Updated: Jul 15
I ask myself this question at least a few times a year.
I almost bought one last December but decided to hold off a bit longer as I clicked the X on the checkout page.
The decision was finally made for me when Longer3D contacted me and offered to send me their new Orange 30 resin printer.
As this is my maiden voyage into the world of resin, I thought I would share my experience as some of you may be debating getting in the same boat to explore this new territory.
Filament based fdm printers have met all of my 3D printing needs and I can usually design my way around their limitations.
It’s also where I feel comfortable and right at home. When a print fails I normally know why it fails. I know how to design for it and I understand the slicers.
All this was turned upside down when I entered the world of resin.
It literally was turned upside down! This thing actually prints upside down!
We’ll start at the very beginning.
Resin printers work by curing liquid resin with light as it builds your model layer by layer.
There are several technologies that fall into this category. Some use a laser, some use UV light and a projector, others like the Longer Orange uses UV light and an LCD screen.
Setting up the printer and getting my first print was actually a lot simpler than I anticipated.
The printer came assembled (besides the acrylic cover but it took two minutes to put that together).
The leveling procedure was by far simpler than any other fdm printer I’ve used that requires manual leveling.
I decided to start simple by printing one of the included files in the USB stick they provide.
I started the print and a few hours later I had my zombie hunter bust.
The print quality was incredible which I expected but was still blown away at the level of detail.
However, now comes the part that I wasn’t looking forward to.
The post processing.
It’s messy and you need to be careful.
When the print is finished, it’s not really finished because the resin is not fully cured. You’ll have to complete the final curing using UV light. You can buy or diy yourself a curing box or do like I did and place the model outside on a sunny day.
But you don’t want to simply snap the model from the build plate with your bare hands as you would an fdm print. You don’t want this stuff touching your skin.
You’re going to need nitrile gloves.
Get a box or two of these as you’ll be using a lot of them.
You’ll also need to wash the print in alcohol before curing it.
The manual recommended using 95% alcohol but I could only find 70% right now (Covid-19 shortage) so that is what I went with.
Because you’ve got resin and alcohol vapors to deal with, you want to make sure you’re in a well ventilated room and you want to work quickly to limit how much of this you breath in.
It may sound daunting at first but after you do it a few times and get your system down, it’s straightforward.
And the quality of the prints makes it worth it - at least I think so.
So, should you get one?
Well, that depends. What kind of stuff do you want to make?
Are you into jewelry design?
Do you enjoy printing small highly detailed figurines?
Do you have a well ventilated space for it?
Then you may want to consider it.
Another benefit of resin printers is that the resins can be engineered with certain properties that fdm filament can’t duplicate.
Because resins are cured instead of melted, they don’t have the temperature limitations of filament prints.
This allows for the availability of high melting temperature resins that can withstand sterilization temperatures for medical use. It also allows for very low melting temperature resins that can be used for lost wax casting applications.
It’s important to keep in mind that resin printers tend to have a much smaller build plate than fdm printers. With the lcd technology, the size of the build plates are around the size of a cell phone. That’s because this is where the screens are coming from. The price significantly increases with the build area.
Aslo, be ready to approach part orientation completely differently. The part prints upside down and there are now peel forces that you have to deal with. Approaching part orientation the same way you’d approach fdm prints would guarantee print failure so anticipate a bit of a learning curve.
I get super excited about 3D printing and gotta say I’m loving my new resin printer. I still have quite a bit to learn but with two successful prints right out of the gate, the Longer Orange 30 is looking very promising.
I’m still having a hard time believing that you can get a resin printer for $299. That is an incredible deal. Do you remember how much resin printers were a couple years ago. How about 10 years ago?
Whether you choose to go with a fdm printer or a resin printer, or both, one skill you’ll need is the ability to make your own 3D designs. Lucky for you, I’ve got you covered here.
My big aha! moment with Fusion 360 happened when I finally understood how to use Constraints. Get my free Fusion 360 Constraint Cheat Sheet and see what I mean.