Ask Hackaday: Resin Printer Build Plates

The early days of FDM 3D printing were wild and wooly. Getting plastic to stick to your build plate was a challenge. Blue tape and hairspray-coated glass were kings for a long time. Over time, better coatings have appeared and many people use spring steel covered in some kind of PEI. There seem to be fewer choices when it comes to resin printers, though. We recently had a chance to try three different build surfaces on two different printers: a Nova3D Bene4 and an Anycubic Photon M3. We learned a lot.

Resin Printing Review

If you haven’t figuratively dipped your toe into resin yet — which would literally be quite messy — the printers are simple enough. There is a tank or vat of liquid resin with a clear film on the bottom. The vat rests on an LCD screen and there is a UV source beneath that.

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Entry-Level SLA Printer Gets Upgrades, Prints Better

Fused-deposition modeling (FDM) printers have the lion’s share of the 3D-printing market, with cheap, easy-to-use printers slurping up thousands of kilos of filament every year. So where’s the challenge with 3D-printing anymore? Is there any room left to tinker?¬†[Physics Anonymous] thinks so, and has started working on what might be the next big challenge in additive manufacturing for the hobbyist: hacking cheap stereolithography (SLA) printers. To wit, this teardown of and improvements to an Anycubic Photon printer.

The Photon, available for as little as $450, has a lot going for it in the simplicity department. There’s no need to worry about filament and extruder issues, since the print is built up a layer at a time by photopolymerization of a liquid resin. And with but a single moving part – the build platform that rises up gradually from the resin tank on a stepper-driven lead screw – SLA printers don’t suffer from the accumulated errors of three separate axes. But, Anycubic made some design compromises in the motion control area to meet their price point for the Photon, leaving a perfect target for upgrades. [Physics Anonymous] added quality linear bearings to each side of the OEM vertical column and machined a carrier for the build platform. The result is better vertical positioning accuracy and decreased slop. It’s a simple fix that greatly improves print quality, with almost invisible layers.

Sadly, the Photon suffered a major, unrelated injury to its LCD screen, but it looks like [PA] will be able to recover from that. We hope so, because we find SLA printing very intriguing and would like to dive right in. But maybe we should start small first.

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