I must admit that when we reached out to ApplyLabs my expectations were on the lower side. In jewellery, as with many trades, ‘you get what you pay for’ is definitely… typically true. So at the $99USD introductory price point (1/3 the cost of some of our favourite resins) I was sceptical that this resin would be able to preform adequately in any aspect.
I am happy to report that I was very wrong.
This resin punches way above its weight class in every respect with very little special treatment to worry about. The only notable special treatment it requires for peak performance is preheating. Which is actually a bit of a hassle for me because they only sell it in 1 litre bottles that are too tall for my Prusa CW1! Which recently received a firmware update that gives it a resin preheating function.
But no worries, this is a very small issue that is easily overcome. We managed to preheat using hot water and a tall glass container, using a laser temperature gun to get an idea of the heating.
The ApplyLabs website printing guide is a little bit sparse in terms of specific printer settings but is otherwise loaded with useful information. It appears that ApplyLabs is partial to Phrozen printers, which they used for all of their printer profile settings, if you have any of the ones listed then you’ll have no problem jumping right in. I compared our printer (Prusa SL1) to the nearest similar Phrozen printer (in terms of screen type, size, UV power source, etc) that was available on the list to get a printer profile to start with, which was the Phrozen Shuffle.
As it happens this was a pretty good guess at 0.05mm, 12 second layers and a 40 second initial 5 layers we got awesome prints immediately.
The Prusa SL1 (currently) uses an RGB LCD screen to mask which are, these days, generally accepted to be suboptimal compared to monochrome screens. Machines with monochrome screens have x5 life time, 4K resolution and better exposure clarity by comparison, this all adds up to requiring shorter exposure times per layer. If your printer has a monochrome screen, then expect as low as 2.5 seconds a layer, VERY fast! (According to the ApplyLabs Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K printer profile).
Castable Cyan resin prints beautifully with very crisp details and little or no bleeding around support points. It should be noted that it is definitely possible to Over Expose this resin. This is most easily seen on the initial base layers, where for us at 40 seconds, getting the resin to peel off of the print bed is more akin to chipping away at an icy sidewalk. Sometimes it came off in chunks rather than let go of the print bed, something to take special note of if you’re printing models that self support and could easily be printed right on the bed, you may need to take special care not to break the model after printing.
That all said, Castable resin isn’t meant to hold up to abuse, how well it breaks down is actually the part we’re most interested in.
The biggest nuisance I noticed, apart from the pre-heating, is that Castable Cyan does not stick easily to standard sprue wax. It does, but it will easily break off if it isn’t handled very carefully during tree assembly. I will be getting some Sticky Wax in the near future which should solve the problem.
We treated this resin the same way we would carving wax and have got really great results. We use plain R&R Plasticast (no boric acid) and a standard 12 hour burnout schedule, so there’s nothing new to learn if you’re transitioning from wax to resin, and/or if you send your prints/waxes out to a casting house to cast they won’t have to make any modifications to their process (most larger companies simply won’t cast a piece in resin if it does require a special burnout process).
Our casting set up is definitely on the higher end of consumer grade equipment, but is by no means the the best available. Within the known equipment limitations we tested the resins cast-ability across multiple kinds of models ranging from thin filigree to chunky ring bands, some almost literal bricks, and lots in-between. ApplyLabs comes through on all of them with great detail seemingly with ease.