3D printing is taking the world by storm! Everyone seems to be in mad, tail-spin dive to find the bottom of the market. The resin printer sector is no exception to this. For instance, just in the last year alone, the industry has seen several competitors releasing sub-$400 machines. The race to offer the largest possible printing area, with the most options, at the best price-to features value is peaking. Recently, I had the privilege to purchase one of the newest offerings; the Longer Orange 30. This article intends to introduce you to the Orange 30 from a first-hand perspective; from unboxing to everyday printing.
Beginning the Longer journey
One of the first things I wanted to understand better while waiting for the Orange 30 to arrive, was: how does it stack up against the competition? For starters, let’s take a look at the chart for some specific key feature comparisons:
|LONGER ORANGE 30||ANYCUBIC PHOTON||ELEGOO MARS|
|Print Volume||120mm x 68mm x 170mm||115mm x 65mm x 155mm||120mm x 68mm x 155mm|
|Print Material||405nm resin||405nm resin||405nm resin|
|Print Speed||30 mm/h||20 mm/h||22.5 mm/h|
|Display Screen||2.8″ touchscreen||3.5″ touchscreen||3.5″ touchscreen|
|Slicer Software||Longerware & ChituBox||Photon Slicer & ChituBox||ChituBox|
|Price (as of publishing)||$305 (Aliexpress)||$239 (Anycubic)||$334 (Newegg)|
A Kid at Christmas-time, no Longer waiting
Once the package from Longer arrived on my front porch, I couldn’t wait to get started. I carefully opened the box and found that the Orange 30 was very well secured amidst insulated foam. My first experience with unboxing a resin printer was receiving a Sparkmaker Wow!, second-hand. It was packaged well enough but left me wondering if anything had been damaged during transport. The Orange 30 gave me the opposite feeling. At first, I thought it might take me nearly an hour just getting everything out of the packing material. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to realise that while each piece was thoughtfully protected, they were easy to remove.
I laid out everything, piece by piece, to ensure nothing was missing. Then, I read through the provided instruction manual to get a sense of how to correctly assemble everything. At this point, you are no doubt, wondering, “why is he so meticulous?” If you have ever bought a DIY 3D Printer kit from China, you will understand. This meant that the last thing I wanted to experience halfway through setting this thing up was missing parts. Longer did a great job ensuring my fears were unwarranted. The truth is that I had this printer ready to run its first print in less than 30 minutes – and that included cataloguing pictures and my thoughts for this article!
Assembling the Orange 30
Now that I had all the bits sprawled out before me, I was ready to get it all together. There wasn’t that much to do. The protective shroud that covers the top half of the printer came as five separate panels (four sides, one top). Each one needed to have a protective film removed. Next, I utilised four 3D-printed corner guides to hold the four hands together. This allowed me to slide the top in, being held in place via tension from the four sides. The following step in the process was to stretch the three large plastic bands around the sides.
Then, I removed the corner guides and placed the shroud on the printer base for a test fit. After removing the shroud, I put the pre-assembled build plate with its mounting bracket onto the holder attached to the Z-axis adapter. A few twists of the wheel nut and it was securely in place. My last step in assembly was to secure the aluminium vat to the base. This was easy enough, as there is no specified front or back to the vat. I lined up the holes on each side with the ones in the base, then twisted the thumbscrews until they were secure.
Prepping to print
I soon found myself in front of my PC, docking the supplied USB thumb-drive and analysing its contents. It contained a folder with instructional videos, one with a digital version of the owner’s manual, one with the installation file for Longerware (their proprietary slicer), and a folder with pre-sliced sample models. I watched each of the videos, is a more visual learner. Then, I went back to Orange 30 and followed the levelling procedure for the build plate.
I re-secured the vat and poured in the supplied resin until about a third of the vat was filled. Next, I switched the power on and reinserted the thumb-drive. Once the system booted up, I selected the Stormtrooper helmet from the file list and began the print. Meanwhile, I waited.
First printing results from the Longer
A few hours later, I returned excitedly anticipating a beautiful first print. To my surprise, what appeared before me was what looked like a half-finished print. All the supports appeared to be complete, but there was no helmet to be seen. Having experience with another SLA printer, my first thought was that the print had failed due to one of the layers sticking to the FEP film. I scraped the failed print off the build plate, poured the left-over resin back in its bottle (using one of the filter cones provided), and inspected the film. To my amazement, there was no cured resin stuck to it.
This meant it was time to scour the internet for possible reasons! I first went to the Longer Facebook support group. Here, I learned that several other people experienced the same issue, even with the same layer. It turns out that a corrupt file had made its way through QA. That led me to move on to slicing my model. I had already been using ChituBox with my previous SLA printer, so I started there. Because this article focuses on the printer, I’m not going into detail about slicer software. I used some pre-determined settings on a Dwarven Santa model. Then, I exported the new STL file over to Longerware and sliced it into a file the printer could decipher.
Further along the journey
I was delighted with the results from my second attempt; slicing a model of my choosing. Several weeks after that initial process, ChituBox released a massive update. That update fully supported Longer SLA printers through a plug-in that was relatively easy to install. Also, the update also included pre-loaded settings for the Orange 30. Now, I am saving time no longer have to use two different bits of software. This means it has allowed me to complete several commissioned works much more efficiently.
Maintenance is relatively straight forward. After each print, I remove the build plate. Using one of the supplied playing cards, I scrape off excess resin back into the vat. Next, I remove the print from the plate and place it in a container filled with 91% IPA (highest available potency in my local area). Once I am comfortable that a majority of the excess resin is of the print, I move it to a second container – also filled with 91% IPA. Then, I submerge the build plate in the first container. This helps remove excess resin from areas that are hard to wipe clean with disposable shop towels. Thus far, I have only emptied the vat if I have a failed, or partially failed print.
Where the Orange 30 shines
I want to close by sharing some of my top highlights and frustrations I experienced while getting familiar with the Orange 30. Above all, the thing I like most about it is the detail that shines through on the prints themselves. The upgraded LCD screen with its 2K resolution adds value. Another feature that pleased me was the decision to use a USB drive. SD cards that come in a variety of sizes are easily lost or damaged! Finally, the 72W power supply does a great job reducing needed exposure times. Even though not all 72 watts are utilised, the Orange 30 uses an average of 4 to 8 seconds required exposure time (compared to nearly double that in other competitors). This means that on more substantial objects, an hour or more can be saved in total printing time.
Where the Orange 30 falls short
My most significant frustration during my experience so far has been the initial Quality Assurance. My true first attempt at a print didn’t produce anything. On my machine, it was due to plugging in the UBS drive after powering on the printer. Others have reported this not to be an issue. I now plug the drive-in before powering on the printer every time, with no blank prints. Ultimately, the real issue resulted from the LCD screen not turning on each layer. While others who experienced the same problem found that the ribbon cable was not correctly connected to the LCD screen, that was not a problem on my Orange 30. I mentioned the corrupted file for the Stormtrooper already. Lastly, the lack of a unified slicing language like you see in FDM printers (gCode) is enough to drive anyone bonkers.
In other words, I like the ability to modify the way a printer reacts. For instance, in FDM, temperature towers are essential to dial in better results. This is because not every filament has the same chemical make-up. Resins are no different! I want the ability to change things like exposure times or anti-aliasing within the same print to save time and money. This is not frustration with Longer specifically. Consequently, they merely are not aiding the situation by producing their language.
Overall, despite having a smaller touch screen that isn’t consistently responsive, I believe that Longer has produced a winner with the Orange 30. In comparison, It has a larger build surface, stronger power supply, and better feature-to-price ratio than it’s competitors. Now that I look back, I’m looking forward to it being my go-to printer when I need great detail in small prints. Ultimately, you will have to decide on your own if you agree, based on your personal experience and results. Happy printing!
Here’s a gallery of other prints from my Orange 30. The turbo manifold is pre and post-processed.