Take the Slash 3D printer for example. This printer can print 3D models 50 times faster than the typical FFF 3D printer!
Produced by UNIZ, a 3D startup in San Diego, the company prides itself of providing the fastest 3D printer so far and there is already a lot of speculation that Slash 3D may now become the new most popular 3D printer; kicking out standard FFF printers which had for a long time managed to go mainstream.
Question is does the typical buyer care about speed alone? Well, one of the key reasons why FFF 3D printers had been widely embraced in the 3D community is because they were for the most part cheap. Not only that but the parts and materials were also a lot easy to obtain. These factors combined, made many people who wanted 3D printers to automatically prefer FFF printers.
Even when companies like Formlabs came and launched their much faster Stereolithography desktop 3D printers, most people were still reluctant to make the switch because they came at a significant cost compared to the FFF 3D printers. So most buyers would find themselves in a dilemma! Sure they wanted to enjoy the higher resolutions, speed and increased printing accuracy that came with SLA 3D printers; but the cost of acquiring one was too high of a price for some to pay.
Slash 3D printer seems to have finally addressed the ‘elephant’ in the room by offering the usual perks that come with stereolithography printers but now at a frugal price. First of, Slash 3D falls in the light-curing resin 3D printer category making it about 100 times faster than standard stereolithography printers.
When it comes to price, when UNIZ first launched their Kickstarter campaign, early bird backers only needed to pledge $999 to get the Slash 3D printer. Backers who missed the early bird offers paid $1,199 which was still a pretty fair price considering other high-speed printers like Form 2 were going at around $3,500.
The Kickstarter goal for UNIZ was to raise $50,000 by 28th April. However, just four hours after they had launched their campaign on Tuesday 29th March, the company had already reached its goal of $50,000. Ten days into the campaign, they had quadrupled their goal having raised $200,000. By the time the campaign was coming to an end, the startup had superseded their goal by about 800%. Clearly this showed that they were onto something and that finding a good balance between price and speed was definitely a smart move.
What Makes Slash 3D so Fast?
Slash 3D can reach printing speeds of up to 1000 cc/hr evidently making it 50 times faster than common desktop 3D printers. Here’s what’s amazing, it’s even faster than the Carbon Clip Technology that only guarantees about 60cc/hr. According to the UNIZ team, the trick behind the super-fast speed of Slash 3D lies in the fact that they have replaced the projector of a DLP system with a range of LCD lights and on top of that, added a liquid cooling mechanism.
The team explains that when printing large solid objects at very high speeds, the temperature can rise to 500-600 Fahrenheit and in the process may damage the interface material. For this reason, it becomes counterproductive for a printer to print faster unless this problem is addressed. DLP printers normally have a high potential for printing fast but this is often hampered by its optical path structure that needs to remain clear hence ends up limiting the amount of heat that can be extracted from the interface.
To fix this problem, the UNIZ team used LCD contact exposure method for integration of liquid cooling very near to the interface as is practically possible. Because of this, large amounts of heat can be easily extracted enabling large solid objects to be 3D printed at high speed making the Slash 3D printer to be way faster than other desktop 3D printers.
Several features present in Slash 3D also make it quite a cool desktop printer to have. For instance, the printer has WiFi plus a “touch-to-print” ecosystem. This ecosystem comes with a mobile app that has been populated with numerous 3D models that you can choose from, purchase the ones you like and then send them to your Slash machine for printing.
In addition, the slicing software of the printer allows for custom settings so that the resolution can be varied on the Z-axis throughout a print. This means if you are printing less intricate parts, you can easily modify the resolution to support quick printing. But if you are printing detailed parts, you can still adjust the resolution to a slower mode in order to increase accuracy.
The Slash 3D printer comes with a very competitive volume especially for an SLA machine. Compared to Form 2 which is 5.7” × 5.7” × 6.9”, Slash 3D is a bit larger at 7.5” × 4.8” × 7.8”. Therefore, it guarantees a reasonable layer of thickness ranging from 10 to 300 microns.
When it comes to the printing materials that you can use on the Slash 3D, UNIZ offers it’s very own zABS material. This material has been designed to cure rapidly with 45MPa strength, 300MPa modulus and 4% breaking elongation. A variety of other materials will be released by UNIZ after the launch which will include flexible resins, industrial grade materials, wax-like resins and a variety of colors. The best part is the resins will be stored in cartridges, which refill the resin tank automatically as printing continues.
Upon the launch of their Kickstarter Campaign, the company had announced that provided their campaign would be successful, they will ensure that the shipping of slash 3D printers begin by December 2016. The rest of the backers would then receive their printers by February to March 2017. So if you were among the lucky backers for this campaign, it’s only a matter of time before you start enjoying the ultra fast speed of Slash 3D.