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Do the properties of 3D printer resin allow it to stick to copper clad surfaces when cured? I am interested in turning my filament based 3D printer into a photo plotter with a laser that can cure a thin layer of resin coated onto a copper surface.

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  • $\begingroup$ why not try an FDM printer? Not sure how SLA ones work, but that should work with no modification.. just binder clip it to the bed and enter the appropriate offset. $\endgroup$
    – kolosy
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ FDM doesn't have the resolution that I need. $\endgroup$
    – user77232
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ What resolution do you need? FDM can be pretty high. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 6:29
  • $\begingroup$ copper, or copper and FR4 mixed substrate? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you stick with standard photoresins used by PCboard houses. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 13:53

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Brushed aluminum is a common bed surface for resin based printers. The aspect of the aluminum that is important to the print is the adhesion, hence the roughness of brushed aluminum. It has to be sufficient to hold the print in place, but not so extreme as to cause destruction on removal.

In the case of copper as a print surface, one would certainly want some mechanical adhesion in the form of surface roughness. You've not specified the forces that would be applied to the copper once cured. If you do not plan to manipulate the copper surface in an excessive manner, it's likely that it would adhere. It's also just as likely to pop free if the plate or surface is flexed. I've seen no reference online to copper coated print beds. This would lead me to believe that it was tested and rejected as suitable for 3D printing, but not necessarily unsuitable for your purposes.

This is one of those situations where testing is warranted and not particularly difficult to accomplish. You can purchase UV curing resin, build a tin to hold the copper surface and pour the expected layer thickness. Leave it in the sun and let nature's UV do the curing.

Consider if you have not yet done so to research safety practice for handling this substance. Wear gloves and eye protection, cover any exposed skin surfaces and have good ventilation.

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  • $\begingroup$ You're saying there is no research on copper build surfaces which implies that it doesn't work. Either it sticks too well, or doesn't stick at all. $\endgroup$
    – user77232
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ Another consideration with copper is that it's much more expensive than aluminum and may have been suitable, but rejected due to cost. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ Copper would not be a suitable print surface because it corrodes easily, and the oxides are mechanically weak. Aluminium forms a thin, but well sealed oxide. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ I'd expect that a copper plate covered in resin is going to remain corrosion free, or if the resin reacts with copper, corrode quickly! $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Commented Jul 19, 2019 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ Downsides of copper are: expensive compared to Aluminium, soft, and it's 3 times as dense. $\endgroup$
    – Trish
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 6:19

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