Resin printer updates

I’ve finally gotten a handle on my resin printer and have gotten some successful prints! Here’s some of what I did to get it to a good state:

  • Replaced the stock FEP sheet with an nFEP sheet (although that’s mostly because the stock one was leaking a little)
  • Added some PTFE lubricant to the LCD screen (to aid with cleanup in particular)
  • Increased the exposure times; first layers went from 30s to 45, and subsequent layers went from 2.5s to 4
  • Started using Chitubox on Linux because it performs way better than the Mac version (not really anything to do with the printer itself, but, y'know)
  • Ground down the build plate some more
  • Figured out a better way of angling prints

Also, the cheap curing station works pretty well! I’m finding that most prints need 2-3 trips through it just to get all the angles exposed (since it doesn’t illuminate from underneath). Incidentally there’s one part of the design that’s incredibly clever: I couldn’t figure out how the turntable was powered, until I realized that there’s solar cells on it! So it’s actually recapturing a bunch of otherwise-wasted light to power things, instead of having to use pogo pins or separate batteries or whatever. It’s probably cheaper to manufacture that way, too. Neat.

Anyway, I’ve now printed a few succulent planters (including a new design of a sea urchin planter that I plan on selling on Etsy or something) and some improved DDR pad corner brackets. Which still don’t prevent my pad from slipping, but it was a fun process to use them to dial the printer in anyway.

I’ve also gotten a better hang on my process for safely/cleanly working with the printer. I got a spray bottle and filled that with 91% isopropyl alcohol (I had to buy it online, unfortunately, although as of today my local Target has it in-stock so I’ve stocked up a bit) and I have a larger plastic tub to keep its drippings in. Right now my procedure is something like this:

  1. Plug USB stick into printer, tie my hair back, and put on nitrile gloves
  2. Open the IPA tub
  3. Hold the vat over the tub, spray IPA into the vat, let it drain into the tub
  4. Install the vat
  5. Dip the build plate in the IPA tub and scrape it down with the metal putty knife
  6. Spray the build plate with IPA (which then drips into the tub) then wipe it off with a paper towel
  7. Close the IPA tub
  8. Install the build plate, shake the resin, pour the resin into the vat, put the cover on the printer, and start the print
  9. Carefully remove the nitrile gloves; if they’ve gotten resin on them, throw them out
  10. [print happens]
  11. Put on nitrile gloves (hopefully reusing the ones from before if it’s safe to do so)
  12. Put out some fresh paper towels and open the IPA tub and a water tub. Take the tools out of the IPA tub, and let the funnel in particular drain and dry.
  13. Take off the cover, remove the build plate, turn it sideways over the vat to allow the excess resin to drain off into the vat, using the plastic scraper to help it along
  14. Hold the build plate over the IPA tub and spray the print and plate with IPA, letting it drip into the tub
  15. Rest the build plate on the paper towels and use the metal scraper to remove the print from the bed, and remove the support material manually
  16. Dunk the print in the water tub and swish it around a bunch
  17. Put the print in the curing station and let it go a few times at a few different angles, 6 minutes each time
  18. Put a filter into the funnel, and the funnel into the resin bottle. Pour the vat resin into the bottle, carefully, because the filters are a bit too big for the funnel.
  19. Dunk the vat in the IPA tub and use the plastic scraper to scrape off any stray vestiges of cured resin and so on. Dunk it a few times to rinse it as good as possible.
  20. Pull the vat out, and spray it down with fresh IPA to get it as clean as possible. Place the vat upside-down atop the IPA tub while it drains.
  21. Get annoyed at the slight bit of resin leak onto the LCD, spray it down with IPA and scrape it with the plastic scraper until it’s all off
  22. Put the funnel and tools into the IPA tub, put the vat on its side next to the printer to finish drying, close the IPA tub

Compare this to the procedure for an FDM print:

  1. Spray the bed with IPA and wipe it off with a paper towel
  2. Install filament into printer
  3. Start the print
  4. [print happens]
  5. Peel the print off of the print bed (possibly using my offset spatula to help it along), and remove any support materials
  6. Put the filament away
  7. Contemplate how much easier FDM printing is than resin printing.

I’m looking forward to the ceramic printer, which I think is going to have a level of fussiness somewhere between the two; the procedure for preparing the clay is pretty involved, and it takes many minutes to get the extruder’s push plate in position, and after printing the print has to dry for at least a day and then get fired in a kiln. But it doesn’t involve toxic chemicals, and it’s a whole new world of things to explore.


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