We all were complete beginners at one point or another, so we know it can be tricky to pick out the right materials, tools and settings. This post is here to help you step into resin 3D printing as smoothly as possible. As with good dose of recommendations, dos and don’ts, you will get yourself on the right track in no time. Look below! We will provide you with a list of key points to get familiar with before printing your first resin 3D print.
Remember that we will not dive into each subject very deeply. Our goal is to help you get your first successful prints quickly and with least amount of failures! Later you will be able to choose what is more important for you!
It will be hard to work if you do not get at least critical tools for SLA 3D printing. Some of those might look redundant but that is not the case.
Safety tools and measures are very important. 3D printing resins are irritant and can have negative impact for your health. No jokes here! Respect these chemicals and take appropriate safety measures!
Some resources and guides recommend buying a lot more stuff but we believe that you should start with key resources only.
For most common bottom-up style printers, it is very important to thoroughly run initial leveling procedure. Forgetting to do so will definitely result in a failed resin 3D print because of model not sticking to build plate.
Do not rush to pour resin! Start with “dry run” by running a few initial layers of your print without resin. This will allow you to see if printer works fine! In fact, this would help avoid potential mess caused by a simple mistake. But avoid staring into the light directly as UV light can do serious damage to your eyes!
Materials that you get with 3D printer are not always the best ones, but those should be the ones that you start with. Do not rush to work with other 3rd party materials. Remember, your goal is to get a successful resin 3D print as soon as possible! By adding more variables into the process, you will definitely reduce initial chances of success.
Usually manufacturer has profiles for their materials that work with 3D printer. Get those! That is a good starting point. We recommend starting with standard layer thickness of 50μm (0.05mm). So seek exposure settings for this layer thickness.
Exposure settings may vary based on ambient room temperature that your printer is in. You will need to use longer exposure in a cold room. Make sure you run your first resin 3D print in a room temperature of 22-25°C (71.6-77°F)
Start with calibration parts like AmeraLabs town. Smaller parts are way easier to print. Calibration parts will also help you evaluate if your settings are correct. See our blog post so you could understand how to analyze your printing performance. You can find it here: “Guide to understand AmeraLabs town”
Go ahead and start with such resin 3D print that is already with supports and attachment/raft layer added. In this way you will be sure that you have correct model. One example is our AmeraLabs town, which is ready to print immediately. A lot of failures are caused due to absence of attachment/raft layer and incorrect supports strategy.
Each print typically starts with a few bottom layers (usually 1 to 3) that are severely over-exposed. This assures good adhesion to build plate and helps avoid common failure that beginners often face, i.e. model simply falling off the build plate. We recommend using 15-20x normal exposures for initial bottom layers (if that does not work, you can increase it up to 25-30x). So, if your recommended exposure for 50um is 5s, first few layers should be cured for 100-150s. Remember, at first conservative settings are preferred!
Fill two plastic containers with isopropyl alcohol (IPA). Keep one for initial cleaning to get rid of remaining resin from the printed object. Then do secondary cleaning in second IPA container to finalize cleaning. DO NOT leave your resin 3D print submerged in IPA for prolonged periods of time as that can cause a lot of issues. You can read more about that here. Also, DO NOT mix with IPA and water. Some people tend to clean with water after cleaning with IPA and that can cause white residuals on your print and other issues. Also let the model dry out before post-curing as that will substantially improve your results. If you see “wet” spots on the model after it is dry, that might be the residue of resin. Repeat cleaning cycle until you see that model is free from remains of resin.
After printing your objects will have quite a tacky surface. That is because they need post-curing under UV light to finalize curing on the outer layers of resin 3D printed object. Although, many would recommend buying UV oven, there is no need for that in the beginning. Just place your object under sunlight for a few hours. After that it should be good to go. After getting more and more familiar with this resin 3D printing technology, get yourself UV oven to speed up post-cure process.
These are just the tips before making first steps. We did not get into complex details of various other topics that greatly influence your 3D printing results and we did it for a reason! We simply want you to be able to get a good resin 3D print right away without getting into tricky stuff too early.
In fact, there are quite a few topics that you should pay attention to right after good initial results and start printing your own models. To be more precise, pay attention to the following subjects below.