The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Perfectly Cured Sla 3d Prints: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques for Post Curing Your Prints

03 September 2023. Authored by Jacob Scott. Anticipated reading time: 9 minutes.

The Importance of Post-curing Your Sla 3d Prints

If you’re an avid 3D printing enthusiast, then you know the importance of achieving the perfect print. Post-curing your SLA 3D prints is the final step in getting that flawless, professional look. Without proper curing, your prints may still look okay, but they may not be as strong as they could be, making them brittle and susceptible to damage. Curing your SLA 3D prints ensures that they’re strong and durable.


Post-curing also helps to resolve issues with the print’s surface consistency. Curing after printing helps to fill in any gaps and holes in the print’s edges, ensuring that the final result is smooth, glossy and aesthetically pleasing. This step also helps get rid of any slight deformations on the surface of the print, getting it looking as good as new.


For best results, it’s essential to give your SLA 3D prints enough time to cure. This will ensure that the print’s material properties have fully adjusted to the curing process. While there is no one-size-fits-all cure-time, it’s crucial to follow the instructions for your resin and the equipment you’re using. If you’re printing in large batches, it may be worth considering longer curing times as the curing method could be influencing the success of the post-curing process.


Navisworks Simulate can help aid this process, allowing you to simulate the curing time and temperature, ensuring your prints are optimally cured every time.


Types of Post-curing Methods and Techniques

There are several methods and techniques available for post-curing SLA 3D prints. These methods differ in process, time requirements, and effectiveness. A few common techniques are:


  • UV Lamp: A very common method is using a UV lamp to post-cure your SLA 3D prints. This method involves placing your prints under a UV lamp to cure. This is a quick, efficient method, but you’ll need to rotate the print to ensure all areas get exposed to the UV light.
  • Sunlight: If you’re looking for a natural, cost-effective curing method, sunlight is a great option. This method involves placing the print under sunlight for longer periods, depending on the resin’s thickness and the weather conditions. Sunlight allows an even distribution of UVA and UVB rays that will help the resin to cure. Plus, it’s environmentally friendly and doesn’t consume electricity.
  • Oven: Using an oven to post-cure your SLA 3D prints is a brilliant method that is well suited for large projects. However, other than heat, this method doesn’t involve any other curing action. It’s a good speed option when efficiency is needed, but it doesn’t produce the best results in improving surface consistency or smoothing out surfaces.

Factors That Affect the Post-curing Process

Post-curing your SLA 3D prints is crucial, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all process. Various factors can influence how long you should cure your prints and how you should go about the process. Here are a few factors that affect the post-curing process:


  • Resin Type: The type of resin you’re using will determine how long you need to cure your prints. Some resins cure faster than others, while some require different methods. So, care should be taken when selecting your resin type and checking manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over or under curing your prints
  • Print Thickness: There is an inverse relationship between print thickness and how long you need to cure it. Meaning, the thicker the print, the longer the curing time. Also, the print’s structure and design should be considered when determining the curing time. For example, prints with thicker sections may need more UV-Light for proper curing.
  • Curing Method: As earlier explained, various post-curing methods ranging from using a UV lamp, putting under sunlight or using an oven exist, and the method you choose will affect how long you should cure your prints. For example, while using a UV lamp is quicker than sunlight, the type of lamp used, distance from the print to the lamp, and the per-exposure time can all affect how long you need to cure your prints
  • Equipment Used: Using the right equipment is paramount to achieving the best-cured SLA 3D prints. Old bulbs in your UV curing machine will not serve you well, so make sure to change them periodically to ensure proper curing. Also, ensure proper calibration of your oven or use the right wattage of lamp in your UV curing setup to prevent over or under-exposure.


Knowing these factors can help design the best post-curing process for your prints, ensuring you achieve the best results every time. If you’re interested in another aspect of 3D printing, check out this article on how to easily open and compare two Navisworks files at once!


Best Practices for Post-curing Your Prints

Now that we know the factors that affect post-curing, it’s essential to explore some of the best practices for 3D SLA printing post-curing.


  • Clean your prints: Always ensure your prints are clean and free of resin residue and print debris before post-curing begins. Residue can harden in the curing process, leading to a rough or uneven surface.
  • Heat Management: Heat can be a crucial aspect of the post-curing process. However, it’s crucial to monitor the heat during curing to avoid overheating, which can cause wrinkling, bubbling, or even warping of the print. So, consider the amount of heat required when curing your print and use timers to ensure controlled curing.
  • Time Management: The general rule of thumb when post-curing is to cure the print for two to three times longer than the printing time. This is not a hard and fast rule, as the above factors can determine how long the curing should take place. It’s crucial to check the resin manufacturer’s instruction guide for specific curing needs and adjust as appropriate.
  • Rotation: Depending on the chosen curing method, you may need to rotate your print to ensure all parts receive an even dose of light. This is especially true when using a UV lamp.


By following these best practices and the factors that affect post-curing SLA 3D prints, you can achieve a perfect print every time. Try it out and enjoy the benefits of a professionally post-cured 3D SLA print!

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Post-curing

While post-curing is an essential step in achieving a perfectly cured SLA 3D print, it’s not always smooth sailing. Common issues include parts that didn’t fully cure, cloudy or murky prints, and prints that have become brittle after curing. The good news is that these issues can be easily fixed with the right approach.


Firstly, if your prints didn’t fully cure, it may be because they didn’t receive enough UV light exposure. Consider increasing the curing time or rotating the print during the curing process to ensure all areas receive maximum exposure. If your cured print is cloudy or murky, it could be due to under-curing or the use of an incompatible resin with the curing method used. In this case, experimenting with resin types and curing methods or extending curing time could help find a better cure.


On the other hand, if your prints are becoming brittle post-curing, it could be due to over-curing. Attempting to cure for an extended period to achieve a strong and robust print can lead to unwanted brittleness. Instead, try adjusting the exposure times and gradually building up the exposure until the desired result is achieved.


For the best results, consider using high-quality filaments like Polycarbonate White by Ultimaker. It’s perfect for 3D printing and post-curing, and it’s guaranteed to produce high-quality, durable prints for all your projects.


Tips and Tricks for Achieving Perfectly Cured SLA 3D Prints

Getting the best results for your SLA 3D prints can be challenging, but with the right tips and tricks, you can achieve a perfect cure every time. One useful tip is to clean your prints thoroughly before post-curing. Any leftover resin on the print’s surface could cause unwanted cloudiness, reducing the print’s aesthetic quality after post-curing.


Another tip is to make sure the print is appropriately supported during the curing process. Adequate support helps the print to retain its original shape, and any sagging or deformation can result in unwanted light exposure, affecting the print’s final strength and consistency. Using proper supports is critical in post-curing to achieve the desired result.


Lastly, consider experimenting with different curing methods and setups. Test several curing times and UV lamp positions. Both factors play a crucial role in post-curing, and the setup can affect the final aesthetics and mechanical properties of the print. By experimenting with different settings, you’ll be able to achieve a perfectly cured SLA 3D print every time.

Jacob Scott is a poet from Seattle, WA. His work explores themes of nature, spirituality, and the beauty of the natural world.

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