Welcome! The goal of this guide is to give a basic primer to the folks out there who, like me, was a new to 3d printing of any kind and felt a bit of overwhelm. When starting out with a resin 3d printer there seems like a LOT to learn.
Fear not: I’m going to get you going with the basics. You’ll be able to confidently print your first miniature!
My focus here will be to QUICKLY get you up to speed. I’m going to run people through a print that is NOT the test print.
QUICK START TO PRINTING:
To Print anything you need: A 3D resin printer like the EPAX, ELEGOO or ANYCUBIC. Some Resin. A file to print.
All 3 of those printers include a test print on the thumb drive. Some include resin, others don’t. If your’s doesn’t include it pick up some Elegoo Mars Grey Resin
That’s it. Buy a printer, get some resin if needed and you can print. Unbox the printer, level it if needed (scroll down to find the instruction videos on how to level the Elegoo or Anycubic. Epax arrives pre-leveled) pour some resin into the tank and hit print on the test print included. Done.
QUICK START TO POST PROCESS:
I love these buckets for washing my prints: Pickle Bucket with Strainer
You just fill the bucket with the Alcohol, put in the print, wash it up. Done. Then let that dry a bit and put it under the UV light or out in the sun.
QUICK START TO SAFETY:
You want to keep resin off of you and you want to not breath any fumes. The fumes aren’t that bad with the resin but I would put the printer near a window and ventilate it well. My big 3 for safety are:
1. Nitrile Gloves: You need these. Get them. Not latex, nitrile. Keeps the resin off your hands. I use them all the time.
2. Respirator mask: Love this thing. I use it all the time for 3d printing and for airbrushing. I definitely advise you to do the same.
3. Goggles: Gotta admit I don’t use this much but I have them. Pick some from Amazon but I had them in the house so no real recommendations here.
PRINTING: Printer + Resin + Test Print file. That’s all you need to get the first file printed!
POST PRINT: Alcohol + UV Light. That’s all you need for curing your print!
SAFETY: Gloves + Mask + Goggles + Ventilation. That’s all you need for safety!
So that’s it for your first print. Now moving on to other prints… you’ll be learning to use a slicer like Chitubox. You’ll be learning supports. You’ll be playing with some basic settings.
I’m going to cover that stuff below but again each of those are it’s own learning curve. My advice is to TRY basic prints.
Go to someplace like Thingverse. Grab a 3D file. Pick a slicer and load it up. Play with it, search YouTube for basic tutorials.
Learn what I mean by supports (covered below) and get the basics of that.
Soon you’ll be good to print anything you want! Ok so let’s go into more details:
The test print itself can fail if you don’t have the resin that the manufacturer wants/expects you to use. Each printer will have settings on how long to turn on the UV light, known as exposure. If you use resin that needs more or less exposure than the printer is set for, your print might fail.
The test print is usually on the thumb drive, you’ll just plug it in to the printer, pour in resin and hit print. That is great to start but obviously you’ll want to know how to do other prints.
We want that first successful print on your new Anycubic Photon, Elegoo Mars, or Epax X1!
START 3D PRINTING LIST:
- 3D Printer: I mean, obviously. The ones I’ll reference are the Photon, Mars or X1.
- Resin: (not always included) – I’ll be talking about the Elegoo Grey Resin
- Slicer Software: (typically included otherwise you can download free) I’ll reference Chitubox.
- File to print: Test prints are included, but I will use this file as a baseline: Amazon Miniature She is cool, free and needs supports so you can practice that.
- Safety gear: Goggles, mask, nitrile gloves
- Clean up equipment: isopropyl alcohol, container, snips, scraper, paper towels
- Curing method: the Sun or UV light
That seems like a lot, but it’s really not so bad. Printer, a bottle of resin, mask and gloves, alcohol. Done. You’re ready to go. Here is your shortlist:
Mask and Gloves: Some setups like the Photon include a mask and gloves. You’ll need more gloves for sure, and I prefer a nice mask: 3m Respirator
Alcohol: With this, any brand will work. Here’s one that’s readily available on Amazon.
Container: I just love this thing for clean up. It’s not 100% needed but it’s so wonderful I’m including it. Pour the alcohol in, plop the completed print inside, swirl it up. Cleaned.
ANYCUBIC PHOTON, ELEGOO MARS, EPAX X1 FIRST PRINT WORKFLOW
Once you have the above items, here is your workflow:
- Unbox and Set up printer including leveling if needed
- Install Chitubox or Slicer provided
- Pick the test file or download a free one: I chose THIS
- Open the file in Chitubox
- *Determine the settings* – This is the most important step, see below for this step
- Add supports if needed
- Slice file and put it on the thumb drive
- Plug thumb drive into printer
- Select your file from the printer menu
- Pour resin into vat
- Hit print
- Remove it from the bed with the scrapper after it’s completed
- Clean up: Rinse with alcohol
- Cure the print with UV light or outside in the sun
RESIN 3D PRINTER SET UP:
Unboxing: Pull everything out and make sure all the parts are there. The three printers we talk about here all include a bunch of extras like tools and software on a thumb drive.
BUILD PLATE LEVELING: Which 3d Printer did you get? Photon, Mars, X1, other? Watch these videos for specifics but what you want to do is install the build plate and level it if necessary.
Anycubic Photon Bed Leveling:
Elegoo Mars Bed Leveling:
Epax X1: No leveling is needed for this printer. It’s done at the factory before shipping.
CHOOSE A RESIN:
Picking a resin: Many are available and each are slightly different. This matters for a few reasons: Smell, results, how long to cure, how long of an exposure on your machine. I will talk about Elegoo Grey in this article as a baseline. It’s very popular and not too expensive. In the interests of keeping this a quick guide, we’ll leave it there!
SLICER INSTALL AND SET UP
Installing a slicer: These are commonly included but I will talk about Chitubox here as it is very common and free. Get Chitubox, here.
Chitubox quick start: I find all the Chitubox tutorials on YouTube to be unsatisfying for quick start purposes. They tend to ramble and be overly long. The best quick starts I found are:
- Basic Settings:
- Supports: Keep it simple. Open Chitubox, load your file. On the top right there is a tab that looks like roman columns or pillars. That’s the support tab. Go down to “Auto” and choose light supports. Give it a shot.
- For a more in-depth explanation, check this video out
- Advanced, check this video out
Chitubox Important Settings: Ok this get’s its own section. This is where prints succeed and fail. You want to get these dialed in for your specific printer/resin combination. Each printer has a UV light. The UV cures the resin by exposure.
How long to expose which resin can vary by resin and printers. Many folks have been getting the data based off prints and compiling it.
Exposure data for the Elegoo Mars: I have not found one! I’ll add it if I do, I believe you can use the Photon settings.
So for my example, we will use the Epax X1 and Elegoo Grey resin.
Open the Epax doc above. Look for Elegoo Grey.
You’ll see the settings call for 7 second exposure. That’s your starting point. I ended up on 6 seconds, but it’s a work in progress 😉 You can apply the settings as directed in chitubox.
SO! You’ll have your file downloaded. You opened it in Chitubox, added auto supports if needed, changed the settings to the values in the documents above that are based on your printer and resin.
You hit “SLICE” and saved it to your thumb drive. You plug the thumb drive into your printer. You’re ready to print.
Once it’s printed you’re almost there!
SAFETY AND CLEAN UP
Safety Gear: The big ones are nitrile gloves and a mask. This is a great video on safety:
Clean up: The big one here is isopropyl alcohol and container.
Curing: Sunshine works, but many use UV lights.
Remove supports: Pretty easy to remove, but it can leave annoying little nubs.