In December 2020 I decided to get myself a Resin printer next to my FDM printer. I have been using a Creality Ender 5 for 1 year, which worked fine and delivered great prints in the quality I needed for Wargaming and the larger parts for modelship building. But at 1/100 or even 1/350 scale it is impossilbe to get the very small details when using a FDM printer like the Creaity Ender 5. For that a Resin printer is needed. And so the search started; After a few weeks searching, reading tests and reviews I decided to order an Anycubic Mono SE. Although not the printer which the highest XY-resolution (0.051mm 2560*1620 2K) it is using a monochrome LCD which offers a much higher print speed compared to to less expensive RGB-Resin-printers which usually have a XY-resolution of 0.047mm. And this 0.004mm difference, well thats not an issue for me as I think it will not even be visible.
Early December 2020 the printer, Wash & Cure machine and 2 liters of Resin arrived. I prepared a not used and well ventilated room in our house, as I understood the smell might not be that funny.
I started with 3D design of an Admiralen class Destroyer in the summer of 2020 and the large parts already printed in FDM; The hull and bridge looked good, but for example the main guns 120mm no 4 Bofor did look like a gun, but definitely not good enough to be a show-model.
I already had the designs for the guns ready and did print the mount and the gun. But not the seats, as those are to small to be printed on my Creality Ender 5.
Based on the results of the first test prints I can only be very happy with the Anycubic Photon Mono SE.
A bit more on the print process
As explained resin printing is different from FDM printing. Overall it feels more simple to me, but also a bit more messy and it does require more work on the print-file preparation and when printed you will need to remove more support compared to FDM printing. First step is always to prepare the 3D-object/file you want to print. In my case I design my own 3D-objects using Blender and export it in .stl format. First the file handling.
The 3D-object stl-file is then imported in a slicer program like Photon Workshop. And after adding the correct support the slicing program will prepare a .pwms file which can be used to print the object.
Copy the .pwms on an USB-stick and put it in the 3D-printer. Select the file and after 2 hours you should end up with a nice printed Carden-Lloyd tankette as used by the Dutch in 1940.
The model will have very small details, maybe a bit overkill for wargaming purposes, as small also means things can break a faster. But when the object is painted i will get a bit firmer. The last thing to do is to remove the support, this needs to be done careful as the parts are thin and the resin can be quit brittle. Thus a slow process.
Carden-Lloyd Tankette in 1/100 scale ready to be painted.
A bit more on the messy part of Resin 3D-printing
The above process was the simple and clean explanation. But in the real world there is more work to be done. I will not explain the bed leveling process in detail, as that you can find in the printer documentation or one of the many YouTube video’s on the subject. But is does start with leveling the bed as good as possible, I do not need to redo the bed leveling every print, just once and possible in the future if the bed might have moved. The next step is to add Resin, fill the Resin tank with enough Resin. Make sure to wear gloves, mask and eye-protection, as Resin is nasty stuff. Place the resin tank in the printer, close the lid. Place the USB-stick in the printer, select the file to print, press print and go for coffee for a few hours.
When the printer is ready the bed will be raised and it can be removed from the printer. Put on all the protection again. The prints will still have resin on it, I use Iso-Propyl Alcohol (IPA) to clean the prints by first spraying it with IPA above a large plastic container to remove most of the waste resin. Next step is to remove the prints from the print-bed with a putty knife. Use enough paper towels to catch the print and not to get any resin on your desk.
I then place the prints in the basket for the Wash & Cure Machine, place the basket in the Wash & Cure container filled with IPA and wash the prints for 4 minutes.
When the wash is ready remove the basket with the prints from the container, make sure to drain and remove as much as IPA as possible from the prints. Place the basket on some paper towels.
Prepare the Wash & Cure machine for the Curing work, which is just radiating the Resin prints with UV radiation to harden the prints as much as possible. This can also be done in direct sunlight, but here in The Netherlands the Sun is not always an option. Place the cleaned prints on the rotating platform and cure the prints for some minutes. Do make sure your print is dry, all IPA should be removed, blow it dry and leave it for a while so the IPA can vaporize. Left over IPA will cause white residue on your prints when you Cure the print.
And then you are not done, if you do not print for a while. Remove the left-over Resin from the printer, get it back in the bottle. Make sure you clean all printer parts, the resin tank and the bed, with IPA and a final touch with clean paper towels. When all is clean it is time to remove the gloves, mask and eye-protection.
So you see, this is a lot more messy work compared to FDM printing, which does not require cleaning at all. But the benefit of the added details does make up for the extra work.
I hope you liked this very high-level description about Resin printing. In future posts I will focus more on the design of models, building and painting etc.