Elemental is a 3D printer like no other - it's the world’s first pressure controlled 3D printer
In the final stages of development, Elemental is a stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer with a difference. Elemental is the world’s first pressure controlled 3D printer. Like other SLA printers, Elemental utilises a laser system to cure photosensitive resins. Unlike other SLA printers though, Elemental uses a pressure control system to control resin levels when an object is being built.
With a simple modular, attractive design, Elemental is the easiest 3D printer around to use. Scott Pobihun, Hardcotton Co-founder and CEO said, “When you use Elemental you aren’t faced with a daunting set up and you don’t need to worry about fiddly calibration procedures. All you need to do in setting up Elemental is to ensure that the printer is level, with its adjustable feet, then simply fill it up with printing material and it’s ready to go.”
- Revolutionary SLA printer with a simple design that is attractive and functional
- Pressure control system moves the printing material to or from the build area
- The only 3D printer capable of operating by way of resin suspension (resin floating on top of a support material such as saline) OR a vat loaded with just the resin
- Quiet when printing and simple to use
- Minimal calibration required
- Patent pending technology
- Multiple operating configurations with single or dual control chambers
- Reduced dependency on support structures
- To print, users slice 3d models to g-code using their own preferred slicing software and use Hardcotton’s client software to operate Elemental
- Custom hardware, firmware and client software that accepts industry standard g-code
- Very large build area for SLA:
> 200mm x 200mm x 200mm (7.87in x 7.87in x 7.87in) with single control chamber configuration
> 140mm x 140mm x 200mm (5.51in x 5.51in x 7.87in) with dual control chamber configuration
- Z control accurate to 1 micron (depending on resin used and limited to 1 micron by microcontroller settings)
- XY control resolution up to 24.4 micron (variable through software)
- Variable output 405nm laser
- Pressure control of layer height
- Bluetooth functionality
“Elemental makes 3D printing simple, easy and affordable. Unlike other printers on the market, Elemental does not require complex set-up, assembly or calibration. It’s modular design addresses cost concerns, usually a concern with SLA printers, as well as ensuring performance reliability with whisper quiet operation” says Pobihun.
Hardcotton will launch Elemental through Kickstarter in Q3 of 2014 and will offer units to Kickstarter backers for under AUD$1000.
Elemental—how it works
By utilising pressure controls in Elemental’s custom designed vat during the printing process, Elemental’s laser system can cure a layer of resin accurately, quickly and quietly. The creation of an object’s first layer is done by curing the resin onto the surface of a removable build platform found in the centre of the vat. The pressure control system then allows the flow of material from a control chamber within the vat into the build chamber, increasing the level of the resin. The laser system then sets about curing the next layer of resin to further create the object. The process is repeated until the object is produced.
The vat’s control chambers act as reservoirs for material to flow from or flow to depending on what is needed during the print process. By controlling the pressure in the control chambers, Elemental can raise or lower the resin level precisely and without the need for mechanical interaction with either the build area or the resin.
Elemental—revolutionary design provides for revolutionary functionality
Elemental’s revolutionary functionality in resin based 3D printing gives it the advantage over other printers as it is capable of working with a wide range of production materials – typically photosensitive resins – from thin resins to those that are much more viscous. This revolutionary functionality is a result of there being no direct mechanical interaction with the production material. Elemental can also operate in an economical manner – by the use of a support material on which the printing resin floats. Certain thin resins are capable of being floated on denser material such as a saline solution. This means lower operating costs to produce 3D prints. In fact the first prints on Elemental were created this way. The skull, spiral egg with an enclosed free floating sphere, shoe, hollow black horse and green horse prints contained in the attached dropbox link were all produced using saline as a support material.
Pressure control provides for extremely accurate control over layer heights. It also reduces the need to print support structures where there is overhang in a 3D model. The material surrounding the cured material holds the build material in place long enough for the laser to cure the resin above it. The free floating sphere contained within the spiral egg was created without the need of support structures.
“It really is amazing seeing something 3D printed. It is even more amazing when the print is done quickly, quietly and simply” says CEO Scott Pobihun. “Utilising pressure control, Hardcotton has developed a 3D printer that employs SLA technology but creates the 3D print without the use of a mechanical platform.”
Pobihun also said “This is a massive step forward for 3D printing. Because there are very few complex parts to be assembled in Elemental, we see this architecture as being the basis for the mass manufacture of 3D printers very soon.”
Hardcotton is an Australian startup founded in Canberra, Australia. The company is focused on developing groundbreaking technology for 3D printing, that makes 3D printing simple, easy and affordable for everyone.
For more information see Hardcotton’s website.
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