Apr. 9, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’ve been hearing about some truly revolutionary additive manufacturing technologies as of late including efforts done by Carbon3D and others to rapidly speed up 3D printing times, we have also been hearing about new ways of building 3D printers with relatively few parts and simple structures that can be made with found items for cheap.  Among others, we recently heard about a maker who wanted to quickly put together a printer to test out SLA 3D printing with an ACER 5360 720P projector and liquid polymer.  Aside from having to remove the focus screw, the process worked and is just one of many examples of what can be done with DIY 3D printers when a projector is involved.   


More recently, Dustin Klenke, a physics, robotics and biology teacher at Union High School in Union, Missouri has brought a similar project into his classroom as a way of breaking down the principles of 3D printing in an effort to get his students excited about additive manufacturing technologies.  

After learning more about microstereolithographic (micro SLA) 3D printing at a recent National Science Teachers Association conference - where stage presenter Joe Muskin of the University of Illinois demonstrated the process of building a DIY 3D printer based on today’s existing additive manufacturing technologies - Klenke was convinced that this was something he wanted to instill into his high school science class curriculum.

Currently, Klenke’s class is in the process of building their own micro SLA 3D printer that utilizes a classroom projector, a $3 magnifying glass and PowerPoint slides to build the layers for a physical, three-dimensional object.  

The process for the printer works similar to how existing DLP SLA 3D printers work - a beaker is filled with liquid polymer and the material is exposed to a series of layered slices that determine the final layered form.  For the class 3D printer, Klenke has used PowerPoint slides that are displayed through the vertically-mounted projector and are projected directly onto the polymer.  Depending on the complexity of the object, each slide is displayed for between five and ten seconds to expose the light onto the polymer.  Between each image slide is a black slide that allows the liquid polymer to be prepared to be cured into the next resulting layer from the following image slide.  The process is repeated until a pre-determined three-dimensional object is formed.      

Currently, Klenke and his class are developing an elevator component for their apparatus that is constructed primarily out of wood.  The component will allow for the model to move up and down on the Z-axis during the printing process.  Previously, others who have built their own micro SLA 3D printer have been able to build their elevator apparatus for less than $20 using parts found at common builder supply stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, Klenke tells us.

Between the efforts we’ve seen before and now this project from Klenke, it’s safe to say that there seems to be a correlation between additive manufacturing both advancing in ways we never thought possible as well as being more accessible in ways we previously may have never thought.  

For those interested in building their own micro SLA 3D printer similar to the one Klenke is using in his classroom, the University of Illionois has presented a breakdown of the process over on their website.  



Posted in 3D Printers


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