Economics of Scale & Dual materials?

So a general “hi I a newbie here’s an uneducated idea!” question.

I am curious if the platform is scalable. It seems like the system is sort of a production level tech demo for a much more … expensive (?) endevour. So yeah … how big can a Form printer get in the near-ish future?

Also, would a CAM style system be viable for SLA? What I mean is if you look at old school plotters, they have multiple pends at the ready. So would it be possible to have a cassette style tray system?

Basically you have a special tray with a cache of fluid directly attached to it. That cache can be filled at a docking station on the side of the printer. The station and the cache are UV shielded obviously. It has a valve that can add media as needed.

Tray gets pulled into printing position and the bed get autoleveled by 4 metal posts in the corners (just under the printing tray.) Print what it needs, stow tray. If it needs to transition to another media, after tray is stowed, a UV strobe goes off to flash cure that layer.

or you could have 2 beds (as they are now) and have a way to cover them up. Need to still do the UV strobe.

At any rate… SLA seems like the perfet platform for printing several different materials at once.

Those kind of features would make the printer very large which I don’t think is the direction they would want to go into. Would also make the printer very expensive.
It’s definitely possible to make a larger printer, but it will require additional laser systems–since the laser is angling to reach the full surface area it will change the laser shape at more extreme angles so you couldn’t just use the same laser system as it has now. If you really wanted to you could set it in a way to use one big tray to print a large object, or I bet you could make a dual-material tray (with a wall in the middle to split them) to allow you to print two materials at once.

I don’t think that kind of thing is likely though, the improvements for future printer models are likely to work on improving quality and accuracy and ease of use. Print volume is already pretty large for an SLA printer.

The problem with dual materials is that you are going to have cross-contamination. There will always be some uncured resin of one type all over your print so if you go and stick it in a different vat then before long you will just have a mix. It would also be very difficult to ensure that the layer you are printing in the new material is all new material and not a layer of the old. We are talking 0.025mm to 0.1mm layers. I just don’t see dual material printing using SLA as awesome as that would be.

You can use multiple materials today as long as you can stop at specific layers.

Run open mode:

  1. Print to a specific layer. (pause print)
  2. Change material in tray. (Tip, remove platform first so it doesn’t drip. Clean a little if you want.)
  3. Start printing again. Repeat as necessary.

This really only works with materials that are somewhat similar and they can/will be a bit off dimensionally. Use extra supports.

Printing with different materials in the same print isn’t likely to ever happen since you really have to clean the part between materials. But the possibility of printing two objects in separate materials (split tanks or separate tanks or whatever) is possible.