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Smoothing SLA prints in 5 Easy Steps

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Smoothing SLA prints are a very important part of resin 3D prints post-processing. Learn how to smooth SLA prints in 5 easy steps. Smoothing SLA prints in 5 Easy Steps

In the past, post-processing a print was a long labor-intensive process full of sanding and grinding in order to achieve a professional finish.

With the SLA printer, the 3D prints are high-quality prints, but many people still want to be able to smooth out and finish their resin 3D prints nicely.

Safety Precautions for Resin 3D Prints

Safety Precautions for handle SLA Resin 3D Prints (Source: resinobsession)
Safety Precautions for handle SLA Resin 3D Prints (Source: resinobsession)

Before we get started, make sure that you understand resins are toxic and safety precautions are involved with handling SLA resins.

  • Should not touch resin with the skin directly;
  • Make sure that you have a clear work area;
  • Wear Nitrile gloves and Safety glasses.

How to smoothing SLA prints?

Step 1: Prepare Your Model

Removing your model from the printer’s build plate
Removing your model from the printer’s build plate

After printing, removing your model from the printer’s build plate and then getting rid of all the extra uncured resin attached to your 3D printed model.

Step 2: Washing SLA parts

washing SLA parts with isopropyl alcohol (Source: Jason Kelly)
Washing SLA parts with isopropyl alcohol (Source: Jason Kelly)

Once your SLA part has been printed and removed from the build plate, it will still have some extra liquid resin on its surface that makes prints are not looks nice.

Thus, parts must be washed to remove sticky, excess resin from the surface.

We recommend before removing supports, must washing SLA parts with isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or tripropylene glycol monomethyl ether (TPM).

Most users find IPA is more effective for washing parts.

Note:Some parts may require two washes in IPA or TPM to be fully clean. Before finishing, we recommend washing in water.

Step 3: Remove the support

Using pliers to remove the support for SLA Resin 3D prints
Using the pliers to remove the support for SLA Resin 3D prints

This can be done before or after curing, but doing it before will be easier.

You can remove supports by your hand if you are not worried about the small details

For more intricate parts, use using a pair of pliers to carefully snip off the supports.

Note: Before printing, reduce the number of supports that you will have to remove fewer supports later and grind down fewer defects accordingly.

Step 4: Curing

post-cure your SLA 3D prints (Source : formlabs)
post-cure your SLA 3D prints (Source : formlabs)

Post-curing your SLA part can significantly improve the mechanical properties, strength, and performance of your part by completing the polymerisation process.

The post-curing process works by exposing your part to UV light and heat.

There are many methods for post-curing, such as

  • Curing Station

Especially useful for larger prints and professional environments.

  • UV nail salons

This is an inexpensive and accessible method of quickly curing your model.

  • DIY cure boxes

It is easily done by placing a UV light in a box lined with aluminum foil. Place the model on a solar or battery-powered turntable to get an even exposure.

  • Natural sunlight

Place your part outside on a sunny day, and you’ll have a nice, even, UV light.

Note that: To do this, the part must be placed into a UV oven for roughly 10-20 minutes, and rotated once or twice to ensure that all areas of the part have been exposed.

Step 5: Sanding

Sanding SLA prints – remove support part (Source : formlabs )

Actually, the SLA parts come off the build platform with notably fewer layer lines than parts printed with other 3D printing processes

If you need a glass-smooth finish, SLA does require sanding to fully remove any trace of layers, especially on spherical parts.

The best way to sand SLA parts is to start with low grit sandpaper, and slowly move to finer grit levels over time.

Shera L Greenwood SLA 3D print Figure From OXO3D
Shera L Greenwood SLA 3D print Figure From OXO3D

With the above 5 steps, I believed that you already smoothed your prints and are ready to paint them as your wish.

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