I mentioned the other day that I purchased an inexpensive 3D SLA printer, and although I had some things I should have been doing today, I decided to go ahead and try a test print. As you can see from the image above, my first attempt was not entirely successful.
The file that I chose to print is not of my own design. It was designed by Tom Bell, who is a very experienced designer with a number of successful designs available as finished products on Shapeways and downloadable designs Thingiverse.
There are a number of possible reasons for the failure, and I’ll get to the bottom of those. I believe that my problems are simple setting errors — insufficient number of supports, too short an exposure time, and possibly bad orientation of the model within the print space. I also think that it’s likely that the build plate shifted slightly during the print, which means that when I aligned it, I didn’t tighten it down sufficiently. I also still need to put together a UV curing station and proper air evacuation — the smell’s not as bad as I thought it might be, but it ain’t great, either.
Beyond the errors, I’m reasonably impressed with the print. I chose to use the coarser of the two layer settings (0.05mm vs. 0.02mm), and even so, the print is reasonably crisp. I’m confident that once I get the settings dialed in, the printer is going to be incredibly useful.