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Made in gb
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Yvan eht nioj






In my Austin Ambassador Y Reg

I have held off buying a 3D printer until the tech matured a little and price dropped. It seems that time has now come given you can buy them on Amazon for a couple of hundred quid. So for someone completely new to 3D printing, what printer would you recommend and why? I want something that is quick and easy to use and produces good results.

Also, where is the best place to go to get the STL files (paid or free)?

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What are you wanting to print? Minis or scenery? The former would suggest an SLA resin printer while the latter a filament FDM.

Resin wise I picked up an Anycubic Mono and it has been an absolute dream to use. Also heard good things about the Elegoo machines.

FdM wise I splashed out on a Prusa with lots of bells and whistles and it has also proven to be an easy to use workhorse.

For STLS I have gotten a load of good quality
Stuff for free from Thingiverse. My collections are here if it helps

https://www.thingiverse.com/gflinty/collections

Paid wise there are more Patreons out there than you can shake a stick at, Kickstarter drips
With STL releases. There are individual stores and then My Mini Factory and Cults3D for shopping sites.

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I guess I will be printing minis but I can't rule out wanting to print other stuff though? I am sure there are hundreds of handy objects that can be used all around the house that will lend themselves well to being 3D printed. Would the Anycubic Mono handle those?

Ideally, I'd want an all-in-one, jack of all trades type of printer that can handle both minis and scenery. Does such a thing exist?

Basically, explain like I am 5!

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/01 16:08:58


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I would also say that getting perfection can take a lot of work. I am happy in the mediocre zone So I have done some learning about support positioning, angling and how the layering works and mostly my stuff is good enough for me.

For either type of printer I would strongly recommend getting flexible spring steel build plates. Some FDM machines come with them by default (like my prusa), but you can also pick up 3rd party ones for the popular resin machines and they are amazing!


Automatically Appended Next Post:
FDM printers with a small nozzle can get decent results on minis, but the resin machines have 10x better resolution.

For household stuff i think the FDM machine is what would be most useful.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
An FDM machine can also handle 28mm scale vehicles really nicely.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/05/01 16:11:39


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OK so I guess with the resin printers they are more for smaller scale stuff like minis whereas the FDM printers are for larger scale stuff?

Is this a good choice:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ANYCUBIC-Printer-Printing-Anti-aliasing-Precision/dp/B08KXNWQTQ/ref=sr_1_7?dchild=1&keywords=anycubic+mono&qid=1619885492&sr=8-7

I guess what I am driving at is the primary purpose will be to print minis but it would be nice if it can handle slightly larger stuff too.

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The Mono SE you linked to is basically the same as my standard mono but you can remote operate it. This costs an extra £100 or so. The value of that convenience is up to You for the extra cost For the SE could get you an automated wash and cure machine for example.

You can split up larger models into bits to fit the smaller print bed of a resin machine. Alternatively you can get a larger build plate resin machine like the Mono X.

I have found the resins are pretty brittle, while the FDM filaments are more flexible and
You can print in polyethylene. It depend on what other things you want to print.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/01 16:35:07


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Hmm, reading a little bit more on resin printers it seems like there is a lot to contend with in terms of washing, cleaning, curing, not to mention toxic chemicals and fumes. I don't think that is a road I want to go down initially.

So it looks like FDM is the way to go to start with - can they handle 28mm miniatures OK or do you get lots of obvious and ugly striations?

Edit: With an FDM I just need to buy the printer itself and a spool of filament, right? Amazon recommends this one:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ANYCUBIC-Printer-Printing-UltraBase-Filament/dp/B07JN7HFYS/ref=sxin_10?asc_contentid=amzn1.osa.77c6062d-8f8a-451c-9231-23e61daa0f12.A1F83G8C2ARO7P.en_GB&asc_contenttype=article&ascsubtag=amzn1.osa.77c6062d-8f8a-451c-9231-23e61daa0f12.A1F83G8C2ARO7P.en_GB&creativeASIN=B07JN7HFYS&cv_ct_cx=3d+printer&cv_ct_id=amzn1.osa.77c6062d-8f8a-451c-9231-23e61daa0f12.A1F83G8C2ARO7P.en_GB&cv_ct_pg=search&cv_ct_we=asin&cv_ct_wn=osp-single-source-earns-comm&dchild=1&keywords=3d+printer&linkCode=oas&pd_rd_i=B07JN7HFYS&pd_rd_r=8cf9e89f-7c9f-4a1e-a33d-f2e564fda603&pd_rd_w=0hBfE&pd_rd_wg=B36Cr&pf_rd_p=5c503d70-2633-483c-a5bc-6e044ac8f29e&pf_rd_r=40JQT78P4KP1JXG3ZZTX&qid=1619887946&sr=1-1-483c64d8-df78-4008-ae20-e69f683e58b1&tag=askmenukonsite-21

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/01 16:57:09


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I found this site to be super useful for research

https://m.all3dp.com/1/best-3d-printer-reviews-top-3d-printers-home-3-d-printer-3d/

The common filaments are really hard to work. So even if you get a few small Defects they are really hard to deal With.





Automatically Appended Next Post:
I have never tried to print an individual mini on my FDM largely because I think it super hard to get decent results.
However I may be wrong on that.

FDM will be able to get great results on vehicles from at least 15mm scale and up.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/01 17:40:28


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Yu Jing Martial Arts Ninja




North Wales

My plan was for mini printing, rather than terrain, so it was going to have to be a resin printer.

My purchase progression went: Photon Mono, Mars 2 Pro, Photon Mono SE.

The Mars seemed to upgrade the Photon with fan assisted charcoal filters; being as I'm scared of being told off for making stinky smells, filters became a "must have" in my mind.

The Mono SE further added extra Z-axis rails, which sounded like a smart move, even if I have no idea if they make a difference. Add to the fact that it has a nice looking hinged lid, thus avoiding the see through plastic bucket look. The WiFi connection seems like a waste of time, effort and money, but what are you going to do?

I'm assuming that all three produce similar results, just more money gives you a few more quality of life additions.

After that, it's a case of hunting through Thingiverse and Cults3d and playing around with Chitubox.
   
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Grovelin' Grot Rigger



UK

Here's my two penneth for what it's worth (oh and ask ten people what printer they prefer get ten answers ).

I started with an FDM printer thinking it would be an easy entry, at the time they were cheaper, more mechanical, less chemical wizardry I couldn't figure out. I got an Ender 3 Pro (a pretty standard choice), got some reasonable results with it. But yeah, FDM requires a lot of tinkering. There are a lot of moving parts, most of which you put together yourself, and all of them can slip, or loosen, or lock or so on and so on. My point is FDM is very much a hobby in itself. If you're down with that then great. FDM is unrivalled for cost when it comes to big things, and you can make some sturdy stuff too.

Then I got my resin printer a few months ago (an Elegoo Mars 2), and holy crap it's like a different world. Yes there is some 'chemical' clean up, which amounts to washing stuff in ipa. And it smells a bit. But apart from levelling the plate, which I did the day I got it and not since, there's nothing you need to do. Top up the resin when it runs low, otherwise shove in the usb stick and stuff happens. I've said it before, resin printing is 3d printing on easy mode. Also because FDM is mechanical, say you print 1 mini in 2 hours, 2 minis in the same plate take 4 hours. Resin same mini in 2 hours? Ok but 2 of them, 2 hours. 8 of them? 2 hours. As many as you can fit on the plate.

Also the elegoo saturn is out now and occasionally available on amazon which has a much bigger build area.

As I said, different people give different opinions, but the Ender and the Mars 2 are both cracking machines backed by great support groups. For Ender checkout Tom Tullis on youtube (and Fat Dragon Games, his company) and the Elegoo facebook group is awesome. Whatever you go with make sure there's a decent support network for the inevitable questions. I had many about my ender. And erm, none about the mars 2

Si

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On the resin side, it is toxic in so far as it can lead to dermatitis, but that can be solved by wearing gloves and not rolling about in it. I also find that it irritates my nose and eyes with extended exposure so stay in well ventilated conditions and use goggles.

Regarding IPA you can also get water washable stuff that instantly halves your exposure to chemical irritants. Basically, going resin requires some planning and preparation, it the results are amazing.

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 filbert wrote:
I guess I will be printing minis but I can't rule out wanting to print other stuff though? I am sure there are hundreds of handy objects that can be used all around the house that will lend themselves well to being 3D printed. Would the Anycubic Mono handle those?

Ideally, I'd want an all-in-one, jack of all trades type of printer that can handle both minis and scenery. Does such a thing exist?

Basically, explain like I am 5!
\

This tower is the biggest single print run I have done on my Photon Mono (fethed up gluing it together lol, but my hand gives it a good sense of scale.)

basically, I would recommend the photon mono as a good workhorse. The size of the plate is the real limiting factor in terms of size. But with the magic of STLs you can slice and chop and subdivide stuff to make bigger objects - I've made models the size of imperial knights using 3-4 print runs.

They do make the 'photon mono X' which is just a mono but bigger.

I will say that resin printers appear to be FAR more user-friendly than plastic, at least comparing my experience with the experienc eof a friend of mine who is REALLY struggling trying to get his FDM printer to work well.
[Thumb - 20210412_195248.jpg]


"I can't believe all these tryhard WAACs out there just care about winning all the time when it's supposed to be a game for fun!!!!!!! Also here's my 27 page essay on why marines are OP and Orkz should get a bunch of OP rules so I can win more games

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Pious Warrior Priest




UK

I went with a prusa mini as my first one, and that I've learned more over the last year of using it, I'll be going with an ender 3 Max very soon.

At that point I'll swap the nozzle on the mini to 0.25mm permanently and use it for smaller, higher-detail stuff like 10mm terrain (and some larger minis too, it's dialled in well and 0.05 layer height prints extremely smoothly).

Ender 3 Max will take over as the terrain workhorse, 12 inch buildplate will be very fun.

I still have no interest in resin or the chemicals/extra cleanup involved, the tech would have to be self -cleaning, curing, draining and non-toxic to interest me over purchasing minis.

Painting time, not cost is the barrier with miniatures for me, I don't need to add to the time spent by adding the printing process on top.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/02 11:03:23


 
   
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Yu Jing Martial Arts Ninja




North Wales

I've just got started with my Photon Mono SE and so far, so easy.

Elegoo water washable resin. Smell? What smell? Maybe I've burnt my olfactory cells out with years of inadvertent superglue abuse, but the only thing that I can smell in the house at the moment are bathroom cleaning products. Resin handling wasn't scary (obviously I wore gloves), but I don't see what the big deal is - just don't be a clumsy oaf!

Water washable seemed like a good idea because water comes out of taps and IPA... doesn't. Shoving the print in a wash'n'cure should make this easy peasy. A three year old could do it... Hmm... maybe I should put that to the test...
   
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How much setting up did you need to do? I have been reading all sorts of things about bed levelling, FEPs film replacement etc and it's all Greek to me at the moment.

Currently wavering towards an Elegoo with the water washable resin. What I need to work out now is if I will get the use out of it to justify the initial cost. I suspect it will be a case that I will end up finding lots of things I want to print once I get one.

I do concur with other points made in this thread; the painting backlog is always the bottleneck so I am wondering if it is wise to add yet more to that queue.

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Here is my printing setup. I have a small UV curing light box as well.



For my Mono, the unpacked it, followed the quick start instructions for levelling the build plate and zeroing the z axis, and then tinted this test piece immediately using the standard settings.



It does let you generate minis rapidly, but I have been pushing my airbrush use and contrast paints to see if I can keep up.

But in terms of return in investment, I have printed 2 whole combat forces for Horizon Wars in 10mm scale for about £120 in terms of stl files and resin.

Here is most of one of us forces.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/02 15:39:42


Please excuse any spelling errors. I use a tablet frequently and software keyboards are a pain!

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Pewling Menial





Superior, Wisconsin

Bed Levelling for Resin's pretty straightforward, and FEP replacement is mostly if something goes wrong or if it wears out from use. As far as resin goes, water washable is just as toxic as the normal stuff and also pushing it down your sink, so mileage may vary on that side

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You don’t put water washable down your sink... keep the contaminated rinse water and solidify and strain the micro plastics out before draining the water.

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Yu Jing Martial Arts Ninja




North Wales

Once the machine is out of the box, you can be pressing the go button for the test piece in 5-10 minutes.

Granted, I've been watching YouTube videos on the subject for the past few weeks, but it's not complicated. I have a feeling that the cleaning, support removal and post curing will be more of a job, but the wash'n'cure machine should simplify two out of three of those things.

It looks like the real work is going to be playing with Chitubox, resizing, orienting and adding supports to the prospective models. At least that's just computer stuff and doesn't add to the mess, the only problem is that you only find out if you've messed up a few hours later. I have a feeling that that's when things get messy: draining the resin and filtering it, risk of damage to the FEP and subsequent replacement. Not looking forward to that part, to be honest.
   
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Regular Dakkanaut




Berlin

It's always the fear of the unknown.
Once you've done it about a thousand times, you will not even think about it anymore.

If you look for a printer take one of the relative new ones with so called mono displays. They have much reduced exposure times. That reduces print time by factor 2 sometimes even more.

You do not have to drain and clean the vat or filter the resin after every print. You only do it after a failed print, which left some debris or if you want to use a different resin. You might want to have a separate vat for every kind of resin you use, so you just have to swap them.

I open the printer door, use a paper towel to wipe around the edges of the build plate to prevent dripping, take out the buildplate and hold it over a "gastronomy container" and use a scraper to remove the model and drop it into the container. A quick wipe over the build plate and reinstall it.
Fill the container with enough IPA to cover the model and shake it for a moment ( I used a ultra sonic cleaner before, but it's not worth it)
or move the model in the IPA, to clean it.
Put the IPA back in the bottle for reuse. I use a strainer with a build in sieve which catches the model should it flow out with the resin. Wipe excess IPA out of the container. Wash the model under water, remove the supports, cure it. Depending on model 3 mins max.

A note about uncured resin. It's toxic. All paper towels that I use to wipe up uncured resin and all waste resin parts are put on a window ledge, to let the sun cure the resin. Only after it is completely cured I dispose of the towels.

IPA can be reused. If you've got the feeling it doesn't work any more or you're putting more resin on instead of removing. Put IPA in a clear bottle and put it in the sun. The resin will fall out as white stuff/sludge and clear IPA will swim on top. That clear stuff can be reused. Top it up with some fresh IPA. Once the IPA is removed, let the white sludge cure completely before disposing.
There is always the possibility to deliver the uncured resin or the sludge to some recycling center that will dispose of it safely.

I hope I haven't forgotten anything important.
   
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 filbert wrote:
How much setting up did you need to do? I have been reading all sorts of things about bed levelling, FEPs film replacement etc and it's all Greek to me at the moment.

Currently wavering towards an Elegoo with the water washable resin. What I need to work out now is if I will get the use out of it to justify the initial cost. I suspect it will be a case that I will end up finding lots of things I want to print once I get one.

I do concur with other points made in this thread; the painting backlog is always the bottleneck so I am wondering if it is wise to add yet more to that queue.


the FEP film is the first thing that's gonna break (very obviously the most delicate part of the machine looking at it) but it's fairly straightforward to replace, just a few screws and you're good to go.

Bed leveling takes 10 seconds. Literally its a button on the home screen and you hold a piece of paper underneath the head while it goes down and finds 0.

"I can't believe all these tryhard WAACs out there just care about winning all the time when it's supposed to be a game for fun!!!!!!! Also here's my 27 page essay on why marines are OP and Orkz should get a bunch of OP rules so I can win more games

-the_scotsman"

-ERJAK 
   
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The problem, and the risk, with the breaking of the FEP is that if it breaks at the wrong time, you leak resin all over the UV array of the printer. I do not look forward to the day when I make that mistake.

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Powerful Pegasus Knight





Texas

_Si_ wrote:
Here's my two penneth for what it's worth (oh and ask ten people what printer they prefer get ten answers ).

I started with an FDM printer thinking it would be an easy entry, at the time they were cheaper, more mechanical, less chemical wizardry I couldn't figure out. I got an Ender 3 Pro (a pretty standard choice), got some reasonable results with it. But yeah, FDM requires a lot of tinkering. There are a lot of moving parts, most of which you put together yourself, and all of them can slip, or loosen, or lock or so on and so on. My point is FDM is very much a hobby in itself. If you're down with that then great. FDM is unrivalled for cost when it comes to big things, and you can make some sturdy stuff too.

Then I got my resin printer a few months ago (an Elegoo Mars 2), and holy crap it's like a different world. Yes there is some 'chemical' clean up, which amounts to washing stuff in ipa. And it smells a bit. But apart from levelling the plate, which I did the day I got it and not since, there's nothing you need to do. Top up the resin when it runs low, otherwise shove in the usb stick and stuff happens. I've said it before, resin printing is 3d printing on easy mode. Also because FDM is mechanical, say you print 1 mini in 2 hours, 2 minis in the same plate take 4 hours. Resin same mini in 2 hours? Ok but 2 of them, 2 hours. 8 of them? 2 hours. As many as you can fit on the plate.

Also the elegoo saturn is out now and occasionally available on amazon which has a much bigger build area.

As I said, different people give different opinions, but the Ender and the Mars 2 are both cracking machines backed by great support groups. For Ender checkout Tom Tullis on youtube (and Fat Dragon Games, his company) and the Elegoo facebook group is awesome. Whatever you go with make sure there's a decent support network for the inevitable questions. I had many about my ender. And erm, none about the mars 2 Si


This is pretty much exactly what I did, where I started with an A8 clone kit and learned SO much by assembling, graduated up to an Ender 3 Pro (the best FDM printer out there, IMHO) and then jumped to resin with an Elegoo Mars. Which do I prefer? I would print everything on my Mars if I could, as there are 900 more things to go wrong with FDM, but it does have its size advantage.

There are so many threads on Dakka about every aspect of people comparing and giving tips on printers, washing, curing, resins, filaments, etc. If you want some comparisons, here are some pics of FDM vs. resin for minis and a recent huge mini I printed on the Mars - the fellow on horseback measures 155mm long and was as just about as big as I could get on my Mars.

[Thumb - Ogre Comp (2).JPG]

[Thumb - Mini comp (4).JPG]

[Thumb - 20210420_085911 (3).jpg]

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/05/03 13:26:06


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Got my printer - went for an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro in the end. Set it up last night and ran the first test print - a pair of rook chess pieces. They turned out great. Only problem is trying to remove them from the print bed - they are stuck quite firmly!

Do you clean and cure and then try to remove them from the bed? Or do you do it before cleaning?

Also, regarding slicing software - is there a 'go to' application? Or is Chitubox sufficient? I am thinking in terms of supports - Chitubox has an auto add support function but I'm not sure how good it is and wondered if there were better ones.

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You want them to be quite well stuck on, otherwise you risk failed prints. Best to remove them from the bed as its much easier to clean and cure. Also if you cure while its still stuck to the bed, you might make it bond even more and make it even harder to remove.

I would recommend getting a flexible build plate like this one. It lets you flex the plate and pop off most of the supports rather than needing to hack away with a sharp scraper.


I think Lychee is the new slicing hotness

I have found the auto-support function on Lychee to be excellent, but it still needs a bit of manual shepherding and this is easy and intuitive to do. Just click on supports and delete to thin out over enthusiastic supports, and click in 2 places to add new ones.

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OK great stuff. One final question - I have the Mercury Wash & Cure machine arriving soon (was supposed to arrive yesterday along with the printer but it got delayed), however it says in the description that is not for use with water washable resin. Is that really true or just a recommendation? Seems a little counterintuitive to me and if so, I might as well just use normal resin and IPA instead if it means I can take use of a special machine to wash it.

Thanks for all the help and great advice so far, it has been most useful!

Next project for me will be Krieg Marshal on horseback in the style of the Napoleon crossing the Alps painting.

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Welcome to 3D printing - please sign your soul, time and wallet over to the STLs and resin


First up to help with calibration get hold of the towns print from here https://ameralabs.com/blog/town-calibration-part/

It's basically one of the best calibration prints. You just put it on the build plate and print it out and then show all four sides and the top to experienced users and you can diagnose exposure issues. It helps you get your settings well placed for your printer, environment and resin.
That in turn helps save you a lot of resin in the future when printing models that have good supports, but which are designed for low model damage when being removed, which means they are often thinner in tip size.


   
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 filbert wrote:
Got my printer - went for an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro in the end. Set it up last night and ran the first test print - a pair of rook chess pieces. They turned out great. Only problem is trying to remove them from the print bed - they are stuck quite firmly!

Do you clean and cure and then try to remove them from the bed? Or do you do it before cleaning?

Also, regarding slicing software - is there a 'go to' application? Or is Chitubox sufficient? I am thinking in terms of supports - Chitubox has an auto add support function but I'm not sure how good it is and wondered if there were better ones.


The big tip I have for removing from the bed is, when you get into actually supporting models, make sure that your base is set to the "Skate" setting, and place your parts close enough that the 'skates' overlap with one another. Basically, print your models as one, big, conjoined part on the bend, with the parts separated.

The "Skate" setting basically gives you a little lip on the edge of your supports that you can easily get your scraper underneath, which basically creates a little wedge that your scraper can slide underneath.then, with the skates conjoined, once one comes off, they all come off at once.




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You're now into what will be, I promise, the most frustrating experience of learning resin printing: Figuring out the intricacies of supports.

There are pre-supported and no-support models out there, much like the rook you just painted. Consider these Training Wheels: they will almost certainly work, and if I were to go back in time to my frustrated month of figuring things out, I'd tell past me "get some of those presupported models, and use them as little consolation prizes when your manually supported models either fail, or come out all warped and messed up"


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My advice for this trying time:

1) Set your Exposure Time way, way up past where it has to be. This is the time the machine waits with the UV light on while curing the resin - the longer it waits, the more solid the layer becomes, and obviously the longer the print time is. My machine came with an exposure time of 2.5 seconds, and while it technically worked like that, it was much, MUCH less forgiving of shoddy support and angle placement - the print would just snap off the supports if it wasn't modeled and supported perfectly. Higher exposure time seems to make the support way more solid and capable of holding on to the model, and while your prints will basically run overnight instead of running in 3-4 hours, you'll be getting actual models and you'll be able to fine-tune your skills by looking at the flaws and going "ok, how can I improve on this and that and the other thing, why does this look bad here, why is this support leaving a mark" etc. I cranked my exposure time up to 10 seconds, now I'm down to about 5 now that I've gotten a handle on things.


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2) you need 2 kinds of support. Support type one is the STRONG MUSCULAR FLEXING BICEP support, for holding your model up. You basically put these supports in the spot where you least care about the model - under the heel or toe or base, for a humanoid model. And then you want a teeny, delicate, thin detail support, which you'll use to attach to little spikes and details and all the little overhanging parts on the model that need to be supported.

3) position your model such that as many planes as possible are either vertical, or diagonal. Big flat surfaces, parallel to the surface of the build plate, are going to come out looking like melty gloop if they sucessfully print at all. You can, if you must, deal with 1-2 edges that are close to parallel.

Once you actually consistently get prints to succeed, these surfaces are more critical to getting a good print than having every detail perfectly supported. Theyll show up bright red in chitubox while you support the model - the first task should always be rotating the model such that you see the least red possible, even if this means printing your figure perched in a wild pose like a ballerina.


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 filbert wrote:
OK great stuff. One final question - I have the Mercury Wash & Cure machine arriving soon (was supposed to arrive yesterday along with the printer but it got delayed), however it says in the description that is not for use with water washable resin. Is that really true or just a recommendation? Seems a little counterintuitive to me and if so, I might as well just use normal resin and IPA instead if it means I can take use of a special machine to wash it.

Thanks for all the help and great advice so far, it has been most useful!

Next project for me will be Krieg Marshal on horseback in the style of the Napoleon crossing the Alps painting.


I use the anycubic 'less toxic eco resin' with IPA and personally, I love the stuff. I really like the additional security of being able to not stress that I'm giving myself cancer touching my prints and also it doesn't smell, but it does clean much MUCH better with IPA than soap and water.

This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at 2021/05/05 14:17:56


"I can't believe all these tryhard WAACs out there just care about winning all the time when it's supposed to be a game for fun!!!!!!! Also here's my 27 page essay on why marines are OP and Orkz should get a bunch of OP rules so I can win more games

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The Mars 2 printing plate is notorius for being really sticky. It is hard to pray stuff off it at the best of times.
   
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Legendary Master of the Chapter





UK

I use Elegoo's water-washable resin with my Anycubic wash-and-cure machine with no issue, the Mercury seems similar enough that I assume it is also fine. A 6 minute cycle is usually enough, and maybe another 2-4 if the model is surrounded by a boatload of supports or has a large hollowed interior. Since you have an Elegoo printer and a Mercury, I believe you should just be able to attach the whole build plate to the machine and wash it with the prints, which saves time and means that any liquid resin has been removed by the time you're removing the prints from the plate and removing the supports (definitely best done before curing, ideally after a few seconds in warm water if they're particularly stubborn)

As for Chitubox, the software is fine (if a little prone to crashing, so make sure autosave is on) but autosupports in general are crap for all but the simplest prints, regardless of the program. They'll often over-support some areas while missing others entirely and just generally cause bad prints. Manual supports take a while and have a learning curve, but it's still better to take an hour setting up a print than waste a day printing it again because it failed the first time. The best resource for learning support setup is 3dPrintingPro's youtube channel, lots of simple tutorials on both the basics and some more advanced techniques that make both pre- and post-print stuff way easier.

Presupported minis are mostly decent, though some are more forgiving than others of not-quite perfect settings, and some are just straight up naff (or just hastily-done autosupports that are never actually tested!) so just give them a double check. If you see any limbs/fingers/weapons ect floating in midair at their lowest points in Chitubox, you need to add a support there. I'd definitely recommend Artisan Guild and Titan Forge's presupported minis. never really had an issue with those once my settings were sorted out (though they are both fantasy mini producers, not sure if you're after that or just 40k stuff). Both have a few samples floating around, worth looking at just to see what decent support work looks like.

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