Simplest 3D printer ever
Lite3DP S1 was released in 2020, becoming the simplest 3D printer ever.
Its all-in-one board is based on an Arduino Pro Mini and all its components can be soldered with a simple soldering iron. Some 3D printed parts, laser cut metal plates and standard components complete its minimalist design.
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1) Do not expose yourself to UV light for long periods or look at it directly.
2) Resins used in 3D printing generate skin irritability, so it is advisable to use gloves for handling, and safety glasses against possible splashes. The resin should never come into contact with mucous membranes or eyes, nor should it be ingested. Each resin has a safety sheet with the risks associated with its manipulation. Please read these recommendations carefully before use.
1) Keep Lite3DP and resins out of the reach of children.
2) Do not use the Lite3DP outdoors, or exposed to direct sunlight or strong light sources. Sunlight, as well as intense artificial light sources, can solidify the photosensitive liquid resin.
3) It is advisable to observe the machine periodically while it is running.
4) Isopropyl alcohol, which is generally used in cleaning, also presents health risks: irritability, narcosis, dizziness, etc. Its handling is recommended with the same precautions taken with the resins, as well as the reading of its safety sheet.
Determination of exposure times
Exposure times are determined by test prints of small, simple parts. If the resin manufacturer offers reference values, use them for the first test. If not, you can start with typical values of 10 seconds and 45 seconds for the initial layers (initial exposure time). According to the results obtained, you can adjust the values of the exposure times based on the following observations:
A) If the part did not adhere properly to the platform, a longer initial exposure time is necessary. (This may also be due to improper deck leveling.)
B) If the printed part is missing edges or not complete, you may need to increase the exposure time.
C) On the contrary, if you notice that inside the tray (VAT), a printed resin film is formed on the FEP film, you should decrease the exposure time.
If you want to observe what happens on the LCD display during a test print, please lay a piece of white paper on it.
Since the FEP film is delicate, it is recommended to insert only a plastic spatula without sharp points into the tray, either to mix the resin or to extract possible impurities from it.
If solidified resin remains adhered to the FEP film (inside the tray), it is recommended to gently press the adhered piece under the film until its edges come off. Then it can be pushed to the edge with the plastic spatula to later remove it.
It is recommended not to leave the tray loaded with resin for long periods of time, since they may suffer alterations that prevent its later use, and even damage the 3D printer. If the Lite3DP is not going to be used for a while, it is recommended to return the resin to its original bottle, taking care not to introduce impurities into it; likewise, the printing platform and the tray must be left perfectly clean.
Platform extraction, cleaning and post-curing
Once the printing is finished, proceed to remove the printed part adhered to the platform. For this, it is advisable to initially remove the excess liquid resin adhered to the platform, pouring it back into the tray with a spatula. With the help of a box cutter, and taking care not to scratch the surface of the platform, lift a corner of the surface in contact with the platform. In this raised corner, proceed to insert the spatula to finish detaching the piece from the platform.
With the part released from the platform, it should be cleaned and post-cured. Depending on the resin used, the excess resin adhered to the piece can be removed with water or isopropyl alcohol. It is recommended to immerse the piece for a few minutes. The clean and dry piece will present a somewhat sticky surface, and that could be scratched with the fingernail. This is because the resin did not complete its polymerization, and a post-cure process is required. Post-curing can be done by exposing the printed part to UV light, typically in a booth, or by immersing the part in water in a transparent container and exposing it to the sun. Post-cure duration will take between 15 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the resin used and the intensity of the UV light source.
Extreme care must be taken when handling the tray due to the fragility of its FEP film. The film should never come into contact with sharp elements, and its cleaning on both sides is very important. In its normal use, the film is an element that loses its transparency and properties; however, if properly cared for, it can last longer than 50 3D prints.
Damaged FEP film should never be used, as resin losses affect the integrity of the 3D printer and cause failed prints.
The platform must be thoroughly cleaned after each 3D printing, there can be no liquid resin or solid remains adhered. This is especially important when leveling the platform.
How can I customize the Lite3DP?
The Arduino code is prepared for a simple customization of the following parameters: linear guide height, threaded rod, stepper motor and driver microstepping.
The PCB is prepared with holes for a Nema 8 stepper motor. It also has two pins to easily add a power button.
Is a cover necessary?
Exposure to strong light can cause unwanted curing of the resin in the tray. You can 3D print any of the covers from the Github accessory pack or simply use a small cardboard box to cover the machine (with bottom slots to allow ventilation):
Is there a way to check the progress during 3D printing?
Holding the ESC button during printing (until the current layer is finished) will raise the platform to the top, then the printer wait for the OK button to be pressed to resume printing. This way you can verify that everything is printing correctly, and you can refill the tray more comfortably.
How does one-time-slicing work?
Since exposure times are selected on the screen before printing begins, any resin can be used with the same processed file. Regarding the layer heights, Chitubox will process the 3D models for a layer thickness of 0.05mm. When layer thickness of 0.1 mm is selected, only odd images will be used during printing (1.bmp, 3.bmp, 5.bmp, etc.).
What resins can I use?
Any resin suitable for the 405 nm MSLA technology can be used. Today there is a wide variety of brands and types of resin, some of them are: castable, flexible, dental, standard, industrial and tough. For each resin and layer thickness it is necessary to determine the optimal exposure time for its solidification (about 10 to 25 seconds per layer).
I have never used a 3D printer, is it difficult to learn how to use it?
Like all new technology it takes some time to learn how it works and experiment to get the best results. However, Lite3DP S1 can be considered one of the easiest 3D printers to operate, ideal for beginners. No special skills or great prior knowledge is required.
Can more than one piece be printed at the same time? What if I want to make a larger piece than what goes into the build volume?
As long as the pieces together can be properly placed within the printing volume and in relation to the platform, more than one piece can be printed. A larger piece can be scaled to fit. It can also be printed in several parts and then joined or glued.
Can Lite3DP be harmful?
Lite3DP is not overly dangerous, but some precautions must be taken: do not look directly or expose to UV light and use protective elements as some resins can irritate the skin and eyes.
Are additional elements needed for post processing of 3D printed parts?
The printed parts will require a cleaning to eliminate the rest of liquid resin that may have remained adhered (in a container with water or IPA, depending on the resin). After cleaning, to obtain a greater hardness of the piece, a post-cure can be performed; this can be done by exposing the piece to UV light, typically in a special chamber, or simply by exposing it to sunlight in a transparent container with water (about 15 minutes).
In addition to providing hours of fun 3D printing, we want to add even more fun with optional upgrade projects. We previously released some accessories that can be 3D printed. This time we'll focus on increasing PCB and firmware capabilities. On the PCB, we've added some free solder pads: two digital pins to connect sensors or actuators, six pins to connect a second screen in parallel (we will discuss this topic in detail soon), several power pins, and an extra place on the PCB to connect a notification LED (in parallel with pin 13) and its resistor.
Next up, we've had several requests for a release of the schematic. Here it is! We hope you find it useful.
Lite3DP converter for Linux, like its version for Windows, allows from the Zip file created by Chitubox (or the now available SLAcer) to perform the format conversion of the images and send them to a folder on the Micro SD card, all in one simple step. -Let's remember that Lite3DP uses images in 24-bit BMP format, numbered and inside a folder with the name to be selected-.
Notes: Lite3DP converter was created to facilitate the process of converting and saving layer images for 3D printing. It is currently available for Windows and Linux (February 3, 2021 update). Note for Linux: works with Debian / Ubuntu on desktop computers. Requires the "unzip" command. As an alternative to Lite3DP converter, the following steps can be carried out: 1) Unzip the ZIP file from Chitubox. This contains numbered PNG images. 2) Use batch image conversion software to convert all PNG images to 24-bit BMP images. 3) Create a folder on the micro SD card and copy all the BMP images there. The name of this folder will be displayed on the Lite3DP when selecting the printing parameters.
As a completely Open Source alternative to Chitubox, we have adapted and simplified the SLAcer web-based application. It is not as powerful and fast as Chitubox, but it works from any web browser and its code can be modified.
In addition to the normal workflow, in which we start from a 3D model and generate the sections, Lite3DP allows the possibility of “hacking” the sections that we print (unlike most current MSLA 3D printers, which use a print file without modification possibilities). Since numbered images are used for printing (24-bit BMP format), we can simply draw the sections to generate a 3D model. In this way, custom parts can be manufactured, typically with steps in which the same section is repeated. This feature is especially interesting for educational purposes and when you want to add volume to images without 3D modeling. In the video we show the manufacture of a keychain based on an image with the text “Thank you!”. Around it we draw a base with the desired shape. Once we have the two images, we simply copy them the times that correspond to the desired height (multiples of 0.05 mm) and number them in an orderly and ascending way (1.bmp, 2.bmp, 3.bmp, etc.).
Note: For simplicity we have used MS Paint, but smoother edges can be obtained using anti-aliasing drawing applications.
In this update we are happily releasing the accessory parts pack. It consists of six pieces: two models of bases, three models of covers and the support for Nema 8 upgrade. For the cover model A: 3 M3x6 screws and an acrylic laser cut piece (DXF file included) will also be required.
Base Model A:
Base Model B:
Cover Model A:
Cover Model B:
Full Cover (no base required):
Nema 8 support:
Download "Lite3DPAccPackV0.1.Zip" from Github