Soyuz Post #1: SLA Printers are AMAZING!!
Published onMarch 15, 2021

3D Printing and Layer Lines

When most people think of 3D printing, fused deposition modeling (FDM) usually comes to mind. In this process a tiny nozzle heats up some plastic filament and then—one tiny minuscule layer at a time—builds up the model in 3D space. The problem with this process is that layer lines are unavoidable. The FDM printer I use is a Prusa MK3S which produces amazing, high-quality parts. But still—layer lines are unavoidable. For larger models (like the Soviet N1), the layers are not a problem. But for tiny models like the 1:100 Soyuz, it’s a problem.

The Revelation of SLA Printing…

The competing technology is called stereolithography (SLA) printing. Here, a UV panel cures liquid resin one tiny layer at a time. The benefits of this technology is that the detail and smoothness of the prints are amazing! Astounding even! But—and this is a big “but” (and pain in the butt)—the process involves using toxic, messy, and stinky resin which frequently involves using isopropyl alcohol for cleanup. Then, to add insult to injury, you need a process to discard the toxic waste. This is why I’ve avoiding buying a SLA printer for the longest time.

But after struggling for weeks with my FDM printer with the 1:100 Soyuz, I finally bought an Elegoo Mars 2 Pro (a birthday gift to myself). And holy Hubble Batman!! I’ve never seen such detail and smoothness from 3D prints in my life. I’m truly floored! Sure, I’ve seen the amazing prints on YouTube, but you have to hold these prints in your hand to truly appreciate them. The above interstage for the Soyuz is only the second SLA print I’ve made. I have feeling that I can learn to deal with the toxic fumes and chemicals (even if it causes me to grow a third eyeball).

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