3D printers can look like anything from Tinker Toys to refrigerators, but I have never seen a thing of beauty like the new Monolith 3D printer from Southern California-based Acme Design. Just look at this baby — it seems like it should be installed alongside my stainless-steel kitchen appliances.
The Monolith is a large scale, high resolution, high speed, UV polymer-based 3D printer. Its price and build material cost is considerably lower than comparable devices on the market.
Designer and creator Benjamin Paul told me the Monolith was intentionally designed to be free of the need for any preparation software, so the user can choose the 3D software that best fits their needs. Once designed in the software of choice, the 3D model must then be “sliced” into layers using slicing software. One simply supplies the Monolith with the sliced layer images (jpeg, png, etc.) stored on a USB flash drive, select the project from the onscreen menu, and then watch it print. There is no host computer required. Acme Design has also designed it to be free of proprietary material cartridges.
The Monolith uses a process called “stereolithography” to create the three-dimensional object, layer by layer, out of a tray of special liquid resin in the machine. This resin is exposed to ultraviolet light, solidifying lit areas into a thin layer of plastic, leaving unexposed areas liquid. Each layer adheres to the previous and subsequent layers, as the platform moves upward, separating it from the bottom of the tray, but not the build platform. For each new layer the platform moves up by .004”. When all layers are printed, the solid object is completed. As Acme’s site says, “the process appears almost magical, because it effectively “pulls” a solid object out of a slender pool of liquid.”
Here’s is a shot showing the stunning detail:
Here are the specs:
Build envelope – 16.88” x 9.5” x 33” (X, Y, Z)
XY resolution – .0088”
Z resolution – .004”
Build speed – 1.12” per hour (Z height)
Resin (build material) price – $2.14 per cubic inch ($61.88/lb)
Introductory price – $9,950
* based on final working prototype, may be slight adjustments to these specs.
Paul has spent two years working on the Monolith, and it’s finally ready for release. To kick-start the release, they are offering a very limited number of units for presale, at an introductory $9,950 (regular price $14,950). Free shipping and one Gal UV resin are included.