Every day it seems like a new technological advancement is making headlines, injecting the web with a dose of hi-tech speculation. From drones to wearables to virtual reality we are besieged with gadgets galore. But, often times the only means to appreciate these innovations is second-hand, through stories on blogs and social networks.

When I write about new products, I try to have access to the things I'm writing about in order to give a proper perspective, or I at least speak personally with the people behind the products involved. Once in a while I get lucky, as was the case when offered the opportunity to try SprintRay's MoonRay DLP 3D printer. I'm a ZBrush artist. High resolution printing? You don't have to ask me twice.

I love putting fine details into my 3D designs. While I find the mere act of 3D printing to be amazing, I often long to see my work as it existed on the screen. My FDM 3D printer is great, but the fine details get lost and I'm constantly wrestling with supports.

Through my FDM struggles I have come to the conclusion that cured resin (SLA, DLP, LED) printers are the only affordable way to faithfully recreate my highly-detailed models in the real world, but I never realized how truly precise cured resin 3D printing could be until I saw the results from SprintRay's MoonRay.

Every detail from my initial digital design was in the MoonRay 3D print. Nothing had to be compromised. I could sculpt freely in ZBrush knowing all my efforts would be worthwhile, since the MoonRay's 20 micron Z-resolution would make the most subtle textures and minutiae visible. I could also sculpt deep cavities and recesses without worrying about supports. The MoonRay's proprietary lattice-based support system is reliable and hassle-free, and supports can be removed in seconds, leaving behind a smooth print with virtually no blemishes.

The MoonRay was developed at USC's Craft Lab, which has gained notoriety as a state-of-the-art additive manufacturing research facility and the home of Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis' Contour Crafting technology. The three founders of SprintRay are Jasper Jing Zhang, Amir Mansouri and Hossein Bassir. Both Zhang and Mansouri have studied under Khoshnevis.

The SprintRay team also collaborated with professional artists such as Tim King and Alliance Studios to ensure that MoonRay would meet their demands.

"We worked hard to combine quality and affordability in the MoonRay, using the most advanced technology and highest-quality components. We believe the users of desktop 3D printers should have affordable access to the best technology on the market," said Co-Founder and Engineer Amir Mansouri.

Besides SprintRay and Counter Crafting, USC's Craft Lab is innovating several new 3D printing processes with endeavors in both multi-material and metal additive manufacturing. As a wellspring of innovation, we will surely see more advances for the MoonRay in the form of resin options. They are already offering five standard resin colors plus clear, and a lost wax-like castable resin for jewelers.

The MoonRay Kickstarter campaign is funded, but there are 38 days remaining. The crowdfunding price is lower than most desktop SLA printers and significantly less than the MoonRay's eventual retail price.

MoonRay Quick stats:

  • Custom-built UV DLP projector designed to last 50,000 hours.
  • Size: 15” x 15” x 20”
  • Build volume: 5” x 3.2” x 9”
  • XY Resolution: 100 microns
  • Minimum layer thickness: 20-100 microns