How to Cure SLA Resin Prints with UV light
SLA and DLP 3D printers work by using a liquid resin that is solidified when UV light hits it.
The amount the resin solidifies is dependent on how strong the UV light is and how long it touches the resin.
3D printers shine just enough UV light on each layer to make the liquid resin set into a solid and maintain its form, but it will still maintain a soft, almost rubbery feel. This allows the printer to work quickly and helps each layer stick to the previous one.
This means when your resin prints are finished you will need to cure them.
To completely cure your resin prints and turn them into strong hard-wearing plastic you will need shine a source of strong UV light at them.
One of the easiest ways to cure your prints is to simply leave them outside in direct sunlight. If you have access to bright sunshine most of the day (living in Arizona would help!) then this is an easy option.
However, if you live in a part of the world that doesn’t have guaranteed daily sunshine or its impractical, say you live in an apartment, then you will need to invest in a UV lamp.
Personally, my prints always seem to finish around 11pm and there’s no way I’m waiting all night before I can cure them!
Best UV Lamps for Curing Resin Prints
When choosing a UV curing lamp, you will need to look for a UV lamp wattage of greater than around 30W. There are cheap UV torches and light strips available with lower wattages but they will not provide you with enough UV energy to cure your prints.
One of the cheapest and easiest ways to cure your resin prints is with a UV nail dryer. These are designed for curing nail polishes but work perfectly at curing prints too.
The MelodySusie is one of the most popular models used by 3D printing enthusiasts and can’t be beat at this price.
To cure prints that are too large to fit inside you can simply raise the nail dryer on any platform so it sits over your prints. In fact, you can print a platform like this one on Thingiverse for the MelodySusie to sit on and make your own completely sealed UV curing chamber.
You should be careful looking at other nail dryers as many models don’t have an open base like this one which will limit the size of print you can fit inside.
The 36W of UV light is provided by four 9W CCFL lamps each of which can be replaced when it wears out, and a spare one is included.
The lamps provide a good even light spread that will reach all sides of your print and cure it within minutes.
The LKE Nail dryer is very similar to the MelodySusie model, except it uses UV emitting LEDs instead of traditional CCFL bulbs. LEDs generally last much longer than bulbs, in fact the ones used in this model have an estimated life span of 50,000 hours.
The LKE model also features an open bottom so it can be easily raised or modified to turn it into a curing oven of whatever size you require.
Another additional feature of the LKE is an inbuilt timer which switches the dryer off after a set period. This can be a blessing and a curse as if you need to cure for longer than 90 seconds you will have to restart the dryer!
If you are printing larger objects or want to cure in a shorter time then the Quans 50W is a more powerful option.
Its open floodlight design makes it easy to position it in a suitable space. Because it uses LEDs with a lifespan of around 50000 hours the light source will outlast traditional CFL bulbs used in the MelodySusie.
As there is no shielding you will need to be careful how you use the Quans light, and I would suggest ideally printing a curing chamber to mount the light to.
Where to Buy?
Other Uses for your UV Lamp
Your UV lamp can also be used to cure other UV sensitive products. For example, there is an array of UV curable glues available that are very useful for bonding 3D printed objects together. They allow you to move the bonded joint until cured by the UV light.
I hope this helps you.
Price excl. shipping / Last update on 2019-08-17 at 02:54 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API / As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.