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Anycubic Photon Enhancements




Recent Upgrades

I have a number of years of experience using my Flashforge Creater Dual and after spending a bit of time with this printer, I have to say I really like it.  There are a number of things I could gripe about (most of which is the slicing software), but overall it's quite solid.  Below are upgrades I've made to make this printer better or to deal with it's shortcomings.



Smell Control

The biggest problem with resin printers (in my opinion) is the smell of the uncured resins.  The Anycubic material seems to smell just as much or more than other resins (I've had a whiff of Wanhao and Monocure resins as well) and over the period of a print it can fill the whole house.  I'm not sure how toxic the vapors are, but in general it isn't a good idea to be huffing chemicals all night long. 

Small Pre-Filter

Below is a picture of the cover I designed just to hold some pre-filter material that I cut out of a range hood filter I bought from Home Depot.

It was something like this: Range Hood Filter

If you look closely, it's in the back right.  The improvement was noticeable, but not nearly good enough.

Neoprene Gasketing

You can sort of make it out in the picture above, but I tried sealing the cover using a thin adhesive backed neoprene sheet.  With adequate ventilation, I think this makes a big difference.  I just cut thing strips and adhered them on the chassis side along the left and right sides.  This creates a pretty good seal, but there are still openings to allow air to be sucked into the build area.

Here's a link on Amazon: Neoprene Sheet 0.032" Thick

4" Carbon Filter Canister

I can't quite make out who these are really marketed to, but there are apparently a lot of people growing plants in grow tents inside who are worried about smell.  Anyway, this is by far the best purchase one can make to improve any resin printer, in my opinion.  This setup completely removes the smell and even seems to improve the air quality in the room (in my case a small closet).  Thanks to DocTanner on Thingiverse.com for making such a useful adapter that I don't have to design.  As one can see in the pictures, the adapter bolts directly to the back of the printer (replacing the rear vent plate) and accepts a 4" flexible hose available from any local hardware store.  The flexible hose then attaches to the in-line fan, that I finagled to fit directly into the carbon filter and held in place with metal ducting tape.  A couple of large hose clamps hold the flexible hose in place.

Link on Amazon: 4" Carbon Filter

Link on Amazon: 100 CFM In-line Fan

Link on Thingiverse: Rear Vent to 4" Adapter

    

The first few photos, I was testing the setup.  When I realized the result was amazing, I built a corner shelf that the filter sits behind.  Apparently, Samsung S8s don't do so great with the short distance panoramas.



Resin Handling

HDPE Bottles

I like the idea to keeping virgin material separate from previously used material.  These bottles were cheap and seem to do the trick.  They are definitely thin and probably not good enough in a laboratory environment, but they work and are opaque.  My only gripe is that I couldn't find 125 milliliter varieties.  250 milliliters is quite a bit more used material than I need to store.

Link on Amazon: Thin HDPE Bottles (250ml)

Vat Drip Bracket

Honestly, I only printed and use the vat bracket, but I find it definitely helps with draining used material from the vat.  It acts like the second hand one always needs to keep resin off oneself.  Thanks to QuickbeamX for the print.

Link on Thingiverse: Vat Drip Bracket

Vat Cover

I suspect that air (namely oxygen) is the enemy of resin, so limiting exposure while in the vat could certainly keep the resin good longer.  I haven't really evaluated this, but it also helps to hold the resin fumes when the active filtering isn't running.  Thanks to KayIOA for the print.

Link on Thingiverse: Vat Lid



Post Processing

UV Nail Curing Station

A "UV Nail Dryer" seems to be the best bet for post curing parts.  This particular one has 2, 3 and 30 minutes settings.  I find that one or two 30 minute sessions works pretty well, depending on the resin.  Form labs has a great paper on post curing of their resins that seems to conclude this as well.  I can't provide the link, but if you're interested, sign up on their website for more information.

Link on Amazon: UV Nail Dryer

Locking Container with Strainer

With the new purchase of an ultrasonic cleaner, I'm hoping for this container to be obsoleted.  That being said, it served me well for removal of material before post-curing.  Thanks to gork for the great idea!  Unfortunately, the container chosen isn't that great and even with some light use over the past few weeks, one of the containers is on its last leg.

Link to Thingiverse: IPA Tank Strainer

Link on Amazon: Lock-n-lock Knock-off

Ultrasonic Cleaner

Honestly, I haven't yet properly evaluated this ultrasonic cleaner I bought from Amazon, but I'm hoping it does a good job removing uncured resin from recently printed parts (before post-curing).  I have read of people having success with this method.

Link on Amazon: 0.8L Ultrasonic Cleaner

UV Flashlight

I decided to grab a UV flashlight or two to allow for localized curing of parts after removing them from the build plate (if necessary).  I was incredibly surprised at how fast these flashlights can cure material!  And I even realized how exothermic the UV linking reaction is.  The material can get quite hot when cured quickly. 

Just a though: If the coefficient of thermal expansion is sufficiently high for a material, a higher power UV light could cause prints to warp during printing.

Link on Amazon: UV Flashlights


SPAM Coin First Pass




Casting Materials

Silicone: Quantum Silicones QM 230

Urethane: Smooth-Cast 325

Filler on Metallic Coin: Aluminum Powder

Respiratory precautions MUST be taken when using metallic powders!!!!




Setup

I started with a CAD model, improved by Kyle Simpson, and printed it on my newly acquired Anycubic Photon:


The first image below shows the print. And after some light sanding and attaching to a stick, I painted the part to help hide surface imperfections:


Setup for the silicone mold:


After curing, the cut the mold along the midline of the coin using an exacto knife.  When casting, I just put the mold back in a cup to support the silicone.

There is a slight flashing that occurs, but it is easy to remove.




Cold Casting

The final product will use cold casting, so I did make one coin using aluminum powder.  

How to Cold Cast

  • Add aluminum powder to the mold and agitate to fill all cavities
    • The powder will stick to the mold surface
  • Pour excess powder out and set aside for future castings
  • Mix 50% aluminum powder (or add a pigment and less metal for a similar, but less expensive effect) into part B
  • Mix part A and part B as instructed (Smooth-Cast just says to stir it)
    • BE CAREFUL!  Smooth-Cast 325 has a very low viscosity!
  • Pour a little of the mixed urethane into mold and cover the pour spout, then rotate mold around to cover inside surface of mold with thin urethane coating
  • Set mold down and slowly pour in remaining urethane mix
  • Let set until fairly hard
  • Demold and start the process anew

Observations

  • Smooth-Cast said 5 minute demold time, but my experience was more like 20 before I felt I wouldn't distort the cast too much during removal
  • Bubbles are definitely captured in the urethane, but don't seem to appear on the surface
    • This means that translucent parts will show bubbles, but opaque casts will not




Results

I'd say the results were pretty good for a first try.  It's hard to see in the photo, but some of there a still some surface imperfections from the print.

From left to right: Aluminum Powder Mix (~50% by volume), Metallic Blue Powder, Pure Smooth-Cast 325

Smooth-Cast 325 cures very quickly, so degassing is not recommended.  I was worried about bubbles, and while there are bubbles in the part, they seem to not be in the surface itself.  The datasheet recommends pouring in a little mixed urethane and then rotating the part around while covering the fill spout in order to coat the surface of the mold to limit bubble formation.  This does seem to work.

Shoe Polished Up

After using a bit of old (and very dry) shoe polish, here are the results for creating a weathered look:

  



Below shows off the shine of the coin after a little bit of #0000 steel wool.

From the Smooth-On guys, here's their video on cold casting:




Next Steps

While the first results were pretty good, I believe there's much room for improvement.

Improvements:

  • Take additional post processing steps on the master printed part
  • Make a 2 part mold using QM 262 (is 60A)
    • I used QM 230 (30A) for this mold because it's a single part and needed to survive flexing
    • A 2 part mold could help with the crappy fill joint
    • A 2 part mold might allow for early demold times as well
      • Parts were still fairly flexible, so demolding from a single part mold was difficult
      • For dimensional accuracy, parts would need to be fully hardened before removal



Welcome!

This begins the exciting journey into the Projects de Bryce.  It should be an interesting trek, but my goal will be to chronicle some of the projects that I undertake in areas such as casting, 3D printing, laser cutting and even computer related topics relating to linux and programming.


Cheers.