You may not have purchased your 3d printer, but you’re excited to plan and get going. Is one of the things holding you back the amount of space you’ll need? How much space is actually needed?
The working space for a resin DLP 3d printer, like an AnyCubic Photon, Elegoo Mars or Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K Mono, is about four feet square (or under a meter square).
I’ll show you the space that I use, and some considerations on why I do what I do and where. Suffice it to say, you don’t need a room or even a whole table dedicated to your 3d printer.
What Is the Space Needed For the 3d Printer?
I use a space that’s roughly two foot by two foot square. It’s a space on my desk in my hobby room. It looks a little crowded (see the picture at the top of the article) but I’ve never felt crowded when I’m working.
There’s enough space to have the printer, a workspace in front of the printer (for removing prints from the build plate) and enough space for cleaning the prints. I tend to remove the prints from the build plate, throw them in the Mean Green to clean them (by agitating), then rinse in the water (by agitating), then remove the supports (by hand and by clipper, as needed).
There’s enough space for a UV light curing station, but I’ve cheated a little here and put it on the other end of the L-shaped desk. It’s just more convenient for me, but you could easily put that in the space I’m showing in the picture.
I do store extra Mean Green solvent and extra 3d printer resin under the desk, along with extra paper towels and other items that you tend to accumulate over time. I’m not following the tenets of Marie Kondo as well as I’d like (and making more stuff all the time with a 3d printer isn’t helping!!)
What Goes In the Space?
As you can see from my picture above, the obvious answer is the printer, of course! But besides that, I have two pickle jars – one for Mean Green solvent to clean the prints (I don’t like to use denatured alcohol or isopropyl alcohol – see my video on the subject here:
The tools I use (spatulas, small hammer, tweezers, funnel and Nitrile rubber gloves) are all to the right of the workspace. I have a silicone mat with a lip (in the unlikely case that I spill anything, it will contain the spill) that the printer sits in, and I leave enough space to put a square of paper towel down as my work space.
When I remove the lid from my Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K Mono printer, I set it on an open area of the desk or on the floor beside me. I used to have an AnyCubic Photon, and it didn’t have a removable lid, but rather a top lifting door, so it took up no extra room at all.
Considerations of Where To Put the Space In Your Home
3d printers are getting quieter, but they’re not silent. I wouldn’t put it in my bedroom, but I do have it in a spare room (my office) that’s just down the hall. With both doors closed, I don’t hear it at all, or it’s low enough of a hum that I don’t notice it.
I had a friend come over, and he said he heard it a floor below the printer. So it was transmitting sound through the floor of my office, apparently. It’s a low whine (when the build plate rises and lowers again for the next layer). It can be annoying if you’re sensitive to this sort of noise.
With my printer in the office, some people on Zoom calls tell me that they can hear it. To them, it sounds like someone is on a ventilator in my background somewhere. Most don’t notice it. Some get annoyed by it. If I used a headset with a directional mic (which I don’t – I use the built in mic to the laptop) I suspect no one would hear a thing.
Fumes and Smell
With the lid on my printer, I don’t smell the printer or resin at all. You can see from my picture that I use the basic AnyCubic UV resin. I can smell it (at a low level) when I have the lid off the printer, but not when it’s on.
When I first started in 3d printing (in 2019), I found that the resin smelled quite a lot and gave me headaches. Somewhere in 2020, it seems that AnyCubic changed their formulation, and I can barely smell it now, even when sniffing the open bottle. It’s important for me, as I’m printing in my office, and I spend 8+ hours a day in here. No headaches, no smell, but I do keep the door open when I’m in here so that I’m better ventilated.
The printer, of course, doesn’t need light. It brings its own to the party. So don’t place your workspace in an area that gets direct sunlight. It can prematurely cure the resin in your vat (after all, it’s cured with UV light, like that from the sun). That being said, sunlight through a window loses most of it’s UV, and the cover on the printer should filter out quite a bit more.
But to remove prints from the build plate, clean and remove supports from the models, I do have a work light. It’s only on when I need to see what I’m doing, and I turn it off when I don’t need it. I leave the lid on the printer unless I need access, to reduce the amount of UV getting to the vat.
The 3d printer takes files from your slicer software and prints them. But you first need to slice your models (preparing the models for printing on your specific printer). You’ll need to transfer the files from your computer to the printer.
Some printers have ethernet or wifi access, but I haven’t heard good things about the reliability of these transfer methods with these printers. Most, however, come with a USB port, and come with a USB thumb drive to transfer sliced printer files. It’s handy to have your computer local to the printer, so that you can pop the drive out of your computer and into the printer with little to no travel distance.
It can be quite annoying running up and down stairs, for example, when you have files to print. It’s not essential, but it is a convenience factor.
3d printers don’t take a lot of energy to run. But from a workspace point of view, you’ll need to have plugs nearby for the printer, computer, lights, UV curing station and any other electronic items you need. Some use a wash and cure station, like the ones available from AnyCubic and Elegoo, but I use a home-built one (see my article on how to make one here).
A simple power extension strip with multiple plugs will likely be enough for whatever you need. It’s not a big consideration, but it is a consideration.
You’ll need to have easy access to your UV curing resin for reloading the printer before every print. UV curing resin is caustic and toxic. I don’t want it anywhere near children (I don’t have any, but if any visited, I would not let them in the room unsupervised). Pets are the same – keep them away from the resin bottle or waste paper towels that you used to clean up drips of resin.
I don’t use isopropyl alcohol or denatured spirits, but if I did, those are quite flammable. Keep away from any flame sources (or portable heaters, for example). I don’t use them because of the fire hazard, and use Mean Green solvent instead (which smells nice, and can be used in it’s original role as a cleaner, too!)
So not many chemicals, but a few. Please be careful with your chemicals, and treat them with respect.
Items Listed In the Article
Everything I mention in the article that I use, or that I recommend, is listed in the recommended gear area of the Home3dPrints.Com site here. Those items listed with an Amazon.Com link are affiliate links. I do get a small commission for you buying using one of my links, but it costs you nothing more. The price is the same to you whether you search yourself or follow my link. I’d appreciate the help if you’re willing!
How much resin do I need for 3D printing?
You can print somewhere between 100 and 150 heroic 28mm 3d models (like Dungeons and Dragons figurines) per liter of UV curing resin. You could print around 50 vehicles scaled to 1:100 (or 15mm scale). Larger items take more resin, but you can hollow them to make them more efficient resin-wise.
Do Resin 3D printers need ventilation?
You do need a well ventilated area, but you don’t need a dedicated ventilation system for home 3d printing. Tight, enclosed spaces are not healthy when combined with 3d printing, but a normal room with reasonable ventilation should suffice.