Just over six weeks and three liters of resin ago I received my Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Mono and the strongly suggested Elegoo Mercury Plus 2 in 1 washing and cleaning station. I ordered both these on Amazon for about $500 and they were extremely easy to set up and get working. Along with this order, I added a five-pack of Elegoo Release Film, Elegoo 3D Rapid Resin in clear red, a gallon of 99% Isopropyl Alcohol, 400 Grit sandpaper, and an AiBob Gun Cleaning Pad 16”x60” (this is a must-have). I’ve printed in both translucent red (2.5L) and flat black (0.5L). Also, I’ve been careful to hollow out models in the slicer, Chitubox, so that I’m using the minimum amount of resin necessary to print my models, and I’ve printed many with very little waste.
This printer is amazing, my prior experience was a few months, two years ago, with my son’s Creality Ender 3D which is a Fused Deposition Printer (FDP), your typical 3D printer. Eventually, we got the Creality producing usable results, but the difference between the Creality and Elegoo units is night and day. It would often take several tries to get the Creality to produce a workable print, and I’d installed the unit in a cabinet in my office so the temperature and airflow were strictly managed, and we’d modified the printer to reduce the noise, upgraded the print heads and improved the fans, but this post is about resin printing. My first resin print and nearly everyone since has come out as expected. So here are my nine suggestions for those interested in trying resin printing using the Elegoo Mars 2P.
- Don’t Print Flat. Never print your model flat on the build plate. Because the printer exposes a print layer then rises a bit in the build tank then lowers again this creates shearing forces on the supports and a flat model could fail early. Also, you always have to pry your model off the build plate so having a raft and supports which may take damage on removal is always better than scratching up or breaking your model. I’ve found that rotating my model so it’s inclined 10 degrees from the build surface then elevating it 10mm off the build plate produces the best results. Chitubox will then create a raft to bond to the build plate, and it will raise the edges to make prying your model off easier.
- Supports, you can never have too many. Be generous, add more, but make sure you’re bridging them from existing supports, or adding supports that you can then bridge from. You can always sand your model with 400 grit paper later to remove support marks. For finished surfaces sometimes you can avoid supporting these surfaces provided the surface facing the build plate is fully supported.
- Models should drain down. Make certain you orient your model so that it drains down into the build tank. Also, be sure you hollow out your model and set your wall thickness to something like 3mm. This can save you considerable resin, and using translucent resins with somewhat hollow models can create some interesting effects when viewing the model.
- Different color resins require different slicer settings. For example, black requires almost 30% more exposure time over the translucent resins. The Chitubox V1.8.1 slicer is very flexible, it makes it easy to make these adjustments. Here is a table that is invaluable when switching between resins.
- Never run out of resin during printing. I had this happen once, this morning, now I’m soaking the tank with alcohol and will try and get resin that’s bonded to the clear film on the bottom removed. Otherwise, I’ll need to replace the film.
- Have a ceiling fan on during printing and curing. You can use your printer in an office environment with normal indoor temperatures and if you work carefully, gloves and a mask can be avoided. This printer is very quiet, and prints much more quickly than traditional FDP. Resin printers use a single stepper motor that is installed in the base and it drives a single screw to raise and lower the build plate. The printer is fully enclosed, and the 2P has a fan and carbon filter so there is only a small amount of smell that leaves the unit. I’ve had the printer, not the wash station, running in the background while on Zoom calls, and nobody has ever said anything about hearing it.
- Lay down a felt rubberized gun mat ($10) on your work surface before installing the printer and cleaning station. It makes for an ideal work surface and wicks up the few droplets of alcohol that often fall everywhere. Before transferring a model from the printer to the cleaning tank I tilt the build plate a little to drain off the excess resin, and I carefully move the build plate from the printer to the cleaning station without dropping resin on the pad. I’ve found that two inches of spacing between the printer and the cleaning station are enough to make lifting the covers and reaching around back to turn things off easy, while also limiting the travel distance for models that may still drip.
- Removing the Cover. Lift the Mars 2P lid with your fingers wrapping under the cover edge as you lift it off the printer. There is a silicone gasket on the bottom of the cover and it will often rub the supports for the build tank which will result in it fall off. So if you carefully lift it and roll your fingers under the silicone gasket you can prevent this from happening. I’ve considered glueing the gasket in-place on the cover, but I think that’ll create other issues.
- Make sure you configure Chitubox with your specific printer model so it scales the build plate size properly and make the other default settings. Chitubox and the Elegoo will allow the raft to slightly fall outside the build area and still print, but be careful. Chitubox is a simple slicer, and I’ve used several in the past, but it is very capable and does a nice job.
Well, that’s it, for now. I’ll edit this a bit more later today, but I hope you have an awesome time with your new printer. I’m sure there will be people out there that will insist I wear a ventilator mask and rubber gloves when printing, cleaning, etc… but I have the ceiling fan on high, and my office is extremely clean and clutter-free so that’s what works for me.