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Ultimaker SLA Line

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Ultimaker should consider making an SLA printer to add to their family of Ultimakers. I can imagine since the print quality of their Ultimakers are so good in FDM, what the prints would be like in an even higher quality.

Possible features:

-15 micron layer height

-Different material support

-A power loss recovery

-An extended version

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Do you think they're going to make one in the near future?

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I'm pretty sure UM has considered it. However, entering into SLA right now might not be the best idea as there are good desktop SLA machines as the Form2 and the pro market is redefined by the Carbon3D printers.

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Even though Carbon3D also does SLA, I am not really sure if they are in the same field as Formlabs. Aren't they insanely expensive, like you can only rent one or something?

Anyway, at Ultimaker we share a philosophy that 3D printing can offer a lot to businesses, makers and society in general. But that can only be utilized if this new technology is made accessible. The Ultimaker 2+ and Ultimaker 3 are good examples of this. We feel FDM is much closer to this philosophy than SLA.

You don't need gloves to handle your prints, you don't need a technical degree to operate it and you can experiment with filaments without devastating consequences.

You can even touch your print when the printhead has just passed, during printing. It is very accessible.

Same goes for businesses. Companies can have expensive Stratasys machines, but hidden behind a door and only accessible after training is not really accessible. We try to offer a 3D printing solution that just stands there, and everyone can use when they need it.

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Some guy made an upgrade kit for the UM2 so you can do SLA prints. It's a pretty hacky setup, but the results impressed me.

That being said; There is a whole world of new engineering problems that you encounter when going from FDM to SLA. Even when only looking on my "little" island of engineering (Slicing), there are major differences. Certain things would be a lot easier (No supports!) where others would be a lot harder (leaving a hole so the powder can flow from the print).

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May I ask why you would like to have an Ultimaker SLS?

Maybe I am missing out, but I have previously worked with industrial SLS machines and that's a messy process! The printing itself is rather fast but heat-up, cool-down and cleaning of parts makes it slower than FDM. Plus, the "only" widely available material is PA.

Now having the UM3 in the market... I don't see a real need for a desktop SLS.

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I had a couple of typical 3D-models printed on an expensive Objet printer, which works similar to inkjet printer technology: a set of jets spraying liquid plastic, and an ultra violet lamp follows and cures it.

Resolution is a bit better than on my UM2, especially for text on the top layer. But it is not exceptionally. And text on the sides is not readable at all. You still can't compare it to injection moulding quality.

After each use, the printer requires at least 30 min of cleaning, otherwise the jets may block (1000 euro per jet x 8 jets). Resin costed about 1500 euro per liter. Support material costed about 700 or 800 euro per liter, if I remember well?

Cleaning the support material off the prints, requires a high pressure water jet, and a special cabinet with protection. And of course water supply and drain.

The mechanical strength is very, very poor: way lower than PLA or ABS: it deforms very fast under pressure, the so-called creep. And it snaps with a very brittle fracture when lightly overloaded. Also, white prints get yellow very soon.

UM-users like cloakfiend can get almost equal results with an UM2, as those you could get on that Objet. So I guess with an UM3, with real support material, there will even be less differences.

We also considered a Form1, but after noticing the small dimensions, the huge resin cost, and the very limited life of the glass plates, we dropped that idea.

I don't know how other resin printers do (dedicated juwelry printers may be different), but for most purposes, I think FDM printers are more practical, way cheaper and give stronger results. Althoug with a bit less surface detail. And they are much cleaner to handle, with far less health risks.

If you would ever consider buying a liquid resin printer, be very sure to visit someone who has one, and see how it works, have a demo model printed, see how the cleanup is done, ask what all the requirements are (such as separate water cabinets with high pressure jets, which are often not told during sales talks!!!), and test how strong the prints are. Depending on your needs, you might be very pleased, but you might also be hugely disappointed.

Edited by Guest
Corrected typos
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Honestly the idea of a non-FDM printer from ultimaker would be very cool. I can bet a few people in the community would buy an SLA printer from ultimaker since they have such a high reputation of being extremely reliable and having well built machines.

Carbon 3d printers are about I think $30000 PER YEAR, and the form printers (pretty much all SLAs) are limiting like SandervG pointed out. But people who look for a high resolution resin printer don't really mind that it's not very accessible because they usually trust the machine they're working with. If Ultimaker built one people wouldn't mind this at all I feel, simply because ultimaker has a high reputation of making reliable printers. Who knows though, maybe they'll release a resin printer in the near future.

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SLA is great if you need detail or/and a very nice surface finish i would say, it is very messy tough... i had a Form1+ before but almost never used it since it was too much work to be worth it for the stuff i do.

I like SLS printed parts for not having to dissolve a support material, their greater isotropy and the surface finish that makes layer lines pretty invisible and looks professional :-)

Edited by Guest
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SLA as a process is REALLY COOL! It has become more popularized due to companies like Formlabs, SprintRay, Carbon, etc. It makes great looking parts, but for the general user it is not a process that many would like to encounter. The post process cleanup is messy, the curing is potentially difficult, especially if you need a strong part, not something that most users would typically benefit from. Those who need this type of a solution, there are lots of great products already on the market as mentioned from companies above. So Carbon is out of normal mortals price range, but it is made for industry. Formlabs (Form 2) and SprintRay (MoonRay) are printers that are not too far off of a great UM2+ or UM3 machine.

To get to the SLA market would mean a major shift in R&D as well which would potentially put their FDM machines in a state of holding for advancement which is no fun either. We all want to see newer and better Ultimaker FDM machines.

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