Modified Microwave Cures Resin Parts With Style

Once you make the leap to resin-based 3D printing, you’ll quickly find that putting parts out in the sun to cure isn’t always a viable solution. The best way to get consistent results is with a dedicated curing chamber that not only rotates the parts so they’re evenly exposed to the light, but allows you to dial in a specific curing time. A beeper that goes off when the part is done would be handy as well. Wait, this is starting to sound kind of familiar…

As you might expect, [Stynus] isn’t the first person to notice the similarities between an ideal UV curing machine and the lowly microwave oven. But his conversion is certainly one of the slickest we’ve ever seen. The final product doesn’t look like a hacked microwave so much as a purpose-built curing machine, thanks in large part to the fact that all of the original controls are still functional.

The big break there came when [Stynus] noticed that the control panel was powered by a one-time programmable PIC16C65B microcontroller. Swapping that out for the pin-compatible PIC16F877A opened up the possibility of writing custom firmware to interface with all the microwave’s original hardware, he just needed to reverse engineer how it was all wired up. It took some time to figure out how the limited pins on the microcontroller ran the LED display and read the buttons and switches at the same time, but we’d say the final result is more than worth the work.

With full control over the microwave’s hardware, all [Stynus] had to do was strip out all the scary high voltage bits (which were no longer functional to begin with) and install an array of UV LEDs. Now he can just toss a part on the plate, spin the dial to the desired curing time, and press a button. In the video below, you can see he’s even repurposed some of the buttons on the control panel to let him do things like set a new default “cook” time to EEPROM.

Compared to the more traditional fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers, resin printing requires a lot of additional post-processing and equipment. You don’t necessarily have to gut your microwave just to cure your prints, but you’d be wise to fully consider your workflow will look like before pulling the trigger on that shiny new printer.

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A UV Curing Wand For Everyone

The average person’s experience with an ultraviolet (UV) wand is getting a cavity at the dentist. However, anyone with a resin-based 3d printer knows how important a UV curing system is. Often times some spots on a print need a little bit of extra UV to firm up. [Mile] has set out to create an open-source UV curing wand named Photon that is cost-effective and easy to build.

What’s interesting here is that there are dozens if not hundreds of UV curing systems ranging from $5 LED flashlights to larger industrial flood systems. [Mile] dives right in and shows the trade-offs that those cheaper modules are making as well as what the commercial systems are doing that he isn’t. [Mile’s] Photon wand tries to be energy efficient with more irradiated power while staying at a lower cost. This is done by carefully selecting the CSP LEDs instead of traditional wire-bonded and making sure the light source is properly focused and cooled. From the clean PCB and slick case, it is quite clear that [Mile] has gone the extra step to make this production-friendly. Since there are two industry-standard wavelengths that resins cure at (364nm and 405nm), the LED modules in Photon are user-replaceable.

What we love about this project is looking past what is readily available and diving deep. First understanding the drawbacks and limitations of what is there, then setting a goal and pushing through to something different. This isn’t the first UV curing tool we’ve seen recently, so it seems there is a clear need for something better that’s what is out there today.

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Sunshine In A Bag

Ultraviolet (UV) curing lamps are crucial if you have a resin 3D printer or work with UV adhesives. Some folks line an old Amazon shipping box with foil and drop a spotlight somewhere inside. Other folks toss their work under the all-natural light source, Sol. Both options have portability and reliability problems, but [AudreyObscura] has it covered with a reflective mat lined with UV strip lights. This HackadayPrize2020 finalist exemplifies the ideal that good ideas are often simple, and this has a remarkably short bill of materials.

Foil bubble insulation is the medium because it provides structure and reflectivity, but it doesn’t cooperate with the LED strip’s adhesive. [AudreyObscura] demonstrates that masking tape as an interfacing layer makes everyone play nicely. A fine example of an experienced maker, their design covers bundling wires and insulating connections to keep everything tidy and isolated. With different arrangements, this can form a tunnel lit from above, a chimney lit from the walls, or you can drape it over some scaffolding.

If you need something a little less portable for your own shop you might consider a mirror-filled chamber. One nice touch to add is a turntable to help make sure the entire part is cured without any missing areas.

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3D Printering: Sticky Resin Prints And How To Fix Them

After going through all the trouble of printing a part in resin, discovering it feels sticky or tacky to the touch is pretty unwelcome. Giving the model some extra ultraviolet (UV) curing seems like it should fix the problem, but it probably does not. So, what can be done?

The best thing to do with a sticky print is to immediately re-wash it in clean isopropyl alcohol (IPA) before the UV present in ambient light cures stray resin. If the part remains sticky after it is dry, more aggressive steps can be taken.

We’ll get into those more extreme procedures shortly, but first let’s understand a bit more about how resin works, then look at how that applies to preventing and removing tacky surfaces on finished prints. Continue reading “3D Printering: Sticky Resin Prints And How To Fix Them”

How To Make Bisected Pine Cones Look Great, Step-by-Step

[Black Beard Projects] sealed some pine cones in colored resin, then cut them in half and polished them up. The results look great, but what’s really good about this project is that it clearly demonstrates the necessary steps and techniques from beginning to end. He even employs some homemade equipment, to boot.

Briefly, the process is to first bake the pine cones to remove any moisture. Then they get coated in a heat-activated resin for stabilizing, which is a process that infuses and pre-seals the pine cones for better casting results. The prepped pine cones go into molds, clear resin is mixed with coloring and poured in. The resin cures inside a pressure chamber, which helps ensure that it gets into every nook and cranny while also causing any small air bubbles introduced during mixing and pouring to shrink so small that they can’t really be seen. After that is cutting, then sanding and polishing. It’s an excellent overview of the entire process.

The video (which is embedded below) also has an outstanding depth of information in the details section. Not only is there an overview of the process and links to related information, but there’s a complete time-coded index to every action taken in the entire video. Now that’s some attention to detail.

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3D Printering: Print Smoothing Tests With UV Resin

Smoothing the layer lines out of filament-based 3D prints is a common desire, and there are various methods for doing it. Besides good old sanding, another method is to apply a liquid coating of some kind that fills in irregularities and creates a smooth surface. There’s even a product specifically for this purpose: XTC-3D by Smooth-on. However, I happened to have access to the syrup-thick UV resin from an SLA printer and it occurred to me to see whether I could smooth a 3D print by brushing the resin on, then curing it. I didn’t see any reason it shouldn’t work, and it might even bring its own advantages. Filament printers and resin-based printers don’t normally have anything to do with one another, but since I had access to both I decided to cross the streams a little.

The UV-curable resin I tested is Clear Standard resin from a Formlabs printer. Other UV resins should work similarly from what I understand, but I haven’t tested them.

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Meet The Modern Meat Man’s Modified Meat-Safe

Charcuterie is delicious — but is it hackable? When talking about the salty preserved meats, one might be more inclined to indulge in the concept of bacon before pondering a way to integrate an electrical monitoring system into the process. However, [Danzetto] decided to do both when he did not have anywhere to cure his meats. He made his own fully automatic meat curing chamber lovingly called the curebOS with the aid of a raspberry pi. It is basically a beefed up mini fridge with all of the bells and whistles.

This baby has everything.  Sitting on top is a control system containing the Pi. There are 5 relays used for the lights, circulating fan, ventilating fans, refrigerator, and humidifier all powered by a 5 amp supply — minus the fridge. Down below that is the 3D printed cover with a damper for one of the many ventilation fans that regulate the internal temperature.  To the right is a touchscreen for viewing and potentially controlling the system if necessary. The control program was written in Python for viewing the different trends. And below that, of course, is a viewing window. On the inside are temperature and humidity probes that can be monitored from the front screen. These readings help determine when to activate the compressor, any of the fans, or the humidifier for optimal settings. For a final touch, there are also some LEDs placed above the hanging meat to cast a glowing effect upon the prized possessions.

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