Tools of the Trade - Part 3: Post-Processing

Welcome back to our Tools of the Trade series. This article is part 3 in the series. If you missed parts 1 and 2, check them out here:
This series is designed to get you equipped to start 3D printing your own model car and truck parts quickly and as inexpensively as possible.
Let's save you money!
In this series, I outline everything you need to get started 3D printing your own model car and truck parts with a resin SLA 3D printer. I share with you the tools and materials that we use personally in The Garage. Where there are free or cheap alternatives, I point those out, and where there are dedicated tools for a certain purpose that are more expensive, I 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!
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Part 3: Post-Processing
Once the print is complete, there's still work to be done.
  • In part 1, we looked at what you need to print safely and keep your space clean and organized. Part 2 was devoted to tools used in resin handling. So, you've added resin to the printer and sliced your print. You've copied the printer file onto the flash drive, and plugged that into the printer. You've pressed the "Print" button and walked away to let the printer do its thing. Now after a couple hours, the print has finished! Your parts are ready, right? Well, not quite.
    You see, once a print has finished, you still must remove the print from the printing plate, clean the excess resin off, dry the print, remove supports and then do a final post-cure to fully cure the resin. These post-processing steps require some additional tools.
    Whether you buy a commercially aailable Wash and Cure station is up to you and your budget. They are nice to have, but this article will also show you how to post-process your prints for cheap -maybe even using stuff you already have! We printed and post-processed thousands of model car parts here in The Garage before getting a Wash and Cure Station by making our own curing chamber that's 10x bigger and 10x cheaper than the Wash and Cure Machines on the market. Members get access to a video tutorial on how to construct your own curing chamber. Learn more here.
Tools for print removal and support cleanup
  • Hobby knife set: A good Xacto-type knife set will be a multipurpose tool and one of your most-used tools in resin printing. Useful for trimming away "elephant's foot" on the bottom of your print, cutting away supports and general use around the shop, this tool has endless uses. However, there's one key use that I rely on every day: The large knife handle with a #18 blade (1/2" chisel blade) works wonders for removing prints from the build plate. Care must be taken to avoid gouging the plate, but this tool works so much better than the plastic scrapers that come with the printer. Note: Get one, like this set, that has all-metal handles. Resin will quickly destroy plastic-handled knives.

    Cheap/Free Alternative: None. C'mon, you're a modeler, you probably already have this. If not, get it - you'll use it all the time.

    Order now

  • Sprue cutters: Another modeling tool you might already own, I love these sprue cutters for removing supports from prints cleanly and with precision. These cutters from Xuron are flush-cut so they allow you to cut the supports off right at the model. They are sharp, durable and inexpensive.


    Cheap/Free Alternative: Some printers, such as the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro come with a nice set of cutters. Otherwise, you might get away with a small pair of scissors or hobby knife.


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  • Plastic razor scraper set: These plastic razor blades are handy for removing stubborn bits of cured resin on the build plate or screen without scratching them and causing damage to your printer. One of the best tools to have around for crummy situations.

    Cheap/Free Alternative: You can achieve the same results by being EXTREMELY CAREFUL with a #18 Xacto blade, but this tool makes it a lot safer.

    Order now

Print Cleaning
  • Denatured alcohol: This is the only cleaner I use for my prints. Hands down, it is the fastest, most thorough, cheapest cleaner around. People who use isopropyl alcohol, Mean Green, or specific resin cleaners talk about having to scrub their prints clean. With denatured alcohol, two quick 30-second swirls in alcohol are enough to clean all the resin from the print - no scrubbing needed and for a lot less money. Denatured alcohol also dries quickly, allowing you to take your part from cleaning to post-curing faster. One possible downside is the smell - denatured alcohol has a stronger odor than the other cleaners.
    Note: good, intact nitrile gloves are a must when handling denatured alcohol. Most denatured alcohol contains some methanol which is toxic and absorbs through the skin. Use appropriate personal protection equipment whenever working with denatured alcohol. It's also flammable, so do not expose it to any open flame, sparks, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or any other sources of heat, flame, or sparks and use in a well-ventilated area.

    Cheap/Free Alternative: Water washable resin cuts down on the cost of cleaning your prints, but still needs to be disposed of properly. Water with resin in it should NOT be disposed of down the drain.

    Order now

The great Wash and Cure Machine debate
  • just a couple of years ago, Wash and Cure Stations were still quite new on the market and not in wide use. In fact, we only just added a Wash and Cure Station to our shop in July of 2022. Before that, we cleaned and cured thousands of model car parts using nothing more than the "Basically Free Cleaning Setup" and the "Inexpensive Curing Setup #3" below.
    In fact, in our 2021 and 2022 Buyer's Guides, we recommended skipping the Wash and Cure Station and saving the money.
    Then, we tried a Wash and Cure Station.
    So, what's the verdict, you ask? Well, we still say that a Wash and Cure Station is not essential. That said, we don't ever want to live without one again.
    Wash and Cure Stations don't just add convenience to the printing process. Perhaps more importantly, you will find yourself with a cleaner workstation, cleaner prints and more consistent, repeatable cures. This means less concern about warping or overcuring your parts and making them brittle.
    Again, a Wash and Cure Station is not crucial, but if you have the budget, you won't regret buying one.
    The Wash and Cure Stations we like offer separate washing and curing apparatus. You save time and hassle by not having to switch out the wash bucket and the curing table, you can also run both at the same time, and you never have to worry about forgetting to swtich the machine back to cleaning mode and accidentally curing your uncleaned parts.
    Our favorite is the Elegoo Mercury X Bundle (or the Mercury XS which fits the newer 10 inch build plates on printers like the Saturn 2). Pick one up here
If you'd rather save money, read on below for some great, inexpensive options.
Inexpensive Cleaning Setup
  • One very popular container for cleaning resin prints are these plastic pickle jars. Made from polypropylene (a kind of plastic which is resin-resistant), these jars have an inner basket to allow you to clean your prints and then remove your parts easily by lifting the basket out of the alcohol.
    - Inexpensive
    - Durable
    - Parts of certain sizes may get stuck in the basket
Basically Free Cleaning Setup
  • Are you a coffee drinker? If so, you may already have some of my favorite cleaning containers laying around. That's right, large-sized coffee cans are now mostly all made of polyethylene, which means they are resin- and alcohol-resistant. Large coffee cans provide plenty of space for cleaning even moderately large prints. Plus the built-in handles are easy to grip while wearing gloves. Instead of throwing out your coffee can, next time repurpose it into a  great cleaning container.
    - Basically free
    - Large capacity
    - Handles make for easy swirling of prints in cleaner
    - You may get the jitters trying to drink all the coffee in order to get yourself a free cleaning container.
    Pick one up at your local grocery store, or order here
Inexpensive Curing Setup #1
UV Lamp and Turntable
  • One of the least expensive curing setups available, a simple UV lamp and solar-powered turntable does the trick just fine. I used a setup like this for quite some time, until my production volume outgrew this setup. The turntable allows the object to cure on all sides. For more efficient curing, place your print in a clear cup of water on the turntable to boost efficiency and quality of curing.
    - Inexpensive
    - Even curing
    - Turntable motors can be weak, especially when used with a container of water
    - Limited capacity
Inexpensive Curing Setup #2
Nail Salon UV Lamp
  • Another popular option for a budget curing station is a UV nail polish dryer. These units also use long-lasting UV LED lights. Make sure to choose one with 405 nm UV wavelength for proper curing.
    - Inexpensive
    - Long-lasting LEDs
    - Limited space inside for prints, water curing may not be feasible due to size constraints
    - Bottom of print will not receive any light, so you will have to rotate the part for full curing.
Inexpensive Curing Setup #3
UV LED Strip and Reflective Chamber
  • This is the setup we use for curing all of our prints for Scale Speed Garage and Bolide Plastic Motorworks! Waterproof UV LED strips allow you to create your own curing chamber inside any enclosure. This option offers unlimited flexibility - you can build your curing chamber to suit your needs, the size of your workspace, your budget, and your style. Want to cure your parts inside a beer fridge? You can do that! Star Wars more your style? Why not build a curing chamber inside your life-size R2D2 model!
    A custom-built UV curing enclosure is one of the best additions you can make to your workspace!
    - Totally customizable, from paint can to cabinet-sized
    - Waterproof LED strips offer long life and excellent durability
    - Requires assembly and (easy) wiring.
Scale Speed Garage members receive access to a full video tutorial on how to create their own UV curing chamber, including enclosure suggestions and LED strip wiring instructions. Click here to learn more about membership.
Free Curing Setup
  • Want a totally free way to post-cure your prints? Put them in a clear container of water and place them outside in the sun for a few minutes. That's right, regular old sunlight will cure your prints. Make sure to rotate your prints as needed to cure all sides.
    - Free
    - A nice excuse to get outside and enjoy some sunshine
    - Inconsistent light strength can cause over- or under-curing
    - Weather-dependent (Sorry Seattle!)
    To order, simply step outside.
Are you ready to supercharge your modeling hobby? Join Scale Speed Garage for as little as $1 today!
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.)