What is resin 3D printing? If you are new to this 3D printing technology, this guide has everything you need to know.
In this guide, we’ll talk about the use of resin for 3D printing, their advantages and intricacies of working with them. This is a detailed guide for printing that will help you understand everything you need to know about creating models on resin 3D printers.
What is Resin 3D Printing?
Compared to other types of 3D printing, resin printing has a number of advantages. The most significant advantages are:
- The ability to produce geometrically complex objects with a lot of small details
- Produce perfectly smooth surfaces of printed objects
- Can use a wide range of materials with different properties for 3D printing
- Excellent physical and mechanical properties of prints, which ensures the simplicity of their subsequent processing – gluing, grinding, coloring, etc.
However, for a long time, the equipment for resin 3D printing was very expensive and only available to professionals.
However, due to the rapid progress of optoelectronics, the cost of equipment has dropped dramatically in the past few years. The combination of low price and high quality printing has made resin 3D printers very popular. As a result, 3D printer manufacturers, primarily Chinese one, have flooded the market with a variety of resin 3D printer models for both home and industrial use.
Resin printers are different from the already familiar FDM printers. And as the printers become more popular, it makes sense to understand things related to file preparation, post-print processing of prints, and security.
Preparing Files for Resin 3D Printing
Populating the Model
When working with resin printers, keep in mind that they are not able to automatically “fill” the internal space of models as an FDM printer does.
For example, a sphere will be printed as a solid ball. This will make the model extremely bulky. Moreover, it will result in a waste of resin and difficulty in curing. Therefore, files will hollow models require special processing. The processing can be done using the Meshmixer program .
Resin 3D printing provides the best quality when the plane of creation of layers does not coincide with the planes of the object. This is to say that the layer plan must be placed at a certain angle.
This is different from how FDM printers work.
The Choice of Resin
Until recently, the market for 3D printing resins was dominated by Chinese manufacturers. Resins produced by American and European manufacturers were quite pricy, and were not readily available to domestic consumers.
However, of late, quality resins of domestic production have appeared on the American and European markets. These resins are comparable to Chinese ones in terms of such price, printing convenience and print quality. Moreover, they stand out for their almost complete absence of odor.
Preparing the Printer
Removing a print often spills resin droplets onto the printer and surrounding surfaces. To minimize potential damage, install the printer in a container with a low edge and large enough capacity before pouring the resin into the cuvette.
You can use a cheap dinner tray or baking sheet, just in case something goes wrong. When you use these improvised protectors, even if the resin splashes out of the cuvette and flows out of the printer, it will not get beyond the stand.
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After finishing printing, the resulting model must be cleaned off the uncured resin that covers it. To do this, you need a solvent.
The best solvent for photopolymer resins is isopropyl alcohol. It has low toxicity, relatively low volatility and is readily available. Moreover, unlike ethyl alcohol, it is not subject to government regulation.
Use a plastic container (such as a Tupperware container) and a sieve to clean the print. The printed model should be placed in a sieve, and the sieve in a container so that the solvent poured into it completely covers the model.
The delivery package of any resin 3D printer contains a plastic spatula for removing the print from the platform. However, from experience, the cutting edges of plastic spatulas are rarely sharp enough to remove the print without damage. Therefore, it is better to use a metal spatula, which can be purchased at any building supply store.
Cleaning the Print
After the printing process is over and the platform with the finished print is raised up, wait a few minutes for excess resin to drain from the print and platform. After that, lift up the printer shield and detach the platform.
Hold the print platform with one hand and a spatula on the other hand. Use the spatula to separate the print from the platform and drop it into a sieve located in a container filled with solvent. After that, put the platform back into the printer so as not to stain anything with the remaining resin on it.
Shake the sieve gently for two to three minutes without removing it from the solvent. After making sure that the remaining resin is completely dissolved, remove the print from the sieve. The cleaned print is now ready for the final operation – UV curing.
Curing the Print
To cure resin 3D models, you need to use an ultraviolet cameras . Place the print in the camera and expose it to irradiation for 3-5 minutes.
You can also use sunlight to cure prints. However, this is possible only where the UV index is high enough, i.e., in the equatorial and subequatorial zones. Moreover, when curing under sunlight, the print material that fails to harden heats up strongly and can get deformed.
Cooler areas have a low UV index value. If you live in such an areas, you will have no alternative but to cure your models using a UV camera.
Isopropyl alcohol forms explosive mixtures with air and is highly flammable. Resins are usually non-flammable but when heated, they emit gaseous substances that have a toxic effect.
Therefore, all work related to resin 3D printing must be carried out away from sources of heat, sparks and open flames. Also, make sure your workshop is well-ventilated area.
Photopolymer resins are toxic. In addition, they are moderately viscous, spray easily and adhere instantly to any surface they come across. Therefore, when working with resin, wear gloves and closed clothing. If the composition comes into contact with the skin, wash it off with plenty of water. If you experience redness or severe burns, see your doctor.
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The resin on the gloves hardens slowly and continues to stain everything you touch. Be careful not to touch any clothing or foreign objects after removing the model from the printer. When you don’t need gloves, remove and turn them inside out.
Each pair of gloves should only be used once. Don’t skimp on this. It’s better to change disposable gloves than to spend time and effort cleaning clothes, table, etc.
In the photopolymer printing process, you are dealing with resins and isopropyl alcohol. Each of these substances is painful to the eyes and can affect your vision. Therefore, always wear safety goggles.
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If resin or alcohol gets in your eyes, rinse gently with water for several minutes. In case of prolonged redness and/or persisting discomfort, seek medical attention.
Isopropyl alcohol is volatile and has a pungent characteristic odor. Resins have a variety of odors, from almost imperceptible to extremely strong. However, they all contain volatile components that are harmful to health. Therefore, both printing and cleaning of prints should be carried out only in well-ventilated areas, preferably with forced draft.
If symptoms of poisoning appear (e.g., dizziness, headache, or nausea), leave the room immediately and get fresh air. If these symptoms persist for a long time, consult a doctor.
The components of resins increase the pH level in the environment, which reduces the intensity of the cycle of organic matter in the soil-plant system. When the components get into water, they disrupt the processes of self-purification of water bodies. Moreover, they have a detrimental effect on environmental inhabitants, i.e., fish, phytoplankton, algae, etc.
Therefore, after cleaning the print, do not empty the used solvent down the drain. Instead, drain it into some unnecessary container and let the alcohol evaporate. A thin film of resin will remain on the walls of the container, which will quickly harden. You can then dispose off the contain along with other solid household waste.
Below are some examples of prints made from resin 3D printing.
Resin 3D printing provides greater accuracy and durability than FDM printing with plastic filament. However, with this technology, you need to carefully handle the liquid raw materials. Apart from this, you need some skills on 3D printing resin models.
By following the simple rules and tips from this article, you can quickly master resin 3D printing and create high-precision objects with a smooth surface, avoiding many beginner mistakes.