Monday, July 7, 2014

Pegasus Touch First Impressions

I backed the Kickstarter campaign for the Pegasus Touch SLA printer, which I got for $2,250. At that price, and given the samples they were showing, I thought it might be a good deal. Of course, with Kickstarter, you never know. And I’ve been seeing grumbles on the forum from other people who have received their printers (or perhaps not).

I received my box a few weeks ago and finally had a chance to set it up this past weekend. The packaging was good, and there were no issues with broken parts. The box included the printer, a 1/2 liter bottle of clear resin, and the power supply. That’s it. No manual.

I downloaded the manual and software and setup the machine on my desk. My desk isn’t near an Ethernet jack, so my desktop computer is connected via Wifi. No problem, the manual indicated that I could print without a network connection, using a USB thumb drive. So I fired up the machine. A splash screen appeared, and then the screen went blank after about 10 seconds, and just stayed that way. Even after 10 minutes, it was still blank.

OK, perhaps that meant I needed to update the firmware first. But how to do it. I checked the manual again, and the manual said that “Ethernet is the preferred interface but USB PC connection (requires microUSB cable, not supplied) and WiFi (requires dongle, not supplied) are also supported.” So, I connected the USB cable, and after some fiddling to get the drivers installed properly on Windows, the machine showed up in my devices list. And now RetinaCreate (their software package for talking to the printer) told me that the printer’s firmware needed to be updated. However, I couldn’t find a way to update it.

Finally, I moved the machine to another location where I could plug it into an Ethernet wall jack. It booted, and I was able to update the firmware. It turns out the manual isn’t correct, and you need a hard-wired Ethernet connection, at least to get started. I haven’t tried it without, so I’m not sure what does and doesn’t work. However, I was able to print—yay!

First Print

I loaded a model into RetinaCreate that I’ve been working on for a while to stress test the printer. This is a small caboose in HOn3, and it’s just under 7 cm long. You can find more details in my previous blog posts:

Here is what I got after 5 hours (using 50 micron layers):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You can click on the image to see a larger version. Below I’ll describe more about what I learned. But first, here is what the 3D model looks like in Solidworks:

Full Body

And finally, here is what I had in RetinaCreate:

Retina Full Body

In case you caught that I had clear resin, the picture above is after spray painting the model with light gray, which makes it a lot easier to see what the surface looks like. Also, I hand-modified some of the supports after using the automatic support generation feature.

What I learned

First, I learned that this printer has a lot of potential for creating small models. Until I printed this model, I wasn’t sure it would live up to the task. Sure, the printed part will need some sanding to smooth out the curved surfaces, but so do models from Shapeways.

I also learned a lot about working with SLA printers, which is very different from working with FFF printers. The model is printed upside down, and that meant that uncured resin got trapped in various parts where I didn’t want any resin. As an example, look at the floorboards at the end of the caboose. In the printed model, they didn’t turn out very well. A lot of resin got trapped under (or above when printing) the floorboards, so there was a lot of goopy resin still in there when I took it out of the printer. The floorboards also didn’t cure very well. That may mean I need more support, or it could be a result of the goopy resin above.

As it turns out, the orientation I used was completely wrong. I’d always wondered why SLA printers tended to print parts at strange angles. Well, now I know—it’s to allow the uncured resin to drain out of the part as it prints, so you don’t end up with partially cured goop. Using clear resin probably doesn’t help, as any trapped resin can still receive some light. I really want to get some tinted resin to see what difference that will make, because the laser doesn’t travel very far into opaque resins.

After printing this part, I discovered that RetinaCreate has a button called Find Optimal Rotation that only appears when you have the object selected. I had not noticed that. Here is what it looks like when I use that option:

Optimal Angle

That’s a very different. I’m not convinced this is the optimal angle, but I’m going to give it a try.

3 comments:

  1. Can you take a picture with the SLA print next to an assembled Injection Molded unit?
    (Pegasus Touch Kickstarter Backer as well)

    How is post-processing? Use any isopropyl alcohol or a UV curing lamp?

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  2. their customer service and business model is horrible. i recieved my printer and it was BROKEN. the usb drive didnt work the board was fried. the buildplate was damaged, and as im sure you noticed the machine was flimsy, i had to set it up with ethernet, just like you did. and then the setup and print quality was ... lacking. no manual asyou noted but once you download it, you are expected to set it up using allen keys in a printer you cant really reach easily and are blind to you while you are adjusting them. if you adjust the way they say with 4 same sized objects, and then use a micrometer, you'll find you are probably off by more than a few build layers. which means...bad prints. if you have a problem, expect to talk to customer service through email. they have a phone but they dont like to use it and quickly ask you to email them. if you call they seem to get annoyed and even rude. i never got more than 1 email reply in a day. so the process of troubleshooting took 2 weeks ... not what you want in a printer that you might need for business. the build quality is ok, but expect to tune the printer up after every print if you want it to stay that way. also dont expect a good print every time, after the first print in an area the print quality goes down A LOT or you have to buy a $75 vat. here is the catch, if you are unsatisfied with this printer when you get it, because it doesnt do what it says it will (and it doesnt)... then you have to pay a restocking fee based on your final sales price so if you buy the printer 3000 + expidited handling $300 + a years warranty +100 + an extra bottle of ink +120 thats 3500 you pay a 20% restocking fee. $700 they dont reimburse the warranty or the expidited shipping...or the ink even if you didnt use it. you have to pay to ship it back $200 so they keep $1250 you pay another 200. so for buying their horrible printer... you'd be out nearly $1500 bux. and keep nothing. this is a company to avoid. if you buy one, use paypal or a card with buyer protection, SERIOUSLY

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  3. Hello all that are even considering purchasing this machine, short of it DON'T!
    SAVE YOUR MONEY AND AGRAVATION!
    Short story:
    Purchased this unit for our company to get better faster prints than the 2 FDM printers were currently using. The good, there faster! Have better resolution! If they print without failing!!!!! Thats the key. Ive used 3.5 liters of resin constantly checked leveling of the build plate and homing ive gone so far, as to surpass there "instrutional video" on youtube where they say "put 4 blocks on the corners and adjust till they all hit the build plate. How archaic!
    Have thes people not heard of a dial gauge? A 0 z setting gauge? Anyway build plate leveled to within .01mm. check, homed to within .07mm of vat for proper adhesion but not to close to fail the print. Check
    Now, print, fail, print, fail, call, email, call "check your leveling" im told, Print, fail, print, fail, "check your homing" im told. Print fail "ok print this test rook its your file" download, print, fail Call, email, "check your leveling" "i did its good" "check your homing" "i did its good" print, fail, print, fail, email, "Hey theres really somthing wrong here i need to get this working have prototypes to print"! "HELP!" "check your leveling" "its not the leveling its within .01mm see the pics" print, fail, call, "hello ive used almost 3.5 liters of resin and yet to get a good print, im getting no help here no information, no adjustments, can you please replace the wasted resin?" "Ya sure we will send you half a liter send us $15 for shipping" "ok thats a little bit of bad customer service, do you have any suggestions to get this thing printing?" "Check the leveling and homing" checked, perfect, print, fail. Screw this im using a different cheaper resin at least until this starts printing. Online, "maker juice g+" $cheaper great!, screw it ill try it.
    Purchase, delivery, uv flashlight test" small drop" wow looks promising. Ok got the FSL resin still in the vat ill try the test rook one last time. Fail, anger, clean the vat and build plate.
    Pour in the maker juice print PERFECT PRINT! HOLY CRAP GOTTA TELL FSL THIS, THERE FOR SURE GOING TO SAY OK GREAT HERE IS SOME FREE RESIN TO REPLACE YOUR LOSSES. SORRY FOR THE BS CUSTOMER SERVICE SORRY FOR DOUBTING YOUR SANITY, SORRY THE RESIN WE SOLD YOU WAS SO BAD WE'LL FIX IT.

    NOPE! NOPE! NOPE!
    "your not authorized to use any resin except ours, your warrentee is now void, other resins can ruin the motors and laser" "check your homing and leveling"
    "FSL WILL NOT BE REPLACING ANY OF YOUR RESIN"

    SO THE SHORT OF IT IS YOUR NOT ALLOWED TO USE ANY OTHER RESIN IN THE MACHINE YOU PAID OVER $4K FOR EVEN IF IT PRINTS AND THERES DOES NOT WITHOUT VOIDING THE WARENTEE ON PARTS THAT HAVE NO CONTACT, AND COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE RUINED BY A DIFFERENT RESIN, YOUR ONLY ALLOWD TO USE THE FSL RESIN AND GET POOR USELESS, FAILED, OR OTHERWISE BAD PRINTS FROM IT.
    SO YOU BASICALLY HAVE A PIECE OF EQUIPTMENT THAT COST $4K WILL NOT PRINT THE RESINS THEY FORMULATE FOR IT, AND YOUR NOT ALLOWED TO USE RESINS THAT DO OR YOUR WARENTEE IS VOID!
    PAPERWEIGHT ANYONE?

    HOPE YOU FOUND THIS HELPFULL, ILL BE POSTING IT ALL OVER THE WEB!
    HOPFULLY THE GREED MONGERS OVER AT FSL GET THERE HEAD OUT OF THERE BUTTS!
    THANKS ALL HAVE A GREAT DAY!

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