Sometimes the ideas in several Fabbaloo posts add up to another idea. In this case it has to do with our thoughts about resin-based 3D Printing. First we saw a microscopic 3D printer offering fantastic print speeds and then we see several developments in open source resin-based 3D printing.
We also see challenges with the existing defacto standard approach for personal 3D printing: fused deposition modeling, in which melted plastic is gradually traced through a path describing each of the object's layers. While this approach is easy to manufacture and has proven somewhat popular, there are some fundamental limitations: speed and resolution.
FDM requires a print head to actually trace the entire outline and inner structure of each of the object's layers. This is time consuming, even if the print head moves quickly. We are all familiar with five, eight or even seventeen hour print times.
But there's a trap: if you want to increase resolution on an FDM-based 3D printer, you by implication need proportionally more head movements to build more layers. This adds even more time to the print.
In other words, the more accurate an FDM 3D printer can be, the longer the print will take, generally speaking.
The problem is that consumers will likely never get used to the idea of 3D prints that take many hours to complete. Nor will they be satisfied with low-resolution faster prints. Sure, dedicated 3D printer owners will accept the idea of overnight prints, but most people want their print and they want it now. This is something that probably will never be possible with the FDM approach, unless someone invents a print head that includes a huge number of individual extruders.
Meanwhile inexpensive, fast and accurate 3D prints could be possible with resin based 3D printing. At least that seems to be the case after seeing the accomplishments of the University of Vienna, combined with the new open source resin-based 3D printers.
So, is there hope for FDM-based 3D printers in the future? Perhaps for a while, but we suspect that resin approaches may overtake them eventually.
Image Credit: Bucktown Polymers