The Joy and Suffering of 3D Printing

Here are miniatures #2 and #3 for 2023. I’ve got an assortment of silly gobbos that I am working through. I’m pretty happy with how my skill is progressing with a good set of brushes and paints. I only use contrast and speed paints at this point. I’m not really painting for quality beyond a certain point–just bulk quantity. I’ll never win awards, and I’m cool with that. I don’t have the patience to spend 40 hours on a single model.

Two small goblin miniatures, one holding a club and one in full plate with a big staff/mace thing
You turned down the wrong alley, mate!

Meanwhile, I borked my resin 3D printer overnight. The way resin printers work is that they have a vat filled with liquid resin that rests on an LCD screen. A thin layer of plastic called FEP sits between the resin and the screen. The screen exposes some of the resin, which adheres to a moving build plate, which pulls up a tiny bit, allowing another layer to adhere. The object prints up and out of the resin slowly, layer by layer. Here’s an article about the various processes in case you’re into that sort of thing.

The issue with FEP film is that it can get punctured or just wear a hole in it over time, and that seems to be what happened to me. A minor leak, but the problem is, getting cured resin off an LCD screen is a bit of a pain. I did the best I could this morning before heading to work, but it will remain to be seen if I can still print with that screen. A new screen runs about $100, so it’s not cheap, but also not the end of the world, and I happen to have one stored away for just this kind of incident.

The harder part, most likely, will be learning how to remove the FEP from the bottom of my tank and install a new sheet. It’s a delicate process, and the tension of the sheet has to be just right. Also, you need it not to leak any resin right out of the box and there’s like 40 screws holding it in. Somehow in all my time printing, I’ve never had to replace an FEP sheet, so this will be my first attempt. If vats didn’t cost so much, I’d probably be tempted to just buy a new one, FEP installed, but that’s pretty wasteful. I’m lazy, but not that lazy.

The point of all this is to say, 3D printing is not just a part of an existing hobby – it’s a hobby in and of itself. If you’re thinking about getting a printer, realize that. Also, maybe start with FDM, not resin.

In totally unrelated news, I read about half a book last night. I haven’t read a book in well over nine months. Something about my post-COVID brain really made it difficult for me to concentrate on blocks of text for long periods of time. I started off easy; more on the particular book, which is seriously flawed and not remotely challenging (intentionally on my part anyway), but I am enjoying it now after a rough start.

I’m starting to find that I have missed blogging all these years. Twitter was such a confined space to think in, but blogging feels like the wide open range by comparison. I guess we shall see if I keep it up!

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