Resin 3D Printers - Questions and Discussion

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MagickalMemories ( 830 )
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Resin 3D Printers - Questions and Discussion

Post by MagickalMemories » Tue Sep 14, 2021 5:09 am

So, it's still months away, but I'm seriously considering getting a resin 3D printer. With all of the 4k printers coming out with great results and SUPER reasonable prices, I'm thinking about taking that plunge.
I've watched a few YouTube videos, done some window shopping, contemplated which ones I might want, and where I'd set everything up, etc.
The funny thing is that, personally, I don't really HAVE a need for one. I don't play a ton of games that need a ton of custom minis or parts. I don't sell prints. Nothing. It just CAPTIVATES me.

So, here's the discussion:
What questions do YOU have about them?
What are YOUR experiences in using them?
What is YOUR opinion on the best ones (and why)?
What things should someone NEW to 3D printing know that they might not see on most videos?

I'm looking forward to the discussion.

Eric
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Re: Resin 3D PRinters - Questions and Discussion

Post by bbb » Tue Sep 14, 2021 10:21 am

I'm super interested in them as well. But, do I really need another aspect of the hobby that I don't use enough to justify? When the prints look good, the machines seem amazing, but I see so many posts about "What am I doing wrong?" that make me wonder if I should jump into it or not.

But it looks so cool...

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Re: Resin 3D PRinters - Questions and Discussion

Post by Ambience 327 » Tue Sep 14, 2021 12:18 pm

I've had an EPAX X1 2K for about six months now, and though I don't have it running all day every day, I have really loved it.

The big benefit of the EPAX X1 is that it is just so easy to use. They make a claim that it is pre-leveled out of the box, and you probably won't ever have to level it. Well, in the time I have owned it, this has certainly been true. Once I figured out the right settings for the resin I am using, the only real failures I have had are either the result of insufficient supports, or else my own absolute stupidity (I left the build plate out once...duh...)

I have printed things for my miniature hobby, including minis, furniture, and other scenery stuff for D&D, parts for 40K, etc. I have also printed things for my kids' stuff - such as parts for Pinewood Derby cars, and even hand-outs for our scouting troop that go with my "Medieval Weapons" lesson.

Overall, if the concept of 3D printing intrigues you, and you have the patience, it can be a fun and rewarding hobby - though there is definitely some potential for frustration as you learn, and as you hit minor bumps along the way.

However, one thing I will say in regards to all of the "what am I doing wrong" posts - you see a lot of that because people who are getting good results tend to either just post pics of their completed prints, or else don't bother to post at all. So what you are left with, in many of the groups on Facebook and Discord and such, is the people who need help/support/ideas and are asking for them. Lots of folks have few or no problems if they follow the instructions and Youtube tutorials. My very first print was a "success" as it all printed, but there was definitely some overexposure, which I corrected after running some calibration test prints and tweaking my settings. I asked for a little assistance/advice during that period, but have thus far been able to either print successfully, or diagnose any minor issues myself with either sticky posts or Youtube videos.

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Re: Resin 3D PRinters - Questions and Discussion

Post by ChaplinXavier » Tue Sep 14, 2021 1:52 pm

I have been printing for 2 months with an Elegoo Saturn. My experience so far is this:
1. the minis never seem to look as good as the renders.
2. there is always a bad side (the side facing the print plate)
3. buying pre supported files is a crap shoot. some are great, some do not work at all, even if 100 other people print them fine.
4. I have not saved any money printing minis. Between start up cost, and print fails (the resin I buy is $38 for 1000g) I probably have spent more than just going out and buying the minis.
5. It is messy, and smelly. cleaning the minis from the support marks is a pain.
6. BUT, when I do get something to print correctly, I feel like a 5 year old getting a new kitten :P

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Re: Resin 3D PRinters - Questions and Discussion

Post by YoungWolf777 » Tue Sep 14, 2021 6:58 pm

My name is Dan and I'm a 3D printing addict...
  • I have been running an Anycubic Photon Mono X for 7 months now... time flies.
  • I had one friend who had an original Photon when I started. He hit a wall with his learning curve and set it aside, so I had zero support.
  • Reddit, YouTube, Google searches all helped in some ways. But really what it came down to for me was to do it by myself and learn from my mistakes.
  • What changed when this print failed? What could I do different? etc.
  • Water washable resins are a great concept. The reality (in my experience) is they leave a LOT to be desired. 80% of my failures or print issues in the first 2 months all started with the crappy resins I was trying. YMMV wildly. They are not impressive to me at all.
  • Once I found a resin whos properties I liked and gave me great results (Phrozen Aqua-Gray 4K - $40 per Liter) I was able to shift very quickly into fine-tuning my settings for optimal prints.
  • Trying to learn to do your own supports AND figuring out print settings simultaneously will end in tears most of the time. Tackle one variable at a time.
  • I highly recommend Lychee as your only slicer. It's free, it does what it says it can do, and they offer great support on their Discord. I bought the Pro version and haven't regretted it once.
It's a huge learning curve and it does look both appealing and daunting at the same time. I stuck it out and am super happy that I did. I print nearly every day. I'm currently printing an entire SM company (StarPhantoms), complete with custom pads & heads and truescaled.

Here's a piece that I printed from Lord of the Print's Patreon: https://www.instagram.com/p/CTxFGZPLb9K/

It cost me $10 for that month's models and maybe $20 in resin. (It's hollowed.) No way could you buy a print of it for that.

I'm happy to help anyone who has questions and I can point you to some great resources. Just don't have the time this second to round them up.

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Re: Resin 3D PRinters - Questions and Discussion

Post by YoungWolf777 » Tue Sep 14, 2021 7:59 pm

To better answer one of your original questions MM: What are the "best" printers out there (right now)?

I won't debate what is the "best" printer out there. What I will do is offer some key points to look for in a printer (and how I selected mine).

I would HIGHLY recommend that you look for new "mono" screen. RGB screens are old & slow and on their collective way out of the arena. Don't waste your money on one if you are starting out now. Mono = monochromatic, as in 1 bit on or off pixels. With RGB you have to fire 3 pixels (RGB) to make 1 pixel. Lower resolution, not as strong, long exposure times to get the same results, blah, blah, blah. Don't waste any time or money on them.

That will narrow the field for you considerably. The next decision is size. How big is the print area? The older printers can print only so much at a time. The newer "big" printers like the Mono X and Saturn have a considerably bigger print plate.
  • What do you want to print?
  • What do you think you might print?
  • How often do you think you might print?
Truth be told, most sculpts available will be cut down to fit on the smaller printers, so there's not much of an issue there. But the field is changing and adopting the bigger sizes. I'm fairly confident that the smaller size printers even with a mono screen will be phased out over the next 2 years or so. Do I have any data to back that up? No, but if you watch what the manufacturers are currently releasing and hyping, it's all about 8K, either by increasing the size of the screen/print area or by actually putting in higher res screens in the current "big" printers. Like any manufacturing industry, the trend is planned obsolescence. Whatever you buy in today, will be pretty much obsolete in a few years and it will be more cost effective to buy the newer tech at that point than buy a replacement screen & parts for your old printer. The question is, how soon do you want to face that decision? Ask anyone who jumped on a plasma TV if they have buyers remorse.

Another key feature to look for is 2 Z-axis rails. If the printer has only 1 Z-axis rail it can "wobble" the plate and cause layer line issues and distortion if it's not tightly maintained. 2 Z-axis rails vastly improves the stability and pretty much eliminates wobble.

To sum up my look for features:
  • Mono screen a must have
  • How big is the screen? I would lean towards buying as big as you can now to save heartache later
  • 2 Z-axis rails a must have

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Re: Resin 3D PRinters - Questions and Discussion

Post by MagickalMemories » Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:23 am

Wow. this thing moved faster than I thought it would!
LOL
I've been eyeballing the Mono X and the cleaner they have for it, too (I forget the name, off hand). They have a great price for the printer, cleaner, and (a kg?) of resin on their site.
Currently, I've been reading VERY little, but watching a lot of YouTube videos of all types (everything from "How to" videos to "Reviews"). Going with a Mono screen is a no-brainer for me. And, since I don't expect to be pulling the trigger until late fall to late winter? Well, heaven KNOWS what'll be available then!

So, is there a general guideline for how many washes you can get out of the alcohol? Looking at the Mono X cleaner, it can easily hold a couple GALLONS of alcohol for larger pieces. It would be a shame if that was only good for one or 2 washes. LOL

As for what I'm printing?
Well, if I buy a printer, one of the guys in my RPG group will pay me to print a metric BOATLOAD of stuff. He wants D&D terrain, replica models (comic book busts and the like) and... well, whatever catches his fancy. : ) He'd pay for any files he wanted printed, the resin, and a bit extra to make up for the printer's usage. Oh, and he'd freely share the files with me for my own use.
I'm sure the guys in my 40k group would suddenly have an interest in resin printed stuff, as well, under the same premise.

As for me? Heh. That's the funny thing. I don't really want or need very much 3D printed stuff. I'd love to get a Bolt Pistol, Plasma Pistol, perhaps a life-sized servo skull... I've seen free files for these. I could paint them up as gifts for my game group.
With the Mono X, I could even (VERY VERY SLOWLY) print out things like Cadian armor, replica weapons... just stupid stuff. LOL
For myself, its more like I'm interested in doing it... but I don't have a need to print anything for myself. : )

Eric
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Re: Resin 3D Printers - Questions and Discussion

Post by YoungWolf777 » Wed Sep 15, 2021 6:02 pm

Just from that list I would recommend the Mono X or something similar in size. Printing replica weapons would be mind-bendingly painful on a smaller printer.

The Wash n Cure station is a good investment. They didn't release the newer larger one until well after my buy in. Most pieces I have fit in it.

As for IPA consumption, there are ways to mitigate that.

#1 - Do NOT dump your print or entire print plate in your Wash n Cure. You will waste tons of IPA doing that. It's a very rookie mistake and one I did for the first few months. Instead, have a tub of IPA and take your prints into that from the plate. Swish them around and you will remove 80~90% of the loose uncured resin from the print. THEN go to the Wash n Cure.

#1a - There are 2 schools of thought on when to remove the supports. One school is to take them off immediately. The thought is that's fewer uncured resin covered surfaces going into the IPA. The second (and the one I subscribe to) is to wash the prints with the supports in place and removed them post-washing. There are a number of reasons for it ad I can go into detail later if anyone wants to know.

#2 - Use the Wash n Cure station (if you buy one.) Don't expect your print to be perfectly clean out of the Wash n Cure. It just won't be. Resin is very tenacious and will cling to large flat surfaces as well as recessed details. Which leads me to #3...

#3 - Have a second tub of clean IPA handy. Once out of the Wash n Cure, I remove the supports and toss them. Then I drop the printed pieces into the 2nd wash vat. Keep a soft toothbrush handy and use it to scrub all of the surfaces, keeping them wet with the IPA. You will be astounded at how much more resin you get off the prints this way.

#4 (Totally optional) I use my airbrush to blow dry the prints and blow off the remaining IPA. You can wait for evaporation, but if you have a big complex piece it's going to take a bit. This also helps prevent redeposits of uncured resin in recesses. If you have a hollowed part this will help blow the IPA out of the part. Still let it sit overnight before curing to make sure it's completely dry and drained.

That's the results of 7 months worth of try & fail learning while printing almost every day. Once I tried the pre and post wash idea, I never looked back. It's okay if your prewash tub IPA is cloudy. Most resins will settle in the bottom of the tub after a while. Once it's super saturated though, dump it into an old gallon milk jug (with a lid of course). Then move your post wash tub up to prewash duty and fill the first tub with clean IPA and move it to postwash duty. Doing this will extend the life of your main wash tub in the Wash n Cure. Of course you can skip it altogether if you want. I do like the Wash n Cure for the curing function. I haven't found any "cheaper" alternative solutions that are as simple and effective to use.

Post curing for the most part is pretty straightforward. Don't overcook the resin and make sure the print is completely dry before attempting to post cure. Time & practice will help you determine how long is "long enough".

Another wall of text. Sorry about that. I can write another full wall about my adventures in figuring out how to recycle the dirty IPA... :D

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Re: Resin 3D Printers - Questions and Discussion

Post by MagickalMemories » Wed Sep 15, 2021 10:29 pm

Good information, YW. Thanks.
Re: Supports

I've been DEVOURING videos by "Uncle Jessy" (I think I spelled that right) while working. I just open up a handful of interesting videos in tabs and, as I finish one, I close the tab and start the next.
I like him because he's charismatic and personable. Too many guys posting videos about resin printing are just TOTAL freaking snooze-fests or something else that makes them unwatchable for me.

...but I digress...

It so happens that I watched an Uncle Jessy video today about removing supports. He basically agrees with you. Post IPA, dunk them in warm to hot (depending on the size of the printed item) water briefly. They were pulling RIGHT off. It was crazy... and MAN, what a satisfying sound that kind of "ripping" is!

So, are there any YouTube channels you'd suggest for beginners who want to learn HOW?

Eric
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Re: Resin 3D PRinters - Questions and Discussion

Post by jason1977 » Thu Sep 16, 2021 12:00 am

MagickalMemories wrote:
Wed Sep 15, 2021 1:23 am
I'd love to get a Plasma Pistol, I've seen free files for these. I could paint them up as gifts for my game group.
Eric
If you make this happen, Id buy one off you.



Jason
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Re: Resin 3D Printers - Questions and Discussion

Post by YoungWolf777 » Thu Sep 16, 2021 3:32 am

Ah, supports. The bane of many an intrepid new 3D printer owner. I'll confess, I watched a few videos and read a lot about supporting models in the beginning, but when it came down to it I went with try and fail for the most part. It is my default learning style and I only have so much patience for watching someone else do something.

However, much of it fell into place for me after watching this video. It is a MUST WATCH IMHO.

https://youtu.be/Qs2Rb0ExnIM

Once you understand the mathematics of print angles you will look at models differently as to how to approach angling them. Understand angles first, then you can focus on the supports.

Atlas 3D Support Solutions is likely the biggest name in presupports these days, and for good reason. They are a collective group that have developed very good methods for supporting models. What I did was I studied the supported models they provided to a couple of the Patreons I subscribed to at the time. Specifically Lord of the Print, but now I digress... ;)

What I found was a very good approach. They all use Lychee exclusively. Almost all of them use as light of supports as possible to do the job, but not so much as to cause a lot of scarring from removal. By studying these and a lot of practice, I got good enough that I'm really confident in supporting my own models and can predict with pretty good success where the issue points will be. of course, a print test is always where the rubber meets the road so to speak. I often find small things that need tweaking, but rarely is the part a "failure".

As for the "hot water trick" I've never tried it personally. What I have found is that if I use only "light" supports in Lychee and let the print soak in the IPA tub for ~30 minutes or so, the supports fall right off. I've let stuff sit overnight in IPA just to see and the last one I grabbed the raft as it was on top in the tub and the part stayed in the tub. It had literally fallen off the supports the second I touched the raft. :D

I've heard good things about Uncle Jessy, just never got around to watching any of his videos.

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Re: Resin 3D Printers - Questions and Discussion

Post by Doctari » Fri Sep 17, 2021 6:10 pm

So I took the plunge this year and destroyed 2 so you don't have to!

Printers that I currently run (almost 24/7) a Phrozen Mighty Sonic 4k, Elegoo Saturn 4k

Things you should know before you get started:

1. This is not a plug and play hobby. You will have print failures, hardware failures, FEP failures, software glitches and failures, you will have to update firmware both on the printer and on the slicer you use.

2. No one really knows everything about this hobby. People will pretend to. They will give you an infinite amount of advice that worked for them. But at the end of the day your mileage will vary and what works for you might not work for them and vice versa.

3. This hobby is expensive. People will disagree here and post how much money they saved by switching over and that's all well and good but a solid 500 dollar pritner, a computer that can actually run chitubox (or whatever you prefer), fep replacements, 99% isopropyle alcohol, a actual quality resin all cost money. Is it as expensive as buying single characters for 35 each? Eh... YMMV

4. GW is currently cracking down hard on sites that infringe upon their IP. No one in any of the forums are giving out links anymore, and that patreon you just supported can be pulled down in a second. If you see a file you like, download it. It might not be there tomorrow. *NOTE* this doesn't mean GW is wrong. A lot of this stuff is just open IP theft. I'd protect mine too.

5. If you're uncomfortable doing hardware stuff (replacing boards, screens, fep films, etc) this is NOT the hobby for you. Tech support from the companies that produce the machines is pretty much garbage. You will be watching a lot of videos to figure out how to do tech support on your own.

Scared yet? Don't be. It's not that bad once you get through the curve.

Things you should have in addition to your printer:

1. A set of allen wrenches (metric and imperial) that you can comfortably use. Most of the nuts and bolts are held in place with these and the ones they send you with the printer are garbage.

2. A gallon of Isopropyl Alchol. This will be used to clean up any resin spills and to clean off your models after you print them and before you cure them. You can add a sonic cleaner to the list as well but I've found that mine is not nearly as useful as a tuper ware container that can I just dunk the whole build plate into.

3. Rubber gloves. Don't get the resin on your hands.

4. A mask with vapor filters. Most people I see online use masks with dust filters. You're not trying to keep particles out of your lungs, you are trying to keep the toxic vapors out of your lungs.

4a. I'm not 100% sold on the whole mask thing. I work in my garage and it's very well ventilated. I think the NIOSH recommendations for PPM would be almost impossible to reach. Why do I have this opinion? My masters degree is in public health and a focus on environmental health and safety and industrial hygiene. The mask isn't going to hurt but if you are going to use it you should really use one with the proper filters. in general the filters will be pink. But you're a grown person, make your own choices.

5. A good putty knife/thin spatula to get the models off your build plate. Your printer will come with one, it may be trash. Always be pushing it away from your body. 72 stitches across your guts and resin introduced to the wound isn't a lesson anyone needs to learn.

6. A decent computer. You will be downloading, editing, supporting, slicing and saving huge files. You can't do that on an old pc. I mean you literally can't in most cases. If you have a rig that will play current gen games you should be fine, but just be advised that your 10 year old laptop probably won't cut the mustard.

7. Full sheets of super fine grit sand paper for leveling out your build plate. Once again you will get a tiny sheet with your printer (most of them) that is garbage.

8. A level place to print.

9. A plastic razor blade scraper for cleaning off your lcd. Normally the "blades" are bright orange plastic and you can get a set with handle (and normally real razors as well) on amazon for ~10 bucks. When you need this you will need it. Buy it now and avoid the rush.

10. Paper towels. So. Many. Paper. Towels.

How to get started:

1. Get your printer out of the box and set up.

2. Read your manual.

3. No, seriously. Read it.

4. Unless you're using the Phrozen 8k you will need to level your build plate before your first print (see you didn't read the manual) doing so is pretty simple but this is one of the most important steps. If your build plate isn't level you won't get complete prints.

5. *PERSONAL EXPERIENCE SUGGESTION INCOMING* Most printers will ship with the resin vat FEP (thin plastic sheet) already installed. This is a good thing. You will have to replace it eventually (they wear out, it's the nature of the beast) but there are things you can do to make sure they last as long as they possibly can. For me this includes treating the inside of the vat with a spray on rain-x product. You can get it at walmart for a couple of bucks a bottle, when you put a new FEP on or before you fill the tray the first time, hit it with a mist, let it sit for 10 seconds or so and wipe it out.

6. Run a LCD test to make sure you don't have any dead spots before installing the vat and pouring your resin. This will save you time in the long run trying to figure out why in the hell you can't get a reasonable looking print. Or why it just keeps failing! Note: you will have to replace the LCD as well. They last about 1000 hours.

7. Install your resin vat. Fill the vat up to the level that's indicated (again. R. T. F. M.).

8. Almost every printer will come with a memory stick with a sample print on it. Print. it. OUT. This will tell you a couple of things. 1. is the printer functioning correctly (reading the file, printing the file), 2. is your build plate level and 3.Look at you, printing things out. Very cool.

9. Download the slicing product of your choice and learn how to use that.

Random Tricks and Tips

1. When you finish a print I've found that dunking the build plate in Isopropyl and cleaning it thoroughly each time gives me great prints. It also allows you to check the plate for scratches (from the spatula when you're taking the models off the plate) or other imperfections that will make the plate act as if it hasn't been leveled. I relevel my plate every 3 prints. I've been told that's too much but I'd rather spend the time leveling the plate then cleaning it off and fishing the missprints out of the resin vat.

2. When curing your prints I prefer outdoor water curing. You take the model, place it in a clear plastic container, fill the container with water and place it in direct sunlight. Why do I think this works better? Well, the worst uv curing I've ever gotten has been in a swimming pool....

3. Patience. You will spill resin on your lcd, you will need to clean it. Do not panic. Use your plastic rather blades, isopropyl alcohol and paper towels slowly and surely. It's probably not destroyed.

4. Be sure that your layer height isn't too... overly enthusiastic. When I first started I set my height to .02 and was amazed that stuff took 24-96 hours to print. After adjusting to a much more reasonable .04-.06 I can't tell a lot of difference in quality but I have significantly reduced my print time (and thus my LCD life). The same goes for the base layer. 6 layers at 10 seconds works well for me. YMMV.

So, how did I destroy 2 different printers? How I destroyed the first one.

<To be continued... maybe>

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Re: Resin 3D Printers - Questions and Discussion

Post by YoungWolf777 » Sat Sep 18, 2021 12:34 am

Excellent contributions Doctari! Much appreciated. I personally print @ .03 and .05. When I started I went straight to .25 w/o realizing the stepper motor only worked in .01 increments, not .005. Stuff came out fine, but the software was interpolating and rounding between the layers to get it to work. All part of that curve... :oops:

And yes, this is a hobby unto itself. As Doctari said it isn't cheap by any stretch. I bought in just over $1K and I've come close to that in resin cost alone in 7 months. That doesn't include the endless supplies required. All told I've probably dropped $2.5K into 3D printing so far. (Don't tell my wife!)

So yeah, if you want in, don't do it half-assed and decide it's not for you when you hit that curve. That's a total waste of time & money. Stick it out, learn all you can and watch your prints improve after a while.

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