Polish 3D printer manufacturer Zortrax, known primarily for its FDM 3D printer ecosystems, has ventured into the SLA realm with the launch of its new Inkspire 3D printer. The Resin UV LCD 3D printer is marketed as being up to 8x faster and up to 9x more precise than competing SLA printers on the market.
The Zortrax Inkspire has a build volume of 74 x 132 x 175 mm, a pixel size of 50 microns and a variable layer thickness of 25, 50 or 100 microns, making it suitable for short-series production of small, highly detailed parts. Like most other resin-based platforms, the new machine is targeted towards the dental and jewelry markets. Zortrax also lists the arts and entertainment industry as well as automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics as potential application areas.
Let’s look at the two big selling points of the new resin 3D printer: it’s speed and its precision. As mentioned, the Polish 3D printing company says the Inkspire is up to eight times faster than competing SLA machines. This, it says, is owed to its UV LCD technology, which projects “an entire layer on the high resolution LCD screen with UV LED backlighting.” That is, rather than rely on a laser to “draw” layers onto the resin, the Inkspire is comparable to DLP printers as it exposes an entire layer of resin to the UV light at once.
This feature of the new printer has the highest impact when printing a series of parts that take up most of or the whole printer workspace. According to Zortrax, its Inkspire machine takes only 15 hours to print a cuboid taking up 100% of its workspace, while an SLA printer would require over 140 hours to achieve the same part.
9x more precise
In terms of precision, Zortrax explains that because its Inkspire builds objects using tiny cuboids (measuring about 50 x 50 x 25 microns) it can achieve better precision than many SLA 3D printer models on the market, which use a “laser dot diameter.”
“A laser dot diameter in the most popular SLA 3D printer is 140 microns,” writes Zortrax on its blog. “Given its minimal layer hight of 25 microns, the smallest possible object it can print is a 25 microns high cylinder 140 microns in diameter.”
This means, it continues, that nine of its cuboid pixels could fit into one laser dot, making it effectively nine times more precise. Compared to DLP machines on the market, Zortrax maintains that its resin-based system is better suited to printing larger or more numerous parts without sacrificing quality because its pixel size remains constant.
In addition to its print speeds and precision, the Inkspire also boasts an easy-to-use interface and simple calibration process. The machine also offers more control to the maker in terms of exposure and rest times. That is, the user can set the exposure and rest times for a given print and even has the option to change them on the fly to speed print times up.
Zortrax also adds that its resin-based 3D printer works with .zcodex files, which enables the machine to identify which parts of a print are the 3D model and which are the support structures. “The times of exposure can be set separately for the model and for the supports,” it explains. “This way, support structures can be made harder and therefore easier to remove. No other resin 3D printer on the market can do that.”
Finally, in terms of materials for the Inkspire, Zortrax has introduced the Zortrax Resin Basic (available in white), though the 3D printer is reportedly compatible with external resins so long as they can be cured by light with a 405 nm wavelength.
All in all Zortrax’s first resin-based 3D printer sounds promising. Interested customers can get in touch with the Polish company to find out more about the printer’s availability. I, for one, am curious to see some first reviews of the UV LCD printer roll in.