This is where it gets messy…

Resin 3d printing in a nutshell;

–  A tank of special resin which solidifies under exposure to UV light

– The tank has a flexible, clear bottom, made of something a bit like acetate.

– Under the tank – an LCD screen, which displays either black or transparent.

– Under the screen, a big UV light.

– Above the tank – a build plate, which lowers into the goo until it is about 0.05mm above the surface.

– Now the LCD screen shows a masked image of the first layer of the print and the UV light switches on, so the resin will cure but only the bits that are actually needed for the object.

– So now, the build plate lifts off, and hopefully the resin will remain stuck to the build plate and will peel off the flexible, clear tank bottom. This is the bit that most often goes wrong, however…

Repeat this anywhere up to 2 or 3 thousand times, and you have a model…

After you have a model printed, it is still covered in goo, and it is also not properly solid, rather a bit squishy.

This is actually a good thing, because having a bit of flex makes small parts less likely to break when you process them. After being prised from the build plate, they get a couple of dips in isopropanol before being exposed to more UV light:

Here you can see my patent homemade curing machine, a symphony of MDF, tin foil, a cake base and a microwave turntable motor. Fancy OEM equipment is available from the printer companies, but when you are working in bulk, bespoke is the way to go.

3d resin printers are not plug ‘n play toys for the office, they are smelly, messy machines that firmly belong in the workshop. They are also fickle, and require regular maintenance, replacement consumables and a constant ambient temperature. So although in theory you can print an object for the cost of the resin alone, the running costs do add up, especially with intensive use.

However, they are also AMAZING.

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