3D Printer Discussion

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    • Hey Phoenix,

      well, first things first. It is quite the book you are opening. I own a 3D Printer for way over a year now and have been printing a lot for RPGs and Ninth Age, and I learn something new every print.

      First, there are two major types of 3D printers out there for hobbyists. SLA and FDM printers, or as they are also known: Resin and Filament Printers. Both do the same but also they don't. ;) If you are looking into printing miniatures, SLA printers are your go to.

      As I also work primarily with an SLA printer, I will get into more detail about that. Be warned, it is messy. But it is very satisfying and cool. :)

      You will need a few things to get going:

      The printer part:

      You will need the printer itself. Obviously. But you also need a place where it can stay. It will fume a bit. Resin is not as bad as many people make it seem (I am a chemist, believe me), but on the other hand, it is not candy. What I mean by that is that resin is a potentially dangerous substance that you should not play around with. Don't leave it anywhere where kids or pets could find it and best you print (if possible) in a dedicated room where you neither sleep nor eat. Better safe than sorry.

      You will need resin. There are myriads of brands and producers by now. This is more of a trial and error thing, as most resins do just fine. Find one you like.

      You will need paper towels. A wise man once said: "Buy twice than what you would have bought. Then buy a little more. It might be enough for the first month." This little anecdote should show how many paper towels you will need. To dispose of them: Leave soaked paper towels in a transparent container in the sun where the resin can cure. Once fully cured, resin is chemically pretty inert and not very toxic anymore. Still no candy! ;) But once cured, you dispose of it through your normal waste.

      Get some disposable gloves, best nitrile. For the environments sake, you can reuse them a couple of times.

      For exact set up, look something up on Youtube or Google, or just trial and error it.

      The software part:

      The printer itself is not enough to get running. You will need a slicer software that converts 3D models (.stl files) into sliced files that your printer translates into actions. The exact format depends on the printer. Software wise I recommend Chitubox, but there are also other good slicers out there.

      And now, you need files. You can find free ones on Thingiverse, Files that cost very little on MyMiniFactory or you can directly support artists you like via Patreon. The offers on Patreon are really good, if you find an artist you like, but I do not like the website a lot. I have a lot of performance issues with it.


      So far to give you an idea as to what you are maybe getting yourself into. ;) Any more questions, feel free to ask, I will do my best to answer. :)
      cuncta fluunt
    • Thank you for the comprehensive response! Thankfully children are not currently a concern, nor pets (although that status is under review :D). I'm only really considering it now since i'm about to move house and we'll have two spare bedrooms so i'll be able to devote a bit of space towards it. Advice on paper towels is noted :)

      Which printer do you use? Speaking to a few other printer owners and from the research i've done so far Anycubic and Elgoo seem to be spoken of highly.
    • Awesome! I live in a flat but have the luxury of permitting myself a (though pretty small) room dedicated to crafting and my hobby stuff.

      I am using an Anycubic Photon, which is not available anymore. I heard that the Photon S has a lot of quality issues, but it has some quality of life improvements that I had to install afterwards myself. Aka mod my printer. :D For example the dual Z rod - that's a nice thing!

      Another sneaky tip: Printing takes a long time, but with SLA printing it does not matter at all how full your build plate is as your SLA printer can work on 99% of it at the same time. So load up your plates!

      Best advice I can give you is: Take it easy, permit yourself to make mistakes. Prints WILL go wrong no matter your experience. My first print ever was perfect. The 5-6 that followed where horrible. :D :D Be tolerant to frustration. Sometimes it is a random thing that goes wrong. The fruits you will harvest are worth the tears. Printing what ever you want in the exact size you want (!!!!) is so freakishly awesome, especially for this game we all play.

      This model looks awesome, it is infantry... hm.. I woul really like it as a Large unit on a 50x50 base. No diggidy. Just print it the size you want.

      Cheers, Sidereo
      cuncta fluunt
    • Aycubic Photon (/S) and the Elegoo Mars (/Pro) are widely regarded as the best entry level SLA printers due to being the best in the categories of bang for buck and community support.

      If you think you're gonna want to print large models, the Elegoo Saturn is coming out later this year. In addition, it also boast an impressive print speed compared to other printers but we'll see how the final product holds up when it launches - previews look promising.
    • Hombre de Mundo wrote:

      Aycubic Photon (/S) and the Elegoo Mars (/Pro) are widely regarded as the best entry level SLA printers due to being the best in the categories of bang for buck and community support.

      If you think you're gonna want to print large models, the Elegoo Saturn is coming out later this year. In addition, it also boast an impressive print speed compared to other printers but we'll see how the final product holds up when it launches - previews look promising.
      What's the definition of large?
    • 20phoenix wrote:

      What's the definition of large?
      19.A.a Height

      Large size models have Stomp Attacks (1)
      3 is the Minimum number of models required to form Full Rank
      3 is the Maximum number of Supporting Attacks
      2 is the Number of D6 rolled when performing Dangerous Terrain Tests




      Jokes aside, the difference is quite significant:

      Mars:
      11.5 x 6.5 x 15 cm

      Saturn:
      19 x 12 x 20 cm
    • Im about 4 weeks with an SLA printer brand new to the business, here are my “wish i would have known this before” tips.

      1. A printer like an anycubic or elegoo Mars (I have the Mars) is about half the cost of the hobby. You will need resin, a solvent, gloves (lots of them), a source for UV light unless you get tons of sun, and possibly an ultrasonic agitator. Also depending on where you want to set this up, you may need an exhaust fan to air out your work area, again not cheap. This stuff adds up fast, think that part through before you pull the trigger.

      2. most resins recommend the solvent to be 99% isopropyl alcohol, which is basically out of stock in most places due to the pandemic. You’ll probably be paying top dollar for it ($50 USD for a gallon) and can take a week or two to ship. I had my printer for almost a week before the IPA arrived. You can’t reuse it forever either. There are videos on the tube about reprocessing with varying success. I personally use a prewash with simple green (about half the price of IPA) then do the final wash in the IPA. Your IPA will also be used in a spray bottle to clean. Oh and make sure you store it air right or it will all evaporate away.

      3. Water washable resins - I have not tried these, but the reviews on the tube look promising. A bit more expensive than standard, and still toxic, but being water washable would be amazing for post processing. You still need to think about the long game. You can’t flush that contaminated water, but you can evaporate it away.

      4. It’s super easy to get started - apart from all the stuff you have to buy and being super responsible with all your trash, wearing gloves, and properly ventilating the toxic fumes away from you, you can pretty easily print cool stuff without much trouble.

      5. Be careful with the FEP sheet. That’s the barrier between your screen and the resin. It’s just a semi rigid plastic sheet which I tore through with my plastic spatula. I mistook a small spec of debris for cured plastic on my fep bed and tore a hole in it. Luckily they are just a couple bucks, but do yourself a favor and buy a few when you order your printer. You are bound to mess one up sooner or later.

      6. speaking of fep beds, a well known hack that I have started using is to use some silicone on the fep plastic. It helps the cured resin not stick to the fep, since you want it sticking to the plate. Again, it’s stuff that is cheap to buy, but hard to find at a store, order it before you need it.
    • @The Beninator once you wash your model in alcohol or simple green (that’s what I use right now since I can’t seem to find 95%+ alcohol either), then dip it or run it under really hot water, (which also helps rid the excess resin that didn’t come off during the initial wash, you’ll see the supports soften up even more and separate easily but pulling them off without even trying, and then afterwards let the model fully cure outside. And there’s hardly any cleaning up you have to do afterwards as you would if you clipped them off after curing it
    • Marcos24 wrote:

      @The Beninator once you wash your model in alcohol or simple green (that’s what I use right now since I can’t seem to find 95%+ alcohol either), then dip it or run it under really hot water, (which also helps rid the excess resin that didn’t come off during the initial wash, you’ll see the supports soften up even more and separate easily but pulling them off without even trying, and then afterwards let the model fully cure outside. And there’s hardly any cleaning up you have to do afterwards as you would if you clipped them off after curing it
      interesting strategy. I’m actually finding that pulling the supports off first thing to be a good strategy for me. It’s a bit messier of work, but there is a ton of surface area on the supports. All that surface area holds resin which is being dissolved unto your solvent and reducing the lifespan of your solvent. Clipping them first and putting them in a UV box has helped me keep my SG and IPA a bit cleaner. honestly, a lot of the time I just pull the supports off if the part is not super delicate. This may just be due to the difference in our support connection settings. Would be fun to swap settings for chitubox (if you use that). I’m not 100% happy with my support settings as they leave little craters behind.
    • Yes, I totally agree! Always remove your supports before curing. The hot water bath is a good strategy, but be gentle as your cured model also might bend a bit. Not recommended for multi part prints. Or at least, only recommended to a certain degree. :)

      IPA is a classic solvent for cleaning, but if you can find that more easily, use ethanol. In Germany I can get 5 L ethanol at a craft store or building material suppliers for roundabout 10 €. The solvent properties of both are basically identical, both evaporate at about 80° C and Ethanol is way cheaper. Plus, atm, available. If you can stand the smell, no biggy. ;)
      cuncta fluunt
    • My 2c:

      IPA is hella expensive I use methylated spirits, depending on where you are from in the world it make also be called denatured alcohol. It works brilliantly and is about 1/10 the cost.

      I still have a bottle of 250ml IPA that is in a spray bottle. Thats good for cleaning spatulas and the works space etc.

      Buy a wash and cure station, yes you can get away with not having it, but it takes the tedium out of it. Which in turn makes you want to keep printing. And if you are going to spend ~$1000 getting into the 3d printing hobby then its 100% worthwhile.

      Go to the pet store and get a silicone feeding mat. The bigger the better. Do everything on that. Contains all the mess and if it gets bad you can pop it out side to cure all the rubbish away.

      Buy a bunch of the same resin, Cleaning the vat is a massive pain, and if you have the same resin you can just keep topping it up and print 24/7

      Watch all of 3dPrintingPro's videos. His support settings are fantastic, I remove all supports with my thumb and there if there is damage its hard to see with the eye. Also ensure your supports are on the undersides of models so that if there is any damage you cant see it when on the table.


      The standard 6" build plate is great for minis but will be almost at its limit printing dragons (the wings are typically to big) This can be overcome by printing parts separately. So if you plan on printing lots of monsters with wings then a bigger printer is way easier.

      If you had to you can probably squeeze 10-15 20mm dudes on a 6" plate. The larger 9" plates you can easily print 20 x 20mm dudes at a time.
    • I recently started buying STL files (instead of scouring free stuff from thingiverse). Highland miniatures specifically.

      My god.... I wish I had done this sooner. Find a company that makes models you like AND offers them with supports. Some companies will sell the non-supported files for cheaper, don't be a scrooge, just pay for the flipping supports. My print success rate jumped up to like 90% (from maybe 50% doing the supports myself).

      Highland miniatures is nearly finished with an entire collection to build KoE, and is probably half way through with VC.

      The post was edited 1 time, last by The Beninator ().