In January, FSL3D launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Pegasus Touch, a new Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer. The effort attracted 383 backers and raised $819,535, making it the sixth most successful crowdfunded 3D printer campaign ever. But as is often the case during crowd-funding campaigns, prospects and customers who had just purchased the printer wanted changes.
"We got a lot of feedback from customers asking for thinner layers and smaller details, so we spent a little time looking at the problem," explains Andrew Boggeri, lead mechanical engineer at FSL3D. "Just about everybody we talked to asked, 'can you make the spot size smaller? Can you do finer features? Can you do higher resolution?', and we listened."
By the end of the Kickstarter campaign it became clear that minimum feature size and layer thickness were the most important issues to their customers, so FSL3D acquired better optics and upgraded the printer. Previously, Boggeri and his associates were getting a 250 micron spot size. Now they're achieving 80 microns so the resolution is much better. Yours truly saw the difference first hand while visiting the company's headquarters in Las Vegas recently. The prints were phenomenal.
"The smaller spot size increased build times," adds Boggeri. "But it's what our customers wanted so we accommodated and also made some other improvements. For example, the printer is a lot more reliable after going through several iterations. It requires very little maintenance or expertise to run."
The Pegasus Touch is still drawing at 3000mm per second, as originally stated on its Kickstarter page. What's changed is the number of infills required due to the smaller spot size. In addition, the company is developing several print modes: "draft" for fast prints; "normal" for general work; and "ultra-high" for fine detail. Boggeri adds that FSL3D's lab has successfully printed 10 micron parts and company technicians think they can get that down to 5 microns.
FSL3D's customer base is broad but includes lots of artists, architects, jewelers and dentists, according to Boggeri. "We knew professionals would use the Pegasus Touch for jewelry and dentistry, but the level of demand is much broader and beyond what we were expecting," he says. "We've had a lot of interest among architects, and other professionals that require scale modeling. At 3D Printer World Expo we met several people who owned hobby stores and model shops and were interested in our printer specifically to make custom miniatures as part of their business."
The Pegasus Touch features 405nm scanning galvo laser liquid resin stereolithography, a build area up to 7" x 7" x 9", a compact desktop footprint of only 11" x 14" x 22.5", a built-in 1GHz Linux computer with 512MB memory and 4.3" touchscreen LCD Interface. Also included are Ethernet, USB, WiFi (with the purchase of an optional USB dongle), the built-in, on-board Internet Connected 3D Printer App Store, and integrated multi-touch capable desktop software with automatic slicing and automatic breakaway support generation for Windows PC. FSL3D will add Mac support in the future.
The printer's software allows for manual adding, removal, or movement of supports – unique to the Pegasus Touch, according to Boggeri.
Something else that's fairly uncommon: the company is shipping Kickstarter orders on time. The first 200 units are being assembled at the FSL3D/Full Laser Spectrum headquarters this week and shipping to U.S. customers begins in a few days.