Rapid Prototyping Innovates: Laser Engraving & SLA 3D Printing!


The world of rapid prototyping and 3D printing is ever expanding. All kinds of industries are looking forward to adopting this technology into their production and manufacturing lines, hence the companies that provide rapid prototyping services constantly have to challenge themselves in order to meet these new needs. Industry based clients are looking for one-stop solutions and many in one devices that can give them the maximum efficiency out of a single rapid prototyping device. 3D printers, hence, are not 3D printers alone. Such a new device seen on Kickstarter is the SafFire. Combining the technologies of SLA based 3D printing as well as laser engraving; this device is definitely getting a lot of hype before its release.


Kickstarter Success

As mentioned, the SafFrie happens to be a hybrid device that combines both a laser engraver and an SLA 3D printer in order to give better rapid prototyping performance to its clients. This has recently launched as a campaign on Kickstarter, through which the backers have a choice of ordering from various combinations of accessories. Engraving-only devices would cost a sum of $1095 while the ones that combine both laser engraving and SLA are available in three sizes and hence, prices. The small size costs $1390, the large one costs $2990 and a combination of all three facilities- engraver, small and large SLA printer will cost the backers a sum of $3285. This handy printer is now available for preorder on the famous platform Kickstarter.


It is no secret that laser-based methods are the favorites among many different industries that deal with advanced manufacturing. Some of these methods include engraving, laser cutting and various forms of rapid prototyping such as 3D printing, selective laser sintering, and stereolithography. Even though laser is rather versatile as a manufacturing method, there have been little to no efforts of making any all in one device that utilizes laser for many different functions. The maker of SafFire laser engraver and 3D printer Arthur W. Matteson found this opportunity and decided to put it to use. Today, his brainchild- the galvo-based rapid prototyping device is almost halfway through making it out of the Kickstarter platform. With around two weeks of run left, this device can potentially hit its goal of raising it’s required $40,000.


What It promises

Formlabs, the makers of Form 1 and Form 2 3D printers that specialize in stereolithography, have started the trend of making SLA rapid prototyping machines in an orange translucent case. To us, this identifying feature is a welcome trend. It is also to be mentioned that SafFire combines silver metal, orange plastic and a rather retro looking typeface that makes this rapid prototyping device one of the most attractive 3D printers available in the market. According to the Matteson though, SafFire puts more emphasis on functionality than style. The company claims that the device provides print quality that is unparalleled, and it can also mark paper or engrave wood with laser.


The SafFire main laser unit combines a small 3D printing accessory along with a large one, and all three complete the whole device. Even though this rapid prototyping machine has the potential to be both a 3D printer and an engraver, it is up to the customers as to what kind of add-ons they want in the printer. The very entry level base unit can laser engrave paper and wood, however, the small and large printing parts are available as paid add-ons. Anyone who requires top quality stereolithography prints, rapid prototyping or wood engravings such as dentists, jewelers, makers or anyone else can get it at an affordable price point, according to Matteson.


The Features

Some of the great features of the rapid prototyping machine include its advanced galvanometers which are state space controlled, precise galvo positioning, powerful laser, 405nm/750mW diode which is Peltier cooled, adjustable mechanism for focusing, modular design, fine pulse, and power control, 80kHz of pulsing, adjustable current over 10:1range, motorized focus, and three element glass lens. Besides, a large number of possible accessories can also be used with it, available with or without resin wiper. Its 3D prints are of world class quality that can go as small as 25 micrometers.


The printer also provides ProtoCut source and CAD files freely available for download, along with top-down laser scanned rapid prototyping. There is little to no peeling, hence the printer performs extremely well with minute details. No replacement is required for films; hence the necessary support is fewer. No need to even clean the mirror, hence the consistency is better. The resolution of the device is continuously adjustable; resin options are non-proprietary and extensive. In order to optimize speed and quality, the voxel sizes can be varied in each dimension. Clients can choose from a competitive range of 405nm sensitive and low viscosity resins as well. The design is simple, easy to learn, reliable and almost unbreakable in terms of metal construction.


Aspects to love

Not only is the SafFire versatile in terms of functions, it is so in compatibility of materials as well. Any resin that is able to cure at 405nm can work with this device. Another amazing aspect is that the laser spot of the printer is 75 micron, allowing it to make positive and negative features in the tiniest of sizes. Matteson believes that SafFire possesses the kind of advantages that most DLP or SLA rapid prototyping 3D printers do not have. Most SLA 3D printers in the market consist of much larger laser spots.


Furthermore, the DLP printers have the kind of voxel quality that might produce a visually unappealing and jagged finished product. SafFire solves all these problems of precision with its unique features. The printer also boasts much fewer components in comparison to other similar SLA printers, making it more reliable and much cheaper. The device was able to print a small ring in just about 6 minutes and 40 second’s time, as demonstrated by Matteson.


There is just a little more time left for the Kickstarter campaign to come to an end, and the printer is already close to reaching its goal of $40,000. For most backers on the platform, the estimated month of delivery is April next year. However, enthusiasts have to wait another four months in order to be able to place demands for the entire system.




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