Resin Printing 101

Before you embark on your resin printing journey, there are a few things to consider. The first is space; while the printer has a much smaller footprint as compared to a regular printer, the actual workspace required would be a lot more. The resin used in printing is fairly toxic to the environment if not exposed to UV light; it also emits toxic fumes, so you should ideally set your printer in a well-ventilated area. You will also need a place to wash and cure your resin prints; typically, resin prints are washed in 99 per cent isopropyl alcohol, though you can also do this with a much lower percentage of alcohol, around 70 per cent. Curing can take place under direct sunlight or using UV light. If you want to simplify the process, I recommend getting a wash and cure kit; though it isn’t strictly needed, it will make life easier.

How they work

Resin printers use ultraviolet light (UV) to cure special resin that hardens when exposed to UV. Typically, the resin printer has a UV light source masked using a monochrome LCD. The LCD blocks certain areas of the screen, allowing UV light to only penetrate specific regions. This action creates a cured resin layer in the resin vat that sits on the LCD screen. The vat will have a transparent plastic sheet bottom, which lets all the light through; this happens when the build plate is lowered into the vat, depositing the resin layers on the plate. It is fascinating to watch, at least for a little while.

Buying the printer

Next, you will need to acquire a 3D resin printer. These vary in size of the print plate, resolution and technology. For something like printing figurines you are looking for a standard monochrome 3D printer. Anything beyond 4K is good. You typically only need a higher resolution or a larger build plate if you are to print significantly large figurines, and even then, you can break down the parts and print large versions individually.

If money were no object and I had the resources to import a resin 3D printer, I would go for the UniFormation GKtwo. This thing comes with a decent-sized build plate, heated resin vat (not really needed in India), and lots of other bells and whistles. It costs upwards of $800, which would only increase thanks to the $99 shipping to India and whatever you will have to pay as import duty over that price.

The Anycubic Photon Mono 2 is a more sound decision, a R21,000 3D printer with a 4K resolution and a 6.6-inch Monochrome LCD screen. The print volume is decent, and it is available on Amazon, which makes it reasonably easy and faster to buy. Buy at least one bottle of resin, as most printers do not have resin in the box.

Software

There are two popular programs for resin printing: Lychee and Chitubox. I would stick to Chitubox because the company also makes the electronic bits for most resin printers. That said, Lychee is super easy to use, offering many visual cues and descriptions that will help you print better. You must add your printer to the list; that’s it.

Getting started

Let’s assume you purchased your resin when you ordered your 3D printer. You need to make sure the print bed is leveled. This can be done with an A4 sheet of paper, all printers will come with instructions on how to do this, once you are done fill up the vat with resin. Make sure you put the cover of the printer back on. This will prevent the resin from getting cured by stray sunlight. It is now time to get your print file ready.

If you don’t have anything to print yet, don’t worry. Most resin printers come with an already-sliced printable file. What is sliced? Well programs like Chitubox cut up the STL (3D file) into thin slices and then tell the printer where to place those individual slices or layers. The final product is a layered three-dimensional object.

The higher the resolution, the less likely you will see any layer lines. You can find websites where you can find STL files in the attached box. You can also buy unique figurines directly from creators by joining their Patreons. Once you secure your file, run it through Chitubox, AKA the slicer. Leave the defaults as is. It will create a machine-readable file. This file needs to be loaded on a USB and then inserted into the machine.
Open the file from the machine and watch the magic happen.

Safety

Resin is toxic so treat it with respect. Make sure you have gloves, a respirator and safety goggles. You don’t want resin touching your skin or entering your eyes. Make sure you cure resin before dumping it. Uncured resin is extremely toxic for the environment. Keep paper towels handy and it also helps to get a silicon mat to run on top of your work area.

How to get started

Equipment and beginners painting guide
https://youtu.be/S7-At4qVC84

Prep guide before painting
https://youtu.be/Qg7kCeUxJdo

Brush painting guide
https://youtu.be/d0iDYLi4IYY
https://youtu.be/zoneXSlXpyY
https://youtu.be/3pRjCfBD3Wc

Air brushing guide
https://youtu.be/BLOT1Jkq9wk

Resin 3D printing tips and tricks
Resin printing guide: https://youtu.be/UU6tWhV010M
Lychee guide: https://youtu.be/Oo3a8y4zKVs
Lychee settings: https://youtu.be/Wj4orzbkXcI
Tips 1: https://youtu.be/-pbi6CkZxgA
Tips 2: https://youtu.be/rE-H5VS2zO4

Resin Printing Safety
https://youtu.be/onVNnRjbm5g

Where to find 3D printing files
https://www.printables.com/
https://www.thingiverse.com/
https://www.myminifactory.com/
https://www.patreon.com/ca3d
https://www.patreon.com/ZEZSTUDIOS