We’re looking at the specifications of a new 3D printer that’s yet to launch, the KAST 3D from Photonfluid.
This machine uses a resin-based 3D printing process they call “Contacted Stereolithography” or cSLA, that’s implemented with their “RetinaCast” technology. It’s not quite clear to us how this works, but based on the information from Kast, its light engine is neither laser nor projector. We suspect it is a new variation of the standard SLA process in which an ultraviolet light engine selectively cures layers of photo curable resin.
We’ve seen a couple of other such variations recently, most notably from Carbon3D, who made a huge splash with the public (via a TED talk) and investors (with a USD$40M investment) for their oxygen-based process. Basically, the idea is to dramatically speed up the process of 3D printing, which up to now is abysmally slow regardless of which process is employed.
Photon fluid has been working on the process since 2012 and has had it working, at least in the lab, since the end of 2012. They say they’ve observed the phenomenon similar to “continuous liquid interface printing technology” early in 2013. However, due to the challenges with liquid dynamic when printing solid objects, they didn’t pursue developing the technology. After recent reports described Carbon3D’s CLIP technology on Science Magazine, they successfully reproduced their previous test results in only a week
The KAST 3D printer promises something similar, although perhaps not quite as dramatic as Carbon3D’s “100x faster” boast. The KAST 3D is said to print at up to 8 inches (203mm) per hour, which is very fast indeed. KAST 3D uses a different process and should be able to print any geometry at high speed, unlike Carbon3D’s oxygen-based process.
However, there are likely conditions required to achieve this speed. But it does seem to work in at least some cases as we have seen in a private video.
Aside from speed, the KAST 3D appears to be a rather special 3D printer: it’s attractive cylindrical design includes a curved, sliding door. Inside the build chamber is quite large for a resin unit, having a volume of 150 x 200 x 250mm. The KAST 3D can print in a range of layer sizes, from 0.200mm all the way down to a very fine 0.025mm, which should produce very detailed objects. The machine also includes WiFi and Ethernet connectivity so it’s possible you may be able to perform remotely operations.
Based on the information from Kast, the retail price for this machine is expected to be very affordable when their Kickstarter campaign launches later in June. They will disclose the price range later this month soon and promised that the price will be at a very good price for a machine with these qualities.