Why Resin (SLA) 3D Printers are high maintenance.

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I needed to swap out some parts of my XYZprinting Nobel 1.0a SLA resin 3D printer, and I figured I’d bring you all along for the ride. There are many differences between the SLA printers and the normal FDM printers, so I compare the key consumables.

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“Modum” by Kai Engel

Christopher Hoffman
Hoffman Engineering

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hey everyone and welcome back to Hoffman engineering today I need to do some maintenance on my resin based SL a 3d printer so I want to bring you along and talk you through the process and also compare the resin printer to the maintenance that you normally need to do for your FDM printers there's a little bit more that you have to do for the SLA so I wanted to kind of walk you through what is and is not a consumable and kind of the process behind maintaining these machines because it's a pretty interesting process the main one that I have to do today is I have to replace the resin tank because over time these tanks do wear out and that does affect the quality of your prints so we're just gonna swap it out with a brand new one now I just want to show you that this is after about a hundred and fifty hours of printing so you can see here if this thing will focus that's this machine's been printing for about a hundred and fifty six hours so after that amount of time you may expect to have to replace your resin tank so let's open up the printer let's take a look at why this tank needs replacing and then we'll walk through the process of actually replacing it so if I take off the top of the printer here and I bring you guys on in to the resin tank you'll notice that it's very cloudy so the bottom of the tank has developed this kind of cloudy appearance and that's because the very bottom of the tank right against the edge there is a kind of a Teflon or silicone kind of liner at the bottom and this wears out over time so as you prints more and more on the printer the silicone kind of wears down and it gets this cloudy appearance and that cloud will actually affect how this printer prints because the laser will shine underneath and if it's cloudy then that laser is not going to be as powerful you know that clouds going to absorb a little bit of the of the laser lights and you'll end up with more and more failed prints and that's why when printing on a SLA printer you often want to print all over the build plate you can't just print into a single area you actually want to move it around so that the entire build or the entire resin Pat wears even over time so you can see that I did a pretty good job of that you know it's a little bit more cloudy right in the middle but even that towards the edges this has become cloudy so what we need to do is we need to replace this resin tank and replace it with one that is brand new that doesn't have this cloud so I can continue to print some awesome prints and before you do any work with these Reds and machines it's a good idea to wear some gloves because this resin is really sticky and it has a tendency to get everywhere so gloves definitely important as well as having a lot of paper towels and some rubbing alcohol really helps to clean up afterwards so let's get started what we'll do first let's just pull out the resin tank and let's compare the cloudy resin tank with this brand new resin tank now these are a pretty expensive a new tank for this particular 3d printer which is the XYZ nobel 1.0 a these tanks cost about $55 to replace so if i can just get it out of the packaging here we can see that's this is a brand new tank and there's absolutely no cloud on the bottom there's a plastic protective covering here so i'm just going to open that up with a knife taking care not to touch the underside you don't want any fingerprints on the bottom of the build tank so after i unwrap it i'm gonna be very cautious not to touch the bottom even with gloves on i'm just gonna hold it from the side and you can see here that it is brand new and there is no clouds this is what you want so now that we have this ready and go ahead and remove first we'll remove the lines leading to the resin tank in the back the bottle of resin there's still some resin in this resin Vette so I'm gonna do is I'm gonna remove it and we'll empty it back in here because we want to save as much of the resin as possible because this stuff is actually pretty expensive especially compared to the plastic filament for FDM machines that filaments you know about 15 to 20 dollars per kilogram this is about a hundred and twenty dollars per kilogram of resin so it is considerably more expensive so you want to keep as much as possible so this just slides out and we can take another look and you can see as I move it around there are still some resident here so what we'll want to do is just kind of empty it back into the bottle because this is all good resin and can be reused once we swap out that resin tank another thing to note with SL a 3d printers is you notice that I have clear resin here they have resins of all different colors but you can't use the same resin tank between different colors you need a new resin tank per color because the pigment it'll be impossible to get all of the resin out of this resin VAT so in order to you know prevent mixing of different resins and different pigments you just need to buy new resin tanks for each color you have so that does kind of add to the cost of this SLA printing we'll just leave it here for a couple of seconds to drain out as much as possible because there's no way that I can reuse this resin tank it's pretty much done so I'm just gonna have to toss it after this but I want to get as much of this as possible but what I'm not going to do and I'm not gonna scrape down the the resin Vette because another problem with the SLA printers is you often end up with metal particles in the bottom of the build VAT because if you scrape the very top so if you look at this build platform where the prints actually go after a print you normally scrape off any remaining resin back into the resin vats and since this is metal the scraping often scrapes off a little bit of those metal flakes and it winds up in the bottom of this build that's and you can actually see along the corners that's there's little metal particles so if I were to go in here and try to scrape back all of this resin then all of that metal particles will just end up back into the resin bottle and get you know pushed back into the new build play our new resin tank and that's not what I want so you can actually see some of the dirt and debris left in the bottom of this old resin VAT you can see all kinds of dirts over here there's a lot of the metal flakes from the build platform from scraping off the extra resin this is the kind of stuff that accumulates at the bottom of these resin tanks and it's another reason why these are consumables because over time that'll just degrade the quality of your prints so it's about time that this resin bat gets replaced and after we removed the resin VAT it's a good idea to take a look at the screen at the bottom underneath this is where the laser will shine up from and you want to make sure that that's extremely clean you don't want any dirt or dust on that and this looks pretty good if there were dirt you can just take some cloth and kind of wipe it down just to make sure that it's really clean sometimes if you're you know switching out resin sometimes you resin may drop on there you don't want that because that will also degrade the quality of your print so just make sure this bottom surface is nice and clean and also when swapping out these resin tanks you want to do it pretty quickly so that more dirt doesn't settle under here normally it's protected by the resin tank but with it exposed obviously stuff can get in there so let's get to replacing this but installing the new tank is actually extremely easy it's as simple as just sliding it in now we're gonna have to recalibrate to the 3d printer because the build plate needs to be a kind of flushed to the bottom of this new tank and you know it's a different tank so we'll have to do a little bit of calibration but that's pretty much the install of the new tank now what we can do is we can go ahead and put back in the resin so if I just put the bottle back in the back here and I reconnect the the cables or the hoses this printer is pretty cool because it has Auto filling enabled for the resin there's a sensor that you may have noticed in the back and that will detect the resin level and when the level of the resin and the tank gets low it'll just put more resin in the middle of the print you don't have to stop the prints open up the bottle and pour more in like you do with some other resin printers now before I add back in the resin I want to take a look at the build plates because the build plate itself is also a consumable so if you notice the bottom here they're scratches all over the metal surface and over time as you're peeling off more and more prints and using a scraper to scrape it off this will wear down over time and you can also see you know all those scratches is where the metal flakes end up it back in the the resin vats so over time this does wear down and you will need to replace this this one still is pretty good I'm not gonna replace it yet but when you do it'll be about $100 this little piece is $100 to replace the build vets are about 55 dollars so those consumables do add up if you're using these machines on a you know regular basis but for now this is going to be good so I'm just going to put this back on here if you were swapping pigments and resin types before you swap the build plates what you want to do is wipe down this entire build platform because this will be covered in resin so you want to make sure that none of the original resin remains on this build platform before it gets plunged back into your you know new swapped resin because that will contaminate it but we're good on this one so I'm just gonna put this back in and now comes the fun part we're gonna go and we're going to install more resin and the pipes are installed correctly so I'm going to click OK and we'll see here that it's pushing air through this clear tube which is going to push fill our resin out from the black tube and it's just going to keep filling it up until it reaches the the max level in which the little plunger here the little floater will lift up and it will let the Machine know that enough resin has been pushed into this new resin VAT and it's going to push it up to this level you can actually see the max lines over here I am really impressed with X Y Z printings implementation of all of this it is extremely easy to swap out resin and add new resin in and these floaters do a great job of detecting the resin level I haven't had any print failures due to not having enough resin which is amazing and it's also pretty cool to watch this thing fill up it does take about a minute to push all of that resin in you can see some of the resin surrounding the plunger or the little floater now but it's still got a little bit more to go before this thing is filled up so I'm gonna let it do its thing and we'll come back once this new resin tank has been filled up with resin there you go you can see that's the floater lifted up just a little bit and that's enough to let it know that the resin tank is full and we should be good to go recalibrate the machine and then we can start doing printing then the last step we need to do when we're placing the resin Vettes is to do what's called horizon calibration so the bottom of the build plates that that plane needs to be exactly parallel to the bottom of our new resin vats because if they're tilted at all and it's not going to lie flat upon the bottom here and your prints aren't going to stick to the build plates and you're gonna have a lot of print failures luckily it's pretty easy to do these this build plates has four screws that locks in the position and so if I just loosen these screws and not that they're all loosened you can see that I can move the build platform not only forward and backward but also side-to-side so I have full control over how this build platform lays up on the bottom so now that this is nice and loose we can actually go to the menu here and I can select horizon calibration and make sure that the build platform is clear everything's good so I can press ok and once I do it's going to lower the build plate down to the bottom of our resin VAT and since this is nice and loose it'll actually lie perfectly on the bottom and then once we're there we can go ahead and tighten up all the screws and we should be good to go now this is very similar to leveling the build plates for your FDM printer normally for those you have to adjust you know little screws to move the platform up and down this does a little bit differently because it can just lie on the bottom of the resin vats and this works beautifully I've never had an easier weight up leveling to bed because it just pushes it down you tighten it up and you're good to go so now that we're on the bottom you can actually sit here and what I'll do is I'll just push this around a little bit just to make sure it really is lying on the bottom and you can see as I push it's going to push the build the resin VAT downwards so we just want to make sure that there's not a lot of resin between the platform and the tank and what I'm going to do here is while I'm pushing pressure down on the bottom here I'm going to just tighten these screws and we should be good to to do a quick little test print first print that the new resin tank is done and that looks like a successful print to me let's take it off the build plates and take a look at the print and the built tank is looking fine there is no clouding or anything yet so that's a great sign let's uh let's take a look at that prints and here's the finished test piece if I shine a UV flashlight on to it you can see all of the beautiful details I really love this clear resin but you can see that this piece finished beautifully and that means the new resin tank is working just as expected in that the build platform is calibrated just right so I think that we swapped things out quite beautifully and you can see the kind of process that these SLA printers have to go through to switch it out it's not quite as easy to maintain as your normal FDM printers there's a few more consumables like you have to replace the resin tank you have to replace to build a platform every now and then unlike what you need to do with the FDM printers or it's really just the filament that you're paying for but with this there's a little bit more extra work so you just got to make sure to factor that in when you are printing these in to the cost of each prints and I think that'll be it for this video you can see the old cloudy resin tank that is basically useless at the moment there's no recycling program I can't send this back to XYZ printing and have them do anything with it so it's it's really just you know it's done its duty now and now we have this nice new resin tank already to keep printing and we'll see if I get another 150 or so hours out of this new build plates so thank you all for watching and joining me as I do a little bit of maintenance I hope you learned a little bit and subscribe if you haven't already and thank you all for watching and I'll see you all next time you

Why Resin (SLA) 3D Printers are high maintenance.

38 thoughts on “Why Resin (SLA) 3D Printers are high maintenance.”

  1. *6:40 begins telling us about the metallic particles, dirt and crap in the vat. AFTER he pours 2 tablespoons back into his main clean container.
    At the risk of sounding frivolous, I would dispose of the 30ml (or so) from the vat, or at least save it separately.

  2. Formlabs Form2 while the same problem exists with the tank wearing out, is not a big deal to swap out. Personally from my experience I would say it's the other way around. FDM printers take more of my time with their nuances. In the end it depends on each user's experience with their unique setup.

  3. Just looking at the resin cost as well as the consumables like the VAT tank cost, Im glad I went FDM. Maybe not as high quality but dirt cheap cost and decent quality if your printer isn't one of those ultra cheap ones. These resin printers really need to sort their consumables out…..of people need to figure out how to make their own or something.

  4. This is just me thinking out loud but I have a hard time believing there is no way to clear up that clouding of the tank somehow. It would eventually become too worn out in general but just for the clouding I am sure people will come up with a solution. Same with the build platform. Aside from not using a metalic object to scrape it the plate is aluminum. Am I just too naive in thinking you could wet sand it with some fine grit sandpaper ?

  5. Just scrape the resin off the Build platform with a plastic scraper..

    And get a slicing software, that uses the Vat more efficiently, because your "old" vat was heavily used in the middle and nowhere else..

  6. Hello Sir, I need to know one think about this printer: 1- do you ever print something castable? 2- do you use it in 25 Mic setting yet? (i am going to buy one printer SLA I think, and use it in jewellery industrial. Thank you for the information already I take with this video.)

  7. Would clear Acrylic polish not take care of that cloudiness? I use a product called Novus to shine up old scratched and cloudy Acrylic Aquariums in far worse shape then that Resin plate, and they come out Crystal clear.

  8. Well done on the vid quality, very nice to watch, and good audio quality as well, just be mindful of what info you have already said, assuming that people are not listening or dont get it leads
    to erroneous over-teaching…..metal comes off the top plate, i get it..lets move on ;]

  9. You don't need to replace the build plate… you just probably need to polish it again!
    I also recommend you to scrap the resin from the plate by using a material softer than steel aiming to not risk the metal.
    I also would try to change the bottom of the resin bed by a better material with similar diffraction index of the original bed.

  10. Don't scrape your build platform lol. you have to pop the prints off from the base so there is almost no wear and tear on the platform itself. plus you can easly "scrape" off the resin leftovers from the platform with a plastic spatula.

    Also tip for the cloudy tanks, just print on the area of the tank that's less cloudy. because I see you print a lot in the center of the buildplate.

  11. XYZprinting Nobel 1.0a is on sale this April 2018. I think its around $900.
    Dont get too excited, the need to replace the VAT for the cost it has will bankrupt you quick.
    Thats why they put it on sale. To get more VAT customers LOL.

  12. OR
    You can ditch SLA printer and get DLP which does not use laser but uses either LCD or a basic projector. to project the image to the VAT.
    Projector based DLP printers (not LCD once) are actually far better. The fact that projector sits far below the VAT, allows VAT to be used WITHOUT the FEP film.
    Laser will degrade VAT quickly. LCD will degrade FEP film in the VAT.
    Projector wont degrade anything.

    The main difference between any projection (LCD or Projector) printers and laser once is the speed.
    Laser printing is more accurate but its not much faster then a good quality FDM printer because laser has to trace entire layer just like FDM printer.

    Projection based printers (LCD or projector) project ENTIRE LAYER at once.
    Layer cure time for laser and projector is the same so……..
    Quality of your print will depend on the projector you buy.
    Thats why Laser printers cost arount $1000 and projector printers (not the LCD once) about $2000-$3000
    LCD printers will cost less then $1000 but their print size is small, similar to laser printers.

    Projector printer is the best choice for the money. They are upgradable. You can make build platform bigger. They do not require VAT replacement.
    But they cost X2-X3 times as much.

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