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What Accessories Do I Need for Resin 3D Printing?
Resin 3D printing, also known as SLA (stereolithography), is growing in popularity due to the increasing availability of budget-friendly resin 3D printers. Despite their low price, resin 3D printers offer incredible precision and accuracy, allowing you to make the most detailed prints, so they are perfect for small prints like gaming miniatures.
Unlike FDM printing, when you print with resin, you need to plan a post-production workflow to cure your prints, clean them, and take care of any unused resin.
Resin 3D printing, therefore, requires several consumables and accessories to help things go smoothly. Some of these accessories are essential to ensure your safety, whereas others are for simplifying the process for you.
In this article, I will go through which accessories you should buy in advance of your first resin print.
I’ll point out brands that are worth getting because of their value for money or quality, and I’ll point out when you are ok to save money and go for the budget option and when you should spend a bit more to get something that won’t let you down when you need it.
No debate about it, plenty of gloves are an absolute must! SLA resin in its liquid form is an irritant that becomes worse for your skin the more you are exposed to it. As it’s an irritant, this means you may touch it several times and have no irritation, but eventually, you will react to it, and from that point, it will always irritate your skin.
Gloves are one of the items where you shouldn’t skimp on quality. Cheap, thin gloves will tear almost as soon as you put them on and offer little protection. Vinyl or latex gloves are susceptible to damage from the resin and alcohol, so make sure you get nitrile gloves that are resilient to most chemicals.
Remember that quality matters and shouldn’t be compromised to save a few pennies. If you’re constantly changing your gloves because they’ve torn, cheap gloves will be a false economy.
Resin 3D printing can be a messy business! You will realize the importance of paper towels at the point when you need to clean up your unused resin. If left, spills will stain most surfaces, and of course, you are much more likely to accidentally touch your skin against spills that you are unaware of.
Remember to purchase them in large quantities because you are sure to need several every time you print and decant your resin. A small spillage can require a few paper towels.
Taking your time before cleaning up the mess could result in stubborn stains that are impossible to remove.
Quality also matters here, and you should avoid the cheapest brands that tear without absorbing any resin.
Metal Putty Knife
You will need a metal putty knife for removing prints and cured materials. Go for one that has a good sharp edge that will slide under prints without damaging them. You’ll also want a good handle that will give you a strong grip and reduce your chances of slipping and hurting yourself.
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After you have printed your model before it has fully cured, you will need to wash it in a bath of isopropyl alcohol. This washing is about eliminating any excess resin in a bid to give your model a great finish.
Isopropyl alcohol is just a chemical, so there is no difference between brands. Just get one that is good value for money, has a strong reusable container, and in a size that is convenient for you.
Before you start printing, make sure you have enough as you can’t go back and use it once your print is fully cured.
Isopropyl alcohol is both flammable and toxic, so make sure it is stored in a very safe place away from sources of heat and out of the reach of children.
As much as I advocate good dental hygiene, these toothbrushes should be kept for 3D printing use only!
A toothbrush is a great tool for removing excess resin from your finished print, as well as being useful for brushing away dust from detailed surfaces after sanding.
The bristles need to be soft to ensure you don’t damage your nice-looking prints. Working with a toothbrush will help you gently scrub excess resin from the various crevices.
To save waste, you can easily reuse any unused resin in your 3D printers vat so long as you thoroughly filter it.
There are two types of filter, permanent and disposable. Which you use it up to you and whichever you prefer.
Permanent filters reduce waste, but you must thoroughly wash them after each use; otherwise, they will contaminate your clean resin.
Disposable paper filters are less hassle as you can throw them away after use. However, they are less environmentally friendly as you can’t recycle them due to the resin contamination.
Resin 3D printing makes use of several toxic chemicals that are highly irritant to your skin and eyes.
Not only that, in the cleaning and post-processing of your prints, you are also in danger of getting small particles in your eye from sanding dust.
In short, it’s just not worth the risk of damaging your eyesight. Besides, everyone knows safety goggles are cool and make you look like a proper scientist. Get some geek chic in your wardrobe!
If you have tried Resin 3D printing, then you will know that the fumes are not very pleasant.
And it’s not just the resin. You will be using paints, alcohol, glue, and sanding too.
Therefore, you need to work with proper ventilation. Ideally, this would include an extractor or air purifier.
A good mask will keep you safe and make 3D printing with resin more enjoyable.
FEP film is an often-forgotten consumable on DLP 3D printers. It’s a transparent and double-layered foil. It is usually inserted in a rack that is linked to the resin tank. A top quality one provides a clear path for the UV light to cure the liquid resin without affecting its accuracy or strength.
It is important to have a spare FEP film as it’s very easy to damage, which will prevent you from printing until you can replace it. One of the most common ways of damaging the FEP film is to scratch it by using paper towels to clean it. You should only use alcohol and a microfiber cloth or cotton wool to clean it.
Different 3D printers have different size requirements for FEP film, but you can always buy film that is oversized and then cut it down to the size you need. You can use an existing one as a template.
Manufacturers often sell FEP film that is cut to fit their machine but at an inflated price, it’s much cheaper to buy a large roll or sheet and cut it to size.
UV Curing Light
When you remove your print from the printer, it still requires a full curing cycle to give the resin its required properties of strength and toughness.
The easiest way to cure your prints is to leave them under strong sunlight. However, for most people, this isn’t possible unless you happen to live in a very sunny and dry part of the world and are free to rotate your print all day.
A more convenient solution is to buy a UV curing light. These use LEDs to provide all the UV your print needs to cure quickly and evenly and can be set up in your home and left to do its work without needing your attention.
Whether you are curing your prints under sunlight or a UV light, the best and easiest way to ensure every surface gets cured is to use a solar turntable to rotate it.
As their name implies, solar turntables make use of sunlight or any UV light source to power a motor that turns them around.
I hope this article has helped you make a list of any accessories you need to buy when you start your resin 3D printing journey.
If you jump into resin printing without planning, you will find it a messy and complex process, but with a plan and a bit of practice, you will soon be getting reliable high-quality prints!
Last update on 2021-08-04 at 10:14