Updated August 26th

MoonRay 3D Printer: World’s Best Desktop Printer?

MoonRay

MoonRay claims it is the “World’s Best Desktop 3D Printer”. Post Kickstarter campaign, can the finished product live up to expectations?

The MoonRay – allegedly the “World’s Best Desktop 3D Printer” – was successfully funded on Kickstarter. Let’s examine why the creators are making such bold claims about their machine.

At the end of this article, we have compiled an overview of updates after the Kickstarter campaign.

First of all, powerful words sell. That’s especially true when you’re crowdfunding a 3D printer. Superlatives are thrown around in the descriptions and headings of Kickstarter projects, and it seems that this trend will last for a while. Exaggeration sells, strangely. But calling something, not the fastest, not the most affordable, but the world’s best?

One might suspect they can only under-deliver on that statement. Let’s have a look at the technology that is involved.

MoonRay 3D Printer: Best of both worlds?

The MoonRay 3D printer tries to close a gap between cheaper desktop FDM printers and more expensive SLA or DLP printers.

FDM printers are affordable but limited in quality. The prints where you can see each layer? They’re mostly FDM – these printers are not able to produce really flat, smooth surfaces.

SLA or DLP (stereolithography) printers are the expensive ones, and even their filament is costly. The photo-curable resins needed for those printers have cost up to $200 per liter in the past and just recently dropped to $55 per liter. The massive interest in 3D printing produced more and more consumer model printers using stereolithography variants. SLA printers can produce surfaces without visible layering because the achievable layers are are finer.

Round, smooth surfaces instead of visible layers: the practice (source: kickstarter)
Round, smooth surfaces instead of visible layers: the practice (source: Kickstarter)
Round, smooth surfaces instead of visible layers: the theory (source: kickstarter)
Round, smooth surfaces instead of visible layers: the theory (source: Kickstarter)

The MoonRay carries the “layerlessness” to the extremes of what is possible. Not only is printing with UV-curable resin not as prone to visible print layers as FDM printing is, but the fine resolution with a layer thickness of only 20 microns on the z-axis and 100 microns in x- and y-direction also add to that effect. But not only the hardware of the MoonRay 3D printer prevents the stair-stepping effect, the software offers an “anti-aliasing” algorithm that smoothens out the layers on the surface. No postprocessing is needed to achieve these results.


MoonRay 3D Printer: Why is it called MoonRay?

RAWR! (source: kickstarter)
RAWR BLUE RAWR! (source: Kickstarter)

We can only guess that the MoonRay got its name from the fact that it was a project the team worked on nightly.

Actually, there is a better explanation. The MoonRay uses their own RayOne projector that only emits light with a 405 nm wavelength (UV or blue laser), which is the precise wavelength used to cure the liquid resin into hard plastic.

This saves about 90% energy compared to the common commercial projectors, which emit a much broader spectrum of light. The specialized projector doesn’t produce as much heat and is smaller as its counterparts, which makes cooling easier and the MoonRay 3D printer quieter.

939f8f96383563c085cf3b37684dc96d_originalThe MoonRay 3D printer can be yours for about $3,000 depending how fast you order it and your location. It will later retail for $3,499 per machine.

Only the original liquid resin should be used with the MoonRay – according to the creators. It should be available at a competitive price even after the Kickstarter campaign has ended. And, technically, third-party resins should be usable, too. But the results may vary and the MoonRay team seems to be betting on the fact that you don’t want to mess around with a $3,499 3D printer just to save a few bucks.

Also, the resin tank should last a while, unlike on some other printers where it needs to be changed after a certain period of time.

In conclusion, the MoonRay may not be the best 3D Printer for your desktop – but one of the best you can get at the moment for certain. The MoonRay crowdfunding campaign is worth a look and if you wanted to buy a 3D printer in the $3,000 price range anyway, why not wait a while to get the presumably best 3D printer this amount of money can get you?

MoonRay 3D Printer: Update, August 26th

New look

MoonRay’s exterior shell was redesigned to increase durability during use and shipping.

Moonray: before and after (right)
MoonRay: before and after (right)

New resin tank design

The resin tank was also redesigned for durability and ease of use.

GUI updates

Over the last weeks, the RayWare software that comes with the MoonRay printer has been improved. The goal was to make the software more intuitive for users of all experience levels.

The screenshots we have seen so far look very clean, the controls are neatly arranged to the left and the right of the workspace.

RayWare: Select material and print quality
RayWare: Select material and print quality

Resin info

SprintRay have also published in-depth information on the mechanical properties of some of their resins through a Dropbox document.

Pre-ordering

If you missed the Kickstarter campaign, you can now pre-order a MoonRay through the SprintRay website. It will be delivered in early 2016 and will cost $3,499.