So, I’ve been reading up on, experimenting and looking into using a laser to assemble large multi-part prints and would like to hear a bit how everyone else is getting on with it. Here’s some info about my situation and what I’ve been trying. Might be a good idea to at least skim through it before chiming in- apologies in advance for all the text as I’m just trying to be thorough.
Hopefully this thread will result in some solid information for future reference that will help people with similar needs.
I am looking for a functional setup to assemble parts that are 5+mm or thicker (i.e. the laser has to penetrate deep enough to cure resin several mm into a print). Until now I’ve been testing with a weak pointer and Form Cure (removing the rotating platform to fit bigger pieces), with varying results.
In my area, laws (due to morons pointing at people, cars and airplanes with green lasers) have made laser POINTERS above 1MW illegal without a license (which costs about $1K/year) so my current experiments have been restricted to 1MW. A loose laser MODULE or LED light is, however, unrestricted and unregulated so that is where I will start testing with next, but since the good ones are rather expensive, I wanted to check with all of you here first so that I don’t waste several hundred dollars on useless hardware. (Again: a ready-made laser pointer is NOT an option - I need to build myself a unit with a laser module OR use a LED flashlight.)
My testing (using a 1mw 405nm pointer and Form Cure) has shown:
Tough resin will ‘skin’ about 1-2mm in under a minute with 1MW, and putting the parts in Form Cure for 30-60 minutes will completely cure several mm into the material. (I have however abandoned using Tough resin due to warping.)
Grey Pro (my go-to resin, that I mainly use) will barely start to cure on the surface after 1-2 minutes with a 1mw laser. Putting the parts in Form Cure is pointless, because even after a couple HOURS, even running the cycle more than once, it will only cure maybe 2-3mm in. The center of a 6mm thick piece was still liquid when broken apart.
SO, I need to have a laser-based solution that will penetrate deep into the grey resin and NOT need to be post-cured, since the models (helmet-size and larger) will eventually get too big.
Since the Form Cure uses many LEDS, it would be great hearing from those of you that use LED flashlights how they compare- especially if you use the GREY PRO, GREY or other ‘opaque’ resins that block light. I would guess that even the strongest LED flashlights will not penetrate deep enough into the resin. Or is that incorrect?
For those of you using laser modules or laser pointers, it would be great to know how strong they are (in MW) and how ‘deep’ you have been able to cure parts (since we’re talking about more that just surface filling imperfections). Let’s try to get some solid info down that folks in the future can use, that goes beyond getting a random laser pointer on amazon or ebay.
Currently, I’m thinking of getting a wide-aperture (16mm beam) 250MW module and printing a holder/grip for it that can house a battery and power switch. I wonder how deep the light will penetrate though- if even 250MW will cure resin several mm into a part. (As I recall, the Form 2 uses a 200MW laser?)
What say you all? : )