May 23, 2016 | By Alec

It’s an exciting time from the resin-based 3D printing industry, where several companies are working on what could be the next generation of high resolution 3D printing technologies. Perhaps Carbon, with its extremely fast and high quality CLIP technology, is making the most noise. But the Peterborough, UK-based Photocentric cannot be ignored either. They have developed a very clever LCD screen-based 3D printing technology called Daylight Polymer Printing, which uses low-cost hardware to realize a very high resin 3D printing resolution. With their smallest 3D printer costing as little as £449  about $750 USD), they could have the power to bring resin 3D printing to home users.

The company itself knows all about resin 3D printing, being one of the few companies that manufactures liquid photo-polymer resins. Founded thirteen years ago, Photocentric produces about 500 tons of the material every year, much of which is sold to 3D printer manufacturers. They already have offices in the UK and Phoenix, Arizona, and employ about 75 people. Perhaps in a bid to increase resin sales, they took a bold step in 2013, when they began development on their very own 3D printing system with help from a UK Govt. Innovate grant.

As the company explained, they decided to opt for a remarkable concept that harnesses the power of mass-produced LCD screens, which are widely used in smartphones and other hand-held devices to ensure the highest resolution. As that technology is already well-established and affordable, it is a perfect light source for affordable 3D printing. “The concept is simple - use the daylight emitted from an LCD screen to polymerize resin that is tailored to that wavelength and intensity. All other 3D printers that polymerize resin use a combination of both daylight and UV light at considerably higher intensities,” they say.

When combined with a custom resin that is extremely sensitive to daylight, a very low-cost platform is created. “Photocentric has been able to make this work by developing the world’s most sensitive daylight resins. The power of this idea is profound. What might seem to be disadvantages- that it works solely in daylight and it works with orders of magnitude lower intensities of light are actually its greatest strengths,” they say. Photocentric calls the technique “Daylight Polymer Printing”, or “DPP” (patent pending).

Practically, it works by placing an LCD panel (which are mass-produced) under a resin tank. This shines pixels of plain light (not UV) into the resin. Using very little energy, the resin is solidified – which also solves the problem of parts sticking to the bottom of the tank. As the company explains, that is caused by using too much UV energy, causing unwanted solidification. “The very low intensity luminance from these screens, an order of magnitude lower than produced by digital light projectors and lasers, means there is no scattered light to create unwanted overcure - light used to harden a layer is simply absorbed at that depth and not passed on,” they say. Incidentally, the low-energy approach also increases production speeds, while the light is not harmful to human eyes.

Photocentric’s potent Daylight Polymer Printing solution is getting quite a lot of attention, and has already won the Europe 2016 award for innovation in 3D printing at the IDTechEx show in Berlin last month. “Innovation is one of our business’s core principles and in 3D Printing we have invented a completely new way to create images. This award has meant more to us because it was chosen by industry experts who have recognized the technical achievement,” Photocentric managing director Paul Holt said of the victory. Earlier this year, the company also won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation.

But perhaps most importantly, the company has already embedded their technology into two low-cost 3D printers: the LIQUID CRYSTAL 10" Daylight Polymer 3D Printer and the LC Mini 3D printer. The LIQUID CRYSTAL 10”model features a build platform of 200x100x200 mm and is capable of producing layers just 25 microns thick (220micron XY resolution). The smaller LC Mini 3D printer features a build platform of just 60x100x120 mm, but produces layers than are just as accurate as its larger brother. What’s more, both are very competitively priced, costing just £699 ($1000 USD) and £449 ($750 USD), respectively. The LIQUID CRYSTAL 10" 3D printer is already available on Photocentric’s website, with the LC Mini following next month.

Thanks to these price tags, both are doubtlessly attractive options for home users and should be very useful for producing small prototypes for jewelry, for instance. But Photocentric has said that this is only the beginning. “The opportunities are limitless; higher and higher resolution screens becoming available in all formats from mobiles to large format televisions provide the lowest cost imaging systems ever imagined,” they say, adding that larger 3D printers employing DPP 3D printing technology is forthcoming. A 17 inch 3D printer prototype can already be seen on their website. Photocentric, it seems, is aiming big.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer

 

 

Maybe you also like:


   


3D Head wrote at 9/13/2016 12:16:46 PM:

How safe bringing this printer home is? What precautions do we have to keep in mind when operating the printer? I am curious about the idea of a screen curing liquid photopolymer but what is its trade off when comparing with FDM printing? Does the resin cure and adheres to the resin tank? How easy/practical it is to clean the tank and printing platform? I think I have enough ketchup/wine stains on my carpet to bring liquid chemicals home.

Maarten Visser wrote at 5/25/2016 4:40:47 PM:

Looks great! Will a resin suitable for lost wax casting be available? When will the mini printer be available to the public?



Leave a comment:

Your Name:

 


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now six years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive