The foundation of any stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer is its light source. Ember builds 3D models layer by layer by exposing light-sensitive resin to ultraviolet light from a DLP projector. Understanding how the projector’s light affects your prints and calibrating the projector to provide the proper light dosage are essential to mastering 3D printing with Ember or any DLP machine.
We often make the mistake of using hardware specs for determining a printer’s quality. That is, when we refer to a machine’s resolution, what we are really saying is what the manufacturer has told us about the quality of its components. For a laser-based printer, that would be beam diameter and for a DLP printer, that would be number of pixels in the projector. Instead, what we should be looking at is the quality of the actual prints that come from any given machine. Rather than determining a machine’s quality based on product descriptions, we should measure the smallest (positive and negative) features it can print.
Last week, we invited members of the media and the greater Autodesk community to check out some experiments we've been working on in the Ember lab.
During a yearlong studio lead by Professor Guvenc Ozel, students at UCLA used Python scripts to generate complex architectural structures and printed them on Ember. After exploring numerous additive processes, the students were able to finally bring the - otherwise difficult to print - creations to life with Ember.
Ember is a printer for individuals and businesses that require the utmost precision in their parts. As such, we have created a way that allows Ember users to make exact adjustments to their machine’s image scaling. This ensures that the parts created on Ember are sized exactly as intended.
With the Super Bowl coming to the Bay Area in a few weeks, I decided to model a coin to print on Ember. (For you non-sports fans, commemorative coins are flipped at the beginning of games to determine who starts with the ball). Eventually, I’ll have it investment casted, but for now, I want to demonstrate the technique I used for supporting my model.
I just returned from CES in Las Vegas where I spent three days working with artists who used Wacom tablets and displays to design models to print on Ember. Observing the designers work enlightened me to new workflows for producing 3D models, especially in the creation of sculpted parts. Through a combination of software like Sketchbook Pro, Maya and Mudbox, designers like Craig Barr modeled lifelike characters with a degree of detail that made Ember the perfect machine to bring them to life.
CMYK + W resins for the Ember 3D Printer are now available, giving you the ability to mix and match resins to customize your color palette.
A year ago, we announced Spark and our intention to design and manufacture a 3D printer. At the time, we didn't even have a name for the printer, but we did have a vision for providing an extensible platform and sharing the source of our work to inspire others to create new approaches to 3D printing software, hardware, and materials. Today, we're taking another step on that path, and I'm excited to share Ember's mechanical design files.
The Ember 3D printer ships with 2 liters of our Standard Clear Prototyping resin. We affectionately call it PR48, which stands for polar resin number 48. Like WD-40, is this our 48th try for a polar resin formulation? Close enough. Today we're sharing the formulation of PR48 under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, the same license Arduino uses to share their design files. We're explicitly inviting you to understand, remix, and remake our resin.
PR48 is for sale on the Ember website. Buying it from us will probably be the easiest way to get more, but if you want to make your own for any reason (and are experienced with resin formulation, or perhaps just chemical handling) you can do so.
We're open sourcing our resin for a couple of reasons:
- We have an open approach, and encourage the use of 3rd-party materials in our printer and the development of new materials on our platform. We include 3rd-party materials in the defaults for Ember's online model preparation and slicer, and are adding more as we optimize their settings for Ember: you can check them out at emberprinter.com. (You don't actually need an Ember to use the site.) This Instructable describes how to test new resins.
- Autodesk is thinking differently about 3D printing, and sharing under an Attribution-ShareAlike license reflects our commitment.
- Open sourcing our resin formulation is only the first step in the journey of opening our 3D printer and our Spark 3D printing platform.
We think PR48 is a pretty good resin: it properly adheres to the build head, photopolymerizes at a reasonable rate, clouds Ember's PDMS window significantly less than other resins, and generally works for most prints. But it's a starting point, and not specially optimized for anything. We're inviting you to understand how it works, make changes, make it better, and share those changes. Maybe you can make something awesome in fewer than 48 tries?