Moai Customization for Research Applications

Hi,

I am a researcher at an Australian university. We are currently looking into getting an SLA printer to do research into custom resins for 3D printing. We also study photochemistry and how different wavelengths of light can be used to trigger different reactions. Because of this, we have slightly unique requirements for any printer we might purchase:

  • Ability to print using small amounts of custom-made resin as we are often working with experimental compounds we only have a small amount of.

  • Ability to open the printing chamber in order to be able to irradiate the structure with a secondary light source while it’s being printed.

  • Potentially even the ability to replace the primary light source with one that uses a different wavelength (I realize that might be asking a lot).

Clearly this isn’t stuff any printer has been built in mind with, which has made trying to find a printer that would work for us quite difficult. I have come to realize that we would probably have to do a lot of our own tinkering. I have been looking at a lot of different printers from different manufacturers and I think the Moai might be best suited for us. I mainly base this on the fact that it is sold as a kit which suggests to me it is more open to tinker with.

I am mainly looking to get input from existing users to get an idea if some of these modifications I have in mind are possible at all, or if there is something inherently preventing them:

  • Building our own custom smaller resin vat and build platform in order to be able to print with smaller amounts of resin.
  • Replacing the laser module with third-party laser modules of different wavelengths.

Are there any safety features etc. preventing this kind of thing? Also please let me know if I am overthinking this and there are much easier ways to achieve what we want or if I am just talking absolute nonsense. I’m just spit-balling here!

Thanks!

@3DPResearcher although your requirements are possible with the Moai, with some customization, which some users had done before.
But if you are trying to study how different wavelengths trigger the resin and you don’t have much resin to spend, I suggest you cure the resin manually with a custom setup first to see if the resin can actually be hardened by a specific wavelength. Once you are satisfied with the result and want to scale up to further study it’s characteristic, then go for the big machine.
The build plate and vat CAN be customize to be smaller, with some CAD and 3D printing or CNC machining. But the scale you are suggesting now is not worth the effort for doing so. Once you have some results and want to scale up, say 40x40x100mm, going for the Moai with custom vat and build plate would be a more suitable choice.

Thanks for the reply!

Oh yes, we definitely always test our formulations on very small scale first. That work is essentially done. We are specifically looking to get a printer in order to take that next step in terms of scale.

I really just wanted to clarify whether it is in principle possible to design and use our own smaller vats and build plates, as well as different lasers. You seem to have confirmed that for me. Thanks!

i would not recommend using laser that have wavelength shorter than 405nm. It can damage the film.
for the laser diode assembly, you would most likely need to make a custom adapter as well .

We are mostly interested in using longer wavelengths so that should hopefully be fine. But thanks for pointing out that shorter wavelengths could be an issue.

Yes, figuring out how to properly align different lasers using adapters etc. will definitely be a concern as well - we’ll just have to figure it out!