Just like FDM printing, resin printers stormed the markets by offering attractive print quality without draining pockets. I fell victim to SLA technology too, charmed by new possibilities, exotic resins and superb details. Was it a good choice? Is Creality LD-002H a machine worth having or the whole experience just strengthen one of my less developed qualities: perseverance?
Resin is a challenge
In a week of Perseverance Mars landing, I could not resist but take on an incredibly challenging task. Printing out my own rover. It’s not rocket science, and the challenges I had to overcome are way simpler than the teams at NASA and JPL, but as you learn in this article, it’s all about Perseverance.
Creality LD-002H is a resin printer that sets you back just under $200. It’s very budget-friendly and with an increased vat (build area) to 130x82x160mm – the size goes beyond my past experiences with SLA printers and minuscule print areas. The tech matured enough to drive the prices down, but SLA still comes with hidden costs and challenges.
To start with resin printing you have to unlearn pretty much everything you know about FDM printing. These adventures require a completely different mindset and a fresh approach. Even if Creality LD-002H simplified the process of printing to 3 touchscreen actions, don’t be fooled. That’s just smoke and mirrors. In (c)reality, you will have to put in a lot of work to make your prints look out of this world.
It’s a perfect table-top printer – a tad bigger than the vat itself, a quiet and easy to use 3D printer. Equipped with the most popular 405nm UV lamp covered by 2K LCD (1620*2560) display to cure the resin. Despite the initial worries, the printer is very quiet. A quiet whine of the stepper motor is accompanied by the not too loud fan that vents the printer.
Looks like there is a hidden germ inside the printer too. I opened the side panel of Creality LD-002H and I noticed an ESP-01 header for ESP8266 based WiFi. I plugged one in, and the chip powers up correctly. The motherboard isn’t set however to work directly with this. I will experiment some more and see if a functional WiFi can be added to the printer.
ANYCUBIC resin I got from Amazon isn’t even that smelly. It has a specific scent, and I do open the window to keep the room well ventilated, but the odour isn’t horrible and stays in one room. For the most part, Creality LD-002H is a “set and forget” 3D printer. Initial bed levelling holds true for ages, and most of the prints are as simple as refill the vat, home the Z-axis and select the print you want to make.
Creality LD-002H offers a great compromise between price, build volume, and print resolution. 2K screen might not be ideal for tabletop figures, if you are able to forgive face details on a 6 cm model, you will be happy with everything else the printer has to offer.
I run my Creality LD-002H at 0.025 mm resolution, which is twice the default setting in Chitubox and so far I’m pleased with the results. I’m still learning and over time I’d expect the quality of the prints to go up a little bit. The printer is really good for medium size figures, models and custom parts.
All the extra time spent in pre-processing stage will pay off later. Plan the orientation and support ahead and you will have less issues removing prints from the bed and post processing the surface after detaching supports.
Expect mess, and hard work
The road to successful SLA printing is paved with tears and sweat. Chitubox is an SLA slicer that cuts the STL files into slices displayed on the LCD screen. For the most part, the process is fairly simple and automatic, until you want to print something more complex.
Your first challenge is to learn how to orient STL parts on the virtual bed. It takes some practice to learn what angles are great, and what will create more islands than in Oceania. In case you don’t know, islands are parts of the print suspended in the air. These will require support, which brings me to challenge number two.
Automatic supports are good, sometimes. Most of the time, they are messy. A nice SLA print is an art of balancing the minimal number of supports and getting a print that won’t take years to separate from the spider net of supports. I spent most of my time optimising angles, removing islands and editing prints so they work better for SLA printing. To get excellent prints on Creality LD-002H you will need to learn how to add, edit and remove the supports, otherwise, you will end up with very messy results.
One of the advantages of the SLA technology is that number of objects don’t increase the print time. Z-axis does. Printing a single 3 cm tall object will take as much as printing 10 copies neatly placed on the same bed. Learn to use that space wisely, and Creality LD-002H will respect your time too.
There is nothing wrong with Creality LD-002H. Resin is just a messy business. As soon as your print is over, expect to do the following:
- remove the print from the printer (sooner the better)
- recover resin leftovers (I reuse it at 50:50 ratio)
- clean the vat with IPA 99%
- scrape the bottom with a plastic spatula to get rid of the resin without scratching the film
- clean the resin print with IPA 99%
- detach the print from the bed
- scrape the print platform from supports
- remove supports
- cure the print
- clear up support contact surfaces
The whole process is messy. Use gloves. Your hands will be ok with short exposure to the resin (wash it as soon as you can) but if you have allergies, don’t risk it. You will use a lot of paper towels, spill a lot of IPA, stain the sink with a difficult to clean resin and supports will shoot off all over the room once cut with cutters. In other news: expect more mess.
Prints are also timed. Leaving a finished print uncured can lead to deformations. The resin will cure due to prolonged exposure, making it hard to remove from unwanted surfaces, and cured supports are more likely to damage the print when cut off. Try timing the process well, so you are available for about an hour after Creality LD-002H is done printing.
After getting 2 complaints about the state of the bathroom sink, I decided to order Creality UV-01 curing and washing station and it was a smart choice. I cut my post-processing time by half if not more.
Creality LD-002H will set you back about $200. Creality UV-01 curing is seriously recommended for anything other than an occasional print and it costs in excess of $150. A bottle of resin lasts relatively long, but you will pay usually more than $40. The film separating the vat from the LCD screen needs to be changed every 100 -150h and it’s another $30 for a couple of sheets. Thankfully IPA 99% is relatively inexpensive – $30 for about a 5-litre container.
Get yourself a good bottle of spirit too to calm your nerves. It helps when a 20h long print goes sour because you left the printer near the window. Despite the red shield, UV will leak in and mess up your print. Keep the printer in a shaded area.
For those who persevere
But if all this haven’t put you off, expect to be amazed by what can you achieve once you master the Creality LD-002H and the process of SLA printing. Resin prints are detailed, though when cured (although brittle), and excellent for models. I have an absolute blast putting my Perseverance rover together.
Despite the setbacks, failed prints and problems caused by bad support layout, fogged-up film and me basically getting started with resin printing, I couldn’t be happier with the results. I think they speak for themselves and if you ever wanted to take your miniature game to the next level Creality LD-002H is a very smart choice.
As long as you acknowledge that it’s not the last purchase to keep your resin printing hobby going.
Buy Creality LD-002H
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I’m hooked. At the moment I’m going through the phase of printing spaceships and modes. I will paint all of them and hang them somewhere to stare at. Creality LD-002H is a great tool for that. My prototyping is still done with Ender 3 (review) and upgraded (BL Touch, All metal hotend, filament runout sensor) Ender 3 v2, but for anything else – Creality LD-002H is a printer I want to explore more. Just like Perseverance will explore and learn about Mars. If you want to see how the rover was made in detail, and more information about my own Perseverance landing, it’s available in the next post. Got comments? Leave me a note in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.