Australia-based Hardcotton announced the “Elemental”, a new resin-based 3D printer.
The company hasn’t yet released the Elemental, but is in the “final stages of development” and we wouldn’t be surprised if a crowdfunding campaign appeared soon.
With so many new resin-based 3D printers announced in recent weeks, you might ask what makes the Elemental different? Their key innovation is a patent-pending method to precisely raise and lower the Z-axis.
Here’s how it works: the resin (which will be cured by means of a 405nm laser) floats on a layer of saline. They say this is the “only 3D printer capable of operating by way of resin suspension”, but in fact this technique has been used publicly by the Peachyprinter for at least nine months. Nevertheless, while the Peachy uses a drip technique to adjust the level of saline to control the height of the Z-axis, the Elemental uses a precisely controlled pressure mechanism. This enables the machine to have extremely fine layer sizes. In fact, they say the accuracy is up to 1 micron. That’s 0.001 mm.
[UPDATE: Hardcotton clarifies their machine can operate EITHER in resin suspension OR using full-tank resin using their pressure approach, which is indeed unique.]
Somehow they’ve also managed to dramatically enlarge the build volume. The Elemental offers up to a SLA-massive 200 x 200 x 200 mm build chamber. For the “Dual” control chamber feature, the build volume is reduce. We’re not quite certain what they mean by “Dual”, though.
An interesting side effect of the pressure system is that it eliminates many noisy components, making the Elemental near-silent when operating. They say:
Elemental has been designed without the need for moving mechanical parts so it's simple to use, has whisper quiet operation with no potential mechanical failures and requires no complex calibration or technical knowledge before you're ready to print.
There’s no word on price, but we’d expect to see this unit range from USD$2,000-USD$4,000, depending on their strategy. [UPDATE: Hardcotton informs us that they're expecting to launch their initial version of Elemental at a cost less than A$1000 (USD$935), which is a very low price compared to other recent resin-based units.]