Monday 15 April 2024

Reorganising my resin 3D printer space.

My resin printer was packed away for several months while we had building work going on, and now that the work is finished, it lives in the garage.  It wasn't used over the winter, when it was too cold for the resin (it becomes more viscous and doesn't flow as well, so you get print failures). It's warm enough again now, but I wanted to move the printer from its temporary spot to the permanent location I had planned.  It was a sunny day today, so a good time to do the necessary work...

I drilled some large holes in the underside of a spare section of worktop.  I managed to drill all 8 without accidentally breaking through the top of the work top, which was a win in my book.  The reason for these holes will become apparent.

We acquired a small desk/table when our office was refurnished many years ago.  This sat in the garden as a plant stand until the top finally disintegrated.  The legs are still fine, a very sturdy steel frame.

I gave it a good clean, evicted several spiders and painted Kurust over all the rusty patches.  You can see the rust has gone a blue/black colour which means it has been fully treated.  It's had a few months to fully cure.

The table frame has pairs of nuts in plastic plugs which were originally embedded in the old tabletop.  When this came to pieces (as chipboard will when soaked in rain for several winters), the plugs came out.  They're so rusted now that is impossible to remove them, so the previously mentioned large holes were drilled in the underside of the new top in order to accommodate these.

The tabletop sits neatly on the top.  I had intended to glue it or put some extra screws in, but it's pretty firm as it is, so I've left it without. The plugs/holes stop it moving around.

The tabletop is the cut-out from our utility room worktop, where the sink was fitted.  It's just the right size, leaving a gap at the back for cables etc.

The table is now in place in the garage.  The legs have adjustable feet, so I can get it levelled to the garage floor and avoid any wobbling.

I use a car floor mat under my printer and the wash & cure station.  This has a couple of useful features.  One is that it is non-slip and vibration damping.  The other is that the cellular nature of the mat catches any resin spills and holds them in place.  I've seen people use silicone baking mats under their printers, but if you had a big resin spill on one of those, it would just flow right off the edges...

All set up and ready to go, I made sure that the builders put in an extra double socket for me to plug these in. Wash and cure on the left, printer on the right.

I've superglued drawer handles to the top of the enclosures/lids.  I could have 3D printed them, but these were only something like 15p each, so it would have been a waste of time and money to do anything else!

The handles allow me to lift the lids one-handed.  When you use a 3D printer, you never have enough hands because there are so many sticky and/or poisonous substances to be handling that can't be put down anywhere.  With these handles, I reduce the number of hands required by 1, which is very useful.  I can open the printer, remove the build plate and put the lid back on in just a few seconds.

My safety gear sits on the big box next to the printer table, ready for immediate use.  Nitrile gloves (not latex - resin/isopropanol will get through those!), safety specs, filter mask.  The mask is excellent at capturing all fumes and smells from the resin and isopropanol.  My normal plant-based resins don't actually smell much anyway, but they still give off fumes which wouldn't be good for me.  Resin is extremely poisonous and needs to be treated with great care.  It should never be disposed of in liquid form, it should always be cured into its solid form to avoid the risk of damage to the environment. The isopropanol used for washing ends up containing resin and can splash small droplets very easily, hence the safety specs.  I don't use water washable resin myself, but anyone considering using it should be aware that the water highly toxic afterwards.  It should be treated as hazardous waste and disposed of safely.  It should not just be rinsed away down the drain as I have heard some people suggest!

I keep a UV torch handy too.  This is great for quickly curing any little resin spills or for getting a sticky, resinous bit of kitchen paper to harden before throwing it away.  If there is a spill on the rubber mat, I can just stand the torch over it for a minute or two to set the resin, then it just pops right out of the rubber cell.  Easy!

On the adjacent work bench, I have my other equipment:

1) Pre-cut squares of cereal packet plastic.  These are just the right size to rest the build plate on after I've put it through the wash cycle.  Any resin residue can be cured in sunlight after a few uses and put in the general domestic waste.  Costs me nothing and avoids having to clean down a work surface after every print run.

2) Clear plastic pots/tubs.  These have 2 uses, firstly for hot water which makes removal of resin supports much easier, secondly to put cleaned items in for water curing.  As I've mentioned before, oxygen retards the resin curing process.  Water contains less than 1% the amount of free oxygen compared to air, so things cure faster, and I find they have a better finish as well.

3) Stanley knife (utility knife) blade which I use to pop prints off the build plate.  I find that it gets under the edge of the prints to break the seal much better than a paint scraper.  I have some craft/glass cleaning razor blades too, which are good for very tiny items.

4) Some old print supports.  They shouldn't be here, they should be in the bin!

5) Pliers to hold large objects for swishing in isopropanol to clean (or for trying to retrieve objects which have fallen to the bottom of the cleaning vat...)

6) Side cutters for removing particularly large/stubborn supports.

7) Forceps to hold small and delicate objects for swishing in isopropanol to clean.

8) UV torch for curing resin spillages etc.

9) Paper towels.  If you have a spill or a glove covered in resin, you don't want to be trying to pick up a roll of paper to tear a sheet off.  Paper towels or pre-torn bits of kitchen roll can easily be picked up one at a time for use.

10) More nitrile gloves.  You don't have to throw them away after every use, most of mine last several days or even a few weeks, but you need to make sure there are more easily in reach if you do suddenly need a new pair.

Not pictured here are my 2 cheap silicone spatulas which are perfect for cleaning the resin vat.  They are soft and won't damage the FEP film on the bottom of the vat and after you've used them, leave in the sun for a couple of hours and the resin peels right off the silicone for easy disposal.

This is just my setup.  While I've arrived at this through trial and error and experience over the few years I've been resin printing, I'm sure others will do things differently.  Maybe a reader of this blog might have a suggestion of something else useful I could add to my printing area?


  1. I'm looking to reorganise my printer space. That's a good checklist.

    1. Thank you, I'm sure I must have missed something but most of the important stuff is there!