What started a bit over two years ago as a crowdfunded $400 portable 3D printer has now evolved into a truly revolutionary product, thanks to its maker, Lumi Industries.
The goal of Italian firm Lumi Industries, the maker of the LumiFold 3D printers, is not only to make 3D printing convenient, but also affordable to anyone interested in this matter. The LumiFold DLP, which is the company’s first 3D printer and the subject of a tremendously successful crowdfunding campaign, saw improvements in the form of two other versions that were crowdfunded, as well. In order to add more functionality to its 3D printers, Lumi Industries then launched the LumiPocket LT, which was also capable of laser engraving and PCB etching objects. Lumi’s latest project is even more ambitious, as the company is looking to make its most compact, portable resin-based 3D printer yet, known as LumiFold TAB.
As the name of the product suggests, LumiFold TAB attaches to tablets and relies on visible light to cure the resin it prints with.
“We believe that, similar to the evolution of computers from big mainframes to compact personal computers, this will help the 3D printers to become more and more adopted,” explained Lumi Industries CEO Davide Marin in an email to 3D Printing Industry. “A more compact [3D printer] means that it can be integrated in other systems, or that in the same space of a conventional 3D printer, more functions can be added.”
The benefits of using a compact 3D printer such as the LumiFold TAB are numerous, as Marin himself explained.
“There are several advantages of having a 3D printer that is compact, even portable: it takes up little space, it is easier to share it and it opens the way for interesting scenarios,” pointed out Marin. “Such as a teacher who can bring a 3D printer in his suitcase and print 3d models during his lessons; or doctors that during a conference can make 3D printed parts for colleagues, or patients, showing the part where they intend to operate.”
“Possible scenarios do include also live presentations for jewelry or fashion companies, in which it would be possible to go to the presentation with your 3D printer and create for the customer, or with the customer, a prototype,” added Marin. “Moreover, even in countries in the developing world, a machine capable of 3D printing with great precision, but easy to transport, can be not only helpful but a radical step forward for medical care in emergency areas.”
Sony, Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo, and Samsung are only some of the tablet makers that Marin thinks should be interested in developing this project even further. Sure, that kind of partnerships could definitely take Lumi Industries to new heights, but I don’t know how realistic these plans are, at least for now.
LumiFold TAB isn’t the only tablet-based 3D printer around, as Taiwanese students coordinated by Chair of Engineering Prof. Jeng Ywam Jeng, and Solido3D are both working on something similar, but that’s not to say that Lumi Industries didn’t contribute a lot to revolutionizing 3D printing. The price and release date of the LumiFold TAB are yet to be announced by the manufacturer, but judging by their previous releases, this shouldn’t be that expensive, either.
[via 3D Printing Industry]
Two of the biggest challenges with today’s desktop 3D printers are that they 1) don’t print very large objects and 2) are painfully slow. The Solidator 3D printer aims to change both of those things, in a printer that costs less than $5,000.
In the example shown above, the Solidator 3D printer was able to output a set of six Eiffel Tower models – each measuring almost 8-inches-tall – in just 5.5 hours. A similar feat on typical 3D printers would take days.
By using DLP imaging technology to print an entire layer at a time instead of a voxel at a time, the Solidator is able to print at dramatically faster speeds than most desktop 3D printers. This method of 3D printing involves using a vat of liquid resin that is designed to harden when exposed to bright light. Software converts 3D objects into slices, and then the projector exposes the photosensitive resin. Each razor-thin layer of resin hardens in about 10 seconds, and then the Z-axis of the printer moves.
The Solidator has a large output area, measuring 11.02″ W x 8.26″ D x 7.87″ H (716.37 cubic inches). For comparison’s sake, the print area of the industry-leading MakerBot Replicator 2 is 11.2″ W x 6.0″ H x 6.1″ H (409.92 cubic inches). Print resolution for the Solidator is also very good, with a typical layer height of 100 microns, though the z-stepper motor can move in increments as small as 10 microns. That said, 30 microns is the thinnest that can be printed with current resin technology. One limitation is the pixel density of the DLP projector, which reduces X/Y resolution to 270 microns – so objects printed with the Solidator aren’t as precise as those made with some of the better PLA and ABS printers out there.
But for many of us, our time is far more valuable than a couple of hundred microns of detail. If you need to create large numbers of small 3D printed parts, or if you need to crank out lots of prototypes, the Solidator could be a godsend. Since the printer’s Z-axis is where all the time comes in, the shorter your objects are, the less time they’ll take to produce. I can imagine cranking out dozens of 3D printed gears in just minutes on a device like this.
Resin for the printer will sell for as little as $50(USD) per liter, and will eventually come in a variety of colors. As an added bonus, the resin is quite durable when hardened. In fact, Solidator’s creators demonstrated the durability of printed parts by running them over with a car.
The Solidator 3D printer is available for pre-order via Kickstarter for $4950(USD) through January 3rd, 2014. While that’s certainly not chump change, it’s an impressive price for a printer capable of attaining such speeds, and with such a large work area.
TI's DLP unit promised us brighter, sharper pico projectors when it unveiled its Tilt & Roll Pixel architecture at CES, and it now has the TRP-based silicon to make those projectors possible. The company's new DLP Pico 0.2" TRP chipset produces images with up to twice the brightness and resolution of its ancestor, even while it uses as little as half the power. The company hasn't named hardware partners, but it notes that companies are already building products with the chip; it may not be long before we see the next generation of projector-equipped smartphones and tablets.
Source: Texas Instruments