When you print using a UV curing resin using a DLP resin 3d printer, you’ll need a way to cure your finished prints. Uncured, the prints are soft, and the uncured resin is caustic – it can burn your skin and irritate it. It’s not as bad as uncured liquid resin getting on your skin, but who wants a printed model that hurts to touch? That’s just crazy!
You can make a UV curing station by wrapping UV LED strip lights inside a new but unused paint can. Add a power supply and you’ve got a chamber that shines a lot of UV light at whatever model is placed in it. After an hour, your model will be fully cured and ready for handling, sanding, filing, painting and using!
Check out this excellent YouTube.Com video from ModBot. He describes what’s needed and the process. I followed this advice and I’ll show you in this article how mine came out!
What Tools & Parts Are Needed For the Curing Station?
This same list of items (less the tools) is included on the Recommended Gear page here: https://home3dprints.com/recommended-3d-printing-gear/recommended-dlp-resin-printer-items/. You may have an electric drill and a spade bit already, so just skip these tools. Use what you have. The rest you’ll buy or source from items you already have. I’ve included a list here for the items that I used for my build (but I already had a drill and spade bit so I didn’t buy a new one).
|Tool or Product||Amazon.Com Link|
|Unused Empty Paint Can (for UV Chamber) |
I built a UV curing chamber out of a new paint can (no paint!), some UV strip lights (listed below), aluminum foil (listed below) and a cooling rack (listed below). It works great to cure my finished models! The paint can is a good size for anything made on an Epax 1, AnyCubic Photon or Elegoo Mars-sized printer.
|1/2″ Drill Spade Bit and Drill|
You will need to drill a hole in the side of the unused empty paint can to allow lower access to the UV LED strip lights power end. The first link is for a cheap electric drill and the second is for a 1/2″ spade bit.
|Ultraviolet LED Strip Lights, 16.4 Feet (for UV Chamber) with 12V Power Supply|
I use this for the UV light source inside my paint can. I spiraled the lights from bottom to top (the light strip has a tape strip to stick the lights to the inside of the can). I stuck the power end out a hole in the bottom of the can (drilled out). I ordered the version without the power supply, and then had to order that separately. This one comes with the correct power supply.
|Aluminum Foil 2″ Wide, 30′ Long Tape (for UV Chamber)|
I lined the inside of the paint can with this shiny tape so that the light is reflected around everywhere. I even coated the bottom, but I ignored the lid (and don’t usually use it).
|Small Cooling Rack (for UV Chamber) |
This goes on the bottom of the paint can to raise up the curing models off the bottom. Light should be able to bounce up and cure the bottom of the model, too.
How To Assemble the Paint Can and Lights
- The paint can comes clean and shiny on the outside, but coated dull on the inside. That’s too bad. It would have been ideal if it were shiny on the inside, too. If you find one that is, then you can skip the aluminum tape. It’s purpose is to allow the light to bounce around inside the chamber for curing.
- Start by cutting a bunch of strips of the aluminum tape long enough to cover the bottom of the can, and stick them in. It’s okay to have excess run up the sides of the can, as we will add tape to the sides in the next step. Once you’ve got the bottom covered, move on to the sides.
- Cut some strips of aluminum tape to about two inches longer than the height of the paint can. You then remove the backing from the top of the strip (like half an inch) and stick that inside the can, under the lip of the can, and allowing any extra to hang out over the edge of the can. We’ll trim that later.
- Hold the stuck down part in place, and remove the backing of the tape, then stick it down to the side of the can. You’ll repeat this process all around the inside of the can until the sides are completely taped over.
- Take a sharp knife and cut any excess tape off that’s sticking above the open top of the can. I don’t bother taping the lid of the can, and I don’t use the lid at all, so if you’re following my advice, simply ignore it.
- Now it’s time for the spade bit in a drill. Cut a half-inch hole in the side of the can, about half an inch up from the bottom, into the side of the can. This will allow the end of the UV LED light strip with the power connector to stick out of the can. I then take some extra tape and cover the edges of the hole so that they aren’t sharp and won’t cut the cord of the LED light strip.
- The work to this point isn’t hard, but it is a little time consuming. It took me about 40 minutes to get all of this done. Next came sticking in the UV strip lights.
- The UV strip lights that I recommend come with a peel-off backing that reveals a sticky side to the LED light. With the paint can on its side, stick the power end of the LED strip light out the hole (and tape a part of it to the outside of the can so it stays in place). Then, slowly, stick down the LED light from the bottom of the can, moving up in a winding pattern. The problem here is that the backing glue is quite weak – fine for when it’s in place, but a pain as your assembling it. It tends to pull away and you’re constantly going back to restick parts that have come free.
- I used a lot of adult words I learned in my days in the Army during this process. But in the end, I got something that was not necessarily pretty, but it did get all the lights in the can in a spiral from bottom to top, with the power end sticking out the hole. Thankfully, once you’re done, you won’t be touching the sides of the can at all, so you shouldn’t knock the lights free. Thank your lucky stars that you’re done. Test it by plugging it into the 12 volt power supply and see how it looks.
- The only thing I added was a little metal rack at the bottom (I just set it in) that allows my models to be off the bottom. That way, light will bounce up underneath and cure the bottom, too. No need to miss a part. I do find tiny bits fall in between the rack wires, but that’s okay, as I just remove the rack after curing to get the parts out.
That’s it. You’re done! You’ve got yourself a rather effective UV curing station!
Is a Timer Necessary For the UV Lights?
A timer is a nice addition to a UV chamber setup, but it certainly isn’t required. I purchased the following timer that the 12 volt power supply plugs into. I used it for about a month, and then removed it from my setup. I didn’t really need it. The worst case is that the model sits with the UV light on it for a few days, and that’s the equivalent of having a light bulb on for a similar amount of time.
The model won’t suffer from having too much light shone on it. Once cured, it won’t get dried out or more brittle, so there’s little worry there. I’d only use it to save a few pennies of electricity (and that’s the responsible thing to do).
What Alternatives Are There To LED Lights & Paint Can?
The sun can do your work for you if you prefer. But it’s unreliable. If you want to cure a model at night, on a rainy day, or you live somewhere that doesn’t get a lot of sun, then that’s an issue. Putting your model inside and having sunlight shine on through a window isn’t a good solution. Window glass absorbs 95% to 99% of any UV light. So you’ll have to put your model outside.
Some have opted for nail salon UV chambers. These are all ready to go, right out of the box. They are designed for you to put your freshly painted fingers inside the chamber for the polish to cure. This works just fine for models that aren’t taller than the hand opening. I chose the paint can method as it provided a larger opening and a lot more lights.
How many watts does it take to cure UV resin?
Each model is different in the amount of wattage required, due to the size, density and thickness of the model. My model tanks are roughly three inches long, an inch and a half wide and an inch and a half tall. I put three of them in my curing station that pumps out 24 watts of UV light. It takes roughly an hour to two hours. I’d hazard a guess of a minimum of 10 watts with 24 watts being more than enough.
Is resin jewelry toxic?
All resin is toxic. However, once cured, resin stops releasing anything harmful. For UV resin, it’s the liquid that’s both toxic and caustic. Once cured, don’t eat or otherwise ingest it and you should be fine to handle, wear or work with it.