There’s a new resin 3D printer option: The Lotus EZ LCD SLA 3D Printer.
This unit, just launched on Kickstarter, seems to have a number of interesting innovations included in its design. While none are ground-breaking features, they appear quite useful.
What seems apparent is that the new features are likely designed by those who have used resin 3D printers in the past and sought to make improvements in usage practices. That’s good news for anyone seeking a practical resin-based 3D printer.
The Lotus EZ LCD SLA 3D printer is essentially a standard resin-based machine, with a clear-bottomed resin tank, LCD panel on the bottom and UV-blocking cover on top, as is the usual industrial design for such machines. It uses an LCD panel rather than a laser to illuminate the liquid photopolymer resin, enabling it to quickly complete an entire layer at once, instead of waiting for a laser to laboriously traverse the entire solid portion of each layer.
But there are several innovations, including:
The resin tank and the build platform, both removable items, are attached by magnets. In most other machines these are often attached with clunky mechanical mechanisms or simply just lay still with gravity. The magnetic attachments are a great idea, one that’s been used to great effect with detachable build plates on filament extrusion machines.
The resin vat is also uniquely shaped. The tank includes a “pouring corner” that makes it easier – and much tidier – to move leftover resin back into a storage container. The resin tank also has its clear bottom set back slightly from the walls, meaning it is less likely to scratch when placed on a surface. Many other resin tanks literally have the clear bottom surface flush with the walls and thus enjoy full-contact.
Scratches are the bane of resin 3D printers, as the light shining through the tank bottom to solidify the resin is slightly distorted, making consistent errors on affected areas of every print. This effect should be minimized with the Lotus EZ LCD SLA 3D Printer.
The company has also done something unusual with the attachment of the LCD array, which I confess I don’t completely understand. They explain:
The LCD is cleverly spring-loaded, meaning it is nearly impossible for it to crack under force. And just to be sure, we have designed the platforms attachment to simply disengage under too much force, meaning its almost impossible for the platform to damage the display.
To be sure, you don’t want to damage the LCD array for the same reasons you don’t want to scratch the tank: light cannot be distorted during printing. But it seems they’ve devised a method for offering some level of protection for the LCD.
Similarly, they’ve sized the tank and its receptacle precisely so that there is little risk of the tank physically encountering the LCD array, again offering some protection.
Do you see what I mean when I say this was designed by someone with experience? I can well imagine someone literally encountering all of these problems and designing a system that avoids them.
That’s what the Lotus EZ SLA 3D printer seems to be: a resin printer with some practical improvements.
At launch, the introductory price for a limited quantity of units will be quite low, at only €599 (USD$686), which happens to include two bottles of their own resin – although you will certainly be able to use any third party resin as well.
After the initial units are ordered, the price will rise to €649 (USD$744) with a final recommended retail price of €1,100 (USD$1,260).
One more thing: this is a product launch from a very new 3D printer company. How new? Their website domain name was registered only this year! As well, their LinkedIn company profile seems to indicate that have under 10 staff, making them a small startup.
As such, one must be somewhat careful when considering ordering from the company. We suggest reviewing our crowdfunding launch checklist before proceeding. The good news, though, is that they don’t seem to be under-pricing their product, something that has caused many other startups to fail when cash runs out.