It seems that KickStarter is chock full of 3D printers kits these days and every week there is a new startup company with an improvement to the latest designs. This week we're looking at the B9Creator 3D Printer.
Michael Joyce's B9Creator is a resin-based 3D printer, unlike most other inexpensive 3D printers that are based on melted plastic filament. The B9Creator gradually solidifies layers out of liquid resin, eventually building an entire object.
But how well does it print? You must first understand how the resin process works. It uses a miniature projector, similar to one might be found in an office meeting room. The B9Creator's projector renders a 1024 x 768 pixel image.
Software slices each layer into a 1024 x 768 image, which is then displayed on the surface of the resin. Ingeniously, the resin solidifies once exposed to light from the projector, instantly creating an wall solid areas of each layer - far faster than plastic filament 3D printers, which must mechanically traverse each solid area of each layer.
The resolution of the B9Creator is dependent on how wide you focus the projector. In all cases it solidifies 1024 x 768 bits, but they'll be smaller if you focus within a smaller real area. It sounds like you can go at least as low as 50 microns (that's 0.05 mm, smaller than any plastic filament 3D printer we've heard of). What about the vertical resolution? The B9Creator can apparently perform lower than 10 microns (an astounding 0.01 mm!) However, the time required to print a layer remains identical, so printing at a higher vertical resolution will correspondingly increase your print time. At "typical" resolutions of 0.1 mm you can print "12-20 mm per hour". Hm, perhaps we should print tall objects sideways to make them faster?
The KickStarter initiative closes on June 12, but the project has already almost tripled its goal of USD$50,000. As is customary, there are several donation levels offered, but the interesting ones for printer kits and assembled versions range from USD2,375 to USD$3,775 depending on several factors. It appears that the final price will be in the USD$2-3K range, based on these levels.
Finally, the best part: the entire project will be open sourced at the conclusion of the launch! This means that other individuals and companies would be able to improve the design and we think we'll soon see a menagerie of powerful resin-based personal 3D printers. Can you imagine the MakerBot Resinator? The BFB Flash? What will come of Junior Veloso's proprietary resin-based 3D printer?