How To Use a Resin 3D Printer – A Simple Guide for Beginners
Resin 3D printers can seem like a confusing machine at first, especially if you have never used a 3D printer before. Many people who have used a filament 3D printer can feel intimidated by the new style of printing, but it’s a lot simpler than most think.
I went from filament 3D printing to begin with, over to resin 3D printing and it wasn’t so complex. This is why I decided to write an article about how to use a resin 3D printer, going through the step-by-step process on how to create resin 3D prints.
Keep on reading through this article to get better knowledge of how to use a resin 3D printer. Let’s start off what what a resin 3D printer is.
What is a Resin 3D Printer?
A resin 3D printer is a machine which uses wavelengths of UV light from an LCD to cure and harden photosensitive liquid resin from a resin vat below onto a build plate above in small layers. There are a few types of resin 3D printers such as DLP, SLA, and the more popular MSLA machine.
Most resin 3D printers that are sold to the average user tends to use the MSLA technology which cures whole layers in one flash of the light, leading to a much quicker printing process.
This is a pretty large difference compared to filament or FDM 3D printers that extrude melted plastic filament through a nozzle. You can get much better accuracy and detail when using a resin 3D printer which is why they are so popular.
You can get an excellent level of quality at just 0.01mm or 10 microns when using a resin 3D printer, compared to 0.05mm for some of the best filament 3D printers out there.
Prices of filament 3D printers used to be much cheaper than resin 3D printers, but nowadays, the prices are almost matched, with there being resin printers as cheap as $150.
The costs of resin 3D printing are known to be a little more than filament 3D printing because of the extra accessories and consumables that are needed. For example, you need to purchase a UV light and a cleaning liquid to clean up your resin prints.
As time has progressed though, we are getting new innovations such as the water-washable resin, so you no longer need these cleaning liquids, leading to a cheaper resin printing experience.
Many people recommend getting a Wash & Cure machine along with your resin 3D printer so you can streamline the processing of each resin 3D print.
If you want to do less work for each print, you’ll want a filament 3D printer, but if you don’t mind doing additional work for amazing quality, then resin printing is a great choice.
Resin 3D printing is also known to be quite messy and more dangerous since you don’t want to get resin directly on your skin.
There are many things you’ll want to have along with your resin 3D printer.
What Do You Need for Resin 3D Printing?
Resin 3D Printer
As we all know, resin 3D printing cannot be done without a proper resin 3D printer.
There are plenty of options from good to great 3D printers and you want to choose the one that can fulfill your requirements. I’ll give you two popular recommendations below.
ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro
The Elegoo Mars 2 Pro (Amazon) is a well-known machine and is appreciated by thousands of users because of its amazing features and specifications that can be purchased with a short budget.
Many users have said in their reviews that if we have to mention a star feature of this 3D printer, high-quality prints with fine details would be the one. Other features that come with the machine include:
- 8” 2K Monochrome LCD
- Multi-Language Interface
- ChiTuBox Slicer
- CNC-Machined Aluminium Body
- Sanded Aluminium Build Plate
- COB UV-LED Light Source
- Light and Compact Resin Vat
- Built-In Active Carbon
Anycubic Photon Mono X
The Anycubic Photon Mono X (Amazon) is a premium option used for advanced and professional resin 3D printings. It has a hugely positive reputation among the users and has high ratings on many selling platforms.
Many users have mentioned different features and qualities of this 3D printer as their favorite and some of the best include build volume, model quality, printing speed, and ease of operation. Some of the best features that are included in this 3D printer are:
- 9” 4K Monochrome LCD
- New Upgraded LED Array
- Dual Linear Z-Axis
- UV Cooling System
- App Remote Control
- Wi-Fi Functionality
- High-Quality Power Supply
- Large Build Size
- Fast printing Speed
- Sturdy Resin Vat
You can also get the Anycubic Photon Mono X from Anycubic’s official website. They sometimes have sales.
The photosensitive resin is used as a 3D printing material that comes in various colors and has different chemical and mechanical properties. For example, Anycubic Basic Resin is used for miniatures and generic resin objects, Siraya Tech Tenacious is a flexible resin, and Siraya Tech Blu is a strong resin.
There is an eco-friendly resin named Anycubic Eco Resin, which is considered the safest resin as it contains no VOCs or any other harmful chemicals.
A pair of nitrile gloves is one of the leading picks in resin 3D printing. Uncured resin can cause irritations if it comes in contact with your skin, therefore you need something that can protect you from this.
Nitrile gloves can protect you from chemical burns to a great extent. Usually, these gloves are not disposable but can be cleaned or washed using isopropyl alcohol (IPA). You should purchase Nitrile Gloves for your safety on Amazing today.
The FEP film is a transparent sheet that is placed at the bottom of the resin vat. FEP film can get damaged after a few prints and need to be replaced.
You can get the FEP Film from Amazon today. The FEP film is suitable for almost all types of LCD/SLA 3D Printers under the print size of 200 x 140mm such as Anycubic Photon, Anycubic Photon S, Creality LD-001, ELEGOO Mars, etc.
Wash and Cure Station
The Wash and Cure Station is used for post-processing purposes. Cleaning, washing, and curing resin models is a bit messy job and this accessory makes this process easy and efficient.
Although you can make your own Wash and Cure Station as a DIY Project, the Anycubic Wash and Cure Station is one of the best options if you need a professional one which can make your resin process more seamless.
This is a 2-in-1 wash and cure station with benefits like convenience, wide compatibility, effectiveness, diverse washing modes, and comes with an anti-UV light hood to protect your eyes from direct UV rays.
Isopropyl Alcohol is also known as IPA which is a well-known solution used for cleaning and washing the resin 3D prints. This solution is safe and can be used for cleaning with different types of tools without affecting them.
You can get a bottle of Vaxxen Labs Isopropyl Alcohol (99%) from Amazon.
The silicone funnel with filters is used to clear your resin vat and pour resin into the bottle. When pouring resin back into the bottle, you want to make sure that no residue or hardened resin gets poured back in, since this can ruin future prints if it is poured into the resin vat.
I’d recommend going with the Jeteven Strainer Silicone Funnel with 100 Disposable Filters from Amazon.
It comes with Nylon paper which is durable, waterproof, and solvent resistant making it perfect for resin 3D printing and is suitable for almost all types of resin printing materials.
You need to slice your 3D designs with the help of some programs, these programs are known as slicer software in the resin 3D printing industry.
ChiTuBox is considered a respectable slicer software for resin 3D printing, but I’d recommend going with Lychee Slicer. Many people also have success with the Prusa Slicer for their resin 3D printing.
Cleaning is an essential factor in resin 3D printing and you need something that can help you out in the most efficient and easiest manner. You may not find anything better than paper towels when it comes to cleaning messy resin and 3D printers.
Paper towels that you may find in drug stores are not so absorbent and you need high quality so that they can better absorb resin to make cleaning easier for you.
Bounty Quick-Size Paper Towels is considered a good product for this purpose.
Now that we know what we need, let’s see how we go about using the 3D printer and creating 3D prints.
How Do You Use a Resin 3D Printer?
The video below by Nerdtronic goes into some great depth about how to use a resin 3D printer, made especially for beginners.
Set Up the 3D Printer
Setting up your resin 3D printer means to assure that all the components are in place, power is coming to your machine and it is totally ready to start the printing process.
Depending on what resin printer you have, this can be done in as quick as 5 minutes.
Pour in Resin
Pour your liquid resin into the resin vat. The vat has a transparent bottom which is placed over a screen that lets UV lights pass and reach the resin to cure or make it hard while forming your designed 3D model onto the build plate.
Get STL File
You can find a whole host of great files on Thingiverse or MyMiniFactory for resin 3D printing. Make use of the search bar or explore features to find some of the most popular models out there.
Import into Slicer
Using Lychee Slicer, you can easily drag and drop your STL file into the program and begin creating the file needed for your 3D printer. Slicers all do the same thing, but they have different user interfaces and slight changes in how they process files.
Put In Settings
With Lychee Slicer you can easily apply settings automatically for things like supports, bracings, orientation, placement and more. Simply click the automatic buttons to let your slicer do the work.
If you are happy with what it done, then you can move onto the next step. Some settings require manual adjustments such as normal exposure, bottom exposure, number of bottom layers, and so on, but generally speaking, the default values can still produce a decent model.
I’d definitely recommend adding a raft to all your resin 3D prints to help it adhere to the build plate better.
Save the File
After completing all the steps in your slicer, you will have an exact design of the model. Save the file to your USB or MicroSD card so that you can use it on your 3D printer.
Insert the USB into Resin 3D Printer
Eject your memory stick then simply insert your USB or SD card into the 3D printer. Select the STL file that you need to print from the USB drive, this will be done using your 3D printer’s LCD screen.
Start your Printing Process
Your 3D printer will load up your design within a few seconds and now you only have to click on the Print option to start your printing process.
Drain Resin from Print
Once your printing process is completed, it is recommended to let your print stay for some time so that excess resin can be drained out from your print. You can use paper towels or some types of sheets for this purpose as well.
You can also make some upgrades to your 3D printer to make this process easier and more efficient. The draining arm is one of the best techniques to be used for draining resin from your 3D print.
I personally use this a different model on my Anycubic Photon Mono X and it works very well.
Remove Print from the Build Plate
You need to remove your model from the build plate, once it is completed. You want to be gentle as removing the print from a resin 3D printer is quite different from FDM 3D printers.
If you do use a metal spatula to remove prints from your build plate, you want to be very gentle so you don’t damage your print or the build plate.
- Wear nitrile gloves to protect your hands from uncured resin.
- Gently remove your build plate from the printer. Make sure that you don’t bump the model in any component of the printer as it can damage your print or may break off some parts of it.
- Resin 3D printers usually come with their own spatula, lift your print from the raft or edge.
- Slightly slide your print removal tool under the print and wiggle it side to side until it lifts, then continue until the model is removed.
Wash Resin Off
Every resin print will have some uncured resin on it which needs to be cleaned off before curing your model.
If that extra resin becomes hard, either it will ruin all the shine and beauty of your model or it will remain sticky even after curing your model, resulting in a part that doesn’t look feel or look the best, as well as attracting dust and debris on your model.
In order to wash off your resin 3D prints, you have a few options
- Use an ultrasonic cleaner with a cleaning liquid
- Denatured alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, mean green, or methylated spirits are choices many people use
- You want to make sure your print is clean all over, ensuring that the part is submerged and scrubbed nicely
- If you are doing a manual wash, you can use a toothbrush or soft but slightly rough cloth to get all the grit off the part
- You can check whether your part is clean enough by rubbing it with your finger through gloves of course! It should have a squeaky clean feel to it.
- Let your part air dry after it has been properly cleaned
Nerdtronic created a great video about how to clean a part without an ultrasonic cleaner or professional machine like the Anycubic Wash & Cure.
Some people like to remove supports after the print is cured, but experts suggest removing supports before the curing process. If you remove supports after curing your model, it can also cause you to remove important parts of your model.
- Use a flush cutter to snip off supports from your resin 3D prints – or manually removing them can be good enough depending on your support settings
- Make sure you are cutting off supports as close to the surface of the print
- Take good care when removing supports. It’s better to be patient and careful rather than quick and careless.
Cure the Print
Curing your resin 3D prints is essential as it will not only make your model stronger, but will also make it safe for you to touch and use. Curing is the process of exposing your resin prints to direct UV lights which can be done in various forms.
- Using a professional UV Curing Station is one of the best options as it is specifically designed for this purpose. It usually takes 3 to 6 minutes to get the job done but you can give more time if needed.
- If you need to save money, you can build your own UV Curing Station instead of buying it. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that will guide you to get this done.
- The sun is a natural source of UV light which can be used for curing as well. This option will take a bit longer but can bring you efficient results. For small prints, it takes about 20 to 30 minutes but you should keep on checking your print’s quality after a few minutes to analyze this factor.
Post-Process with Sanding
Sanding is the best technique that is widely used to make your 3D prints smooth, shiny and to get rid of supports’ marks and extra uncured resin attached to your print.
You can sand 3D models with your hands but you can also use an electronic sander while working with less complex parts.
Using different grits or roughness of sandpaper is what allows you to easily remove any layer lines and bumps from supports, which then progress into finer sanding which gives a more polished and smooth look afterwards.
You can go really high in sandpaper grit if you want a very shiny and clean look, with grits even going up to 10,000 grits and above. Those kind of numbers are if you want a glass-like finish.
A good set of sandpaper you can get from Amazon is the YXYL 60 Pcs 120 to 5,000 Grit Assorted Sandpaper. You can either dry sand or wet sand your resin prints, with easy identifying of each grit with the numbers written on the back.
It comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so you know you’ll be happy with the results, like many of other users.
Post-Process with Painting
As its name suggests, this is the process of painting your resin prints in different colors to make them attractive and look perfect. You have the option to:
- Print directly with a dyed resin. It is usually done by mixing white or clear resin with a suitable dye ink to create new colors
I’d recommend going with a diverse set of colors like the Limino Epoxy Resin Pigment Dye – 18 Colors from Amazon.
- You can spray paint or paint your resin 3D prints after they are completed and cured.
A staple primer that is used throughout the 3D printing community is the Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultra-Cover Primer in gray. It provides your models with a Double Cover Technology that enhances not only the quality, but the speed of your projects.
The Krylon Fusion All-In-One Spray Paint from Amazon is a great option for spray-painting your 3D models because it mixes primer and paint, all into one effective solution.
It provides amazing adhesion, durability, and even rust protection for other types of surfaces. Although you’ll be using it for your 3D models, it has real versatility, being able to be used on surfaces like wood, ceramic, glass, tile and so on.
- You can paint with acrylic but it is normally recommended for more complex 3D prints.
Tons of 3D printer users choose the Crafts 4 All Acrylic Paint Set of 24 Colors on Amazon. It provides you with a whole host of colors and visuals for you to get creative on your 3D models.
What Are Resin 3D Printers Good For?
Resin 3D printers are good for printing highly accurate 3D prints with a wide range of colors. If you need a 3D printing technique that can print quickly while offering extremely high quality, resin printing is the option for you.
You even now have tough resins that can compare to some of the stronger filaments that are used in FDM 3D printing. There are also flexible resins that have similar properties to TPU, but not as flexible.
If you want to print models that have remarkable dimensional accuracy, a resin 3D printer is a great choice. Several users are making high quality miniatures, figures, busts, statues and more.