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Most 3D print­ers are ba­si­cally glue-guns on the end of a three-axis rig con­trolled by a com­puter. The end of the glue-gun wob­bles around smear­ing melted plas­tic onto a print sur­face, un­til af­ter a long, long time you have a lit­tle Iron Man mask which you look at and then throw away. Dig­i­tal Light Pro­cess­ing (or DLP) uses light from a pro­jec­tor to har­den a spe­cial resin, pulling the print up out of a pool of goo.


DLP was too ex­pen­sive and com­plex for the first gen­er­a­tion of 3D print­ers but it’s here now! XYZ print­ing’s No­bel Superfine is about the same size as a reg­u­lar 3D printer, but gives much bet­ter re­sults with a smoother fin­ish and finer de­tail.


DLP is still a cheaper, sim­pler al­ter­na­tive to stere­olithog­ra­phy (SLA), which rather than a pro­jec­tor uses a laser to har­den the resin. SLA gives the very best re­sults but is still too ex­pen­sive. Also, if you thought work­ing with spools of plas­tic was a pain, just wait un­til you have to care­fully pour resin, and then re­move left­over resin with a syringe, and not get any resin on you be­cause it’s toxic etc...

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