May 4, 2017 | By Benedict

Netherlands-based 3D printing expert Rik Starmans, a former researcher at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), is launching a Kickstarter for Hexastorm, an open-hardware laser scanner that is optimized for 3D printing.

Laser scanning, the process of deflecting a laser beam in a controlled manner, plays an important role in 3D printing, laser engraving, and many other modern technologies. It is therefore no surprise that, for laser-equipped 3D printers like SLS and SLM machines, the quality of the laser scanner has a huge effect on the overall quality of printing. (Note that this relates to scanning in the broader sense, not the specific form of scanning used to capture 2D and 3D images and shapes.)

3D printing expert Rik Starmans, who is on the brink of launching a Kickstarter campaign for his own laser diode scanner, believes that a radical change to the prism of a scanner could make the technology more efficient (not to mention cheaper) for 3D printing applications.

His self-made laser scanner, which is called Hexastorm, uses a transparent polygon to refract a laser beam, directing it onto a surface with a 45-degree mirror. This, according to Starmans, removes the need for an expensive f-theta lens, while still producing excellent optical quality. The former TNO researcher says his new design has four big advantages: high optical quality, cost effectiveness, scalability for industrial applications, and openness.

“We have replaced the reflective polygon with a transparent prism,” Starmans says. “This might seem like a very subtle change, but it will have a huge effect—not only on the 3D printing industry, but also (in the long run) on the printed circuit board industry.”

According to the maker himself, the high optical quality of the Hexastorm laser scanner makes it suitable for a wide range of 3D printing applications. With a wavelength of 405 nm, the scanner could be used for printing advanced ceramics or metals with photo-polymers, printing hydrogels, and fabricating items such as microfluidic devices, dentures, and jewelry.

“In the solution we have proposed, we merge the polygon with the lens,” Starmans explains. “We have a laser which is focused and projected through a prism; by rotating this prism you can rotate the laser bundle.”

The Hexastorm laser scanner is therefore unlike many scanners of its kind, but that doesn’t mean that Starmans wants to lock his design down. instead, the tech whizz will publish the hardware designs and software packages for Hexastorm under the GNU General Public License (GPLv3) and/or the Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0. Assembly information for the scanner will be made public on an online Wiki.

As with many independent product launches—especially ones without patents—this exciting 3D printing venture needs funding. So, to bring the Hexastorm project to life, Starmans has set up a Kickstarter campaign that is due to launch any day now. (We’ve had access to a preview of the campaign, but since we can’t link you to that page, you might have to find the campaign yourself when it launches.)

Although some details of the campaign have yet to be finalized, the first batch of transparent polygon kits (21000 RPM polygon mirror motor mounted with a four-sided transparent quartz prism) is expected to cost €540, with delivery expected in October 2017. A full developer kit (including electronics and materials needed to build the scanner for down projection) will cost €1,399.

If the Kickstarter campaign is a success, Starmans intends to continue selling Hexastorm scanners online, either as kits or as certified and assembled systems.

Hexastorm specifications:

  • Wavelength: 405 nm
  • Rotation frequency: 67-350 Hertz
  • Spot size: elliptical, 50 (short axis) x 60 (long axis) micrometers
  • Cross scanner error: 40 micrometers
  • Laser driver frequency: 100 kHz
  • Maximum scan width: 24 mm
  • Typical scan width: 8 mm
  • Laser frequency: 50 MHz
  • Optical power: 300 mW
  • Facets: 4



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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pizzaslice wrote at 5/5/2017 2:20:00 PM:

preview link:

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