Hardcotton, an Australian company based in Canberra has recently announced the release of a new 3D printer which they have named as Elemental. They are calling this printer as unique since it claims to be the first printer in the world to use pressure to control its functions. It uses a laser system to cure photosensitive resin but the difference between a SLA printer and an Elemental is that it uses a pressure control system to manage and monitor the level of resin in which an object is printed.

As the company’s co-founder and CEO, Scott Pobihun, says, “Elemental makes 3D printing simple, easy and affordable. Unlike other printers on the market, Elemental does not require complex set-up, assembly or calibration. Its modular design addresses cost concerns, usually a concern with SLA printers, as well as ensuring performance reliability with whisper quiet operation. When you use Elemental you aren’t faced with a daunting set up and you don’t need to worry about fiddly calibration procedures. 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.”

The main attractions of the printer are:

  • A simple design that is attractive and functional
  • Pressure control system moves the printing material to or from the build area
  • The only 3D printer capable of operating by way of resin suspension (resin floating on top of a support material such as saline) or by utilising any resin with broad range of viscosity
  • User friendly
  • Minimal calibration required
  • Multiple operating configurations with single or dual control chambers
  • Reduced dependency on support structures
  • To print, users slice 3d models to g-code using their own preferred slicing software and use Hardcottons client software to operate Elemental

The specifications of the printer:

  • Custom hardware, firmware and client software that accepts industry standard g-code
  • Very large build area for SLA
  • Z control accurate to 1 micron (depending on resin used and limited to 1 micron by microcontroller settings
  • XY control resolution up to 24.4 micron (variable through software
  • Variable output 405nm laser
  • Pressure control of layer height
  • Bluetooth functionality

A Kickstarter campaign will be launched in 2014 and the people who support this campaign will be able to secure an Elemental printer worth AUD$1000. The CEO of the company Scott Pobihun further suggested that this design could be used to make other 3D printers as well, he said, “It really is amazing seeing something 3D printed. It is even more amazing when the print is done quickly, quietly and simply. Utilizing pressure control, Hardcotton has developed a 3D printer that employs SLA technology but creates the 3D print without the use of a mechanical platform. 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.”

Image Credit: http://www.hardcotton.com.au/