Since my last post I have extinguished my resin samples and have gone back to redesigning some of the parts to make things more rigid throughout the Z axis. I tried a couple non-stick release coatings for the reservoir as well as made a couple extra reservoirs in case there are issues. I’m thinking that staying with glass is going to be the best answer to keep costs down, it can be cut at lots of hardware stores and it’s available worldwide. I am waiting on a new nano-tech aerosol material that may work as a non-stick as well, in the end it may be the tried and true car windshield water repellent that works the best though. Cost of windshield water repellent is very low too. I did about 10 coats when I applied it the first time and the hardened resin doesn’t stick much at all. I think the largest force to overcome is the suction from the large build plate, it’s really bad within the first 2-3 millimeters of vertical travel because the resin is so thick. This will likely be alleviated some when I have a larger amount of resin in the vat, right now the resin barely reaches the heater and heat would help immensely. After those first couple millimeters the separation takes place quite easily and without too much strain on the system. I presume that a smarter build platform design will minimize this effect, right now it only has about 100 tiny holes drilled in it.
I ordered a gallon supply of 3D printing resin as well as white and ceramic additives that I will be testing ASAP. I would like to try and limit the penetration of the laser with additive so that I can take the resolution even further. So far I am printing with a “nozzle” size of .38mm and layer heights of .2mm. The only limiter I’ve had on the laser light so far is a piece of plastic with a tiny hole drilled in it, and it does work OK. This method is intended for those that need to save on cost and will work just fine but you won’t see much better resolution that what is already offered on current FDM printers, an Iris Diaphragm is about $40-50. I also designed and printed a mount for my laser Iris diaphragm and intend to use that to take the laser “nozzle” size down to .1mm or less if possible. That should further limit penetration depth and allow incredibly small details.
I designed some software that will take a standard Slic3r GCode file and manipulate it for use on the mUVe 1, it has taken a couple weeks to develop but it is working and working well. It allows you to choose how high to lift the Z axis for the peel move between layers, as well a control speed of the move, and what codes are used. It should be pretty universal considering what I’ve added as inputs. The only hangup here is that it is written in KixTart and KixForms, they are not universal. I can package an executable for Windows but other OSes are out at the moment. The code is very simple and I intend to share it so hopefully I can get a OS agnostic version out with time. I just need to learn a modern scripting or programming language, Python will likely work really well for this.
I started creating a parts list for everyone to use should they want to make the machine on their own. This still needs a lot of work but it should be useful for the folks that want to jump on this project here in its infancy.