount price available for the first 40 days only of $4,595. While admittedly, that is significantly more expensive than other DLP 3D printers on the market, including the mUVe DLP 3D printer or the B9 Creator, for experienced 3D designers looking for the accuracy and precision that resin-based 3D printing affords, it could still be an investment worth considering.

Until the campaign is launched, Octave Light will be releasing a series of informative videos to their Vimeo and Facebook pages. To catch a glimpse at the R1 405nm in action, check out this video, which shows microscopic-level detail of a gorgeously 3D printed Reims Cathedral:

UPDATE: March 16, 2016

The Octave Light R1 Indeigogo campaign has officially launched, after being delayed a few days to ensure that, due to popular demand, a version with an even bigger build volume would be included. Still marketed as “the highest precision and most dependable 3D printer with an affordable price,” the Octave Light R1 DLP 3D printer is available for pre-order.

There are two models available: the 405 nm and 365nm, both of which come in either 'Fine' or 'Big' sizes. The Indiegogo pre-order discount prices are $4,595 and $5,959 respectively, however after the campaign, they will both be raised $1,000.

The campaign goal is $250,000, however self-described 'one-man-publicity-team' and company founder Charles Lo has assured backers that even if the funding is not reached, all orders will be delivered, with shipping starting May 31st, 2016.

 

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Charles Lo wrote at 3/4/2016 2:15:38 PM:

Annie Collier, The source code of the software called UVDLPSlicerController, was licensed to me by the original author of UVDLPSlicerController, in May 2015. And I do thank the original author of UVDLPSlicerController daily in my heart for writing this great piece of software and for licensed it to me. I suggest you to not anger your potential customer here. If I want to buy or pay-to-distribute copies of the latest version of your software, I will contact you myself. Charles Lo

Annie Collier wrote at 3/2/2016 7:45:44 PM:

To whom it may concern, I am a representative of DataTree3D LLC (“DT3D”) in Texas. DT3D is the owner of the 3D printing software CreationW3D, formerly known as Creation Workshop, created by Steven Hernandez. It is our intention to guarantee the continued development of DataTree3D and its products for the benefit of consumers just like yourself. Unfortunately it has come to our attention that unlicensed copies of our software are being distributed to the public through various businesses, and are therefore guilty of copyright infringement. We are not accusing you of unlawful activities, however we being the owners of CreationW3D are entitled to request that you cease and desist any use of our software until this issue is resolved. We understand the circumstances in which our product became available to you, and we hope to address this issue as best we can for all parties involved. We are glad that you would choose our software for your 3D printing needs, and going forward we hope to establish a business relationship. Our software is retailing at $495.00 USD. In order to remedy the situation we are prepared to license our new and upgraded version of CreationW3D to you at $95.00 per seat, with an annual fee of $2,000.00 USD. In the case that you choose to purchase multiple seats, we offer volume pricing as well. In addition, anyone that was distributed a copy of Creation Workshop through your business will be offered licensing to CreationW3D for a one time discount price of $49.95 per annual seat. How you choose to notify your customers is left at your discretion. We wish you success in all your endeavors and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. A response by April 3, 2016 would be appreciated, if possible. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me. Thank you, Annie Collier 972.742.0144



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