Monday, April 23, 2018

3D Printer

I recently received my Kickstarter 3D printer, and I just started to fiddle around with it. The printer is called the Sparkmaker, and it's one of the cheapest SLA (liquid resin) printers available right now. I heard a lot of bad things about it online, since it apparently requires a lot of modifications to work properly. However, my printer seems to have come with most of those modifications already done, especially the most important one, where the LCD screen is moved closer to the print bed.

This particular printer is very small, with a print area that's around 10 cm X 6 cm or so. However, since I'm using it for printing miniatures, it's not that big of a deal. SLA printers work by curing liquid resin with either lasers or projector light. In this case, it's a set of UV LEDs whose patterns are controlled by an LCD screen that blocks the UV light. Resin is cured layer by layer, until an object is built.
Building objects took quite a while, and the build area got quite messy due to the liquid resin, which had to be cleaned using rubbing alcohol. However, the results are quite good when the print finishes successfully.

I started by printing building tokens for the game Dropfleet Commander that I found on Thingiverse. The results are quite a bit better than what I've seen with FDM printers, where the object is created by extruding plastic from a nozzle. This is a commercial sector. However, the tops of the buildings were stuck on the printing bed, and they are flat.

A different print resulted in buildings that were complete. You can see the tower built properly now.

This is an industrial sector, another type of token. The smokestacks and windows are all quite visible despite being very small. For a size reference, the round bases are 20 mm across.

The results look great so far, even without a lot of tweaking from me. I'll be trying more complex stuff with the printer very soon.