SecSavr Suspense [gd0105]

My thoughts on creating a VLM style 3D Printer

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This is a project that explores what a consumer grade VLM 3D Printer could be like.

So I'm going about my day and I see a Discord link to this video:

Now, looking at the logo and material that looked like red paint, my expectation was that there was some marginally new resin technology and BCN3D was trying to make a new buzzword out of it. However, everything changes when I get to the 30 second mark of the video and it's revealed that the camera actually isn't upside down and that the resin is suspended somehow. As soon as I see that the resin is stuck to a film, I'm like "AGHHHH!!! That's so simple, so obvious now that I've seen it! How has Me In The Past or anyone else in the hobbyist 3D printing hobby not thought of this?!"

I'd love to end the thought there, but the thing is that I've been thinking about what could solve the single material and uncured resing handling issues of SLA, and what could bridge the gap between hobbyist machines and PolyJet. The reason I've never gotten an SLA printer is because, unlike FDM, the majority of my planned prints would be multicolour, the uncured resin is toxic and the parts aren't ready fresh out of the machine.

  • I thought of a multi vat approach where one of the vats would be filled with a liquid to clean off the resin there would be 3 or 4 vats and the centre Z column would rotate around to switch to them.
    • "ahh but cleaning and moving would take so much time over the print job"
  • Ok what about a floating resin solution, where the cleaning fluid is denser than the resin? Then the part can just move down and be washed and cured while waiting for the previous resin to be sucked back to its reservoir and the next material is pumped in. This also means that you don't need much more space or more screens to add support for more materials available in a print job.
    • "ahh but how would that deposition stay consistent. And isn't that a fair bit of plumming work? And top-down approaches are suseptible to the machine being shaken or unlevel"

So then this video comes out and I'm like "That's it! That's the solution!!! Ouwh but I don't want to wait until 2042 and beyond [to use this technology]. And it doesn't even seem like they've unlocked its full potential yet. I'm thinking like 8+ materials and washing during (or after) the print process before internally curing the part.". 

Thus, this "project" really is mainly for me to do something, anything, to spur someone with the ability to build the printer to further look into making this kind of printer a reality. Other reasons are so that I'm not keeping ideas in my head, giving Future Me some documentation if there isn't a better option in a situation when I can take this project on, and so that these ideas are in the public domain so that any future patents can't be too vague and overreaching.

  • [T] Suspense Small

    kelvinA4 days ago 0 comments

    Since the Suspense concept is quite large (though smaller than the Mimaki 3DUJ-2207 with a more useful build volume), I'm also thinking of a smaller variant that has less features and overall footprint to more likely fit in a home. I'd expect:

    • 143x179x200mm build volume.
    • 2 or 3 cartridges, and they're all installed on 1 roller side only.
    • 360x450x400mm footprint.

  • [M] Glass shelf on concept

    kelvinA6 days ago 0 comments

    Since this printer is so large, I thought it would be a good idea to have a shelf on the top of it.

  • [T] Quick Print Method

    kelvinA06/23/2022 at 10:43 0 comments

    I just thought of the idea for a fast printing method for single colour, draft or solid parts. I say "draft and solid parts" because I hear that hollowed parts are prone to cracking a while after printing due to uncured resin in the part. For normal printing -- if LCD longevity allows -- I intend to expose the layer to be printed, collect the material from the lamination sheet, expose an offset for internal edges (might as well use the resin for the part instead of washing it away) and then go to the next layer. This quick print idea would be incompatible with this method and so would be intended for fast prototyping (hence, "draft") or no internal edges from hollowing the model (solid).

    The quicker printing method

    The quicker print method would work similar to a cassete tape where material is applied from one roller side onto the lamination material and collected on the other side. The lamination sheet will only need to move enough so that the laminated material covers the next layer and not be recollected and laminated every time.

    In the example above, a parallelogram prizm is being printed. The white parallelogram is the image being exposed by the LCD and the black ones is where material has been cured to the part.

  • [M] Concept idea

    kelvinA06/22/2022 at 22:24 0 comments

    • Started modelling the idea with some conservative estimates of needing 70mm on each side of the build volume and 60-70mm between each resin cartridge. 
    • I had a more slope-like idea for the base, but I decided on going flat to increase build volume. 
    • The XYZ is 860x500x1220mm. 
    • I was planning on having a top and bottom tank for cleaning fluid until I found out how tall this concept build was. The top tank will be moved to the back.
    • A dishwasher-style door may be more suitable than the one I've modelled here.
    • I don't know where the touchscreen would be mounted yet as the printer is larger than expected.
    • The build height could be as much as 500mm with this design, due to the cartridge racks being so tall.

  • [R][E1] Screens and build volume

    kelvinA06/21/2022 at 12:40 0 comments

    So having a next generation 3D printing technology is pretty cool, but having a next generation 3D printing technology in as many consumers' league budgets is a magnitude better. Thus, I wanted to research the CanDoTheTaskApp of using the 6.08" screen I've seen here and there while searching for usable screens on AliExpress.

    Initial Screen Research

    Unlike most screens, a variety of sellers were selling mono 6.08" screens. The cheapest I found was £27 yesterday and would probably work with this driver board, meaning that I didn't have to find some specific motherboard from a printer and then somehow get it to mesh with the rest of the system.

    I believe this screen has a 50um pixel size.

    So taking the dimensions above, I put an estimated build volume into Cura. The Z is 300mm, X is 82.6 * 4 = 330.4mm and Y is 130.5mm. Seeing if the Y axis is long enough is the experiment. I'd like the X axis to be around or over 300mm, so that's why I didn't use 82.6 * 3 = 247.8mm. 

    My idea is similar to the method that Formlabs describes in an article I found during my research. 
    It's like a hybrid between masking and lamination. For a bit of extra complexity, this solution allows the X axis length to be independent of the screen size and use a cheaper screen and light source to get a large print area. I'm not designing this for industrial use, so I think that the tradeoff of speed is worth it. It also means that the controller doesn't have to drive a screen with a high pixel count.
    Read more »

  • [R] IPA/Wash fluid cleaning/filtration

    kelvinA06/10/2022 at 11:50 0 comments

    I've been thinking of how to clean the wash fluid so that toxic waste can be mitigated or reduced. This project looks to offer a solution:

  • [T][E1] Moving LCD and light source?

    kelvinA06/10/2022 at 09:24 0 comments

    I was worried about how slow my theoretical VLM printer would be, especially if I attempt to cut costs by having the screen and light source on a linear axis to get more print volume at the expense of slightly more complexity and more wear on the screen, but I just saw the Mimaki printer at TCT 2 days ago and it takes a while to print a layer, so perhaps the idea isn't solution failing. 

    My idea is to use a smaller screen and move it in the direction of its smallest axis to obtain a larger print volume. For example, instead of a £300 13.6" LCD consumable on the M3 Max, a smaller £50 7.6" LCD from the M3 could be used instead and dragged across the area that the 13.6" would have covered and at a higher resolution (3600px vs 4098px, or 46um vs 40um for the 164mm axis of 13.6" and 7.6" respectively. 

    [23:08] (Changed the second paragraph to a better screen option than the £100 8.9" screen I originally found. My main concern is that the smaller LCD would be consumed faster and would balance out with the larger LCD in amount of prints completed. For example, going through 3 8.9" screens for every equivalent 13.6" and thus racking up the same £300 consumable bill)

  • [R] Target amount of colours to print a figurine

    kelvinA05/26/2022 at 14:54 0 comments

    So I went and counted the amount of colours (including transparencies) needed for a sample of scale figurines to see how many materials one would need loaded in a printer to print it, similar to someone else having X number of paints to paint it. 


    Raw Data (no particular order): 11,9,11,16,15,19,12,11,13,8,9,11,10,11,17,8,8,8,12,11,11,10,12,8,12,15,7,12,14,9,12,9,9,7,8,10,12,9,10,7,9

    As I deduced after counting a few, 11 was the most comon for a figurine that had a seemingly average amount of colours. The mean backs this up. 7 seemed suprisingly rare and the modal class is 8-9. These figurines seemed to be somewhat simple in colour pallete. Contrast to this, figurines over 14 looked to have so many colours that it would be impractical to print with single colour materials, even though that isn't the case. 

    Adding +1 for support material, 92.7% of figurines would be printable with 16 colours, and 97.6% with 18. I also feel like a larger sample size would further increase these percentages.


    If space isn't an issue, I'll target 18 materials for #SecSavr Suspense [gd0105]. If 18 isn't easily possible but 16 is, I'll opt for that instead to match #SecSavr [gd0036]. I'll see if I can create a new render of the Suspense that is closer to my new expected finished outcome of it.

  • [T] Shelved -> Researching Project

    kelvinA04/28/2022 at 15:58 0 comments

    I'm planning to use the abandoned Anycubic Photon my university just happens to have to perform any initial tests. I also want to give PET film a go before going with more taditional film materials to see if this printer method can overcome the "sticktion" issues when using PET in a usual vat. 

    Lastly, I watched the full 49 minute presentation over the course of yesterday and today, and there were 2 things that stood out. The first was that they said that impact modifiers are solid and greatly increase the viscosity, even in small quantities. That sounds like it'll be a beneficial way of converting a standard resin to a VLM process compatible resin, potentially making it better than the current engineering resins on the market. The second was a graph:

    I was focused on the cost per part graph, showing that VLM was the cheapest, even with a large labour cost. As I'm thinking of this in terms of the maker / hobbyist instead of a company, I'm converting "labour" to "post processing time", or the time a person would have to spend to finish up the part after it's done. I'd like to believe that an integrated+automated wash, cure and dissolving wash feature will greatly reduce this time. The dissolving wash is to dissolve solluable supports.

  • [R - P2] Plastic film

    kelvinA04/27/2022 at 13:09 0 comments

    (part 2) More research.

    So it seems that "Inkjet Transparent Film" is usually also PET. There seems to be many options for getting it in A3/A4 sheets, but there aren't many places I've found that has a roll of the stuff.

    From this video, I've learned that "waterproof" versions of these kinds of film have more of an emulsion substance on one side than the "non waterproof" version. So far I can't find information on what this material is.

    I'm still on the lookout for cheaper sources of PET in a roll. A 50 pack of A2 laminate pouches (+ £8 shipping) would only cost 96p/sq m. The 33cm x 30m roll of transparency film (+ 20EUR shipping) seems to be £5.05/sq m, implying that there is still room for a lower cost roll. 

    The roll also has to be split somehow if the shorter side of the LCD is to be used (164mm for the M3 Max + maybe 20mm each side). Even for the M3 Max screen of 298mm long, a 12mm gap between resin exposure zones, and perhaps 1m lost on each roll (so 28m of the roll is usable), a 30m roll would be the equivalent of 88 FEP / nFEP sheets that can be swapped electronically with the press of a button, and that's with the 13cm wide roll cuttoff, which could be used on a Photon M3 or Mono 4K (175 or 194 equivalents respectively). It means that, while the film is a consumable, it would be a very slow consumable with little downtime.

    I'm thinking of using this black + glow theme for these quick diagrams instead of black on white.

    That's only on the assumption that PET works though, as the comments of those that have tried it aren't good. The VLM based design might be more forgiving.

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