SLA printing

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An SLA printer is a type of 3D printer renowned for its precision and capability to produce intricate designs with high specifications. Unlike other 3D printers, SLA printers employ liquid resin as their primary material, offering unique advantages in terms of cost and suitable materials. The machine operates by utilizing a laser to project a precise pattern onto a liquid resin bath, triggering its hardening process to form each layer of the object. This intricate method ensures exceptional detail and accuracy in the final product, making it ideal for crafting small parts or models with special features. Understanding how the machine works is crucial for ensuring safety during operation.While SLA printers excel in producing detailed objects, they come with certain costs and considerations. The resin and the printer itself may be more expensive compared to traditional filament-based printers like those from Ultimaker. However, for projects requiring high precision and special materials, the investment in an SLA printer can be worthwhile.

How to

Follow these steps meticulously to harness the full potential of SLA technology and produce exceptional products with precision and detail.

  1. Prepare PreForm: This is the software that will slice your file.
  2. Export to printer: Here the code will be transferred to the resin printer.
  3. Prepare the printer: Including the cleaning of the build plate and the changing of the materials.
  4. Start printing: Starting up the resin printer.
  5. Retrieve the print: Removal of the product and cleaning up.

Videos

Formlabs Form 2 tutorial

Formlabs Form 3 tutorial


Help

Tips and tricks

  • Calibrate your printer: Proper calibration is essential to achieving high-quality prints. Make sure your printer is level, your build platform is properly adjusted, and your resin tank is clean and free of debris.
  • Choose the right resin: Different resins have different properties, so it's important to choose the right resin for your specific application. Consider factors such as color, viscosity, and mechanical properties when selecting a resin.
  • Use supports: SLA 3D printing typically requires the use of supports to prevent the print from collapsing during the printing process. Make sure your supports are properly placed and designed to provide adequate support without damaging the print.
  • Clean your prints: After your print is complete, it's important to clean it thoroughly to remove any excess resin or debris. This will help to ensure that your final print is smooth and free of imperfections.
  • Post-cure your prints: After cleaning your print, consider post-curing it to improve its mechanical properties and increase its strength. Post-curing can be done using a UV light source or a specialized curing chamber.
  • Take safety precautions: As mentioned earlier, resin printing can be hazardous if proper safety precautions are not taken. Always wear gloves, work in a well-ventilated area, and follow manufacturer's instructions for handling and disposing of resin.

Troubleshooting

  • Print not adhering to the build platform: If your print is not adhering properly to the build platform, it may be due to insufficient adhesion or incorrect platform height. Make sure that the platform is properly leveled and the resin tank is clean. You may also need to adjust the platform height or use a different resin with better adhesion properties.
  • Print failing or breaking: If your print is failing or breaking during printing or post-processing, it may be due to insufficient support structures, incorrect support placement, or insufficient curing. Make sure that your supports are properly placed and designed to provide adequate support for the print, and consider post-curing the print for improved strength.
  • Poor print quality: If your print is not coming out with the desired level of detail or resolution, it may be due to incorrect settings or calibration. Make sure that your printer is properly calibrated, your settings are correct, and your resin is suitable for the desired level of detail.
  • Resin tank clouding or damage: If your resin tank is becoming cloudy or damaged, it may be due to improper handling or cleaning. Make sure that you are cleaning the tank properly and using the recommended cleaning solutions. You may also need to replace the tank if it becomes damaged or excessively cloudy.
  • Error messages or printer malfunctions: If you are experiencing error messages or printer malfunctions, it may be due to firmware or software issues. Make sure that you are using the latest firmware and software updates, and try resetting the printer or contacting the manufacturer's technical support for assistance.

Maintenance (staff only)

  • Cleaning the Printer: The first step to maintaining your Formlabs printer is keeping it clean. After every print, you should remove the build platform and resin tank and clean them with isopropyl alcohol. Additionally, clean the mirrors and the resin tray using a soft lint-free cloth.
  • Cleaning the Build Platform: To clean the build platform, remove it from the printer and use a scraper or spatula to remove any remaining resin or debris. Then, clean the build platform with isopropyl alcohol and a soft lint-free cloth. Finally, inspect the build platform for any signs of damage or wear and replace it if necessary.
  • Cleaning the Resin Tank: To clean the resin tank, remove it from the printer and use a scraper or spatula to remove any remaining resin or debris. Then, clean the resin tank with isopropyl alcohol and a soft lint-free cloth. Finally, inspect the resin tank for any signs of damage or wear and replace it if necessary.
  • Replacing the Resin Cartridge:
  1. Remove the empty resin cartridge from the printer by pressing the release latch and pulling it out.
  2. Unpack the new resin cartridge and remove the cap.
  3. Insert the new resin cartridge into the printer until it clicks into place.
  4. Follow the prompts on the printer display to prime the new resin cartridge.