Tools of the Trade - Part 1: Safety, Cleanliness, Organization

One of the first questions people have when looking into adding 3D Printing to their model car building toolbox is what tools and supplies they will need. Unfortunately, you will find that it is more involved than just unpacking your printer and hitting "Print." From cleaning and curing your prints to protecting your health and safety, you will need some additional tools and materials to ensure you will be able to successfully 3D print your own model car and truck parts.
This sounds expensive...
I won't lie to you and say that resin 3D printing is cheap, after all once you've purchased a printer and some resin to get started, you're already into it for a few hundred dollars at least. But, there is good news! You can put together everything you need to successfully 3D print your own model car wheels, engines, bodies and other parts for less money than you might think, and I'll show you how!
Perhaps it is my nature, but I always consider options on how to save money. Some of this comes from upbringing, while some of it comes out of a desire to preserve natural resources and protect our planet. At the end of the day, I am thrifty, not cheap. The difference is that I believe in paying good money for tools that are essential or that make workflow significantly easier, but will also find free/inexpensive solutions or solutions that allow me to repurpose or recycle things whenever possible. Members of Scale Speed Garage get notified when printers, resin and other useful tools are on sale! Click here to learn about membership.
Let's save you money!
In this article, I will outline everything you need to get started 3D printing your own model car and truck parts with a resin SLA 3D printer. I will share with you the tools and materials that we use personally The Garage. Where there are free or cheap alternatives, I will point those out, and where there are dedicated tools for a certain purpose that are more expensive, I will share those too so that you can see all of your options. In some of these cases, the expensive object may make life a lot easier, but in general I think you will see that you can start 3D printing for your model car builds for less money than you might think!
Please note: links to products in this article may be affiliate links. This means that when you purchase an item from an affiliate link, you pay the same price you normally would but I earn a small commission. My goal is to bring you accurate and helpful content, therefore I only recommend products that I myself have used and stand by. If I mention a product that I do not have experience with, I will clearly state that.
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Part 1: Safety, Cleanliness, Organization
Ok, Here's What You'll Need:
First, the obvious ones:
  • You'll need a computer, an SLA Resin 3D Printer,  as well as some resin. All of these deserve their own articles, so we won't cover them in detail here. If you are unsure of what printer you should buy, click here to download our ebook: The Model Car Builder's 3D Printing Buyers Guide.
Safety/Personal Protection:
  • Gloves: I put these first, because they are that important. Resin is a skin irritant, so gloves are crucial. Some people will be more sensitive than others, but resin sensitivity tends to build up over time. Additionally, the solvent I recommend for cleaning your prints can be absorbed through the skin. Get a big box of quality nitrile gloves, you will use them!
    Cheap/Free Alternative: None
    I love the 7 mil Hardy gloves from Harbor Freight! They are the tuxedos of gloves - I get several uses out of a pair. You can order them here.
    Want to pick up some gloves from Amazon instead? Check these heavy duty gloves:


    Order now:

  • Eye Protection: Since you will be dealing not only with liquid resin, but also alcohol or other cleaners, eye protection is a must. If you wear glasses like me, you might decide that's enough protection, or you might want to wear goggles or other eye protection over your glasses. If you do not wear glasses, some form of eye protection is crucial to protect against splashing and contamination. I do not have a recommended product here, but at the minimum you'll want something that protects against chemical spashes.
  • Respirator: Some people swear by using a respirator when handling uncured resin. I do not use a respirator, but if you have concerns, then invest in a respirator.
  • Dust Masks: Resin dust is harmful to your health and care should be taken to avoid inhaling it when you are removing supports and sanding your finished prints.

    Cheap/Free Alternative: None

    Order now

  • Heavy Duty Paper Towels: Resin is thick, goopy stuff and regular paper towels just won't cut it. I use these Scott Shop Towels for cleaning up spills, absorbing excess resin out of the vat when cleaning the vat, cleaning the vat with alcohol, and when cleaning prints. Buy the big box, you'll use them!

    Cheap/Free Alternative: None (regular paper towels simply are not up to the task)

    Order now

  • Silicone Mats: Place one of these under your printer to catch any drips and protect your work surface. In the event the unspeakable happens, and your FEP film breaks, this will prevent resin from flooding out onto your work surface and beyond! You can also use a silicone mat as a surface for removing your prints from the plate and/or cleaning your parts. The silicone material resists the resin and is easy to clean with alcohol or your preferred cleaning solution.

    Cheap/Free Alternative: Shop towels. You can just use the Scott Shop Towels as an absorbent surface under your printer and for transporting and processing completed prints. Not as robust as silicone mats or aluminum baking sheets, but will certainly work.

    Order now

  • Baking Sheets: An alternative to the silicone mats above, these quarter-sheet pans make the perfect tray for under your printer as well as for removing and cleaning prints. The tall rim means these can hold a lot of resin in the unfortunate event of a major spill or FEP film break. They are easy to clean and durable.

    Bonus: these sheets make perfect trays for transporting prints between areas if you print in one area and clean/post-cure your prints in another area.

    Note that this size will only fit under standard size resin 3D printers. If you are purchasing a larger printer, such as the Photon Mono X, or Elegoo Saturn, go with one of the silicone mats above or a larger size baking sheet.

    Cheap/Free Alternative: Shop towels (see note above)

    Order now

  • Plastic Organizers: Helpful for keeping small parts organized. We have a ton of these for our 3D printed parts as well as our spare model parts.
    Cheap/Free Alternative: Takeout containers, empty butter tubs with lids, etc.
  • Plastic Bins: These larger bins are great for storing larger parts such as model car bodies and also for storing your 3D printing tools (hex wrenches, scrapers, funnels, etc.).

    Cheap/Free Alternative: See note above

    Order now

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Check out the rest of the Tools of the Trade article series here:

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Author: Chris Bell
Chris Bell is a passionate model car builder, resin 3D printing expert and the owner of Scale Speed Garage.

(He's the one on the left in this picture.)

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