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$23,108
pledged of $40,000pledged of $40,000 goal
26
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, December 15 2016 1:00 PM UTC +00:00
$23,108
pledged of $40,000pledged of $40,000 goal
26
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Thu, December 15 2016 1:00 PM UTC +00:00

About

SafFire Introduction

The SafFire Laser Engraving System with Small and Large 3D Printing Accessories is a modular tool for jewelers, dentists, makers, and anyone who wants top-quality stereolithography prints or wood engravings at an affordable price. Some of the SafFire's characteristics follow:

 

Print Collage

SafFire print collage (Small and Large Accessory)
SafFire print collage (Small and Large Accessory)

 

Comparison Matrix

 

A Printer for Producers

The SafFire excels at printing functional, usable prototypes. With its finely adjustable laser diode power settings and optional neutral density filters, it can be configured to work with almost any resin that cures at 405nm. The following rings were printed with 3DM-CAST, a resin material with low burnout residue that can be used directly in the lost-wax process:

Wax rings at 30μm (Small Accessory)
Wax rings at 30μm (Small Accessory)

 

Even though many SLA 3D printers claim to have good specifications that imply the ability to reproduce fine detail, their prints simply lack refinement in a subjective sense. A sample rook from a popular printer (left) can be compared to a similar SafFire Large Accessory print (right):

Rook quality comparison - popular printer (left), SafFire Large Accessory (right)
Rook quality comparison - popular printer (left), SafFire Large Accessory (right)

   

Same Print, Different Day

Since the SafFire uses a top-down printing method, there is no peeling process and no film to replace. This means that the SafFire requires essentially no maintenance, produces reliable and reproducible prints, and requires fewer support structures compared to typical bottom-up printers. Print repeatability is very important for functional objects, so the SafFire undergoes a seven-step calibration process after manufacturing and allows for even more accurate results with user-performed calibrations for specific resin types and settings.

Solid Marvins at 75/50/50μm (Large Accessory)
Solid Marvins at 75/50/50μm (Large Accessory)

 

The main innovation behind the SafFire, besides the unique modular approach, is the use of state-space control for the galvanometers. This is in contrast to the typical PID control implemented in many printers which suffers from issues such as tracking error. Combined with the use of digitized burst methods, the self-tuning state-space algorithm allows for excellent repeatability, consistency, and flexibility - resulting in exquisite 3D prints.

Chess set at 50μm (Small Accessory)
Chess set at 50μm (Small Accessory)

 

Strength in Small Numbers

Due to its precision design and high build quality, the SafFire excels at printing miniatures. Small items require good layer-to-layer alignment, high resolution, and the ability to create fine features. These two sets of Windsor chairs are a good example of what the Small Accessory can print with ease using a low-viscosity resin:

Windsor chairs at 50/37.5μm (Small Accessory)
Windsor chairs at 50/37.5μm (Small Accessory)

 

The small laser spot size of the SafFire Main Unit (about 75 microns) allows for very tiny positive and negative features. Most comparable laser-SLA printers have larger spot sizes, so print definition lacks and text can look blurred. DLP printers have limited flexibility, so one can choose between a tiny build area and good detail (still often requiring peeling) or a reasonable build area and poor detail. Furthermore, DLP printers tend to have somewhat boxy voxels, whereas the SafFire creates a smooth, soft finish due to its rounded laser spot. This results in visually pleasing prints like this official sample ring:

SafFire sample ring detail
SafFire sample ring detail

 

Because it uses digital state-space control to drive its galvanometers, the component count of the Main Unit's PCB is greatly reduced compared to other laser-SLA printers. This means lower cost and greater reliability. In designing the SafFire, less focus was put on connectivity / automation features and instead a USB port is used to interface to a computer. Since all processing is done on the computer side, the SafFire's firmware can be kept simple and updates will be rarely if ever needed. Additionally, the SafFire will never be hacked or electronically compromised.

120mm Eiffel Tower at 50μm (Large Accessory)
120mm Eiffel Tower at 50μm (Large Accessory)

 

Specifications

All values are approximate and are subject to change. Build volume dimensions are specified as X by Y by Z.

Main Unit:

Size: 6.08 x 6.08 x 8.84in (155 x 155 x 225mm)

Weight: 10lbs (5kg) - tentative

Laser power: 75-750mW, reduceable with neutral density filters

Laser spot size: 75 microns

Engraving area: 5.00 x 5.00 x 3.00in (127 x 127 x 76mm)

Connectivity: Full-speed USB (12Mbps); not officially compliant

Power: 12V / 1.5A maximum (switching supply included)

Small 3D Printing Accessory:

Size: 6.08 x 6.08 x 6.69in (155 x 155 x 170mm)

Weight: 2lbs (1kg) - tentative

Build volume: 4.72 x 3.15 x 3.15in (120 x 80 x 80mm)

Z resolution: 3.175 microns

Resin volume: 900mL

Typical voxel sizes: 25 to 150 microns

Large 3D Printing Accessory:

Size: 6.08 x 6.08 x 8.85in (155 x 155 x 225mm)

Weight: 8lbs (4kg) - tentative

Build volume: 4.33 x 4.33 x 4.92in (110 x 110 x 125mm)

Z resolution: 3.175 microns

Inserts: 35mm and 125mm build heights (850 and 2250mL volumes)

Typical voxel sizes: 50 to 150 microns

  

Build Speed

The time it takes to produce 3D prints can vary highly, depending mainly on resolution and size. The official sample ring printed in FunToDo Snow White (dyed yellow) seen above was printed in the Small Accessory with 30 micron cubic voxels in three hours. The same ring can be printed with 75 micron cubic voxels in about an hour or 100 micron cubic voxels in about half an hour. The 120mm Eiffel Tower seen directly above was printed in the Large Accessory with 50 micron cubic voxels in about 12 hours. Most samples shown here have been optimized for quality as opposed to speed. The build speed is roughly proportional to the third power of the voxel size.

Dental casts at 75μm (Large Accessory; 5 hours, 38 minutes)
Dental casts at 75μm (Large Accessory; 5 hours, 38 minutes)

 

The SafFire can also work quickly, if quality is willing to be compromised. In some situations, such as ring sizing or design visualization, resolution may not be so critical. The following video was used in the production of the campaign video and is totally unedited. It shows a draft-quality ring print and a draft-quality thermal paper marking; the results were photographed side-by-side and are shown below the video. Please note that this is only a demonstration, and attempting to create 3D prints with a build time of less than 15 minutes is not recommended.

 

SafFire quick prints (6 minutes, 40 seconds)
SafFire quick prints (6 minutes, 40 seconds)

 

Pledge Levels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Supplementary Information and Credits

Special thanks to Danny of MiniWorld for providing the Sioux Falls cathedral model as well as others soon to be shown in updates. His magnificent true-to-life designs help to show the SafFire's excellent attention to detail and its ability to create tiny features. Please take a look at his design portfolios (the next three links)!

http://pinshape.com/users/4606-miniworld#designs

http://cults3d.com/en/search?q=miniworld

http://www.thingiverse.com/MiniWorld/designs

Sioux Falls cathedral (FTD-SW, 37.60 x 48.74 x 50.40mm):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:550669

SafFire sample ring (3DM-CAST):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1872133

Open source hardware ring (3DM-CAST):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1872173

Generic rook (FTD-SW, 30.32 x 50.77mm):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:399545

Burst test piece (FTD-SW, 25.00 x 25.00 x 10.00mm):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1872140

Marvin (FTD-SW and 3DM-DENT, 25.41 and 50.82mm):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:215703

Chess set (FTD-SW, 25.26mm tall):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:682320

Windsor chair set (3DM-ABS, 21.38 and 42.76mm tall):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:21999

Eiffel Tower (3DM-ABS and FTD-SW, 54.42mm and 119.73mm tall):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:912478

Dental casts (FTD-SW):

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:16127

Full Image Gallery: http://saffirelaser.com/gallery

 

An Important Note for Non-U.S. Backers

Shipping products internationally can sometimes be difficult, particularly when the destination is within the E.U. due to its fairly strict requirements (please also see Risks and Challenges below). There may be delays that are not fully under my control, which will cause deliveries to be late. While shipments within the U.S. will be made with UPS, international shipments will be sent via USPS by default in order to control costs. All shipments will have tracking numbers which will be shared with backers as soon as possible. Any applicable VAT (Value Added Tax) payments will have to be handled by backers. If you have any specific questions or concerns, please contact me privately before making a pledge. Your understanding and patience are appreciated on these matters.

 

Risks and challenges

The SafFire products are intended to be used in a commercial or industrial environment, so they are exempted from standards that apply to residential use. Still, laser safety standards must be met. The plan is to certify the SafFire Main Unit to EN 60825-1. This can be harmonized with U.S. standards. There should be a reasonable chance of success since the SafFire was designed from scratch with safety in mind, and features redundant interlock switches to turn off the laser when it would be unsafe for it to be powered.

The Large Accessory needs to be upgraded to use removable inserts (i.e. containers), as the prototype does not currently support these. The containers will likely be 3D printed themselves on a larger machine. This should aid the cleaning process greatly and allow easier resin swap, as the process is quite tedious currently. A number of serious issues with the Large Accessory have already been solved, mainly dealing with the wiper carriage design. Some streamlining of the design will be done to make it more ergonomic, since the prototype is a bit piecemeal at the moment. Finally, a method to help fill the Large Accessory to the proper resin level needs to be added or incorporated, and software changes to make larger prints easier to remove from the build plate (Z carriage) need to be coded.

Additionally, mass-producing the SafFire in a reasonable timeframe while ensuring good build quality will be challenging particularly since each Main Unit needs to be individually calibrated (and laser power calibration still needs to be accommodated). Fortunately, many tasks have already been automated, and the creator has few responsibilities aside from this project.

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    Early Printing Small

    Early bird slot: One SafFire Laser Engraving System, calibrated and tested, and one Small Accessory with one container including lid.

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    Early Printing Large Only

    Early bird slot: One SafFire Laser Engraving System, calibrated and tested, and one Large Accessory with one small and one large container (for 35mm and 125mm maximum build heights, respectively).

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    Early Printing Large

    Early bird slot: One SafFire Laser Engraving System, calibrated and tested, one Small Accessory with one container including lid, and one Large Accessory with one small and one large container (for 35mm and 125mm maximum build heights, respectively).

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    Printing Large

    One SafFire Laser Engraving System, calibrated and tested, one Small Accessory with one container including lid, and one Large Accessory with one brief and one full container (for 35mm and 125mm maximum build heights, respectively).

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Funding period

- (20 days)