How to Clean and Cure Resin Prints

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Resin 3D printers use UV light to build models layer by layer from a vat of light-sensitive liquid. When the print is complete, you are left with a flexible model still covered in resin that needs to be cleaned and fully cured with additional UV light.

How to handle resin safely

The resin is toxic, but no more dangerous than many household cleaners. All resins are classified as irritating to the skin. Therefore, nitrile gloves and safety glasses should be worn when handling uncured resin. If you get liquid resin on your skin, you should wash off immediately with soap and water.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Once resin prints have been fully cured in UV light, they are safe to handle.

Good ventilation is also important when working with resin printers. They should be kept in a room with an outside vent or good charcoal filtered air purifier. If necessary, you can ventilate the room by opening a window.

How to clean a resin 3D print by hand

You don’t want equipment or tools specifically designed for 3D printing to process your resin models. Most items can be found at a dollar store or in the baking aisle of a big box store.

What You’ll Need to Clean and Cure Resin Prints

Buy silicone tools to work with resin whenever possible. The resin does not adhere to the silicone, which facilitates cleaning. If you can’t find an affordable silicone mat, you can also cover your work surface with a plastic trash bag. I am currently using a plastic shelf liner from IKEA. The jugs with the isopropyl alcohol are from a dollar store, while the scraper and side cutters come with a 3D printer.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Remember to clean your tools and work area as you go. The resin hardens in UV light (i.e. sunlight) so any spills that are neglected will eventually harden.

1. Cover your countertop with a silicone mat or plastic sheet. Ideally, you should also place a mat or plastic sheet under your printer to catch any resin drips.

2. Put on your safety gear – gloves and goggles.

3. Fill two containers with isopropyl alcohol. They don’t need to be full, just deep enough to cover most of your model.

4. Remove the build plate from the printer, taking care not to leak outside the tank. Use a spatula to scrape off excess resin in the tank.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

5. Place the build plate on the plastic tray.

6. Use the metal scraper to rdelete model.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

7. Put the models in the container of isopropyl alcohol, seal with an airtight lid, and gently stir the liquid for about 30 seconds.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

8. Delete model with a gloved hand or tongs.

9. Remove supports. Use the side cutters if necessary.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

ten. Dip an old toothbrush in clean isopropyl alcohol and gently brush the detailed areas of the print where resin can cling.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

11. Place the model in the second container of isopropyl alcohol, replace the lid and shake gently.

12. Place the model out of direct sunlight to dry. If you are in a hurry, you can use a hair dryer. Always make sure your model is completely dry, otherwise the isopropyl alcohol will turn into an ashy residue that is hard to remove.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

To get the most out of my isopropyl alcohol, I use a two-rinse method. A container is intended for the first rinse and gets dirty quickly. This keeps the second container cleaner much longer. When the first rinse solution becomes cloudy, dispose of it properly (more on that later) and replace it with a fresh one. Now the second lightly soiled rinse becomes the first rinse.

How to Cure a Resin Print in the Sun

Once a resin print is clean and dry, you can expose it to UV light to finish curing. The cheapest method of curing resin is to use the sun as a UV light source.

1. Choose a sunny locationlike a south-facing window (if you’re in the northern hemisphere), or outdoors if it’s over 70°F.

2. Leave in the sun for 2 to 8 hoursuntil the print no longer sticks.

Sunlight is less reliable than using an electric UV lamp. It is difficult to cure the resin in cloudy weather and impossible at night. But it’s free.

How to Make a DIY Resin Curing Station

You can make your own UV light box to cure resin prints from a bucket or a cardboard box lined with foil. There are several tutorials on YouTube, like this one from ModBot using a paint bucket.

What do you need

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

1. Drill a hole near the bucket opening for the light cord to come out.

2. Line the bucket with aluminum foil, using a glue stick to fix it.

3. Peel off the backing of the LED light strip and apply it inside the bucket. Cover all sides and top with lights.

4. Put the bucket upside down on the turntable to harden the resin prints.

It takes approximately 15 minutes to cure an average print using an electric UV light source. Check the technical details of your resin for recommended curing times.

How to use an all-in-one resin washing and curing station

Once you’ve cured a few resin prints by hand, you might be ready to speed things up with a store-bought wash and dry station.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

“All in one” designs are very popular and come in sizes to suit your resin printer. These machines work much the same, with a motorized base that spins the agitator for the washing process and the turntable for the curing step. The one I use for this article is a Anycubic Wash & Cure Plus.

Large units like this need a lot of isopropyl alcohol – this one can hold up to 2 gallons of cleaning agent. I always use a separate container of isopropyl alcohol for an initial wash to keep the tank of the machine clean as long as possible.

Due to the shaking process, you don’t have to scrub your models by hand and they come out clean the first time. The timer is also more convenient, allowing you to do other things while the machine does the work.

1. Cover your countertop with a silicone mat or plastic sheet.

2. Put on your safety gear – gloves and goggles.

3. Fill an airtight container and the wash & cure reservoir with isopropyl alcohol. They don’t need to be full, just deep enough to cover most of your model.

4. Remove the build plate and model from the printer, taking care not to leak outside the tank. Use a spatula to scrape extra resin from the tank.

5. Place the build plate on your covered work surface or plastic tray.

6. Fix the edge of the metal scraper on the supports of the model and scrape them gently the plaque.

7. Put the models in the container of isopropyl alcohol, seal with an airtight lid, and gently stir the liquid for about 30 seconds.

8. Delete model with a gloved hand or tongs.

9. Remove supports. Use the side cutters if necessary.

ten. Place the model in the washing and polymerization tank. Set the timer for 2 minutes.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

11. Dry models. Use a hair dryer if you’re in a hurry.

12. Remove tank washing and curing. Place the turntable on the base.

13. Put the model in the wash & cure. Replace the cover.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

14. Set the timer for 15 minutes. Always check the resin manufacturer’s website for suggested cure times, some resins need more or less cure.

What if your resin print is still sticky?

If your print is still sticky after curing, don’t worry, it can be saved! All you have to do is clean it again with isopropyl alcohol and a toothbrush, then go back to the UV light for another round.

Alternatives to isopropyl alcohol

91% isopropyl alcohol can be expensive and sometimes hard to find, but there are alternatives. You can also use Mean Green cleanser, denatured alcohol, and acetone.

Mean Green is currently the cheapest alternative and cleans almost as well as isopropyl alcohol.

What about ultrasonic cleaners?

Some manufacturers use a ultrasonic cleaner instead of a washing and drying machine. These are very effective, but should be used with caution. Never fill an ultrasonic cleaner with flammable liquids like isopropyl alcohol, which can be aerosolized by the machine and cause a fire. Use them only with a non-flammable cleaner like Mean Green.

What should I do with resin bins?

To properly dispose of resin waste, you must cure everything with a UV light before throwing it in the regular trash. Waste can be recycled at your drying station or placed in a clear bag and exposed to sunlight.

Dirty isopropyl alcohol can be left in an open container to evaporate, then expose the remaining resin gunk to sunlight or your curing station. Be sure not to leave isopropyl alcohol within the reach of pets or young children. Remember it is poisonous.

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