Friday, June 8, 2012

B9Creator: An Open Source Stereolithography Solution for < 3% of the Price

The B9Creator is an open hardware project brought to us by Michael Joyce.

This Wikipedia article claims that stereolithography machines typically cost in the range of $100,000 to $500,000, and use resin that costs between $80 to $210 per liter. The B9Creator delivers this functionality (rapid prototyping using light to solidify resin) for <3% of the price, conservatively, using resin that costs about ten cents a gram. For $2,375, backers on Kickstarter can get a complete kit that can theoretically be assembled in an afternoon. For $3,375, backers get a fully assembled and calibrated machine.

As you can see in the video below, Michael Joyce, the B9Creator's inventor, is committed to the development of open source software and hardware, and is looking forward to the innovations that will be inspired by his creation.

The B9Creator is offers unusually high resolution for a low cost 3D printer (0.05 - 0.1 mm for the B9 vs. 0.2-0.3 for the Makerbot Replicator). The B9Creator starts by slicing a 3D object data file into a stack of 2D images, and projecting the first 2D image onto a thin layer of photo-initiated polymer resin long enough to cure a .05 - 0.1mm layer, which attaches to the build platform behind it. The B9Creator then moves the build platform to break the bond between the cured resin and the projector window, re-positions the build platform above the projector, and projects the next 2D image. The B9Creator repeats this process until the 2D images have been stacked up to produce the finished 3D object.

The B9Creator can build 3D objects at 12-20 mm/hr independent of the object's density. RepRap project and Makerbot 3D printers use fused deposition methods, wherein plastic is melted, extruded through a small nozzle, and 3D objects are built by fusing melted plastic from the nozzle onto the layer below. Because this method (called Fused Deposition Modeling, FDM) relies on the relatively fixed rate at which plastic is melted and extruded through the nozzle, denser objects take significantly longer to build using FDM than more fluffy ones. The build speed of the B-9 creator is dependent on the layer thickness set by the user, but does not depend on the density of each layer.

This video is from the B9Creator's kickstarter pitch, which as of this writing has more than quadrupled its funding goal and still has over a week to go:

Also via the kickstarter pitch, here is a video showing the B9Creator prototype in action, printing the Metatron:

Have you seen the B9Creator in action?

Tell me about it in the comments! I am especially curious how sturdy the resin objects produced by the B9Creator are, and what, if any, surface prep is required to clean the models of any un-cured resin film.

No comments:

Post a Comment