Last week we decided it was about time we bought a DLP projector. We’ve had probably 100 requests for a DLP based machine but hadn’t put much time into the technology due to costs and energy consumption. HD projectors frequently cost $1000 themselves and they usually consume 200-350W, which is over 10x the power demand of the current mUVe 1. We knew the demand was there though, and the costs had come down, so we decided to source the highest resolution DLP projector for as little money as possible. Because we wanted to have a reliable machine we decided to stay away from off-brand systems and opted for a 1200×800 pixel machine that uses a high intensity bulb, from ViewSonic. The cost of the projector was $400, model PJD5533W.
Once we received the projector the first tests were to see if it would cure resin without any modifications, and how small of an image we could project. A lot of projectors need to have the color wheel manipulated because they block the UV light enough that they prevent resin curing. Thankfully this wasn’t the case with our projector and it cured the resin within seconds of being exposed. This was really good news and it meant that we had at least one model of projector that we can offer/recommend to you all that doesn’t require any mods out of the box. The second test was to get the projector as close as possible to the wall while still having a clear and crisp image. We were able to get the size of the projection down to about 192mm x 119mm, that’s a pretty large build area! At that size we get about 6.6 pixels per millimeter, and it fits on the current mUVe 1 reservoir and build plate. So far so good!
From there we needed to load some software and get a hang of how to control the printer as a DLP machine. Thankfully we’ve been in several conversations with the founder of Creation Workshop, an open-source DLP printer control software. After taking the time to learn the software, getting the projector installed as a second monitor on our host PC, and making some changes to the code that controls the Z axis. We are happy to say that we were able to successfully setup the entire software package without ANY changes to the firmware or the mUVe 1 itself. Creation Workshop can control the X/Y/Z/E as well as do slicing and printing of all your models.
The final step was to find a way to position the projector underneath the printer so that it was at the proper distance from the vat and still in focus. So how does one elevate a 3D printer while still leaving the center accessible to the projector and still allowing room to adjust for the projector placement? With TV trays and a laptop stand, that’s how!
You can see we have the first layer of the Rooke model in focus in an empty vat. Unfortunately the printer and the projector weren’t attached to each other and any pressing on the rug would move the projected image. We helped that situation some by placing the whole setup on an old tabletop we do work on from time to time. Now that the whole setup was completed we needed to do a dry run and see how it all responded. We homed the X/Y axis to the corner out of the way of the projection, and told Creation Workshop to start. The first test went flawlessly so we immediately moved on to testing with resins. Initially it was a bit difficult, we were using FEP tape and didn’t have a profile that we knew would work. After spending 3-4 hours with the software and some different combinations, we found that QSil coated vats and a layer cure time of 9 seconds was a winner. We printed the Rooke on our first go, it took 2.5 hours where it would normally take 6+ on the laser system. Not only was the speed much more bearable, the quality of the print was fantastic. At the end of this post there is a link to our Google+ Album, it holds several images from our first tests. All told, it was the easiest experience with 3D printing we’ve ever had. We made a dual technology printer, and both the laser and projector work!
Now that we have proven the concept on our machine it’s time to get the concepts to you. Coming over the next couple weeks will be some new kits and some add-on parts for current machine owners.
- Anyone that has a mUVe 1 with Aluminum Case will have the option to buy a projector mount for their current machine to retrofit it. This kit will cost less than $150 and will allow the mounting of any projector you’d like, including the one we’ve tested. It is literally the only additional cost aside from a projector. The software is free.
- We will offer an add-on kit for the Aluminum Case that includes the mount and a projector. This will cost between $500-$900 as we may also offer a 1920×1080 pixel projector.
- We will be offering a stripped down mUVe 1, no X/Y axis, that is a pure DLP printer. This machine will likely be similarly priced to the current Ultimate Kits. It will come with a projector-less option and will be very low cost.
- We will be offering a DUAL machine, both laser and DLP! Be the first person to own a printer that is truly dual technology!
- Last but not least, we have a metal Z motor mount coming out. It will eliminate Z wobble and will remove the need for the Z motor support-outriggers!
We’ll also have some images of our NEW projector mount prototype out ASAP! We’re just putting on the finishing touches.
Without further adieu, here is our gallery: