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Various RMWebbers own one of these machines and I thought it probably deserved a topic of its own where experiences and issues could be swapped.

 

For my sins I had a simple dream, to create a super-detailed Gresley Bogie and fully expected to make this available through Shapeways however recent price rises have made this impractical resulting in a pair of 4mm bogies coming out around £40 in 4mm scale. I had designed the model to cater for Shapeways' minimum thicknesses and did not feel comfortable with the compromises I was having to make.

objective.jpg.91d19f69f8c8dd24b58576bb7dfd6da4.jpg

 

859211034_shapewayskit.jpg.42545b0d3b4ae40287e263b5d22aabb0.jpg

 

I was aware of the superb quality that members were getting with this machine and, prompted by my wife, did a search to find out what one cost. At £375 via Amazon it seemed a no-brainer as I could cover the cost of the machine with a mere 10 pairs of bogies. On that basis I have now joined the RMWebbers' Photon Owners Club.

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I wish you well with the printer Mike, I am impressed with the quality of what can be produced using this type of printer and look forward to what you achieve.

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Order placed the machine duly arrived. This is what you get:

IMG_8103.JPG.6db1a6be85b8181ca7aa308fa446076a.JPG

 

The printer, a face mask, 250ml of Anycubic Green Resin, some nitril gloves, some tools, some resin filters, a scraper, manual and spare FEP film. Also included but not illustrated is a power supply and a usb memory stick.

 

Inside the machine there is a build place which is mounted to a vertical lead screw, and the Resin Vat.

IMG_8106.JPG.a16f08517cb4a8b78845bd37cab13bcd.JPG

On the side of the machine is a USB Port and an On/Off switch. The power adaptor plugs in to the back of the machine:

IMG_8108.JPG.56ce978259f45123e5f028d2cbe4f076.JPG

 

The Resin Vat is secured by two thumbscrews which in loosening allow the Resin Vat to be slid out revealing the UV Led Screen:

IMG_8110.JPG.24cb2f2534194e149575110f7e590df6.JPG

 

The Resin Vat is an anodised aluminium frame over which a transparent FEP film is stretched:

IMG_8112.JPG.b7877a9f4d222ee8a1868f38b46e6c6b.JPG

 

Before attempting any form of printing some additional purchases may be advisable:

IMG_8114.JPG.0a03458be041df0013170769ab65c4ac.JPG

 

From top to bottom then: paper kitchen towel and heavy holder, Isopropyl Alcohol (100%) or Methylated Spirit for cleanup (both work) , some extra resin in this case I went for Anycubic Grey 1L, a foil baking tray to stand the machine in in case of a resin leak, some extra filters (fine grade paint filters), some Nitrile gloves when the supplied ones run out, and some assorted clip top containers to wash the castings in.

 

One additional purchase I did make was a SanDisk 32Gb USB 3 memory stick. The supplied memory stick that came with the machine did not give a good connection in the USB port so on recommendation from various users was replaced. The Sandisk stick does not have any problems.

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Looking forward to more about your experiances and learning curve.

 

When I first started dabbling with 3D printing, the price and quality of home setups was not what I was comfortable with, where Shapeways quality and price was more attractive. Now, however, things have changed. I don't like the price of Shapeways and I do like the quality of this machine. My only reservation is the time and effort that will be involved before I start getting the quality results I would like. My hobby is model making, not 3D printing.

 

Good Luck.

 

I might be adding one to my birthday present list :-)

Edited by Ian Morgan

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Thanks for posting those comparative images Mike, they seem to be far better quality and more akin to what I would be looking to achieve if i was working in this type of media.

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The way the Photon works is very simple with few moving parts. Resin is poured into the Resin Vat once it is correctly located on the bed and secured with the thumbscrews. A model that has previously been "sliced" by the supplied software is copied to the memory stick and the memory stick inserted into the USB port. With the machine switched on the model is selected and set to print.

 

The build pate lowers itself into the Resin Vat and leaves a small gap between it and the FEP film. The UV screen then lights up projecting the profile of the first layer solidifying the resin. At a set point the build plate moves up, pulling the first layer off of the FEP film and leaving it (hopefully) still stuck to the build plate and repositions itself ready to expose the next layer. This process is repeated slice by slice until the process is complete. Once printing is complete the build plate can be removed. At this point in time the mouldings will still have unexposed resin covering them and it is useful to rotate the build plate 90 degrees and put it back on the Z Axis track to allow some of the excess resin to drip off back into the Resin Vat:

IMG_7790.JPG.3ec2060461dbbfa970b449a02527bd22.JPG

 

Once the excess resin has been removed the prints can be prised off of the build plate with the supplied black spatula and the mouldings placed in one of the clip lid boxes containing IPA or Meths, the lid clipped in place, and the whole thing shaken and not stirred to wash the remaing liquid resin from the mouldings. The mouldings can then be removed from the wash and rinsed under a tap and put aside for further processing.

 

The mouldings that come out of the machine are not at this stage fully hardened but feel slightly sticky and flexible and I find this the best time to removed the parts I want from the support material. I am sure everyone has their own preferred way of doing this but the method that works for me is to slip a scalpel along the base slicing though the supports thus:

IMG_7798.JPG.bbc7c999f3e26806bf01233f431cb58f.JPG

 

With the base plate removed it is then a relatively simple exercise to twist off the remaining nibs from the moulding. You end up with a lot of little bits of cured resin and unusually for me I do wonder what the impact on the environment these will have long term:

IMG_8119.JPG.c48970f9e03159ecc2500c246a499f06.JPG

 

With the mouldings removed and de-nibbed they can be put aside to harden up. At the moment I do not have any additional UV light source other than natural sunlight to do this, which given the current lack of sun in the UK can be a pain. Leaving them indoors also seems to work but takes a lot longer. Eventually the mouldings harden up, losing their stickiness and flexibility becoming stiffer and more brittle.

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Not everything went to plan. After several prints I got a situation where on starting a new print after the first layer was exposed, the machine would reboot effectively aborting the print job. This would entail havingto remove the partially cured first layer from the Resin Vat FEP film and trying again. This seems to be a common problem and in my case I seem to have resolved it by ensuring I turn the machine off between prints.

 

At one point the prints were not sticking to the build plate and were coming out distorted:

IMG_7793.JPG.029a36ec320f09807e6e85debf971b4c.JPG

 

Following this the Resin Vat was cleaned out by pouring the remaining uncured resin back into the bottle via a paint filter and funnel, and the whole build plate re-levelled. That seems to have resolved the issue although it is now starting to appear again so time for another re-levelling I fear.

 

On the bogie mount for some reason the central hole was partially filing in:

IMG_7819.JPG.37732055983cd6d3d5f2deb8c001929f.JPG

 

This was a real head scratcher as there did not appear to any problem with the original Blend file of .stl file and there was no obvious problem when the stl file was imported into the slicer software. I did eventaully trace this to the blender model and made some adjustments to the various bits making up the bolster and the problem has now gone away (phew):

IMG_8122.JPG.b5dc26c77ff1dae9d45aa74684b5ad36.JPG

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One of the problems with owning a printer like this is the vast range of possibilities it opens up. For example I was browsing https://www.thingiverse.com/ to see what free models I could find and came across a beautiful model of the Disney Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Always having a soft spot for this sub I could not resist and thoughts of the Gresley bogies were put aside.

 

The model was downloaded, imported into Blender and the various parts hollowed out, then imported into the slicer software, scaled to 75%, and sent to the printer:

IMG_8085.JPG.6af52c0007a1941cfebdae091b1111e0.JPG

 

The model took ages to print, which I will come onto in a minute. Scaling the individual items resulted in me failing to correctly scale the saloon window frame so they are too big as initially printed.

 

The various sections assembled. Although I did not print this at the finest setting the Photon can do the detail is still impressive:

 

IMG_8099.JPG.e2cca0d2b621fe664d08c81e5293edae.JPG

 

Gap filling under way. The incorrectly sized saloon frames were printed along with the various windows using the transparent green resin supplied with the Photon:

IMG_8116.JPG.b88d2ee9d534862f42f63d42a0077a8f.JPG

 

As mentioned above this model took a LONG time to print, something in the region of 20hrs per section. Print time can be roughly calculated based on the number of slices/layers, the exposure time used for each layer and the time taken for the build plate to move from one layer to the next. Print time is not impacted by the number of items included on the build plate, they will all take the time dictated by the tallest item. The machine is capable of printing at different layer thicknesses. For the Gresley Bogie and anything detailed I use the setting 0.02mm. For the Nautilus I increased the layer setting to 0.035mm. Setting for a fine layer thickness results in more layers needing to be printed resulting in longer print times. In some instances rather than print something perpendicular to the plate rotating it at an angle can reduce its overall height reducing print times.

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I've been finding chitubox to be a bbetter slicing software, it saves in .photon format but its support generation is better (many times with the photon slicer it won't allow me to add supports to certain areas) and it also has a hollowing ability meaning you don't need additional steps in file generation via meshmixer or similar if you need to hollow out your model.

 

https://www.chitubox.com/

 

I've had to relevel my plate quite frequently, I'm thinking its because some of my jobs stick a little too well to the build plate and the way I hold it trying to lever them off might inadvertently put enough pressure on the pivot joint with the palm of my hand to move it slightly.

 

Finally, I noticed a crack across my LCD screen last weekend, I've bought a replacement to fit but I'm not aware of anything I did to cause that but maybe it was during one of the levelling processes. Might be worth having a spare on standby to avoid a couple of days downtime.

 

 

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1 hour ago, monkeysarefun said:

I've been finding chitubox to be a bbetter slicing software, it saves in .photon format but its support generation is better (many times with the photon slicer it won't allow me to add supports to certain areas) and it also has a hollowing ability meaning you don't need additional steps in file generation via meshmixer or similar if you need to hollow out your model.

 

https://www.chitubox.com/

 

I've had to relevel my plate quite frequently, I'm thinking its because some of my jobs stick a little too well to the build plate and the way I hold it trying to lever them off might inadvertently put enough pressure on the pivot joint with the palm of my hand to move it slightly.

 

Finally, I noticed a crack across my LCD screen last weekend, I've bought a replacement to fit but I'm not aware of anything I did to cause that but maybe it was during one of the levelling processes. Might be worth having a spare on standby to avoid a couple of days downtime.

 

 

Thanks for this. Like you I have also found that there are times the Photon Slicer software will not let you manually add supports where you want although a lot depends on the order that you add them.

As far as I am aware the Photon slicer software is a cut down version of Chitubox so they are very similar. I found the same issue to be present in Chitubox. I have also tried using B9Creator (all these software packages are free) but ended up reverting back to using the supplied Photon Slicer. One thing I have done is downloaded PhotonFileEditor (https://github.com/Photonsters/PhotonFileEditor ) and find it really useful for inspecting previously generated photon files.

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Just when I thought I had finally got the Gresley Bogie sorted I discovered a misalignment caused by inaccuracies in the printing process.

 

The joint between the bogie sideframe and the central bolster is designed in the software to be a perfect fit when reassembled. Unfortunately the printer cannot work to such fine tolerances and rounds up to the nearest dimension it can print to. This results in a misalignment when fitting the printed parts together. Hopefully the following illustrations explain this:

IMG_8124.JPG.e56bf21e080668dd1431945e75833e71.JPG

 

IMG_8127.JPG.8a29779c22ccd17105e08b3c2b7377c8.JPG

 

issue.jpg.d52834042feda4222aec011568859fda.jpg

By the same token the overall bogie width will be slightly over width. Oh well back to the drawing board.

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While I had the Anycubic Green Resin in the machine I also ran some bogie bolsters. Although they have printed without a problem they are not the easiest to physically see until primed:

IMG_8128.JPG.5c7e754334c34d6a40612ca8452263e3.JPG

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I was pondering asking about consistency of scaling accuracy and tolerances. Your unfortunate discovery preempts that somewhat.

At the point where the technology could replicate lettering on axleboxes, and match the accuracy of etched assemblies, I told myself I'd be happy.

At least you've answered the first of those in the affirmative!

 

Showing progress with engineered components rather than aesthetic ones makes this a most informative thread!

 

The Nim.

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Thanks Nimbus. You can just about see the lettering on the axleboxes here:

IMG_7845.JPG.435d805b16df815179fd312a5414706d.JPG

 

From memory I had to increase the depth of both the lettering and the handle on the axlebox and open up the bearing hole. So a degree of trial and error is involved.

 

Of course for a lot of prints this degree of accuracy is not necessary.

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Amazon have a deal on this today, £58 off, for the next 9 hours. Even cheaper!

I have been looking at this for a while and just read your posts Mike and then saw the deal so an absolute no-brainer. Just need to get back to the 3D CAD again. Not done that for a number of years!

Cheers

Ian in Blackpool

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Very nice work on those bogies!

 

My experience of the Photon is that light bleeds slightly which causes an over cure of the resin in the x-y axis. For an 8 second exposure using Photon Grey resin, I typically find that the over cure will add between 0.15mm and 0.2mm to each face in the x-y. There is an 'erode' programme that somebody devised but it is very difficult to use and I normal just adjust the CAD to compensate for this when required now.

 

If you're willing to risk a 4-5 second exposure, you can remove most (if not all) of the over cure effect. However, you'll have some very raw parts that will need a considerable amount of time in a light box before they will be strong enough to use.

 

Hope this helps

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2 hours ago, Atso said:

My experience of the Photon is that light bleeds slightly which causes an over cure of the resin in the x-y axis.

That makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

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I started to get problems with the prints adhering to the build plate. In a particular print job out of 10 individual items, for various reasons, only 3 were usable. On cleaning out the resin vat some missprinted bases are still stuck to the FEP film:

IMG_8133.JPG.38f15137c1e08318a8e23906bb2c5320.JPG

 

These were manually removed (carefully) by leavering a gloved fingernail under one corner and the resin film peeled off. Further cleaning also revealed some further spots where there was solidified resin present:

IMG_8137.JPG.8dd6d40308bd9a27416c4d78f80acadc.JPG

 

Where prints do not correctly adhere to the build plate this is, more often than not, due to the need to relevel the build plate. I thought I had done it before the faulty print but have a vague feeling I did not do it correctly so before this last print job redid it.

 

There are on a number of web sites some FAQ documents on the Anycubic Photon User Groups pages. One of these goes into the leveling process and should be read in conjunction with the instructions in the printer manual.

 

The relevent notes are reproduced below:

 

"Press Home to bring the build plate down before starting to set Z=0 correctly.

After setting Z=0 verify that it is set correctly by removing the vat and starting a print (aka dry run), put  piece of paper on the screen and check that the build plate starts the first layer at the correct Z=0 position that you have set.

Remember that z=0 is not the same as Home"

 

The document then goes on to suggest the following:

 

"Remember that as you tighten the setting (grub) screw it will move the plate down a tiny fraction more. You will find that you cannot pull the paper anymore, so you should raise/backoff the build plate by 0.01mm increments until the plate is gripping the paper with even resitance, and that you can pull but not push it back. Then only set Z=0"

 

So with the build plate releveled and the Z=0 set I considered the actual print process. My Photon is located in an unheated garage and when I first started I took the trouble to switch a heater on in it to raise the temperature to 20 degrees. Recently I have become slapdash in this so I reverted to printing with the Anycubic Grey resin and gently heated the resin prior to printing. I made sure that the slicer settings were as per my previous successful prints e.g.

Layer thickness: 0.020mm

Normal exposure time: 12

Off time: 6.5

Bottom exposure: 95

Bottom layers: 8

 

For the previous failed print I crammed as many items onto the build plate as possible: 10. This time I created a .photon file with just 8 at a greater spacing.

 

The print was set off and 3 hours later I have 8 perfect printed objects so appear to have got my mojo back.

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If you push gently on the back of the FEP sheet around where the stuck part is, the slight springiness of the FEP will cause the part to lift off slightly, enough to get the plastic spatula or similar under it to lever it off.

 

There is a youtube video on the Larry Flint levelling method, I found that more successful than the paper method since my paper often stuck to the glass screen due to the Sydney humidity  in summer (48.3 deg one day in the shed -  no printing was done that day!) and I could never tell if the paper was stuck due to the vat pressing on it or just due to the damp.

 

The Larry Flint method is kind of similar except instead of using paper, you loosen the plate, then  lower it down ( with vat removed) until it touches the LCD glass   with enough pressure that you can't move it either side to side or swivel it. Tighten the screw at this point (which avoids the problem of the plate moving around a fraction while tightening), then press the 0.1mm button 3 times and home it. The important bit is to ensure that you press the UP arrow prior to hitting the 0.1mm button 3 times. I think thats how my screen cracked...

 

I"m also finding that you can leave the unused resin in the vat far longer than I expected. When I first got the printer I'd diligently clean everything after each session, which creates quite an amount of resin covered  paper towel, used gloves and so on and is quite a messy process in itself. Now I've stretched it out to a week between prints without cleaning out the vat and the resin is still good, I just give it a stir with the plastic spatula and she's good to go. One thing I do do is to cover the printer during this time, and in fact also while it is printing to avoid Australian summer super powerful sun rays from curing the resin as its printing - my printer is an earlier one with the blue windows rather than the orange UV blocking ones..

I've found a pillow case to be the perfect size to slip over the printer snugly, it also keeps the huntsman spiders out of it.

Edited by monkeysarefun
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I have certainly had resin in the vat for up to 3 days with the lid down and have also thought that it would probably be a good idea to provide a cover to shield the resin while printing. Will seek out Larry Flint's method of levelling.

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Did you mean Flint Read?

 

Searching for Larry Flint comes up with some interesting results.

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OOps, yes that bloke! I don't know how I came up with Larry Flint....

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Well the machine is behaving itself so I have taken the opportunity of producing the LNER Heavy Duty sideframe. It has the wrong lettering on the axleboxes and strictly speaking the axleboxes should be fractionally bigger but I don't think it will be apparent when printed. I did do a batch of these earlier only to discover that the rivets fixing the inner beams were incorrect so a new version is on the print queue:

hd.jpg.bc3737d735ec839e378c5cb917a21f08.jpg

 

A long time ago I did a 3D model for LNER Bucket Seats as featured in the Tourist stock and end door open thirds for printing with Shapeways. Once again the cost was unrealistic, so I am now in the process of trying to print them on the Photon:

bucket.jpg.ac5ffcb9ca1f430649fee548d4d4217e.jpg

 

While the machine is busy printing the Nautilus has been sprayed "brass" ready to be weathered:

IMG_8147.JPG.518b1f77bd08f0a470176c8771bba3a0.JPG

 

Both my Grandsons (7 & 4) have decided they want one having seen it and walked through it at Disney Paris. I will be printing 2 * 45% scaled models for them hopefully leaving the jobs to print overnight which will give me an excuse to use the transparent green resin that came with the machine.

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