UV Resin 3D Printing - How we make a D&D Miniature
Today's installment covers a Behind the Scenes of how we make Custom Dungeon & Dragons Figurines using our High Precision Resin Printer.
Figure 1 - Dungeons and Dragons Customer Resin Miniature Figure
But first we will explain a bit more about Resin Printing.
As with all 3D Printers you have to get around technical difficulties setting up, and with resin making sure its dialed in that minutely better than before can see drastic improvements in results. Which is why we spent alot of time getting everything right to ensure maximum customer satisfaction.
"How does it work?" - These printers use a special type of UV Resin which cures when UV light is projected onto it. A LCD screen sits under a container of resin which projects UV light layer by layer until the entire model is formed.
These can be from hundreds to thousands of layers....sounds like alot of time right? It sure is, for a small D&D figurine at 50mm height it took 4 Hours 45 Minutes! Imagine something larger!
"What are the perks of Resin, are there any cons?" - The main selling point being the minute details it can achieve at such small sizes. Cons would be its print size limitations on our current Resin Printers (W 115 x D 65 x H 155 mm).
Resin prints down to 25 Microns that's 0.025mm which gives it that super precise detail. Other drawbacks to mention are that its a messy process with it being a liquid, which unless you 3D print yourself it's not a concern at all!
The Final customer question was - "After it is printed, is it good to go?" - which leads us into the main section of this post in our Behind the Scenes making of a Dungeons and Dragons Miniature Figure, showing you the steps we have to take to ensure the product is ready for customer use.
Step 1 - Load the model into the Slicer
We take a customer's 3D File sent to us (or designed by us) and take it into our slicing software. To prepare a 3D Model for print it needs to be properly setup. This includes supporting any problematic areas or overhangs as without supports they will just print onto thin air and likely fail.
Figure 2 - D&D Figure in ChiTuBox Slicer adding support ready to slice
Once supported and happy with the distribution the model needs to be sliced. This automated process separates the Model into layers so it can print them one by one to build up the eventual final product. Once this is done its onto step 2.
Step 2 - Prepare and Print
With the Resin Printer already tuned in we can pour the resin into the container vat. Resin temperature works best at roughly 25-30C so pre-heating the resin could be crucial especially during winter for getting the best results, we use a heated enclosure to make sure temperature levels are maintained throughout. Once we are happy it is good to press play, we then wait until it is finished however many hours later. In the D&D Figure instance it was 4 hours 45 minutes.
Figure 3 - Printer is set off and creating the First Layers of the Miniature.
Step 3 - It's done now...right?
Some of you might be thinking it must be done now its printed. Not true! Resin has several Post Print steps we need to take to enhance the product finish. Firstly is cleaning the print. After a Resin print is finished there will be liquid residue on the surface of the model so we wash it in Two IPA bath's.
Figure 4 - Completed Print of D&D Miniature with Supports
Firstly our "Dirty wash" as we call it, this IPA has been used for previous washes as is purely used to get the bulk of the excess resin off the model.
After we put them into the "Clean wash" which is in our Ultrasonic Cleaner. This uses ultrasound waves to create vibrations causing tiny bubbles which pop on impact removing residue in the most minute of spaces. Then we let it dry for the next steps usually taking a few minutes.
Step 4 - Support Removal
As mentioned in Step 1 we have to support certain models to ensure they print completely with no fails. For this D&D Figure for example his bow was a area that needed supporting. Now we need to remove these supports, we use some Tiny Model Clippers to carefully remove the supports.
Sometimes parts of the support can be leftover on the model so its important to be careful when removing not to pull and leave indents. If any remain extruding from the surface unable to clip we sand the area to smooth out the surface. This is one of the hardest parts of the process as if supports were setup incorrectly in step one it can cause you problems down the line getting a clean result.
Figure 5 - Supports removed using metal clippers before Sanded
Step 5 - Cure the Resin
This process is on the final stretch of Resin completion. Curing the model adds strength and makes the model more stable. We use a 405nm UV light in a enclosure which we rotate the model manually every 30 seconds on a timer. These remain in the Curing station for roughly 5-10 minutes, but this step can totally depend on what resin you use. For example Dental-Castable or Flexible resin may take much longer. Once fully cured it is safe to handle and stronger/not soft to touch.
Figure 6 - Miniature in the Curing Station
Step 6 - Add Primer + Paint
Depending on the request this is an optional step as you may not want a painted product. But for this D&D Figurine Miniature the customer wanted a grey primer applied so that should they wish in the future they could paint it themselves.
We mainly use Rust-oleum Superior Adhesion Grey Primer for our models (Also have White). Placing the Model on our rotatory painting stand we spray the model evenly from roughly 30cm away whilst turning the platform allowing a evenly distributed coverage of paint. Allow it to dry for 40 minutes before applying another thin layer to make sure no spots were missed. These paints then dry overnight usually about 12 hours to fully set.
Figure 7 - Primer Applied next to 1p coin for scale
In this case the customer wanted just a primer base, but we do also Paint these by hand.
Step 7 - Final Quality Check
Once the previous step has set properly it gives you a great chance to get a close look on the model. The Primer really brings out all the details so any missed supports or something not quite right can be noticed and sorted. The great thing about this is if the paint isn't quite right you can carefully sand it down and re-apply.
This then completes our D&D Miniature Figurine ready to send to the customer! It all seems like such a long haul but honestly in our minds its just like 1 big step of auto-pilot.
Figure 8 - Finished Dungeons & Dragons 3D Printed Resin Miniature
This particular product was completed in 2 days from start to finish and shipped (this may not always be the case but we aim to have every custom model with you in 7-14 days - see our Shipping Policy)
If you are a 3D Printing Owner and this has helped you, please feel free to Share this to your friends or groups to spread the good word. If you are a Customer wanting this done for yourself, then get yourself to our Contact Us page to speak with our team!
Thank you and until next time, Happy Printing!