Kickstarter has been a breeding ground for 3D printers for years now. And why shouldn’t it be? It is the perfect platform to pitch a product and if the hype surrounding it delivers, you suddenly have the necessary funds to make your product a reality. And while it’s true that sifting through the mess of offerings over the years to determine the next big product can be frustrating, most of the consumer friendly 3D printers with any lasting impact in recent years have seen their start through the crowdfunding platform.
It seems the Kickstarter production push continues now that UNIZ Slash, a new stereolithography (SLA) resin based 3D printer, has officially launched their campaign.
What at first glance looks like your standard desktop based SLA 3D printer, the UNIZ Slash 3D printer claims to be different by being able to produce faster (by up to 50x) and more robust 3D prints than the competition.
This claim does seem to have some merit to it based on everything I can gather from the technology (as described on the Kickstarter campaign page). Unlike FDM plastic based extrusion 3D printers and laser-based SLA machines, the UNIZ Slash 3D printer uses an array of LCD panels to print entire layers at once, instead of needing to draw each and every line of every layer in a slow zig-zag of a way.
Projection based DLP 3D printers, which utilize a similar all-at-once layer blast, are said to be limited because of the intense temperatures that each layer is exposed to vs. the time it takes to cool. What this means is that for every layer produced, additional time is needed to cool things down. The UNIZ Slash 3D printer overcomes this obstacle with integrated liquid cooling for faster than ever layer production.
Besides the scientific workings of this 3D printer, it’s the promise of speed, reliability (especially for large parts that other SLA printers have trouble with), software inginuity and low-cost that should have you excited the most.
Coming in at $1,199 for the still available early-bird package (includes 500ml of resin), the price is a steal for what you’re getting no matter how you slice it. The premium machined parts are also said to guarantee the longevity of the unit. They claim their resin tank is designed to last up to 1,000 printing hours (supposedly 10 to 100 times more than other resin based containers).
A longer tank life, as one can imagine, translates to savings down the road and more importantly a higher success rate on your prints. I’m not going to lie, I’ve felt much frustration throughout the years when my Form-1+ tank had a little use based cloud to it that prevented me from producing reliable 3D prints.
Beyond this, the UNIZ Slash 3D printer is designed to be plug-and-play and is equipped with powerful smart-phone compatible software and a 3D print online store out of the box. While some of these buzz-words may appear gimmicky in some ways, innovations in software such as customizable z-resolution profiles have been undeniably useful.
This is a tool that really should be implemented into every slicing software, as it allows you to choose different layer resolution on the same print. This means if you are 3D printing a human body, you can put more detail in the face and save time on the more generic body elements.
Of course, just like every Kickstarter campaign that’s come before, the journey for the UNIZ3D teambehind the the UNIZ Slash 3D printer is just beginning. Final design touches in both hardware as well as software and supply-chain production obstacles still need to be overcome long before any backer will see their 3D printer reward (currently scheduled for December 2017 - March of 2017).
But heck, Rome wasn’t built in one day. As I mentioned at the start of this article, Kickstarters have been responsible for pushing 3D print technology ahead in recent years and for all we know this might be the next big thing. Print speed, volume, and cost are the three major obstacles 3D printing has been humbled with for years now. The UNIZ Slash 3D printer addresses all three of these in a very convincing manner. Definitely worth checking out.