3D Printing with the Pegasus Touch:

Live at Last!

4/29/2015
3d printing, tesseract, portland

Amazing detail available through the SLA printing process

Those who regularly read this blog know that I have been grappling with a new 3D printer, the FSL3D Pegasus Touch. In previous posts (here and here), I’ve documented some of the challenges I’ve had getting this machine to function properly. Basically, it’s a promising technology, and capable of some really amazing and detailed prints. I had a helluva time getting the FSL3D Pegasus Touch to work properly, though.

I should have known I was in for some rough sailing. I preordered the machine, expecting a delivery date a few months later. When the anticipated delivery date came and went, I was informed that there was a delay due to a batch of bad laser diodes. When I asked what the new expected ship date was, I was told that my unit had already shipped. Not surprisingly, it had a bad laser diode. Thus began a seven-month back and forth with FSL3D, which culminated in me shipping the printer back to their Las Vegas headquarters and saying “Fix it right!” Fortunately, they were able to get it working properly, but the experience left a bad taste in my mouth. If I had it all to do over again, I probably would have gone with a manufacturer with a more robust customer support system

A quick recap of how stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing works: the process uses an ultraviolet laser to cure a photosensitive resin.. The laser is controlled by very precise movements of servo-controlled mirrors, which reflect the laser through the bottom of an optically clear resin tank. The laser cures the resin layer-by-layer, which adheres to a build plate that raises up out of the resin tank as the build progresses. The video below shows this process in action:

The process isn’t super-fast. The laser cures each layer quickly, but the build plate has to raise up a bit to allow uncured resin to re-coat the bottom of the resin tank, which adds a lot of time to the process. Also, the Pegasus Touch is capable of layer heights as small as 25 microns. That’s a lot of layers, and a lot of time. I’m not sure if it’s really any faster that the old Replicator 2X – I intend to to a side-by-side time test soon to find out for sure.

Regardless of issues with the manufacturer and the print time, the finished product is amazing. I had been trying for months to print an Eiffel Tower model – my Grail for high-definition 3D printing. Just for yuks, I tried printing one on the Replicator 2X at the highest settings, but the results were rather disappointing. The structural members were grainy and incomplete, and the model fell apart as I was removing it from the printer.

3d printing, tesseract, portland

Sub-par Eiffel Tower model from FDM 3D printer

Fortunately, the re-calibrated Pegasus Touch was up to the task, and produced an amazing Eiffel Tower.

3d printing, tesseract, portland

SLA Eiffel Tower model

The detail on this model was very impressive. The handrail portion is particularly delicate, but well-defined in the print. I dug out the calipers to check the sizes: the handrail is 0.9 mm wide and the balusters an amazing 0.2 mm! Incredible detail, and I think this machine holds a lot of promise.

I’m glad that the SLA technology has become available for hobbyists and small businesses. There is a pretty steep learning curve for this, as with all new technology. Also, there are some very big differences between 3D printing with SLA, and the more common “prosumer” extruded filament tech. Overall, I’m pleased with how this machine is performing, and look forward to seeing what else it can do.

To find out how Tesseract Design can help you with your 3D printing needs, please see www.tesseract-design.com/3-d-printing