Join us on Wednesday, October 13 at noon Pacific for the Resin Printing Hack Chat with Andrew Sink!
At its heart, 3D printing is such a simple idea that it’s a wonder nobody thought of it sooner. Granted, fused deposition modeling does go back to the 80s, and the relatively recent explosion in cheap, mass-market FDM printers has more to do with cheap components than anything else. But really, at the end of the day, commodity 3D printers are really not much more than glorified hot-glue guns, and while they’re still a foundational technology of the maker movement, they’ve gotten a bit dull.
So it’s natural that we in this community would look for other ways to push the 3D printing envelope, and stereolithography has become the new hotness. And with good reason — messy though it may be, the ability to gradually pull a model from a tank of goo by selective photopolymerization looks magical, and the fine level of detail resin printers are capable of is just as enchanting. So too are the prices of resin printers, which are quickly becoming competitive with commodity FDM printers.
If there’s a resin printer in your future, then you’ll want to swing by the Hack Chat when Andrew Sink visits us. Andrew has been doing a lot of 3D printing stuff in general, and resin printing in particular, over on his YouTube channel lately. We’ve featured a couple of his tricks and hacks for getting the most from a resin printer, and he’ll be sharing some of what he has learned lately. Join us as we discuss the ins and outs of resin printing, what’s involved in taking the dive, and the pros and cons of SLA versus FDM.
Our Hack Chats are live community events in the Hackaday.io Hack Chat group messaging. This week we’ll be sitting down on Wednesday, October 13 at 12:00 PM Pacific time. If time zones have you tied up, we have a handy time zone converter.
To the extent that we think of 3D printers as production machines, we tend to imagine huge banks of FDM machines slowly but surely cranking out parts. These printer farms are a sensible way to turn a slow process into a high-volume operation, but it turns out there’s a way to do the same thing with only one printer — as long as you think small.
This one comes to us by way of [Andrew Sink], who recently showed us a neat trick for adding a dash of color to resin printed parts. As with that tip, this one centers around his Elegoo resin printer, which is capable of intricately detailed prints but like any additive process, takes quite a bit of time to finish a print. Luckily, though, the printer uses the MSLA, or masked stereolithography, process, which exposes the entire resin tank to ultraviolet light in one exposure. That means that, unlike FDM printers, it takes no more time to print a dozen models than it does to print one. The upshot of this is that however many models can fit on the MSLA print platform can be printed in the same amount of time it takes to print the part with the most layers. In [Andrew]’s case, 22 identical figurine models were printed in the same three hours it took to print just one copy.
It seems obvious, but sometimes the simplest tips are the best. And the next step is obvious, especially as MSLA printer prices fall: a resin printer farm, with each printer working on dozens of small parts at a time. Such a setup might rival injection molding in terms of throughput, and would likely be far cheaper as far as tooling goes. Continue reading “Making The Most Of Your Resin Printer Investment” →
The fascination of watching a 3D printer go through its paces does tend to wear off after you spent a few hours doing it, in which case those cool time-lapse videos come in handy. Trouble is they tend to look choppy and unpleasant unless the exposures are synchronized to the motion of the gantry. That’s easy enough to do on FDM printers, but resin printers are another thing altogether.
Or are they? [Alex] found a way to make gorgeous time-lapse videos of resin printers that have to be seen to be believed. The advantage of his method is that it’ll work with any camera and requires no hardware other than a little LED throwie attached to the build platform of the printer. The LED acts as a fiducial that OpenCV can easily find in each frame, one that indicates the Z-axis position of the stage when the photo was taken. A Python program then sorts the frames, so it looks like the resin print is being pulled out of the vat in one smooth pull.
To smooth things out further, [Alex] also used frame interpolation to fill in the gaps where the build platform appears to jump between frames using real-time intermediate flow estimation, or RIFE. The details of that technique alone were worth the price of admission, and the results are spectacular. Alex kindly provides his code if you want to give this a whack; it’s almost worth buying a resin printer just to try.
Is there a resin printer in your future? If so, you might want to look over [Donald Papp]’s guide to the pros and cons of SLA compared to FDM printers.
Continue reading “Silky Smooth Resin Printer Timelapses Thanks To Machine Vision” →
With all the cool and useful parts you can whip up (relatively) quickly on a 3D printer, it’s a shame you can’t just print a PCB. Sure, ordering a PCB is quick, easy, and cheap, but being able to print one-offs would peg the needle on the instant gratification meter.
[Peter Liwyj] may just have come up with a method to do exactly that. His Instructables post goes into great detail about his method, which uses an Elegoo Mars resin printer and a couple of neat tricks. First, a properly cleaned board is placed copper-side down onto a blob of SLA resin sitting on the print bed. He tricks the printer into thinking the platform is all the way down for the first layer by interrupting the photosensor used to detect home. He lets the printer go through one layer of an STL file that contains his design, which polymerizes a thin layer of plastic onto the copper. The excess resin is wiped gently away and the board goes straight into a ferric chloride etching bath. The video below shows the whole process.
As simple as it sounds, it looks like it works really well. And [Peter] didn’t just stumble onto this method; he approached it systematically and found what works best. His tips incude using electrical tape as a spacer to lift the copper off the print surface slightly, cleaning the board with Scotchbrite rather than sandpaper, and not curing the resin after printing. His toolchain is a bit uncoventional — he used SketchUp to create the traces and exported the STL. But there are ways to convert Gerbers to STLs, so your favorite EDA package can probably fit in to the process too.
Don’t have a resin printer? Don’t worry — FDM printers can work too.
Continue reading “Put That New Resin Printer To Work Making PCBs” →