Japan company races to ultra precise desktop 3D printing

Unirapid 3 3D printer

Fused deposition modeling (FDM), the technology that most personal 3D printers use, can output some pretty high quality pieces, with minimum layer thickness getting below 0.1mm (100 microns). Commercial printers like those from Stratasys/Objet that use PolyJet technology can achieve a layer thickness of 0.016mm. Now a Japanese company is getting in on the high-res action.

Unirapid, a company in Misato City, Japan, manufactures stereolithography machines, and the latest, called Yunirapitto Ⅲ (Unirapid III), is, in a word, awesome. The most astonishing feature is its minimum layer resolution of 0.05mm! That’s 50 microns! Using a solid-state 355nm laser, it can also do walls as thin as 0.1mm, and the build volume is an impressive 150mm x 150mm x 150mm. While this is still a few steps away from true microprinting, it’s pretty close, and it’s the best I’ve seen from a printer that can fit on a desk.

unirapid example

unirapid 4

unirapid example

The microchannel in that square disk above is a mere 0.5mm wide, meaning objects can move air and liquids while still being watertight. And that is the cutest fan ever. Knowing Japan, this machine is just the beginning. So America, get to competing.

unirapid example

h/t: 3Dprinting.com

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  • meagain

    We need another term for what this is. “Printing” isn’t right, it’s misleading, it’s not sufficient.

    • Cameron Naramore

      It’s also known as additive manufacturing. 3D printing fits because it’s a mechanized process of printing material in three dimensions.

  • meagain

    It’s not printing, it’s reproduction.

    • Cameron Naramore

      3D printers can and do produce entirely new and unique things that never existed before, so reproduction doesn’t apply there.

  • Albert Choo

    0.5mm is 500microns,not 50microns.

    • Cameron Naramore

      You are correct. Thanks for catching my error. Will fix.

  • http://none John

    The introduction points to 16 micron z-layer thickness as the leading edge in FDM technology based 3D printers and mentions that the Unirapid is a stereolithography technology based 3D printer—which is among the technologies with the highest resolution at present. Yet, it mentions 50 microns as the minimum layer thickness and, in effect, exalts this. I don’t get it. Is this an error? Does he mean 5 microns? I believe, in the absence of specs, this may be the case as the sample photos sure indicate it might be the case. Anyone know the facts?

    • Cameron Naramore

      The Objet printers aren’t FDM; they use a proprietary technology called PolyJet, which is like a UV sensitive inkjet method. The 50 micron resolution of the Unirapid is not the only spec that gives it that quality; the laser used also allows for fine XY lines. Unfortunately, since the site is in Japanese, the specs are hard to understand fully.