Mono1 - High Resolution Affordable 3D Resin Printer
MONO1 is for High Resolution (down to 24 microns in-plane) 3D Resin Prints with an Affordable Budget. Higher resolution than laser scanning printers and Faster Print Time than laser scanning and large build volume printers. MONO1 has been optimized to obtain highly accurate 3D objects with a reasonable time frame. Please compare pros and cons with other live 3D printer campaigns! No printer can be used for all applications. You need a right 3D printer for your own application!
Resolution vs. Affordability
If you're already playing with 3D printers, you may know the difference between FDM vs Resin printers. FDM printers are great to build functional parts or toys up to tens of inches build size. The initial costs of those printers range from couple of hundred dollars up to thousands, which is reasonable considering how much you have to pay for printing service. Consumable materials like filaments are also cheap enough to test various shapes and dimensions. FDM printers are still major market drivers in personal 3D printers. However if you're interested in details, this technology has limitations. Its typical nozzle size, 0.4mm, and vertical step, 0.1 or 0.2mm, are not enough to print jewelry samples or figurines with smooth surface. That's where Resin printers are worthy. Formlabs, Kudo3D, B9Creators, and other resin printer companies offer printers for high resolution prints, however their printers cost at least $3,000 or more and some of them are locked to OEM resins so that maintenance cost will hit the printer price quickly. DLP integrated printers such as MoonRay or MakeX is way expensive considering their moderate in-plane resolution and limited build area. Recently LCD based resin printers are emerging, and some of them have excellent in-plane resolution (~45 microns). However slow printing speed or short life hours of a LCD panel under UV illumination should be improved further.
This is why we have started our project, Mono1, a high resolution and affordable 3D resin printer which can be paired with many existing DLP projectors as a beam source. With proper selection of DLP projectors and conversion lenses, the achievable in-plane resolution of Mono1 is down to 24 microns. This pixel resolution can be expanded to 33 or 46 microns for a larger build area. Such high resolution printing can be done with Mono1 for only $799 if you already own a DLP projector!
MONO1 in Action
Before talking about the printer, let's first check out some videos about what Mono1 can print! These videos and pictures will show everything you can do with Mono1!
If you want to see more picture, please visit our website.
Mono1 has been designed and constructed with performance vs. cost and durability vs. flexibility in mind. Mechanical configuration of resin printers is simpler than the one of FDM printers, however since the resin printers print detailed objects, the rigid construction with fine calibration is required. We have iterated multiple mechanical designs before this final design as shown above.
Silent and smooth operation - Mono1 has a Delrin anti-backlash nut and double ball bearings on each rod, which significantly minimizes the noise and off-axis movements during operation.
Fine control and easy loading of build platform - The build platform has 3-point adjustment screws making sure the platform is parallel to Vat bottom, which significantly reduces a failure rate. The platform is also attached to the build arm using three magnets and you don't need to re-adjust every time.
Flexible film vat - More durable and strong than PDMS rubbers. The vat also has highly transparent backing glass on bottom.
Integrated shutter - After each layer exposure, the platform moves up and down to detach the object from the film and fill rein between them. This takes around 5-10 seconds so that fast curing resins can react during this time. To minimize such an unwanted exposure, we have implemented a shutter that effectively increases a print contrast and makes Mono1 to be compatible with fast curing resins. Shutter positions are fine tuned in Monoware based on a projector position.
Durable steel enclosure - Cold rolled steel frame is also powder coated. It looks clean as well as durable. Mono1 has been built to last.
Laser cut acrylic cover - Clean and durable plexiglass cover. It protects Mono1 from ambient light and dust.
3D printed parts - We designed and integrated 3D printed parts to where complex shape is required. This approach can keep the cost low as well as increase the flexibility. We will open those part drawings so that you can easily print them if needed. Furthermore, you can improve part designs and share with other users.
The Software: MonoWare
MonoWare has been developed from scratch to utilize full performance of Mono1. Just connect Mono1 and Projector for a quick start. MonoWare is an unified platform to prepare models, slice and make hollows, additional post-processing (smoothing and intensity compensation), and control printer and projector. It also captures timelapse images when you plug any USB webcam to your host computer. Above timelapse videos were taken using this feature.
We have tested resins from two resin makers, Makerjuice and Fun to do. From Makerjuice, our tested resins are general ones (SF and G+) as well as castable one (Waxcast). Both types work great and we will release printing parameters when we ship out Mono1. Fun to do resins (Snow white and Deep black) also work great. Each resin has different exposure parameters and adhesion property to build platform. Therefore a certain resin requires a large adhesion layer while others adhere well simply without the additional layer.
Please note that none of pledges includes resins due to transportation regulations. However you can easily find great resins for your test or functional prints. The radiation spectrum of DLP projectors are quite broad so that you may have a wide range of choices for your purpose.
The other note is regarding post-processing of prints. You may be happy about how prints come out or you would like to paint to make them look greater. Since color prints are not possible with resin printers, you can print models, cure completely using UV irradiation, finish surface, coat with a primer, and paint with acrylic. If you're following this procedure, your choice of resin may be about its resolution not colors. We briefly tested primer and chromegold paint, which looks great for tall statues!
We have used Optoma HD37 with color filter removed and Optoma E416 with or without UV filter. General guideline of projector selection is its optics and throw ratio. If you're going to print non-critical objects, you don't need high quality projectors and you can use affordable projectors with XGA or FHD pixel resolution. However the quality of optics highly affects to pixel sharpness so you may need business grade projectors for ultimate resolutions under 35 microns. Those business grade projectors usually have all glass optics and/or vertical lens shift which is also useful for adjusting pixel magnification.
Another consideration is throw ratio. It is referred as a ratio between the distance from a projector to a screen divided by the screen size. For example, if the throw ratio is 1, you need 100 inches to get 100 inch screen size. We utilize conversion lens (=macro lens) to shrink pixel size, the short throw projectors have limited range than the long throw ones. We usually recommend a throw ratio 2.0 or higher for ultimate resolution, but you can use less throw ratio if your requirement about pixel resolution is not critical. Per our extensive printing tests, 33 microns or bigger pixel size is also great for most details.
If you're going to use Daylight resins, you may be able to use LED projectors instead of traditional (Halogen) lamp equipped projectors. We have not tested this configuration, but would like to share if we have a chance to try. Please note that since you have more choices on UV resins and the print quality of UV resins are far better than Daylight reins, we recommend using lamp type projectors at this moment.
Projector to printer connection: We have developed Mono1 with two high quality projectors, Optoma HD37 and Optoma E416. We will provide a projector to print connection tool for these two projectors if you select those projectors as your main beam sources. We will test couple of other projectors and add options when we're ready to ship out so that you can choose one of connection tools before your Mono1 departs. We will also develop a general connection tool to accommodate most of other projectors.
Successful Kickstarter campaign will allow us to accomplish several additional improvements and/or investigations:
Volume Discounts - While many components of Mono1 can be purchased from popular online stores and/or can be printed by yourself, volume purchasing of mechanical components, FEP films, and electronics has benefits such as lower price and possibilities to upgrade higher quality parts. We will return the benefit of volume pricing to backers by sending additional parts and consumables.
Projector Testing - We believe most of lamp type DLP projectors will work with Mono1. With the fund raised through this campaign, we will purchase couple of different projectors and test if they are fully compatible with Mono1. We will choose one of each popular models among low-priced consumer models, low-priced business models, and high quality business models. The investigation results will be posted here and our website.
Resin Testing - These days many new resins are brought into the market with different properties. With a successful Kickstarter campaign we will be able to purchase additional resins for testing and report printing parameters.
MonoWare Upgrade - The current version of MonoWare is properly working for high quality prints, but we would like to improve user interface as well as functionality. Some of features are not performance wise optimized and it takes couple of minutes to complete. We will also develop standalone solution without tethering a host computer. Main computer is still required for support generation and slice preparation. The standalone solution will perform printing process and allow direct access from any wireless devices. Before we fully develop this solution, users can choose testing NanoDLP for similar experience.
The Current Development of MONO1
The prototype of Mono1 has been tested with limited quantities. All designs and functions have been confirmed and no further significant changes are needed. MonoWare is also fully developed with a wired host computer.
We have developed Mono1 through multiple design iterations shown above. The first prototype (A) was built on an optical breadboard and all necessary parts were printed using 3D printers. To verify functionality using rigid construction, we built the second prototype (B) using machined aluminum plates and necessary 3D printed parts. It worked great, however we have decided to downsize the build volume for higher resolution as well as faster printing speed. We aimed clean and smooth surfaces right out of a printer, therefore we redesigned machined aluminum prototype (C). This version has identical functional specifications as the final prototype (D). Even though we're introducing the high resolution version, Mono1, we will launch a large build volume version in near future.
We will contact each backer before we ship out. You can purchase additional parts such as a build platform, a resin vat, or FEP films at that moment. Shipping costs will be paid separately and you can make the shipping fee together with additional parts. We marked US domestic and international shipping as $50 and $150, respectively, however this is tentative and final shipping cost will be calculated based on each backer's location.
$100,000 - 3 x additional FEP films for any printer pledges
$150,000 - 1 x additional build platform for any printer pledges
$200,000 - 1 x additional resin vat (fully assembled) for any printer pledges
We will make every attempt to include the stretch goals once reached but they are not guaranteed. Once a goal has been reached a new higher unit goal will be added.
Risks and challenges
Risk associated with the Mono1 is low as the final product prototype has been tested and no further troubleshooting is required.
In order to make the Mono1 to be affordable to individual users, we have extensively used PLA printed parts for Vat construction, Motor and mirror mount, Platform holder, Shutter plate, and Electronics enclosure. This design approach is inexpensive as well as flexible so that the user can print their replacement parts if needed. However depending on the number of units ordered here in Kickstarter, it may be beyond our print capacity. In those situations, we will print our parts through external printing service or convert some parts to aluminum or steel sheet parts. We will publish our design files as soon as our product are delivered to backers.
With any project there may be unforeseen difficulties and delays. In such a case we ask that you be patient while will make every effort to minimize potential impact.
Note 1: Many Kickstarter campaigns have been failed due to several reasons. One of the reasons is incomplete development at the time of campaign. This leads to further developments after campaign, which takes time and eventually runs out funding. As we described previously, Mono1 and MonoWare are complete as of Feb. 2017 and ready to ship. We just need pre-orders to cut down volume pricing and ramp up the production. We will make sure all pledges ship out on time. The second reason might be insufficient communications between creators and backers. We will update regularly to inform backers what is going with their pledges. You can always leave comments and questions here.
Note 2: Backers should understand what product they purchase. 3D printers can generate uncomfortable smells and fumes during operation, therefore a certain level of ventilation is needed. Post processing is also carried out using some sharps, alcohols, and UV lights, which also require precautions.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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