3D printing is loads of fun. Whether you're printing out minis, cosplay items, functional household objects, or something else entirely, it's a great hobby. When it comes to 3D printing, filament printers may be generally more affordable than their resin or stereolithography (SLA) counterparts, but stereolithography printers often boast much higher print quality. And with a plethora of resin 3D printers on the market, including affordable options from the likes of Elegoo, it's worth considering an SLA printer instead of, or in addition to, an FDM model. But one area where filament printers rule is clean up. Unless you encounter an issue, post-processing is usually as easy as popping a print off of the build platform, maybe support removal and a bit of sanding down rough spots. Compare that to resin printing which requires washing and curing prints afterward. Resin curing machines can significantly reduce clean up and post-processing. Check out the best resin UV curing machines you can buy!
What is a UV Curing Machine and Why Should You Use one for 3D Printing?
When you're printing with a stereolithography 3D printer, post-curing is essential. This process allows your prints to achieve maximum hardness and stability. You can accomplish this via several methods. The cheapest is merely sticking your prints in the sun. Yet, not everyone has a suitable window ledge, balcony, or even enough sun to properly cure in a reasonable timeframe. A standard UV nail salon curing light works fine for smaller prints. But a dedicated UV curing box for 3D printing provides an efficient means of expediting post-processing.
Whereas some UV curing machines are just that, an ultraviolet box for curing prints, others are multi-functional and include washing capabilities as well. The benefit of a rinse and cure chamber is that you can pop in your build platform and give that a proper hose down. You'll achieve a much better cleaning than simply a manual swirl in a container of isopropyl alcohol (IPA). Should you keep a print attached to the build plate however, you might not get the bottom of the print as clean as if you simply throw it in the IPA on its own. As such, it's not a bad idea to wash separately and also pop on the build platform for a quick drench.
- Ultraviolet light-curing chamber - uses UV light to harden SLA/resin 3D prints
- Some include washing capabilities as well
- Great for faster post-processing, harden prints quicker and more reliably
- Cure and wash chambers have the added benefit of being able to rinse off the build plate too
Renowned for its high-quality, low-cost electronics such as Arduino starter kits and 3D printers like the Mars Pro and Saturn, Elegoo makes a fantastic resin curing chamber in its Mercury curing machine. On the top of its lid is a convenient LED time display which lets you control the curing length. There's a light-driven turntable that absorbs UV light while rotating. The interior is lined with reflective sheets for improved curing. For the light source, the Elegoo Mercury resin curing box sports a pair of 405nm LED strips with 14 total UV LEDs. And there's a see-through window for safely monitoring the curing process. Priced around $60 USD, the Elegoo Mercury is a cost-effective solution for curing your finished resin 3D prints.
While many curing chambers also feature cleaning mechanisms, the Mercury foregoes any. It's just for curing liquid resin prints. That maintains affordability, but an ultrasonic cleaner may be a worthy purchase. You can pick up an Elegoo ultrasonic cleaning machine on the cheap, or any number of others. For a cheap UV curing box, the Mercury is a top pick that won't break the bank and will get the job done.
Well-known for its array of filament and resin 3D printers, Anycubic also offers its Anycubic Wash and Cure machine. It's compatible with most LCD, SLA, and DLP 3D printers on the market. The dual-purpose wash & cure machine features an ultrasonic washer. There's a sealed plastic washing container complete with a lid so that you can store your washing liquid for re-use rather than disposing of it after each rinse. The Anycubic packs 365nm and 405nm UV lights for compatibility with virtually every resin 3D printer. A 360-degree rotating curing platform ensures that light hits the entire print during post-processing. And for protective measures, there's an auto-pause feature such that curing ceases when the top cover is removed. The completely translucent cover lets you monitor prints while they're curing and blocks out 99.95% of UV light for safety. At the front of the unit, there's a snappy, responsive touchscreen for easy operation. And an adjustable bracket lets you move the height of its suspension bracket depending on the liquid level.
Because the Anycubic wash & cure machine lets you put in the build platform as well as prints, it's a handy means of cleaning off not only finished liquid resin prints, but the build platform too. However, some users reported slight difficulty with build platforms from various resin SLA printers. The Mars Pro build plate doesn't fit as-is for example, although you can re-adjust the wash & cure machine to get it to fit. Or alternatively, you can 3D print an adapter to allow for differently sized build platforms.
For a bit more than the vanilla Mercury, the Elegoo Mercury Plus 2-in-1 washing and curing machine is a fantastic alternative fo the Anycubic wash & cure station. The dual-purpose curing box and resin 3D print rinser features several different washing modes. You can place models in the included cleaning basket separately, or mount the build plate to thoroughly clean off the build platform. The platform bracket is height-adjustable for accomodating different amounts of liquid in the basket.
Elegoo's Mercury Plus 2-in-1 wash and cure station touts intelligent curing. There are built-in 385nm and 405nm UV curing lamp beads which create a 360-degree rotating curing turntable. A TFT screen displays visuals of the total and remaining time. The acrylic hood blocks 99.95% of UV rays, and safety measures suspend function when the hood is removed. The Mercury Plus is compatible with Elegoo's own Mars and Mars Pro, as well as the Mars C, Photon and Photon S, and many other LCD, DLP, and SLA 3D printers. At just over $100 USD, it's a bargain.
4. Most Versatile 3D Printing Wash and Cure Machine - TIANFOUR G3 Wash Dry Clean 3-in-1 UV Curing Chamber
The TIANFOUR G3 is a 3-in-1 UV curing chamber that features a washing and curing capabilities as well as a drying functionality. Its dry hearing mode may be used on FDM filament as well as for heating resin temperatures. It's comprised of a UV LED light, turntable, model placement board, wash barrel, and a water tank. Its different modes allow you to clean prints, cure with four different modes, and dry your prints off after washing and curing. The only potential downside is that TIANFOUR isn't a well-known brand. It should work just fine and offers a few more features than the Anycubic wash & cure machine. Yet, its company name doesn't hold as much clout as Elegoo or Anycubic.
If you only want a curing chamber, the LD050 UV curing machine is a solid choice. It can cure 3D prints for up to 60 minutes. There's an included water tank and the entire unit is small, lightweight, and with tiny footprint. There's a rotating tray that delivers a uniformly cured 3D print. Since the LD050 cures resin 3D prints in water, it avoids post-processing shrinkage. There are less expensive machines for purely curing 3D prints, and considering that the LD050 doesn't feature a washing functionality, the Anycubic wash and cure machine is a bit of a better value. Overall though, it's a tiny yet mighty UV curing chamber.
With its single light source, the Yidimu Falcon UV curing box is a great deal. It's reasonably priced and packs in a bevy of features. There's a reliable 140-degree wide-angle LED light. The whole curing chamber resembles a safe, and it's dust-proof for high-quality print post-processing. A rotating turntable spins evenly for six seconds each turn and provides uniform illumination. Plus, there's intelligent time control. It's a pretty cool liquid resin 3D printing UV curing machine that's easy to use and well-built.
Best UV Curing Chambers for Resin 3D Printing - Final Thoughts
Although simply leaving your 3D prints in the sun on a balcony or in the window works most of the time, a UV curing machine has a ton of benefits. If you're in an area where there's little sun, a UV curing chamber is a must-buy. Even if you soak up ample rays year-round, a curing station lets you harden prints faster and makes post-processing faster and less messy. Aside from hardening prints quickly, you can dispose of resin 3D printer waste such as leftover resin or 3D printing liquid-soaked paper towels safely. For a no-frills curing chamber, the Elegoo Mercury offers the best bang for your buck. It's cheap and does its job. Stepping up to the Anycubic wash and cure machine adds the benefit of being able to wash off a build platform and rinsing capabilities, a feature absent on the Mercury. And you can find loads of other devices such as the Yidimu Falcon, LD050, and 3-in-1 TIANFOUR G3.
What UV curing machines for 3D printing do you recommend?