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Italy-based additive manufacturing services firm IDM Lab has launched its new microscale LCD 3D printer, the PicoFAB.
Aimed primarily at research laboratories, educational institutions, and materials manufacturers, the tiny resin-based system is designed to act as a materials testbed, enabling users to trial miniscule volumes of photopolymer resin in a compact package. With a modest build volume measuring just 24 x 24 x 50mm, the PicoFAB can begin 3D printing parts with as little as 10ml of resin.
IDM Lab said, “PicoFAB was developed with a very specific purpose. After a market research lasting several months, it emerged that research laboratories, developers of new materials, and researchers in the field of bioprinting face difficulties when testing new photopolymers. The problem is that commercially available resin 3D printers have an average footprint area of 10cm x 7cm or more, meaning at least 100ml of resin is required to print.”
Resin volume requirements can become a serious issue when the resin in question is particularly costly, such as a specialized bioprinting resin or certified functional resin. It can also force materials developers to commit to a certain formulation without knowing if the new blend is even printable, further increasing costs.
LCD 3D printing with IDM Lab
Although the PicoFAB is IDM Lab’s debut 3D printer, the company has a strong history of additive manufacturing as it was established by the founders of 3D printer manufacturer Lumi Industries. Lumi is known for its portfolio of novel resin-based 3D printers, including the open-source, smartphone-operated LumiBee system and the ultra-low-cost LumiPocket, which features additional PCB etching and laser engraving capabilities.
Porting this expertise over to IDM Lab, the founders now offer a number of technical services for companies in the medical and dental sectors. This includes additive manufacturing services, medical device design services, feasibility studies, and firmware and software development.
The PicoFAB 3D printer
In line with its small part printing capabilities, the PicoFAB also features a notably compact frame measuring 176 x 142 x 92mm, making it the perfect desktop companion. Inside is a purpose-built light engine originally developed by the Lumi Industries team, offering an XY resolution of 100 microns. Users can choose a layer height between 25 – 100 microns.
The PicoFAB 3D printer also comes equipped with a removable stainless steel resin tank, which is intended to be easily sterilizable. IDM Lab has designed the tank to enable improved cooling for the internal LCD, even when the lid is on.
Described as a “perfect tool” for universities and labs, the system has reportedly already garnered interest from several of these institutions. By providing an easy-to-use materials testbed, the PicoFAB enables users to test small quantities of high performance resins, dental resins, casting resins, and more.
Additionally, the 3D printer is also precise enough to be used for functional prototyping and end-use production. To free up a larger system in a lab, the PicoFAB may be used to 3D print jewelry pieces, miniature figurines, and small dental parts.
Technical specifications and pricing
Below are the technical specifications for the PicoFAB 3D printer. Readers interested in purchasing the system can contact IDM Lab for a quote.
|Build volume||24 x 24 x 50mm|
|Dimensions||176 x 142 x 92mm|
|XY resolution||100 microns|
|Layer height||25, 50, 100 microns|
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Featured image shows the PicoFAB 3D printer. Photo via IDM Lab.