3D printing: experiences after one year

In 2020, the Elegoo Mars Pro 3d printer moved in with me. Now after one year, I have gathered some experience and would like to report joy and frustration.

Since I was unsure about the health impact and preferred to operate the printer in our shed, I waited with the first prints until about March and operated it there until October thanks to milder and warmer temperatures. This worked out wonderfully, especially since I was able to put the prints in the sun to cure right away in the summer. The location is perhaps a bit unusual, but we don’t have a basement and otherwise only inhabited rooms where I didn’t want to put the printer. I didn’t have a reasonable option for winter, though. Resin needs more or less room temperature to cure reasonably, though, so I couldn’t print in the cold months. Since I had recently significant problems with the prints and did not know whether it was due to the temperatures or other problems, thereby many planned prints could not finish, but I wanted to have, I then decided to try it indoors.

Elegoo Aktivkohlefilter 3d Druck Amazon
Activated carbon filters

As a suitable room was located our guest bathroom, because it has a window, is little used and can be fully ventilated without anyone sitting next to it. I also found two activated carbon filters from Elegoo on Amazon (affiliate link), which should bind some of the vapors, They work by battery and can be charged with USB cables. According to reviews, the supplied cable is miserably made (potential fire hazard!), so I immediately fell back on an old one of mine. I then positioned the filters under the hood of the printer during printing. I also purchased low-odor resin from 3D Jake. Previously, I had used the standard resin from Elegoo, with which I am totally satisfied as far as the print is concerned, but which smells really unpleasant – even in the well-ventilated shed, the smell is still noticeable hours later.

3D Jake Transparentes Resin Color Mix Resin

Now I have tried transparent resin from 3D Jake. I am thrilled with the smell. It is already only slightly noticeable when printing in the room and no longer detectable by me when the window is open. The point was very important for me not to strain the acceptance of the remaining family members for Dad’s hobby. I am not the biggest fan of transparent resin, because the print result is only partly recognizable. Even if the print worked great and looks clean, you have to prime the figure first to capture all the details. Possible print noses of the supports must therefore be found very thoroughly and carefully removed – this is definitely easier with gray resin. I guess you can’t have everything. Or can anyone recommend gray, odorless resin?
Printing works that way for me indoors, too, though I still prefer to do it outside and only do it that way when I feel like I absolutely have to now.

Anycubic Wash & Cure 3D printer Ebay Tabletop printing
Anycubic Wash & Cure freshly unpacked

For post-processing after printing, I got myself the Anycubic Wash and Cure (affiliate link). This is a ferment, visually very similar to the printer, which takes over the washing and curing. Both steps are unavoidable and otherwise have to be done by hand and UV lamp. While this is not a problem, I had found the Wash and Cure dirt cheap and opted for it to save some more time and effort. The prints come directly from the printer into the wash tank with isopropanol. It’s convenient that you can also hook the Elegoo printing plate right in, so you don’t have to touch the prints at first. At the bottom of the wash tank is a magnetically driven propeller that whirls up the liquid and thus washes the prints. Every 30 seconds, the propeller changes direction so that a flushing effect should be achieved. The washing tank is then replaced with a round transparent plate on which the prints are placed and then rotated under UV irradiation. In this way, the prints can cure in peace.
I am very satisfied with the device. Whether you need it, everyone must decide for themselves. I would certainly not have bought it at the original price, but I found it okay for 70 euros.

In the meantime I have stocked up on a bunch of print files. Surprisingly many useful files I found on Thingiverse, other files I bought on the relevant platforms and two Kickstarter I have baked. I stayed away from Patreon, because I know from experience that it’s a bottomless pit for me and I can’t keep up with my Pile of Shame as it is. I would like to highlight one Kickstarter: The Last World – Dinosaurs Kickstarter, which gave me a rich fund of dinos. Since dinos are a big topic in our house anyway because of my son, I’m taking the motivational momentum with me right now and realizing a long-awaited Jurassic Park project. But more about that later ?

The velociraptors wait patiently for finishing and painting
Various feet and legs are missing. Right the figure has completely disassembled.

Super annoying were broken prints after a problematic update of the printer. I had several broken prints and had many possible causes that were gradually ruled out. In the end, poorly set supports were the unexpected problem, as I had transitioned to an older Chitubox version and didn’t know that the supports were set worse there. That was a learning curve, but I am happy to have found the problem. Now everything works wonderfully.

What is my conclusion after more or less one year? I’m having a lot of fun, but it’s definitely a lot of work. I understand everyone who says that 3D printing is another hobby and not just printing a few figures. Printing and cleaning is a lot of work and finding, buying and preparing the files takes time too. For me, it definitely wastes hobby time that I didn’t have to paint. I knew that before and for me that’s fine, but you should not go to print with false expectations. In any case, I look forward to soon present the first painted prints here!

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