Review of the Moai SLA 3D Printer

Review of the Moai SLA 3D Printer

It is funny how we always seem to pay the same for a new computer. The price stays the same, but the power of the computer is better each time. It would appear 3D printers may be the same story. After all, it wasn’t long ago that sinking a thousand bucks or more on a 3D printer wouldn’t raise any eyebrows. Yet today you can better printers for a fraction of that and $1,300 will buy you an open source Moai SLA printer as a kit. [3D Printing Nerd] took a field trip to MatterHackers to check the machine out and you can see the results in the video below.

The printer uses a 150 mW laser to make parts up to 130 mm by 130 mm by 180 mm. The laser spot size is 70 micron (compare that to the typical 400 micron tip on a conventional printer). The prints require an alcohol bath after they are done followed by a UV curing step that takes a few hours.

The process for slicing is slightly different, as the video explains how that works. More software will likely incorporate SLA settings as these printers become more common. You also want hollow prints since the resin inside won’t cure. There’s also the need for holes to drain resin from the interior.

The prints look fantastic and the video does a good job of pointing out many of the differences in printing with this technology, including the effect of bed tilting and how that is handled in the Moai’s software. We wished we had seen more of the actual build process, but we suppose with the working parts locked away to protect eyes from laser beams, there wasn’t much to see.

We’ve seen one of these machines printing a lens, by the way. We also saw it at the Midwest RepRap Festival last year.