If You Can Buy It, Don't Make It. (DIY UV Curing Chamber Pt. 1)

There was an adage I remember hearing in one of my manufacturing classes that went something like, “If you can buy it, don’t make it yourself.” And in a way, that’s very sage advice -- repeating work that has already been done by somebody else is a waste of your time and energy. Further, if somebody has taken the time to develop the infrastructure and processes to produce an object, they’re far, far ahead of you in terms of efficiency. Theirs will be cheaper and of higher quality than what you’ll be able to muster in your first attempt.

So why the hell do I keep finding myself wanting to MAKE something rather than just buy the existing off-the-shelf product?

Case in point: I need a motorized turntable on which to post-cure my resin 3D prints. The idea here is that the 3D printer alone doesn’t cure the UV-reactive resin quite enough to bring out the resin’s best mechanical properties. So, the solution is to bathe the partially-cured parts in more UV light afterward to get the most out of your material. I have a UV floodlight which is great, but it can only shine on one side of the printed parts at a time. This means I have to babysit the parts, rotate them, etc. I find that I often forget that the lamp is running and leave it on for too long (which can over-cure the parts). Hence, a motorized turntable to rotate the parts, and probably a timer for the light. Now, there are plenty of motorized turntables available on the market. Makes sense to just buy one, right?

According to my brain: NO! Maybe it’s the bin full of assorted small motors on my shelf that keeps calling to me, or my neurotic tendency to have everything made utterly bespoke to a particular need. Or maybe it’s the part of me that thinks, “I can do it without having to buy anything,” which we all know is a dirty, dirty lie. Whatever the reason, rather than buying the $20 jewelry turntable from Amazon or even the $700 Formlabs Cure, I’ve decided to make my own damn resin print curing station.

So here goes: my first project on this blog. It’ll probably take an inordinate amount of time, it’ll probably cost more than I want, and it’ll probably be tedious. But hey,  maybe it gives you a look into how I work and how I think. Not that I’m so arrogant to think that I’m special in any way, but… dissemination of information and creativity and all of that.

In the next post, I’m going to outline the features that I want for this curing station and probably do a few sketches to get a sense for layout.

One last bit of bookkeeping: It’s my goal to not let this blog die after a couple months, and as a means of achieving that, the majority of my posts probably won’t be beautifully crafted and contain a lot of pretty pictures. However, I’ll do my best to take pictures where it’s relevant. I absolutely love build logs, so I’d like to give back to the maker community at least a little by trying to keep good records of my projects.