A Rookie Dives Into Resin Printing

Mar 05, 2020 at 10:00 am by Warlord720

While not exactly new to 3D printing (filament) I had my qualms about resin printing. Its resolution was stunningly superior but there were a few things that concerned me. It didn't take much research to see that resin was:

  1. Toxic
  2. Smelly
  3. Toxic
  4. Messy
  5. Toxic
  6. Expensive
  7. Toxic

A few videos over at YouTube was all it took to see commentors mercilessly pummeling the host for mishandling resin. No gloves and inadequate ventilation were enough to give grandma the vapors... literally.

Finally, fed up with the prep, taping, nozzle cleaning and other things I do with filament printing I decided to take the plunge anyway.

With this in mind, I jumped at the first opportunity to get my hands on an Orange10 resin printer by Longer. This printer goes as low as $179 (US) and is regularly priced at $229 (US) with great reviews. It seems to be a darling of the small print class. I also snagged some extra resin and glad I did as the printer did not come with any! Prior kits did but not mine.

Upon unboxing I found out the printer was packed tight with parts snug in the custom foam. This was a good thing. The shipping box had a hole in it, but the printer did not.

Coming mostly assembled, there was little to do except put together the orange top, which requires, of all things, using clear rubber bands. It is effective but of course, I ham-handedly broke one. Thank goodness there were enough left to do the job. Packed with this thing is a plastic sack of “corners” that you can use to hold the top together until you get the rubber bands on.

Reallusion's Slacker character in 3D resin with too many supports. Auto support generation has a lot to be desired but the model printed with good detail.

I just wish I'd have found that out a little sooner. I'm not going to tell you that I wrestled the thing together only to discover the corners which I then added. Nor will I tell you about this cryptic piece of paper that said to use those corners at the beginning and take them OFF when assembled. I will just tell you the top is assembled. Leveling of the print bed was as simple as placing your hand over it, holding it flat, while tightening the adjustment screws leaving it snug against a sheet of paper. The easiest manual leveling I've done to date.

After this... I threw caution to the wind and created my own model to test print... a sci-fi quad scooter I made in 3DS Max then into ZBrush for a base and increasing the mesh density for smoothness. From there I downloaded the Chitubox slicer software as recommended by a tutorial vid provided by Longer. Combined with their own software you can use Chitubox to hollow out and place holes in a model and supports if you like their method better or you can use their proprietary slicer. 

As far as the mess. That was all overblown. Cleanup is simple usually with paper towels then alcohol followed by adequate drying time before filling the vat again. I do recommend getting a funnel and funnel strainers if needed as pouring the unused resin back into the bottle will be the messiest part until you've done it a couple of times. A funnel just makes it easier.

Now to the smell.

If I had the top on the printer, there was no smell. Its was only when I removed the model and cleaned up did I notice a slight order but nothing obnoxious. This was done in a 12x20 room with an overhead fan. The first time I cleaned up I left the door open to the room but not so in subsequent cleanups.

These characters are before clean-up to show how rough they can look coming out of the printer. Sanding, filing, and painting will dress them up. Even the glasses printed properly on the Detective.

As to the toxicity... I basically treated it like it was acid. I made sure to use nitrile gloves when handling anything that might have come into contact with the resin. You must think past the obvious such as filling and cleaning to handling any object that touched the resin such as the printer bed, scraper, and cleanup materials. While it might not be THAT toxic… it never hurts to treat it like it is.

The results, including resolution, are amazing for this price point with the only downside being the cost of the resin. Small prints can cost $3 or more but that is nothing compared to having them printed at a service.

While I enjoy my filament printer, this resin printer is indeed in a different league and could be a great way to dip one's toe into 3D resin printing. Don't forget its big brothers like the Orange30 as they don't cost that much more. This Longer Orange10 has been a real pleasure to work with and dispelled many of my resin printing myths.

It still takes anywhere from a few hours to seven or more hours to print most of the figurines I've tested. I've also got a long way to go in learning proper support techniques that keep the model intact while being easy to remove. So far… I only get one or the other but that is for another time as I'm off to print yet another figurine testing hollow wall thickness for strength and saving resin.

Stay tuned.

Orange10 at Amazon (not an affiliate link)

M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years.  Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.

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