One of the surprises encountered when using resin-powered 3D printers is that the resin tanks are a consumable.
Normally you’d think that your consumable would simply be more resin, but that’s not the case for the major of resin 3D printers.
The reason for a need to replace the resin tanks is that the laser that selectively fuses the photopolymer resin typically shines through the bottom of a clear resin tank. This ensures the solidified layer is flat, because it’s solidifying only the resin adjacent to the tank bottom, which itself is flat.
The problem is that to achieve higher print speeds, the lasers are run at a powerful level that happens to slightly fuse the photopolymer and the tank together. When the laser finishes a layer, it must be peeled off the silicone tank bottom. In the process the tank is very slightly degraded and eventually must be replaced.
If you don’t replace it, your laser beam will be somewhat dispersed by the non flat tank surface, leading to inaccurate prints.
While a few vendors of resin 3D printers have developed means to avoid this problem – and often speed up printing dramatically, most vendors are stuck with this problem.
Their solution is usually to simply sell you replacement tanks. Depending on how much you are printing, you might be buying quite a few replacement tanks, and that price can add up.
But there is another option: recoating your tank!
A German 3D print service company called DruckWege (meaning “Printer Ways”) offers a “recoat kit”. It seems fairly simple to install:
From this you could get more life from your tanks before having to resort to purchasing another from the printer manufacturer.
But how much does it cost? From DruckWege you can obtain a single vat replacement kit for €25 (USD$27), which could be less than half the price you’d pay for a replacement tank.
Of course, there is no guarantee that this would work with your specific 3D printer, as there is a lot of careful chemistry going on to ensure prints succeed. However, at that price it might be worth trying – you’re going to throw out the old tank in any case.
If this proves to work in your situation, you could consider buying a volume pack from DruckWege. They sell in units of 1 (as above), 4, 8, 16 and 32 units. For the lowest cost, a 32 unit replacement kit, priced at €590 (USD$631) would run you only USD$19.71 per tank. That could be a third of the cost of a manufacturer’s replacement.