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What Is 3D Printing Resin Made Of

What Is 3D Printing Resin Made Of | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

William Stone


January 12, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • 3D printing resin is a toxic material used for advanced printing techniques, and it is made of monomers and oligomers.
  • The most effective way to print with 3D printing resin is using Stereolithography, an outdated but still effective way to process the liquid material for high-quality objects.
  • Nobody should handle 3D printing resin without plenty of safety gear, including gloves, eyewear, and a respirator, because exposure can be dangerous.
  • Resin is the preferred material for smaller 3D prints or prints that require more detail than a filament can do.

When thinking of 3D printing, most people probably think of plastic. That’s because most 3D printers use a filament, but resin is another print method too.

3D printing resin is made of multiple monomers and oligomers that are formed through a complex chemical process known as photopolymerization. These polymers will create a chain that allows the layers to form from UV lighting. However, this is also a more toxic 3D printing material.

If that sounds a bit confusing, read on to learn more about the various resins used in the manufacturing process and their properties. We have collected all the research and data on 3D printing resin to explain it perfectly below.

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Table of Contents

What Is 3D Printing Resin Made Of?

3D printing resin is an additive made of synthetic materials used during the manufacturing process. One of these processes can be 3D printing.

However, it’s unlike any traditional 3D printing material because it's primarily a liquid solution. These liquid photopolymers contain a high amount of monomer and are known to print with extreme accuracy.

The monomer is then polymerized (through either a chemical or thermal reaction) to create polymer chains. These chains make a sticky substance that can be used as a “printable” material.

The main difference between the different types of resins is the raw material they are made from. The preparation process is also much different, and we will explain how 3D printing resin is produced.

The composition of resin also includes photoinitiators, so when they get exposed to UV rays during the lighting process, the resin can react correctly. Some additives help form the proper chemical and aesthetic properties required for detailed resin prints.

Overall, 3D printing resin is made from a combination of monomers and oligomers using other additives.

Types Of 3D Printing Resin

Designers and engineers use 3D printing resin to create high-quality prints that cannot be built by using a traditional filament printer. The process of making resin is also much different than any other filament.

Because the resin is typically printed with SLA, there are only a certain number of resin types too. These include standard, transparent, mammoth, and high-detail resin.

Standard Resin

Standard resin is one of the most used types for 3D printing. It provides excellent quality at affordable prices and can be used for high-resolution prints.

It’s also less toxic and easier to use for beginners. This includes a smooth surface quality. However, the impact resistance is lower than others.

Transparent Resin

Transparent resin shares many of the same characteristics as standard resin, except it is clear and allows users to print clear objects.

It also provides excellent water resistance and provides precious attention to detail when printing smaller objects.

Mammoth Resin

Mammoth resin is exactly what it sounds like. If the plan is to print larger objects with resin, then this is the only option worth considering.

It can hold up to print huge dimensions without breaking down, and the attention to detail is still impressive.

High-Detail Resin

High-detail resin is perfect for printing small objects with tons of details. This resin uses the Polyjet print method, but the setup is still simple and easy to handle for all 3D printer users.

Is 3D Printing Resin Considered Toxic?

Most 3D printing resins are safe for people, but they are toxic. Exposure can be unsafe and lead to severe symptoms, and these resins also present a long-term environmental risk.

UV Resin is one of the most popular 3D printing resins and one of the most toxic. Direct exposure to the skin or air around the user is unsafe, so safety equipment like gloves, eyewear, and a respirator is required.

The liquid printing material also gives off toxic fumes. Without proper protection, it’s common to experience serious headaches, dizziness, and irritation in the throat.

Exposure to the skin will cause dermatitis. Because of the toxicity levels, understanding how to handle this 3D printing material is critical before risking exposure.

How Does 3D Printing Resin Work?

3D printing resin works differently than a filament because it uses a Stereolithography (SLA) printing technique. Using this technology allows the resin to work with a photochemical process.

First, the uncured liquid resin must be prepared on the build plate and ready to use. Next, the build plate rotates to gain UV light exposure so the UV rays can cross-section the resin one layer at a time.

Then, the liquid undergoes an intensive reaction to create a polymer resin. After that, the resin undergoes a drying process to remove any remaining water and create a powder.

The platform will move the uncured resin to create new layers above the build plate. These steps continue to repeat until the desired object is formed.

Using a Polyjet process with resin is also possible, but this is much more detailed and unnecessary for most applications.

Is 3D Printing Resin Safe For Use?

Most 3D printing materials are considered safe for use. There are, however, a few exceptions.

For example, some resins may contain toxic substances. If that’s the case, they need to be handled with care. Some resins also emit toxic fumes during the printing process.

This can seriously threaten the environment and people in the area. It’s important to make sure these materials are properly ventilated.

Aside from toxicity, there are a few other things to remember when working with resins. For example, some materials are flammable when overheated, so monitoring the printer's temperature is necessary.

Differences Between 3D Printing Resin And 3D Filaments

The type of 3D printer used will determine the type of material required. There are resin printers and filament printers, and filament printers are more common because they are easier to use, faster, and less toxic to work with.

3D Printing Resin

3D printing resin is unique and requires precise handling for anybody who comes in contact with it. But it’s the ideal material to use when printing smaller objects that require more precise details.

Resin produces a much more impressive print quality with tiny layers of 25 - 50 microns thick. However, this doesn’t apply to function parts, which work better when using filament.

3D Filaments

3D filaments are much different than resin and typically require a completely different printer to work. FDM printed parts are almost always more durable with higher strength too.

The 3D printer builds the object by making a series of thin layers. The first layer is made of support material, which will be removed after the object has been printed. The next layers are made of the build material, usually plastic in most cases.

For mass-producing larger objects at faster speeds, the filament is a no-brainer. However, if extreme detail is required for a print, then resin is superior because of how accurate it can be on smaller parts.

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What Is 3D Printing Resin Made Of


William Stone

William Stone

William has spent 20 plus years in the custom manufacturing industry as a COO, CEO and Owner of various custom product businesses. His experience has exposed him to all types of manufacturing from die cast, die struck, injection molding, CNC machining, laser etching, engraving and of course 3D printing.

Learn more about William Stone

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