Photocentric is the company known for its specialisation in photopolymers since 2002. Now they offer the cheapest resin-based 3D printer on the market, their photocuring technology is extremely cost-effective and they have global net of distributors. Sally Tipping tells us more about Photocentric 3D.
Karol Krawczyński: What has driven you to make the decision to build your own 3D printer?
Sally Tipping: We have been the world leaders in research into daylight activated photopolymer. We first commercialized it 10 years ago with an innovative home stamp making kit. We knew it potentially could be used to make a 3D printer work, but we actually thought that not only would the amount of light be too small even for our very active polymers, but also that the image would be of low resolution.
We started a research project into using it in a 3D printer two years ago and were very pleasantly surprised when it worked! As soon as we saw the potential of the invention we put a team of scientists and engineers onto it and developed the Liquid Crystal printer. We have always been driven to achieve something game-changing for the 3D industry- high quality, low cost printing available in all size formats and all materials.
KK: The price of your Liquid Crystal is the most competitive on the market – it could be great advantage to gain customers but it also could lead to questions about 3D printer and prints quality.
ST: We are aware of that sentiment – when our competitors first saw it, they said that it was priced too cheaply and would make people be turned off it. We are not concerned by that. We have an imaging system in the LCD screen that is a fraction of the cost of lasers or DLPs. Do you know that the screen for an ipad, which we intend to use in a future printer, is very low cost? This is the true advantage of our invention, we are benefitting from the purchasing of 100’s of millions of people, this isn’t the case with the competing technologies.
We could keep more margin ourselves, but we decided to price it independently of our competitors’ pricing structures and just keep a profit we could live with. We followed exactly the same policy with resin. It is one of our corporate core values to offer great value for money and open the market to more people.
KK: Can you tell us something more about Daylight Polymer Printing process and cost-saving LCD screen used in this technology?
ST: Photocentric has invented Daylight Polymer Printing (DPP) and has commercialised it as the Liquid Crystal printer. It is the only LCD system to work without UV, purely on daylight. Photocentric have been the leading innovators in daylight activated photopolymer since 2002 and have recently filed 5 patents on the technology. We have developed the most active daylight polymers ever made, tailored to the light from LCD screens suitable for human viewing.
The most obvious advantage is cost, but there are also significant technical advantages – the very low light intensity generates almost no heat in polymerisation and therefore no attraction to the release layer. The low intensity light also can’t penetrate through the cured polymer thus self-regulating over-exposure.
Perhaps the most powerful advantage of all, it enables very large format, high resolution printing at very low cost- a 40” 4K TV screen is being tested currently. This would enable low cost mass manufacture of 3D parts.
KK: Aren’t you afraid of CLIP technology that can rearrange resin 3D printers market?
ST: We have our own continuous printing development programme. Most printers can be configured to run continuously given certain circumstances, but ours, with its ultra low energy is best suited to it. In time we believe all resin printers, will print continuously. It will be difficult for CLIP to offer cost effective large format printers, wheras it is much simpler to find affordable, LCD screens in large formats.
KK: Are you going to concentrate on Europe market or you plan to go global?
ST: We are a company that has always exported all over the world and we will continue to do so with our 3d range. We definitely see the world as our market. We have a manufacturing facility in Phoenix, Arizona that currently manufactures clear photopolymer stamps for the American markets. We will expand this facility to also produce 3d printers in Phoenix.
KK: Are you aiming for dispersed distributors or rather less number but with wide-range?
ST: We aim to work with experienced, technically minded distributors who can offer our customers in each market, excellent customer service.
KK: What are your plans for the future – concentrate on resin 3D printers and resins or you think about further market penetration?
ST: We have a long list of exciting projects that includes a great range of resins in both our daylight and UV curing ranges, as well as a wider range of printers. We will post on our website when we are able to share developments.
KK: Thank you for your time
ST: Thank you.