A completely automated 3D printing experience for any level of user
IIlios Ray provides you with your personal 3D printing laboratory for mixing, coloring and experimenting with different materials as well as printing techniques.
Ilios Ray is the direct result of feedback, requests and comments received from current Ilios users as well as general observations in the 3D printing community. Everything that any 3D printer user would ever want in an SLA solution has been incorporated into Ilios Ray. The entire 3D printing experience has been rethought and redesigned from the ground up. Providing the tools and capabilities any engineer, artist, architect or general DIY'er would ever want or need. The complete 3D printing experience is done within a laboratory grade environment, while always being protected from the outside factors and at the same time protecting the user from unwanted exposure and contact.
Through its slim design, Ilios Ray can build models much higher than its own height and still retain the up-most level of accuracy and reliability. Every single part has been selected from precision manufacturers and incorporated into a rigid and completely metallic frame. Its sealed design provides the protection for all moving parts as well as removes the unnecessary contact of the user with the chemicals used throughout the 3D printing process.
The availability of a completely automated system for distributing the resin as well as the ability to use sealed cartridges and be able to clean it all automatically, removes yet another unnecessary step in the commonly known 3D printing solutions, thus giving more time for creativity and result rather than constant maintenance. Just like in a conventional printer, you have the ability to mix and match not only the final color of your model but also experiment with different materials and even mix them to produce unique results.
The automated functions of the Ilios Ray 3D printer will use only the required amount of resin for each build, while mixing the required color and quantity throughout the entire process. The Automated VAT material level is set automatically and monitored through on-board sensors and pumps. Additionally the required pigments are constantly mixed while a model is being printed, providing the most controllable outcome possible.
When finished, you have the option to charge an empty or already available resin cartridge with the remainder of your resin or even refill a new cartridge with new resin. As an after effect, the same system gives the user the ability to Hot-Swap resin cartridges during Mid-Print and continue printing for as long as necessary, without stopping the build process.
Along the automation and distribution of the material, Ilios Ray has the ability to perform several mechanical tasks in order to ease the detachment of the model from the build surface as well as keep the model firmly in place during long builds. Additionally the Automated Lift platform was designed to remove the finished model from the lift surface automatically, without the need of sharp objects.
Ilios Ray can produce a feature resolution of 22 microns over its entire build area of 284mm x 211mm x 300mm. To put things in perspective, here is an image which compares a normal DLP 3D printer with the size of the Ilios Ray layer.
This type of capabilities is possible with Ilios Ray since apart from its rigid mechanical structure, the drawing of each layer is achieved on a digital scale where light is controlled at speeds of less that 400/1000000 of a second. An additional advantage of this is that the resolution of the build is available throughout the entire build area. Meaning that you don't need to scale, resize or move anything to achieve this type of resolution, unlike a DLP printer where although you can increase resolution you shall loose the build size and will not be able to produce large models under the same quality.
Even though Ilios Ray is a complex machine, with many features and quality parts, the costs are kept low due to the fact that all of the assembly and most of the manufacturing is done in-house. Most mechanical parts as well as programming and development of the machine is maintained within the production walls and makes the support as well as improvement of the Ilios Ray cheaper and much more efficient.
02. Slim & Sealed Design
Unlike traditional 3D printing solutions, Ilios Ray has the ability to build models far larger than its height. Due to the mechanical design of the lift and some clever engineering, Ilios Ray will expand and collapse based on its needs, keeping your workspace clean and free for additional use. All of the inner workings are sealed within the enclosure, protecting the precious material used for 3D printing as well as protecting the end user from causing damage or coming in contact with the unwanted chemicals.
03. Clean and Fully Automated Build Process
Things that usually are done manually in most 3D printing solutions are executed automatically, within a controlled environment when using Ilios Ray. Additional functions help with the overall build experience and constantly keep the user safe from exposure to chemicals or other 3D printing processes. Even the cleaning of the machine is executed automatically when needed for best performance and easier maintenance.
04. Refillable & Expandable Cartridges
Ilios Ray does not limit the user from 3rd party material manufacturers and provides a clean and easy system for refilling the cartridges on board the machine or even mix materials automatically if needed. Additionally, the ability to mix pigments within the machine allows for an unlimited amount of colors for your final build without needing multiple pigments.
There are plenty of features within Ilios Ray which make it unique and truly useful. These features are well worth explaining in more detail as it is always easier to understand each function when it is explained in its context. Below are the descriptions for each unique feature that makes Ilios Ray stand out from the rest.
One of the most important parts for any 3D printer is its motion. How accurately it can move to any location, without loosing its path and keeping the distances as close to what the computer thinks they are. This becomes especially important when you are building a 3D model where every millimeter or even a micron can make a difference for your end result and the correct dimensions are all that matter when you are building a mechanical part.
Besides the mechanical aspect of the Ilios Ray, the motors which are used for its main functions of lifting and exposure are not your average stepper motors. Motors used in the machine are specifically designed Servo motors, which incorporate a hall effect sensor as well as dedicated logic within the motor itself. As a result, besides the additional advantages which the electronics provide, each motor cannot loose a single step due to the fact that it constantly checks its position and corrects it accordingly. Even if you manually try to move each motor, it will spring back to its defined position. This is not the case with standard stepping motors, which can loose steps and ultimately position due to many factors.
One of the features which make Ilios Ray unique is the way it utilizes that motion in order to accomplish a far shorter height of the 3D printer than its actual build height. Although the mechanical aspect may seem simple, it is designed in such a way that very little space is required for its mechanical components and still the motion keeps its rigid construction and movement.
The lifting is achieved by two Servo motors, which are passing its torque to a set of precision gearboxes and in turn divide the ratio of movement even further. As the end result, when the drive reaches the actual spindle, the torque is so great that even one of the available 4 sides is capable of lifting the entire assembly including its full load. Combined on both sides, the independent motion provides not only additional lifting torque but also gives the entire lift the ability to not only move up and down but also from side to side, incorporating yet another detachment feature for the build process.
The spindles used in Ilios Ray are made from hard metal and polished to a mirror finish. All connections made between the motion and the static surface of the machine are transferred through ball bearings and produce rigid and accurate movements. Besides the fact that the model Lift assembly is held by the ball bearing spindles, which in most cases would be enough, it is also being held by two ball bearing slides on each side, along with high pitch timing belts and gear assemblies. The combined mechanics are what give the lift platform its unique expansion while keeping all movement straight and strong. Together, the motion that is produced is so rigid that there is virtually no flex (deviation from the predefined path) in the movement when opposite forces apply.
Besides the highly accurate motion, another factor is just as important. The backlash of the motion can mean everything when it comes to 3D printing. Since each layer is built with a constant motion of the lift back and forth, if the motion it self cannot come to the same spot every time and deviates even by a miniscule amount, your entire build shall not be accurate anymore, mo matter how good the rest of the equipment is. It is this repeated accuracy that is what Ilios Ray provides and creates a solid stepping stone for the rest of the build process.
3 Stage Automated Lift Assembly
The lift of the Ilios Ray is a mechanical marvel of its own. The main surface of the lift is constructed from a 1mm Aluminium sheet, machined for the best grip and function with the model. The remainder of the lift body is constructed from PTFE sheets of plastic, which hold the remainder of the mechanical assembly together.
The initial defense against a model being detached from the lift are the 2mm deep holes, spread along the surface of the lift. These punctures provide the cured resin a solid place to attach. Combined with the aluminium material of the lift itself, the model shall stay firmly in place during the entire build process.
Along the length of the lift surface, special channels are machined. These channels are filled with pressurized air when the initial layers of the model are being built. In all the tests and experimentation, it has been shown that during the initial build of model layers, the contact surface of the lift with the thin layer of resin within the VAT produces a higher vacuum effect and stresses the lift as well as the model while detaching. When these channels are filled with air, the lift is being pushed from the resin filled VAT, helping dramatically in the initial stage of the build.
When the model is complete, it is firmly attached to the lift surface. Usually a user would need to use a Spatula or a sharp and flat tool to shim between the model and the lift in order to remove the model. This process can become messy and can also damage not only the model but also the surface of the lift. Ilios Ray uses built-in spikes, which protrude from the same openings as the model is being held on to. These spikes expand over a distance of 5 - 6mm, pushing the model and detaching it from the lift. All you need to do is place your hand below the model and catch it when it is being removed.
Resin Distribution & Cartridge System
It was clear from the start of the design process that Ilios Ray will need a clean and effective solution for the handling and distribution of resin (the 3D printing material). A common problem with most 3D printing solutions which use resin is the fact that the actual handling of the material is made by the end user. Pouring material into the VAT, cleaning it afterwords as well as pouring the remainder of the resin after finishing a build is all done manually.
Ilios Ray utilizes a completely new and innovative way of handling all liquids inside the machine through its complex plumbing and pump assemblies as well as sensors for monitoring the entire process.
Ilios Ray can hold up to 4 cartridges with a capacity of 220ml each. These cartridges are completely sealed from light and as a double precaution, hold the resin within an aluminium pouch. Each cartridge can be refilled externally by a 3rd party or internally by Ilios Ray. Each cartridge is constantly monitored by the machine and will notify the user when it comes close to being empty. Each cartridge is controlled by a peristaltic pump, providing the best possible flow control for economical distribution.
On the other side of the machine you shall find the 4 pigment tanks. Three of the pigment tanks can hold up to 100ml of pigment. The fourth tank can hold up to 160ml of liquid which can be cleaning fluid or any other fluid related to the 3D printing process. An opening for each pigment tank is available on the exterior of the Ilios Ray for monitoring the liquid level. Additional openings for each pigment are available above the tanks, under a closed compartment for filling each tank with the required liquid, through a built-in aluminium funnel construction.
The entire mixing process takes place inside a level controlled mixing tank which can hold up to 300ml of liquid. The mixing tank connects to all pigment and resin tanks as well as cartridges. The mixing tank also directly connects to the VAT and can fill the VAT as well as empty it, passing the resin or cleaning solution as required. The mixing tank can also be drained externally by an outlet, hidden on the side of the Ilios Ray and kept closed behind a small door. It can be used for refilling cartridges, emptying the VAT or draining and purging the system.
In total there are 10 liquid pumps, 5 of which are peristaltic and the remainder being membrane controlled. The pumps and the entire fluid distribution system is designed to be as quiet as possible and blend seamlessly with the remainder of the Ilios Ray procedures.
VAT - Build Platform
The VAT, containing the material of the build is constructed to maintain the liquid level automatically while it is being used. The level is controlled by an internal level sensor and the mixing pump which holds the primary build liquid.
Unlike typical SLA based machines, Ilios does not use any PDMS or other curable compounds on the surface of the build glass. Instead, a Non Stick film is used, which is firmly attached to its surface and does not degrade over time as much as common PDMS does. This leaves a controllable Zero build surface and produces a near service free mechanism.
Besides the Lateral movement of the lift, explained earlier in this description, Ilios Ray can Tilt Up or Down the VAT with the 3D printing material, helping the model detach from the surface during each layer. The same motion can stir the already mixed material during each layer curing, for additional color clarity if needed, based on the material manufacturer. The down tilting motion also provides a good slope for the remainder of the resin to slide down and be drained by the VAT pump, back into the Mixing Tank and afterwords into a cartridge or be completely drained from the machine through the service drain on the side.
Integrated Post - Curing
Almost in all cases where SLA technology is used to build a 3D shape, Post Curing will have to take place, where the final model needs to be exposed to an external light source for the material to reach its final state, since the machine doesn't provide the full curing cycle and only solidifies the model enough to build upon the next layer.
As a result, the user needs to either have a UV light source externally to cure the model completely or leave the model under the sun for some time. In the case of the Sun, sometimes users have complained that they may need the model during the night or the location in which the model is built isn't that sunny. In either case, Ilios Ray already has UV LED Strips, built into it and can cure your model completely after the build cycle. Providing you with a finished result based on your requirements.
Having this ability, removes yet another external factor and provides a completely automated solution for making as well as finishing the model, without the interference from the user during the entire process.
What makes Ilios Ray so affordable and still provide a high resolution for the build process is its laser scan-line technology. Traditional Laser mechanisms usually operate through a series of mirrors, guiding the beam to its target. The main disadvantage of this is the limitation of the beam angle, meaning that there is only so much the beam can bend before loosing its shape. As a result this generates a relatively small build volume. DLP projectors on the other hand can be expensive and need constant care and maintenance of the lamp and the optics. Additionally projectors can consume large amounts of energy and take up most of the space inside a 3D printer.
By combining the laser beam scan-line on the X axis and motion of the assembly on the Y axis, the result is a large and clean resolution at the fraction of the cost. The operation is quite similar to how a standard scanner operates but in reverse.
The gantry of the laser assembly moves on precision rails and a high pitch belt assembly. All is being moved by a servo motor, providing the ultimate accuracy that is required for best results.
This technique also allows Ilios Ray to be much slimmer and take up only a small portion of the over-all space inside the machine.