We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
SLA (Stereolitography) 3D printers rely on liquid resin that is being solidified with the help of UV light (Laser, LED or DLP light source), however when the finished print is ready to be removed from the build plate it still needs some more work. The first step is to clean it up with the help of stong alcohol that will remove any liquid residues from the resin, then you might need to remove some support material if you needed it. You would notice however that the 3D printed part has a bit of rubbery feel and is not yet like a strong plastic, so it needs to be cured with additional UV light to become strong. One of the most common and easy ways to do it is to bring out the 3D printed part outside so the sun can shine on it and cure it in a few minutes, however this is not the best way to do it and the sun is not always available when you need it to provide enough UV light.
We have experimented with different sources of UV light to see if we can easily cure 3D printed parts on our new XYZprinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer. We’ve started with a 3W UV LED lamp from a flashlight, but that was simply not powerful enough an even after an hour the test parts were still not cured well enough. Then we have moved to UV lamps for checking for counterfeit money, these are usually available with a 4-8W UV lamps and are pretty easy to find, but unfortunately they were still not powerful enough. So the next step was a string of UV LED lights where we got about 8W of power per meter and this meant that we needed quite a long strip to get more power out of them and we have moved to looking for alternatives. The next thing we have tried was a 36W nail polish curing UV lamp – these are available in different forms from about 9W to about 48W, but the 36W model seems to be quite common and cheap to get. It uses four 9W CCFL UV lamps and apparently provides enough UV light in order to cure most 3D printer parts in just a few minutes. It has worked really well with the clear resin prints from the Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer and there is enough space to fit inside relatively large objects. If you need more space you should be able to pretty easily modify the standard plastic box and make a larger size box with some aluminum foil.
The XYZprinting Nobel 1.0 SLA 3D printer is currently one of the most affordable that uses the more detailed Stereolitography technology for curing liquid resin with an UV laser, producing higher quality prints as compared to the more common FDM/FFF 3D printers using thermoplastics. Earlier this year, when the Nobel 1.0 was announced it looked like a really good alternative to some other more expensive SLA 3D printers and although we like FormLab’s 3D printers they are still quite more expensive. So recently we have decided to go for the Nobel 1.0 as an expansion of our 3D printers lab in order for us to start using SLA 3D printing as well and dig deeper into the technology. Now it is time to share our initial impressions after using the XYZprinting Nobel 1.0 3D printer for a while, so if you are interested in SLA 3D printers and are on a more limited budget you will most likely be interested in this device as well.
The Nobel 1.0 3D printer, like most other SLA 3D printers, comes with a smaller build volume than you might’ve gotten used to from FDM/FFF devices, but offers higher printing resolution that comes with slower build times unfortunately. The device itself is affordable and you might end up getting it for less than you might need to pay for an FDM/FFF 3D printer, however the UV resin that the device uses as a material for printing is the expensive part along with the resin reservoir that also needs to be replaced from time to time. The result is that you get better quality prints, but the material that SLA 3D printers can be multiple times more expensive and there are other consumables like the resin tank that make printing even more expensive. Furthermore the Nobel 1.0 3D printer can be used officially only with the official XYZprinting resin as the bottles with the material come with an RFID tag that the printer uses for keeping track of the remaining liquid in order for the resin tank auto refill functionality to work. So far the choice of resins that are made to work with the Nobel 1.0 is quite limited and there is no official support for other more affordable or different type of resins from third parties, so this is a bit of a problem.
The Nobel 1.0 is relatively easy to get started up with and produces good results. As with other SLA 3D printers when the printed part is ready you need to take some extra steps such as cleaning the part with alcohol in order to remove any remaining liquid from the solid part. Also, like with many other printers using the same technology when you remove the 3D printed part from the build platform it is still not fully cured – the object is still softer to to the touch and you need to be careful. This makes it easy to remove any support materials for example or do some post-processing before you finalize it by further curing the part with some UV light at which point the part will become very strong and fully cured. As for the printing time, well, you need to be ready to wait more, especially if you decide to increase the printing quality more than the standard level of 0.1mm – usually the highest quality on FDM/FFF 3D printers. Do note that unlike some other 3D printing software with the XYZware that the Nobel 1.0 uses if you have a problem with your 3D model file it will most likely end up with a broken sliced part that will not print at all, so make sure that you have no issues with the 3D file that you import for printing. So, in general we are happy with the results we are getting from the Nobel 1.0 3D printer so far, we haven’t had any issues with it yet resulting in failed prints, but there are some limitations such as the need to use only official materials that we are don’t like that much.
The European 3D printer filament maker ColorFabb has announced a new wood-type of filament called corkFill and as the name implies it is should offer characteristics similar to that of cork as the filament is a mix from cork and ColorFabb PLA/PHA filament. The new ColorFabb corkFill filament is already available for pre-order on the official website in 650 gram spools for 39.95 Euro in both 1.75mm and 2.85mm versions with shipping expected to start next week. The sample photos provided by ColorFabb show a nice detail level and good looking color results in general for prints made with the new filament. Since is is based on the PLA/PHA filament it should be easier to print and not require Heated Build Platform (HBP) to be present on your 3D printer to use it.
The recommended settings for using the new corkFill filament from ColorFabb are printing temperature of between 210 and 230 degrees Celsius, print speed of 40-60 mm/s and if a HBP is present to use a temperature of 50-60C for the bed, though as mentioned you should be able to print on cold build plate as well. ColorFabb also recommends that for stronger prints and better reliability you should increase the flow rate with about 4-10%, depending on the printer you are using. We are expecting good results from the new corkFill as so far we’ve been pretty pleased with the results we have achieved using different ColorFabb filaments for our MakerBot Replicator 2 3D printer. We have tested multiple of the more exotic filaments that the company makes and have a few more waiting to be tested and we are certainly also going to give out a try of the new corkFill filament as well when it becomes available.