An intriguing post online suggests the development of an end-to-end post processing resin 3D printing device is underway.
For those not familiar with resin 3D printing, it is now as inexpensive as filament 3D printing, and provides far superior resolution. While that sounds very good, there is a big catch when using that type of 3D printing process.
It’s messy, toxic and wasteful.
Filament 3D prints can simply be removed from the print bed, have support structures removed and you’re usually done. Meanwhile, resin 3D prints require significant post processing.
Fresh resin 3D prints are coated with liquid photopolymer resin, which must be removed. This is typically done with IPA or other solvents in a wash machine. The resin pollutes the IPA and eventually must be processed itself to clean out the toxic resin.
Often there is a second wash in IPA to get the “slime” off the print, and remove the initial dirty solvent.
Washed prints must then be cured, typically by placing them in a separate UV curing device that rotates and illuminates the print with the appropriate frequency of light. This hardens the print.
During all the moves between these separate pieces of post processing equipment, there is the possibility of spilling resin or toxic polluted IPA on your equipment or body. This requires the use of PPE, including protective eye glasses, nitrile gloves, sleeves, etc.
At this point I suspect you’re beginning to realize that resin 3D printing is a bit of a pain, as currently formulated by the several resin 3D printer manufacturers. Some sell post processing equipment, but it is almost always separate stations or single devices that require reconfiguration before each type of use.
Personally, I’ve resigned myself to the current tortuous workflow required to achieve resin 3D prints. The results are outstanding, but the path to get there is just not fun.
Now we may see this change. A post on Reddit by contributor Possible-Two-1853 proposes a new solution, tentatively called “RePPA”, or “Resin Post Processing Automation”. They explain:
“Working on a machine that will completely take over the post processing of resin printing, ie you will not come into contact with resin. Who here would be interested in knowing more?”
”Fits the Saturn so medium printers. The professional version will fit the new elegoo Jupiter sized. Cost will be between 300 and 400 dollars, but that includes the IPA recycling station. So it basically washes the print, cures the print, recycles the IPA and all without the use having to touch the resin.”
Apparently the system will recycle IPA by removing the resin, presumably through “curing” it with UV light. This process currently takes about three hours, but Possible-Two-1853 said they are working on getting this down to only one hour.
The current concept is still quite manual, as you have to move the wet build plate with print into the device for further processing, but in the future this is supposed to become “fully automatic”.
Eventually the hope is to integrate this technology directly into or with a 3D printer, meaning the operator would have minimal or no exposure to resin at all during printing and post processing.
The as-yet unnamed project might appear on Kickstarter in the future, should it continue to prove feasible. As of now there is really no further information on the project, aside from this intriguing Reddit post.
I intend on watching this project, as if it succeeds it could really revolutionize resin 3D printing. Resin printing is extremely powerful, yet the resin handling procedures are so arduous they certainly discourage many people from pursing that technology.
Or worse, inexperienced resin 3D printer operators aren’t following proper safety precautions when handling resin, as I’ve seen in several videos recently.
Either way, this could be a good thing.