When it comes to quality 3D printing used within dental labs, jewelry manufacturers and other important business/manufacturing settings, FDM/FFF technology can not be relied upon. This is simply because the resolutions required for these applications far surpasses those which are available on the market today using these technologies. In most cases, dentists, jewelry designers and manufacturers rely on stereolithography (SLA) 3D printers. With that said, even these machines vary greatly when it comes to resolution, print quality, and print speed.
One company who has been at the forefront of such technology, although they may not have the name recognition of a company like Formlabs, is Asiga. The company, which first launched their FreeForm 3D printer way back in November of 2011, has come forth with what they claim to be an even more incredible device, the Freeform Pico 2.
The Freeform Pico 2 machine uses special UV-LEDs in order to cure a photosensitive resin, a process based on their proven Slide-And-Separate (SAS) technology, allowing for minimal supports with optimal print speeds. The SAS technology is able to achieve the lowest fabrication forces of any upside-down SLA system, according to the company. Before we get into some of the capabilities, let’s take a brief look at the Pico 2’s general specifications:
- Printer Size: 460 x 560 x 500mm
- Printer Weight: 14kg
- Build Envelope: 51.2 x 32 x 75mm
- Pixel Size: 40 micron
- Print Speed: 40mm/hour
- Z-Resolution: Variable in 1 micron increments
- Material Compatibility: Any basic resins available on the market
As you can see by the size of the build envelope, this is not a 3D printer you want to put in your home or office to fabricate large items. It’s a professional machine targeted towards smaller items such as dental molds, crowns and bridges, or jewelry castings and manufacturing. The touch screen interface makes the Pico 2 simple to use, along with its single point calibration system which will allow for calibration in under 30 seconds.
The integrated Composer Build Gen software is incredibly intuitive, allowing for the streamlining of work flow, saving time by automatically generating supports for a print. The printer which has been unveiled this week at Euromold in Frankfurt, Germany has received quite a reception according to those at the show.
The printer package, which includes a calibration toolkit, the Pico Flash post curing device, and a material pack of your choice, certainly isn’t cheap, but for the quality, the $11,250 price tag may be worth it, especially for dentists and jewelry designers looking for the high resolutions required for their work.
Let us know if you have used any of Asiga’s 3D printers. Discuss in the Asiga Pico 2 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.