Canberra 3D printing start-up, Hardcotton, has developed what it claims is the world’s first pressure-controlled 3D printer, a device which requires minimal human interaction.
Named Elemental, the device is a standard stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer in that it uses a laser system to cure photosensitive resins, but is different to other devices because it has a pressure control system to manage resin levels when an object is being built.
This means that after the creation of an object’s first layer (done by curing the resin onto the surface of a removable build platform), the control systems allows the flow of material from a control chamber within the vat into the build chamber, increasing the level of resin. This process is then repeated.
The point of using pressure control in Elemental’s custom-designed vat during the printing process is to allow the internal laser to cure a layer of resin without mechanical interference.
As the start-up’s CEO, Scott Pobihun, puts it, “you don’t need to worry about fiddly calibration procedures.”
He claims that “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.”
“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 intends to launch Elemental using Kickstarter in the third quarter of calendar 2014. It will offer units to supporters for “under $A1000,” according to a statement.