Shopping for an SLA 3D printer can be something of a daunting task. On the one hand, there are a handful of trusted, recognized printer models, but most of them come with a hefty price tag. While on the other hand there are a number of low-cost SLA machines (sub $1,000) but their reliability and quality can sometimes be questionable. Panda3D, a China-based startup specializing in SLA-based technology, is hoping to make the choice for low-cost SLA printing easier with the launch of its Paladin 3D printer.
The 3D printer, available for as little as $299, is currently featured in a Kickstarter campaign which has already racked up around $130,000 (far surpassing its goal of $50,000). And honestly, the popularity of the crowdfunding campaign is not wholly surprising when you look at what the low-cost SLA machine promises.
The first notable feature (aside from cost) of the Paladin 3D printer is its all-metal body. The 3D printer’s components are made from an aluminum alloy, which not only make it strong but also lightweight. The compact machine is also designed for easy setup and operation, with a one-touch start button and an intuitive control interface built into the machine.
The SLA printer also integrates an industrial-grade 1080p LCD and a patented light source design which enable high resolution prints. The Paladin’s LCD screen is thicker than standard ones (1.3 mm instead of 0.7 mm), which Panda3D says makes it more heat resistant resulting in a longer life (up to 20 times longer than normal ones).
The machine is also slightly more automated than other low-cost SLA systems in that it comes with a built-in pump that refills or drains resins from the tank. The simple mechanism helps to improve resin management without tacking on much extra cost to the system.
Other noteworthy features of the Paladin 3D printer are a built-in air purifier that removes the smell of resins from the work environment, auto leveling and dual Z-axis slides. The compact machine has a respectable build volume of 130 x 73 x 150 mm, a print speed of 60 mm/h and an XY resolution of 50 microns.
Panda3D is also offering a series of dedicated resin materials for the Paladin 3D printer: Standard Resin, a high-detail resin with a smooth surface; Flexible Resin, which simulates soft-touch materials; Castable Resin, which boasts good burnout performance; and Touch Resin, a rubberlike material with good elastomeric properties.
It should be mentioned that the Paladin comes in two different versions: the Paladin, which comes with all the aforementioned features, and the Paladin Air, which does not include auto leveling or auto refilling. In terms of cost, the full-featured Paladin is available to backers for as little as $398 (some early bird deals have been exhausted), and the Paladin Air begins at $299. Additionally, because of the overwhelming success of the Kickstarter, a number of stretch goals have been unlocked.
Though backers can expect to receive their Paladin 3D printer rewards in April 2019, we at 3dpbm have been given a unit to review. We have tested the 3D printer and will soon be issuing a full review of the low-cost SLA machine’s performance and usability. Stay tuned!