Resin Printing Temperature

Heating Resin Printers During Winter

The following simulations are intended to provide a comparison between heating setups for resin 3D printers under a variety of temperatures.

The recommended method of heating resin printers is by using a 250-500 W ceramic heater that is temperature-controlled. This is the most reliable method since you can set your desired resin temperature. A 250 W heater should be good for temperatures no colder than -5°C, provided that your printer is enclosed. A 500 W heater is suitable for temperatures no colder than approximately -35°C.

The ideal situation for resin printing during the winter would be to have the printer in a garage, enclosed, heated, and ready to be vented when printing has concluded. Printing can be done indoors in a separate and sealed room, but you will have to rely on larger 1,500 W heaters due to the continuous ventilation required.

Assumptions

  • Small resin printer with a rated power of 45 W distributed across the base for simplification, cycling on for 1.5 s (exposure time) and off for 17 s (1 mm/s lift and retract over 8 mm + 1 s light-off delay).
  • The printer cover is acrylic, the grow tent enclosure is oxford fabric, the vat and base are aluminum, and the resin has a thermal conductivity of 0.2 W/(m·K).
  • There is approximately 310 grams (≈270 ml) of resin in the vat.
  • No forced convection, wind, or drafts across the printer or enclosure.
  • Target temperature of 30°C on the heater + controller setups.

No Enclosure or Heat Source

20°C (68°F) Ambient

no enclosure or heat source

When it is warm outside the main concern with resin printing is ventilation. During winter we have to make sure the resin stays at an adequate temperature as well (usually 20-25°C for budget resin and 25°C+ for engineering resin).

One balanced option is to have the printer in a garage while not venting till after printing has finished; this keeps fumes outside the residence and provides the opportunity for efficient heating. A printer in the residence can be heated, but heating the air that is instantly vented is not efficient.

 

No Enclosure & Small Heating Pad

20°C (68°F) Ambient

no enclosure and small heating pad 20C

Adding a small heating pad is a safe and cheap method to raise the temperature of the resin during printing. Raising the temperature in a warmer environment can still be useful for engineering resins and reducing the exposure time on budget resin.

10°C (50°F) Ambient

no enclosure and small heating pad 10C

When temperatures begin to drop, even the 6.5 W heating pad will be able to adequately support budget resin.

0°C (32°F) Ambient

no enclosure and small heating pad 0C

The small heating pad becomes insufficient near-freezing temperatures. For a cold garage, an enclosure and a higher wattage heat source will be needed.

Grow Tent Enclosure & Small Heating Pad

20°C (68°F) Ambient

enclosure and small heating pad 20C

A grow tent enclosure provides only a minimal increase in the resin temperature during the warmer times of the year. However, it will aid in proper ventilation.

10°C (50°F) Ambient

enclosure and small heating pad 10C

When temperatures begin to drop, the added insulation of the enclosure becomes apparent. There is a ≈1°C increase in the resin.

0°C (32°F) Ambient

enclosure and small heating pad 0C

At freezing temperatures, the enclosure will bump the resin temperature up by ≈2°C, but the ≈17°C resin is still below the recommended levels. The resin can print at this temperature but the exposure times and risk of failure will be higher.

Grow Tent Enclosure & Large Heating Pad

0°C (32°F) Ambient

enclosure and large heating pad 0C

Swapping the small 6.5 W heat pad for a larger 18 W variant will raise budget resin into its recommended range.

This heating pad can be attached to the interior or exterior of the acrylic cover, with the former being more efficient. You can use various attachment methods such as kapton tape, nylon string, or zip ties so long as the pad is not punctured. 

0°C (32°F) Ambient

heater thermal runaway

Adding more wattage will heat up the enclosure and resin faster but you have to be careful. Here you can see where a 250 W ceramic heater pointed at the printer will heat the resin towards 60°C. Beyond ruining the resin, this can damage electronics, warp plastic components, waste electricity, and start a fire.

Grow Tent Enclosure & Temperature Controlled Heater

 

0°C (32°F) Ambient

enclosure and temperature controller 0C

An efficient manner in which to manage the 250 W heat source is by using an inline controller or by purchasing a specialized unit.

You will be able to place the controller within the enclosure and set your desired temperature. In this example, the heater outlet is parallel to the printer and the controller is on the far side behind the printer. Placing the controller's sensor probe too close to the heater's outlet will result in a lower resin temperature and placing it far away will heat the resin above your set temperature.

-20°C (-4°F) Ambient

enclosure and temperature controller -20C

The lower winter temperatures will lower the variance in the resin temperature. In this and the prior example, the target for the controller was 30°C. The prior example allowed the resin to rise ≈5°C above while this one is ≈1°C above.

The temperature-controlled heater will provide the best results to keep the resin at your desired target, but this method is more expensive to employ and uses more energy than the heating pads. Make sure that the controller you choose is rated for the power draw of the heater.

Lower wattage heaters work fine for temperatures above freezing but they do not have enough heat output for anything below this. Higher wattage heaters (500-1,500 W) will work below freezing but you must be careful so as not to overheat the printer or start a fire.

Lower outdoor temperatures, wind drafts, and cracks in the grow tent will decrease both the efficiency with the heater and the maximum temperature it will be able to reach.

Resin Heating Setup Examples

Two Printers + Grow Tent + Controller + Heater

example enclosure with a mono x and heater

This particular setup utilizes an open-air ventilation setup in a separate and sealed indoor room. The grow tent keeps the heat in and allows printing without the printer covers. A wide grow tent, such as the one pictured, has plenty of room for multiple printers or a wash and cure machine.

The heat source is one of the small Lasko heaters with an Inkbird controller - you can see the sensor probe dangling from the top of the tent. For this setup, the controller is set to kick on when the temperature drops below 28°C. It will then run until it surpasses 32°C, where it will turn off and wait until it drops again. This keeps the entire grow tent near 30°C while reducing the wear on the controller.

This is the internal temperature of the grow tent setup above with an ambient temperature of ≈4°C. This test was conducted without the additional heat output of a resin printer and with minimal to moderate convection (drafts) on the outside of the grow tent.

This test demonstrates that a 200 W heater will max out at ≈26°C under ≈4°C ambient. However, it reaches 20°C+ within 10 minutes of starting up.
We will be conducting additional tests in the near future.

 

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