Monocure 3D Resin, Clear. trial and testing. I have posted my complete review in my blog at RickMakesStuff.com/blog and below the photo gallery.
For years I have been using the SLA resin from FSL3D and it has been pretty reliable and consistent. I was asked to try another brand and I was very happy to try something else and see how well it works. I ordered a 500mL bottle from Monocure 3D in Australia and just 2 days later I had the bottle in my hand in Houston. DHL did a wonderful job of keeping me up to date on the shipment and even called my cell phone when they showed up to deliver and I was not home. Photos of review are at: RickMakesStuff.com/monocure
So, I examined the MSDS, nothing that stands out for your average consumer except you should wear standard protection like safety glasses and gloves. I must say that the resin is not food grade, don't eat or drink off of it. The resin does not have as strong a smell like some resins and even smelling the bottle the odor is not very strong.
So, the directions tell me to shake well before use and I did. Roughly 20 seconds of vigorous shaking and then into the vat it went. I was caught off guard a bit at how many bubbles were in the resin from the shaking. I let the resin settle for about 5 minutes while I arranged the models to print in my software. When I checked the vat again the bubbles were almost completely gone. I was not surprised with the viscosity and relative water density of this liquid that the bubbles cleared up pretty fast. I emptied about 4/5 of the bottle into the vat, saving a little for mid-print refill.
So, onto printing. I chose my models and let the printer do it's thing. NO changes to any settings from my prints the day before when I used FSL3D resin and today's test Monocure 3D resin.
I let the printer do a 12 hour print. I was not going for accuracy of details, but looking at how the resin reacts with longer prints and the heat that is generally produced by such a print. This print I ran at 50 micron layers for all parts just to let the print run longer. At about 8 hours, I paused the print and added the rest of the bottle to the vat. Same bubbles as before, but instead of letting the bubbles settle, I continued the print immediately. I have learned in the past that the longer it is paused, the greater the misalignment or other issues at that level of the print.
The print completed somewhere around 2 am and I was not going to deal with it. Once I finally crawled out of bed I found the prints had all come out successfully. This is to say they had not failed.
I used my standard post print sequence. Remove prints from build plate, alcohol bath in 99% IPA for about 15 minutes and then a rinse with warm water and dawn dish soap. The most important thing I need to mention is the trouble I had removing the prints from the build plate. I can see I need to make some small adjustments to my laser calibration based on the 1-2-3 block, but usually I can wiggle a putty knife under a support base and it pops off. With this print I did the same but the base would chip and it was a real struggle to get the putty knife under the prints. I brought in the rubber mallet to tap the putty knife and everything disconnected from the build plate. Some pieces were so hard to remove that I got my post processing snips that I use to remove supports and cut the models off the supports and then I felt better using the putty knife and rubber mallet knowing I wouldn't slip and break a model. My only comment other than this resin is awesome is that the material is very strong and adheres REALLY WELL to the build plate.
Once rinsed and cleaned I got the prints back to my desk and they felt great. I don't know how to describe the texture differences between a good quality print and one less than great, but the good one feels just a bit rubbery and very very solid. All of the models felt a little rubbery and very very solid. The clarity is exactly what I expect it to be. Print lines are almost always visible if you look but some 800 and 1500 grit sandpaper usually gets rid of them and gives a clear model a very nice clarity and shine. * Added* I would also like to say that the test prints ran at 50 micron layers. The next print I did with the resin was at 100 and the models felt very slightly sticky after cleaning. I have a UV curing box and they spent about 10 minutes in there and they feel perfect. The settings on my printer cannot be adjusted, but I see that on the Monocure 3D Website, post print curing is advised. I didnt feel it was necessary with 50, but it might be at 100, or if you have a machine that you can adjust the laser on time, turn it up just a bit.
The models I printed include:
-Extruder block for a Replicator 2
-Carriage assembly for a Replicator 2
-A 1-2-3 Calibration Block
-Yogurt's Schwartz Ring (Spaceballs)
-Lonestar's Birth Medallion (Spaceballs)
The detail on some of the models was less than perfect. but that cannot be blamed on the resin. There are too many factors that affect quality such as clarity of the acrylic vat, laser alignment, mirror and galvo cleanliness and the model itself.
For me, I am very happy to see this resin has met ALL of my expectations so far and for the price point (even with shipping from Australia) it is the least expensive resin I have come across. And least expensive is by no means least performance because this resin held up to the heat of a long print with no issues, comes with excellent documentation and customer support, and has very little annoying smell.
On a personal note, I have never gotten color resin to work at all in my printer and I am hoping that Monocure Resin will finally produce some better results. Also, after speaking with a representative of Monocure 3D, he told me they are working on a water washable formula which will be the only resin I use. It saves time, effort, and prices of rinsing alcohol and the effects of it. So, if you have an SLA printer, I highly suggest you give Monocure 3D resin a try. It's not expensive and it's results have impressed me. I WILL be buying more resin and it's not so expensive that I can;t afford to have some fun and make some stuff just for myself.
I will continue my testing and evaluation as I do some post processing with sandpaper, acrylic and enamel paint and various glues. Stay tuned!