The Peopoly Phenom is a departure from Peopoly machines past, opting for LCD masking tech over the laser tracing of traditional SLA style printing. The key difference here is that where a laser SLA system has to trace every element of a layer in sequence, hardening the resin as it goes (similar to filament extrusion-based printing, which also has to trace the path set out when slicing a model into G-code), LCD masking instead exposes the entire layer on its LCD, through which UV light from an array of LEDs shines.
Think of it as the difference between taking a long exposure photograph of a circle, versus drawing that circle yourself. A small shape would be far quicker to draw yourself (SLA), but with a much larger shape or batch of many small shapes, it would be quicker to capture all with the photograph than to draw them all individually in sequence.
LCD + LED = MSLA
Powering the Peopoly Phenom’s resin curing abilities is a light engine that uses a 12.5-inch 4K resolution LCD panel, which sits above an LED array that provides UV light. Between the two lies a custom lens designed to both distribute the light evenly across the build plate, and, according to Peopoly’s release, block infrared heat from the lamps. Paired with a fan array and heat sink combo, it would appear that a great deal of attention has been paid to keeping temperatures and operating conditions for the LCD and LEDs optimal.
The Peopoly Phenom is a bottom-up resin 3D printer, as are the majority of desktop resin printing machines. This means that the print plate lowers into the resin, drawing back up as the print progresses. While efficient for material costs (you only generally need as much resin in the vat as the model will take), this method can come at a cost in print quality or the risk of the print breaking, thanks to the physical necessity of peeling the print off the bottom of the resin vat with each layer change.
MSLA printers typically use some variation on FEP film as the transparent bottom of their resin vats. As the layer changes and the build plate pulls away, this flexes somewhat, releasing the print and allowing fresh resin to flow in for photopolymerization on the next layer’s exposure to UV light. For the Phenom, Peopoly claims its special film processing technique reduces the bond between the hardened resin and the vat, lessening this peeling effect and, in theory, improving the print success rate and print quality.
The Phenom’s 12.5-inch 4K screen results in a pixel size of 72 microns in the X- and Y- axes. Comparable to Peopoly’s previous large-format resin machine, the Moai 200. In real-world terms, expect high detail print across that huge build volume.
On (much) closer inspection of the printed parts, users will notice a minute difference in the surface finish in the X- and Y- axes – a reality of the Phenom using an LCD screen for its printing. Pixels have sharp edges, which means that the boundaries of layers in those two planes will show the subtle ‘staircase’ effect. At such small resolutions, it will barely be visible to the naked eye.
Judging by the imagery available of the Phenom, we expect leveling to be relatively straightforward, with four screws on the four corners of the print plate mount allowing for easy adjustment once flat on the vat bed.
Mentioned briefly in the Phenom’s teaser video (above), the print plate travels through the Z-axis on what looks to be a sturdy assembly riding up a ball screw and guided by linear rails. Encountering such arrangements on other resin 3D printers, we would expect this to be the optimal setup for making the most of that tall print volume without risk of wobble effecting print quality.
From what we have seen of the Peopoly Phenom, it runs on ChiTu firmware and will most likely play nicely out of the box with ChiTu Box. A solid platform that allows for the quick and painless setup of prints, this seems like the sensible choice for making the Phenom an accessible and easy to run machine.
The Peopoly Phenom features a LAN port, making it possible to pipe prints to the machine over a network and, theoretically, create an easy to manage farm of Phenoms.