A New Black Hole!

So it's not as if I already don't have enough time for the hobby... what with work and family and kid and all... I struggle with my grey plastic pile of shame and my metal pile of shame as it is.

BUT... I'd always been curious about 3D printing (aha! says the discerning reader... you know what I'm going to say next, right?) but never really got into it. Too esoteric. Slicers? Supports? FDM? SLA? What the --?

I did back a Kickstarter way back in 2017 for a cheap, bare bones, starter 3d printer for only $99. But... it got delayed... and delayed... and delayed... no, it wasn't a scam, but the bare bones, simple printer that was already designed ... changed... in response to backer requests. Suddenly the ready-to-manufacture printer... wasn't. (I got a 50% refund late last year. What was acceptable in 2017 is now quaintly outmoded in 2020) ... and the final manufacture that was supposed to be a "go" after the Chinese Lunar New Year got waylaid by the coronavirus outbreak. Is this a cursed project or what?

Anyway, last Christmas, Anycubic ran a promo for their Photon 3D resin printer and I knew enough about 3D printing to know I wanted to print minis, and for that purpose what I really needed was a resin printer. 40% off! How can I resist, right? And I got one! 

And what with one delay after another, finally set it up after watching TONS of Youtube videos. What got to me (AFTER I'd taken delivery of the printer) was the cleanup for resin prints. Yikes. Toxicity. 99.7% IPA. Eye protection. Gloves. Breathing protection. Thanks to the coronavirus, no N95 masks are to be had anywhere in my locale.

But... yes. Finally set up the printer, levelled the print bed... 

bought a bunch of stuff including the all-important IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol 99.7%)...

... and printed my first test print... and wouldn't you know it, at 1am in the morning and the provided plastic spatula can't remove the minis off the build plate! 

But thanks to the helpful folks on the Anycubic Photon FB group, I managed to get the prints off the build plate, cleaned and cured them and... the level of detail on such a small print is insane!

All 8 of them. (NOTE: the print got damage because I didn't realise (or forgot) that before it's cured in the sun or under UV lights, the resin is pretty soft. Plus I put all 8 into a bottle of IPA and shook the bottle... vigorously.) 

So, encouraged and impressed, I went and printed my first mini, from the recently concluded Empire of Scorching Sands Kickstarter. (Actually, there were 2 minis, but the mini below didn't need supports, while the second mini did, and it didn't print, thus proving to me that I -- like a young padawan -- have much to learn about supporting my minis :(
Errrr... yes. you can't see much detail thanks to the translucent resin... but it's there. Oh, boy is it there!

Right. enough with the barely-seen mini.

I managed to (conservatively) squeeze 4 minis on the build plate:

Notice the mini in the centre? Here's a close-up of the spike protruding from his helmet. It's less than 1mm in height and it's sharp as a tack! Insane!

And there you have it! I've been printing minis like crazy all of today... nothing better to do while it's printing, but I reckon I can get 5 minis in one batch if I don't need to support them, so... 15 a day? Cleaned but not necessarily cured (I use the sun, as I don't have a UV lamp, but... guess what's next on the purchase list? 😈😈😈😈

And so it goes. Cleaning the minis is a huge pain. Toxic as heck. Search for videos on Youtube to see exactly how much of a pain it is... and disposing of the resin sludge (after the IPA has dried in the sun) is... problematic? No one can really say what's the best way to dispose of the sludge. All I know is... I'm running through nitrile gloves like Usain Bolt at the Olympics... and breathed in more resin fumes in 48 hours than is good for me, even with a mask on (but it's not one of THESE masks):

So what's next? I think I'll take some time off 3D resin printing (for my health's sake, as I don't have a dedicated, well-ventilated room to print in), prime and PAINT the minis to use for the core Rangers of Shadow Deep campaign based in the desert (hah!) and learn more about supports so I can print the giant rats and spiders I found on Thingiverse.

Am I happy I got the Anycubic Photon? When I look at the minis... heck, yeah! That's my verdict considering the output that I'm getting from the printer, plus the relative ease of using the printer as a printer. Am I happy it's a resin printer? Ah.... there's the rub, as the Bard would put it. The toxicity of the resin and the precautions I have to take to handle the resin both before, during and after printing... let's just say it's not making me a happy camper. Or to put it this way: I'm a fan of the printer as a printer, and not a fan of the resin process. Who knows? They seem to be improving the chemicals though. They now have water washable resin (yay no more fiddling with IPA) and hopefully down the line they can reduce or remove the toxicity altogether.

Thus endeth my mini review of the Anycubic Photon 3D printer.

Stay tuned for more 3D printing adventures! (Just not any time soon).