The Stalactite, like the Form 1 before it, is a resin-based, light-cured 3D printing system that “extrudes” objects out of a bath of liquid. Unlike the Form 1’s large laser, however, this printer uses an ingenious workaround to the problem of getting a bright enough light source into a small package: they’ve suspended a commodity projector off the side of the printer which allows for multiple resolutions depending on the placement of the light source.
The printer works using DLP technology which essentially projects light through the resin which then hardens into micron-thin patterns. Unlike stereolithographic printers, the Stalactite does not have a laser that has to skitter across the surface of the resin and instead does one layer at a time, in sequence, which can help speed up the printing process.
The Barcelona-based team claims to have a 25 micron layer height – on par with the Form 1 and far thinner than the common 100 micron layer height found in other printers like the Makerbot. This means the objects that come out of this printer are very smooth and cohesive, something filament-based FDM printers cannot produce.
Should you want one? Well, their uber early-bird price is now at about $2,500 for the first five orders and they’re topping out at $4,000, so the printers are definitely expensive. Printers like this one arguably make some great prints; the results coming out of this device are impressive. The team has also added some nice, simple software to make it easy to load and print models.
I’m still a big fan of Form Labs and the Form 1 but it’s well worth giving these guys a try if you’re able to get in at early-bird pricing. They’re looking to raise $50,000 on Indiegogo and have just hit $4,000. Because they use what looks like an off-the-shelf projector they’ve been able to reduce footprint considerably and the 4″ x 3″ x 7″ looks to be big enough for simple projects. Most interestingly they’ve reduced the number of supports needed to print objects – one of the Form 1’s biggest problems – and they’ve created a simpler removal system for prints. I love me some 3D printers and this one looks really interesting.