Should I buy this printer?

#1

Hi all,
I am a FDM refugee and have been getting good results with my prints.

It takes time to get good results though and I need to use lots of different tricks and settings to get them.

This has made me kind of adverse to FDM and I am now looking at SLA since it has come down in price.

Question is though, is this printer ready for prime time ?

I don’t want to be having to constantly fiddle with settings and trialing lots of prints to get a good print.

Is this technology “mission ready” for want of a better term? I am not a 3D printing enthusiast and just want a “machine that works” to output my prototypes.

Obviously I expect some setup … but not constant tinkering.

From looking through the forums it seems that there is still a lot of fiddling to do, particularly with calibrating the printer. (FDM bed leveling is still the biggest bane of my existence).

Is this just with this printer or would I be having the same issues with say a formlabs printer ?

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#2

I can only speak from own experience when I recommend the printer (I have the Moai 130). I bought it over a year ago and after initial setup I have not touched it. I have a success rate of at least 90% and I print both small objects filling the whole build area and big objects up to 170 mm in z. I took my time with the assembly and that seems to have been a good idea.

This was my first SLA printer.

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#3

If you don’t need 120x120 build platform get a good quality LCD printer. If the build size is important you may consider it but…

if these are the premises… I wouldn’t suggest it. The moai (like every other 3d printer actually) requires quite some tinkering.

You may be interested in reading my review.

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#4

I bought the Moai 130 about a month ago and I couldn’t be more happy. I took my time assembling it as well and it worked great straight out of the box. I probably need to adjust the bed level a wee bit but I haven’t bothered with that yet as the prints come out great most of the time and I’ve been to busy printing away :slight_smile: . The ones that don’t are mainly due to me being new to SLAs and not placing supports properly or the orientation.
It is messier and you have to be careful with the resin but the prints are so great that it’s fine by me. I love mine.

Christophe

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#5

im leaning more and more towards i wish i didn’t buy it, does it print really well? sure its pretty good but to get it there has cost me pretty high and the problems you will encounter are quiet baffling. The amount of work it takes to create a printable file is kind of annoying too i download my files open in chitubox to add supports then move that to asura3d and print, if you need to hollow i would recommend hollowing on meshmixer then chitubox then asura/cura.

asura3d is made by peopoly but it is very slow and choppy cura works well but i find that it makes my prints take anywhere for 3 to 4x longer and im still not sure why.

the resin is expensive and the moai is picky about what resins you use, i found that out the hard way now that i have the nex resin ive wasted almost 500ml on trying to figure out how big the supports I need to print one model.

for 400 you could a lcd that should satisfy you with less headache cuz you can return it through amazon and get a full refund.

THE MOAI DOES NOT HAVE A REFUND so you’ll have to learn how to make it work.

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#6

Great review matto3o,
It’s guys like you that keep companies honest and save guys like me from making big mistakes.

I think I will pass on this printer based on your review.

I need great accuracy for my prints and your comment “and it definitely doesn’t shine in geometric shapes reproduction” is the deal breaker for me.

I am now looking at the Solus but it’s a tad small…
One of my parts is 120mm long and it won’t fit in the machine.

Is there any comparable print quality (Solus) in another larger print volume printer on the market ?

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#7

Thanks Andres,
I appreciate the frank advice.
The workflow to get a good print sounds tedious at best and down right annoying at worst.
Another reason I won’t be looking at this printer.

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#8

I would suggest you read this thread Zog. :wink:

Most of it is probably an SD card problem and wrong resin and operator issues.

never had any issues myself and an SD card is very inexpensive.

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#9

zog check out the WANHAO D8 Mark 1 its the printer i almost wish i bought, the solous will give you prints beyond compare but at a $4000 price point the moai shines now its not that true anymore with the WANHAO D8 Mark1 using the same style build plate for the moai 200 im not sure of the build size specs but im sure its comparable for its price point of $1400

the maintenance usually involves dead leds which the whole pannel is relatively cheap and the resin are readily available for almost nothing. you also get to avoid the laser distortion that the moai does have since the laser is in a fixted location dead center of the build platform objects on the outer edges will become distorted however I heard their may be some kind of distortion algorithm added to cura to mitigate its effects?

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#10

I have the Moai printer for a year now and I appreciate it very much for the finish of its prints. But, as already stated by other persons, the printed geometries may need bigger tollerances. A circle may not be always a circle when printed :blush:. It’s a very good printer if you print figurines or similar stuff where very small deviations aren’t noticeable. But if you want to print cases or precise geometrical shapes to insert or fit together, that may be a challenge. I don’t say it’s not possible, on contrary. But you may need to fiddle the printer and this is time consuming. Therefore, in my opinion, if you want perfect precision in every print without any hassle, you should take a look at the new marketed formlabs printers. In exchange, there’s a price to pay for the machine(s) and for the resins that goes along…

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#11

I have 2 Form2 at work and been using them almost daily (me or my team) for 2 years. I can tell you precise shapes are an issue with the Formlabs machines too. Granted they tune their print setting very well with their own resins, and the machines are insanely reliable and easy to use, but there are geometries, aspect ratios, and sizes which are difficult to get out of a traditional top-down resin printer without some deformation. The main issue is, with a Form 2 or even the upcoming Form 3, if you have an issue that can only be solved by fine-tuning the exposure or the printer movement, you can’t do any of that with a Formlabs machine as it is a completely closed, proprietary system. You can’t feed it G-code, you can’t access the laser settings, tune the peeling, etc…

I don’t own a Moai yet but I’m about to order one for personal use, and the main difference I see is the openness of the system as a whole which comes at the cost of reliability but I don’t think precision will be very much different.

One technology which would potentially increase precision is what Carbon is doing with their M and L printers. Instead of the traditional PDMS or FEP film they use a film that is permeable to oxygen, thus creating a layer just over the vat’s film which can’t be cured by UV… so they’re basically curing only on the build platform, and they don’t need a peeling operation whch means less chances of deforming the part at that stage.
It’s a whole other world in term of pricing though, I got quotes a few years back and the M1 was a subscription machine at about $50k/year and consumables + accessories amounted to about $100k/year of running costs.

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#12

Yes this distortion is a real issue for me. I saw this thread and have concluded that the technology is not ready for prime time in this incarnation (for me).

For the life of me I could not imagine an algorithm being the answer to a fundamental physics issue here.
It might mitigate it but only that.

Hats off to peopoly though for at least having a forum that will let you see all the printer features, warts and all.

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#13

Interesting observations about the Formlabs machines Oberon.

I was looking at them too, so it’s interesting that you say that they have dimensional issues also.
This kind of points to galvo’s not being the way to go if you want high accuracy.

I make prototypes that must fit together accurately. The prototypes are for eventual plastic injection molding so accuracy is paramount for me.

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#14

I don’t think the galvos are the issue, rather the resin’s dimensional changes during reticulation and the deformation during the peeling operation. That and the fact that the polymerisation is a somewhat exothermic process and there will always be a temperature differential between the build platform, the cured part, the layers having just been cured, the uncured resin, and so on… making the predictability of the final results very difficult to obtain.

That’s without talking about cleaning and post-curing. We have realized that IPA abortion and curing time/temperature have an effect on final dimensions, and streamlining this process as well as controlling the parameters do help repeat ability. In that sense the Formlabs Wash and Cure machine are a blessing, but there are alternative like Wicked Engineering’s own Curing box.

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#15

Humm… interesting information.
I did not realize it was an exothermic reaction but it makes sense.
What sort of dimensional tolerances are we talking about here ?
If it’s repeatable it can be dealt with if it’s a general shrinkage all over.
Are there sink marks in larger sections for example ?

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#16

on Moai 200 distortion. We now have very good galvo distortion scanning pattern to build a calibration profile to reverse it in Asura. We expect to have it in about 2 weeks. Moai 130 already has the calibration

We don’t comment on other brand printers and we encourage you to go to their user group and ask the same question and at the same time see how active brand support interacts and address the issue. While technical issue can take time to resolve, it would at least require a will to fix any problems. @Zog

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#17

The variation due to post-processing I’d say is between 0.5 and 1%.
The variation due to the effect of the peeling and polymerisation I can’t tell, as it wildly depends on the orientation of the part, it’s overall size and the aspect ration / ration between the size of the part and the wall thickness. We have successfully made parts which were 30-40mm in Ø and for 0.1 to 0.05mm repeatability print-to-print, and I’m sure that most SLA printers including the Moai are comparable in that regard with the same resin.

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#18

Hello @Zog, good that you are well informed before buying a 3D printer.

I have dealt with this topic theoretically and practically for several years. Dimensional stability also plays a big role for me. And after I bought and learning a Moai 200, I’m pretty sure that SLA, DLP, FDM, etc. unfortunately have a common drawback: polymerization shrinkage (more or less).

The shrinkage is the transition from the liquid to the solid state by the strong crosslinking of the polymers. The polymer chains move closer together, taking up less space.

Currently, I do not know of any additive manufacturing process, which approaches the accuracy of a subtractive process (turning, milling, eroding, etc.). That’s why I mostly use a CNC turning and milling machine to make functional parts.

Every procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. 3D printing can generate relatively fast, even complex geometries. With compromises in accuracy, material properties, etc.

SLA is a fine, if dirty, printing process. The Moai 200 is solid with some really well thought out details. However, he also has vulnerabilities that will surely take up a lot of extra time, creativity and money until he is better than a Form3. He has the potential IMO!

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#19

I was also an “fdm refugee”. I had an ultimaker 2 that was no end of frustrating. Rarely a successful print with that thing.

I just got my moai… less than 2 months ago. When I first got it some of the “updated” parts were out of stock and the reseller (matterhackers) sent me the old versions to get me going. The old parts were a pain… build plate leveling almost as difficult as FDM. However… the new parts arrived a couple weeks later… and things have been smooth sailing ever since.

They changed the build plate to an “easy-level” build plate. It really is easy to level. Also the “vat” that stores unused resin was revamped to use this thin plastic called “FEP”. Another major improvement because it increases leveling tolerance from .2mm to .9mm. It only took me two tries to level the thing with the new parts, and I haven’t had to re-do it since then. Loads of successful prints.

Now, if you use resins other than the regular peopoly resin, you’ll have a little fiddling to do with speeds and laser power settings to get it to work well… and printing each part at an angle with supports takes only a little getting used to.

Parts come out looking pretty glamorous. I’m about halfway done with a DIY modification called “project tripod” (not my idea, I’m just building someone else’s plans) that appears to completely eliminate waves/llines in the print. The lines in a SLA print aren’t comparable to FDM layer lines. They are only at the surface, and are so tiny you often have to look for them.

There are 4 main drawbacks to this printer. I assume it’s the same with any SLA.

  1. Resin is messy
  2. Resin smells really bad. Some resins are better than others.
  3. Prints take a very long time.
  4. Resin is expensive. Peopoly brand is $70-110/kg depending on which kind you get. It doesn’t seem to go as far as FDM material - you get fewer prints per kg.

Overall, I’m very happy with my MOAI. I definitely recommend it. I’ve never used a form2 so I can’t compare other than to say that the form2 is firmly out of my price range. I wouldn’t be using laser sla if it weren’t for peopoly.

I’m about done with a 3d printed drone that I’m making. Turns out I had as much or more to learn about RC aircraft than I did about 3d printing.

That said, I’m still learning something new about SLA printing pretty much every day.

Edit: I think formlabs printers are a little less messy because the resin comes in cartridges. I can’t say for sure but I’m guessing it will be a lot like 2d printer cartridges. Cost goes up and usable material goes down. Given the choice, I’d take lower cost and more mess.

Side note: Obtaining the pure ethyl alcohol that is recommended can be a pain. I guess 100% is easy to get and cheap outside the US. I ordered some from a chemical supply company but it was super expensive. Next I’m going to try some 95% denatured from the local big box store which is very cheap. I think a gallon was about $10 vs $100 for the pure stuff from a chemical company.

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#20

boom peopoly to the rescue with distortion mitigation although asura is kinda slow its what i use to play it safe by using as much peopoly products to get optimal results based of the materials they test with having said that i think i finally figured out my support settings as im 2000ish layers in out of the 6000 and no support failures yet

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