Someday in the future, the Fall of 2013 will be remembered as the time all-in-one units burst onto the scene. Although, it is unlikely anyone except Rylan Grayston was expecting a 3D printer costing $100 with a 3D scanner attachment for an additional $350.
The Peachy Printer is simultaneously being funded on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter. It is a clever implementation of cured resin photopolymerization designed from the ground up to save money. Additive manufacturing layers are created one at a time by something akin to Laserium in a puddle of goo. The goo, also known as resin, hardens when struck by light of the proper UV frequency. Not quite a year ago, Formlabs made history by offering a polished version of this technology for less than $3,000. How is it possible to develop a similar solution at such a reduced cost?
Everything about the Peachy is new thinking, often a repurposing of old thinking, intended to avoid expense.
- Forgoing a platform to either lower or raise an object in the vat, the resin floats on top of salt water, level controlled by a drip system, electronically monitored via wires connected to the computer's microphone jack.
- Instead of using a USB or WiFi interface to send instructions to the printer, a computer's sound card is used to convert the 3D model's digital information into signals sent out the headphone jack to be pulsed analogously by the laser, literally like Laserium.
- In lieu of software development just to lay the groundwork for handling 3-dimensional data, the system's code resides in a Blender script, taking advantage of pre-existing programming.
- The prototype uses homemade galvanometers made from coiled wire, a magnet and tensioned thread.
- The device has no power adapter. It draws power from a computer's USB port.
Those interested in acquiring a Peachy should pay close attention to the add-ons, because crowdfunding platforms aren't particularly well-suited to accommodate such things. There are three versions: Kit, Fully-Assembled and Pro. The Kit, $100 (Canadian), doesn't include the telescoping mount or reservoir, which are an additional $50. Resin is available as an add-on, at various quantities and price points. The scanner attachment is also an add-on at $350. The explanation behind all these add-ons is that none of them are technically required in order for the Peachy to function. A user can come up with his or her own reservoir and vat system, purchase 3rd party resin and employ any camera and turntable for a scanner.
Development of the Peachy is still in a relatively early stage. Grayston intends to continue to improve upon his prototype and use some of the funding revenue to hire help. Details of the Pro version are undisclosed, suggesting it is more of a concept than it is a product at this point. However, it could use a communications interface other than a sound card and it may incorporate more traditional hardware, which could theoretically improve accuracy.
The potential for very high z-axis resolution (tiny layer height) exists, as it does with all printers of the stereolithography variety. However, with continued refinement, it might be improved by the Peachy, thanks to hydraulic build leveling and 16-bit analog-to-digital-to-analog converters designed to accurately quantize audio data considerably more complex than most 3D models.
Because the Peachy's users can come up with their own vats, the printer's build envelope can't be defined. Distance from the laser to the resin, combined with the surface area and depth of the reservoir, dictate possible build size.