AnyCubic Photon 3D Resin Printer
3D Printer that uses ultra-violet curable resin
Using the Photon Resin Printer
If you're trying to print tiny, highly detailed parts, the Photon can be a great choice. It uses liquid resin and "cures" a 3D model, layer by layer, using a UV light. It can take a while, and there's some cleanup work involved with the resin, but the results are beautiful. The default layer height is 0.05mm, which is much finer than the default on an FDM printer.
There's a lot of great documentation available at the http://photonsters.org web site; it's community-managed and has lots of tips and useful tools for learning and troubleshooting.
Step-by-Step Printing Instructions
Slicing Your Model
- Open the ChituBox software on the fab lab computer, and import your model as an STL or OBJ file. If the file is large, consider using the program's "Hollowing" feature to conserve resin — it's more expensive than plastic filament! Be sure to leave a hole to evacuate resin from a hollow model.
- If the model looks good, switch to the program's supports tab; it can automatically place supports for most models, and you can customize them support-by-support if needed. To learn more, FormLabs has a great guide to supports and support placement with resin printers. Although it's written for their software rather than ChituBox, it explains the underlying principles.
- If you're using "AnyCubic Green" resin, the built-in settings should work fine. Otherwise, consult this community-managed spreadsheet of resin settings to find the resin you're using.
- Slice the model, then save it as a .photon file. Grab the USB key that's kept in the resin printer (on the side near the power switch) and copy it over, then place the key back in the printer. Now you're ready to go!
- Resin is the consistency of honey, toxic to ingest, and gets on everything if you're not careful. Keep paper towels and rubbing alcohol handy; together they can wipe up drips and sticky spots.
- Wear gloves when working with the printer, and if the smell worries you, grab a disposable mask too. We've added a carbon filter to the printer that takes away the fumes, but when you're handling the resin don't be afraid to take things slow and careful.
- If you've got paper towels that have been used to clean or soak up resin, pop them in the UV curing station for a few minutes before throwing them away — once resin is cured, it's fine to throw away, but shouldn't be tossed while it's still liquid/sticky.
Prep The Printer
- Check the resin tank in the printer. Are there bits from a failed print at the bottom of the resin? If so, they'll prevent the next print from sticking. Scoop them out gently with the plastic scraper, being careful not to damage the transparent film at the bottom of the tank.
- Is there enough resin? If not, grab the open bottle from behind the printer, shake it thoroughly, then pour a bit in. The printer doesn't need much — a quarter inch or so is enough for most prints and half an inch is enough for even large objects. (Overfilling it can gum up the screws that keep the build platform in place, so err on the side of less rather than more.)
- You're ready to go. Close the printer chamber, and press "Print" on its touchscreen. Find your sliced model, and start the print. It will show you a small image of each layer as it's curing, and estimate the remaining time.
Removing and Finishing Your Print
- When your print is done, let it drip-dry for a while (10-20 minutes) and open up the print chamber. Unscrew the build plate, wipe off any excess resin with a paper towel, and pop your models off the build plate with the metal scraper that's kept on the wall behind the printer.
- Drop your printed object into the ultrasonic cleaner next to the printer, and turn it on for 5 minutes or so. If there's not enough liquid in it to cover your print, add some extra rubbing alcohol — it cleans the remaining bits of resin out from the crevices before you do the "final curing" of the model.
- If there are lots of supports, you may want to take some time with an X-Acto knife or pair of snippers to remove them before curing. A "fresh from the printer" model has a slightly gummy-like consistency that makes it easier to snip away supports without damaging the rest of the model.
- After your model has been cleaned, slide it into one of the UV curing stations and cure it for 20-30m. (One is a nail curing bed that defaults to 2 minute intervals. The other is a silver canister that doesn't switch off, but is a little more awkward for flat objects. Use whichever seems best.)
- In a pinch, you can also leave your printed object in sunlight — the sun gives off enough UV light to cure most objects in an hour or so.
- If your print failed, there are probably bits of half-cured model left in the resin tray. Try to fish them out with the plastic scraper, but remember to be gentle. The transparent film at the bottom of the tray can be damaged by sharp corners or pressure.
- Use alcohol and paper towels to wipe things up any drips or spills, and lower the printer's build platform until it's covering the resin tray. (If sunlight gets in, any resin left in the tray will cure… which is even more of a pain to clean up than sticky resin.)
- Pop used paper towels that have resin on them into the curing station for a few minutes; when they come out the resin should be stiff, even brittle, and it's safe to throw away.
- There's a lot we haven't written up yet, but AnyCubic has some great tutorial videos on their YouTube channel covering leveling the build plate, general maintenance, and more. * You can also find great resources at the http://photonsters.org web site.
UV curable plastic resins