Complete resin printing guide
This guide is specially made for everyone who is considering jumping into resin 3D printing. Even if you are not new to the 3D printing world you might also find some useful tips, that will improve your printing process and result.
What is resin printing?
Resin printing is a 3D printing technology that uses 380-410nm wavelength UV light source to layer by layer cure special liquid resin – making it solid. This process is called polymerization – as a result, we obtain a solid 3D object without visible layers. The precision of resin printers is much higher than what Fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers can achieve.
If you are interested in resin printing technologies, you can read more HERE.
How complex is resin printing?
Resin printing, in general, is very simple, nowadays all resin printers are “plug and play”. After unboxing your machine you will need to level the printing bed, place VAT, pour the resin, and press “Start Printing”, and that is basically it! There is not much tweaking with the printing process – you will need to find your perfect curing time, but usually, all machines are already set with a recommended setting that should work just fine with all the standard resins.
Simple as it is, resin printing has its own downsides. First of all, the resin is toxic, and the post-printing process is pretty complex if you are not familiar with it. You need to be extra careful when dealing with UV resins, and we suggest learning more about this topic before jumping into it.
Precautions that you should follow with resin printing.
- Avoid placing your 3D printer or uncured resin over carpeted areas where the resin can soak into. All leakage must be cleaned with paper towels immediately.
- Avoid direct sunlight before your prints are not completely clean (supports aren’t removed, the object isn’t rinsed). Direct sunlight will cure the unprotected resin in seconds.
- Do not expose UV resin to heat above 110C/230F or any source of ignition.
- Resin should be dealt with in well-ventilated areas only.
- Please inspect your resin bottle before shaking and pouring it to avoid spills and drips.
- Keep your work area clean and clearly visible.
- Clean your tools after you have finished printing with denatured or isopropyl (70%+) alcohol and wash them clean with soap and water.
- Always wear gloves and protective glasses when dealing with uncured resin.
- Wear a chemical respirator during the cleaning process – especially in areas with bad ventilation. Make sure your respirator has the necessary filtration level.
- Explore the internet regarding the resin printing process before starting – to avoid possible harm to your health.
What do you need before starting resin 3D print? Resin printing shopping list.
All chemicals should be dealt with the necessary precautions, and resin is no exception. To work with the resin properly and safely you will need:
- Good quality gloves
Gloves will keep your skin safe from toxic chemicals that 3D printing resin contains. It is recommended to use nitrile or neoprene gloves because of better resistance to chemicals than, for example, latex gloves.
- Paper towels (And a lot of them!)
Resin printing is a messy process, and every drop of rein must be cleaned as fast as possible. Your printer, instruments, prints, and the whole workspace must be kept clean – paper towels will help you with that, so make sure to have them at hand all the time.
- Cleaning agent
Usually isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or denatured alcohol (ethanol), basically every sort of alcohol – the stronger the better. IPA is considered a better choice because it evaporates faster and leaves no traces on your prints.
BUT, if you can get water washable resin then your cleaning agent will be water itself, so you don’t really need to buy IPA or ethanol for your print cleaning process.
- Paintbrush or soft toothbrush
A good way to get rid of excess resin on your prints is to brush it off with a brush and cleaning agent.
- Cleaning device/tray
The simplest and the cheapest solution is to use a mason jar (an old pickle jar) or some fruit/vegetable strainer pots to wash your print. Print washing is very important if you want to archive stunning quality prints.
Consider investing in an ultrasonic cleaner or a wash and cure station (please see article below).
- Sharp snips
This one is simply a must-have! Snips are very handy when it comes to removing the supports.
- Sandpaper selection
The sandpaper is a simple way to clean the surface after the support removal process.
- Funnel with a strainer
It helps pour the unused resin from VAT back to the storage bottle.
- Chemical respirator
It does not cost much and it will protect you against the toxic fumes.
- UV protective glasses
These help deal with the post-printing process. Do not remove your supports without glasses on!
- FEP replacement sheets
With time the FEP sheet will lose its quality and might tear even. It’s always best to have a replacement ready at your hand.
- UV light source – curing station
Of course, you can cure your print under direct sunlight but it is always nice to have an additional 405nm light source. You can buy a UV curing lightbox or make one by yourself, or invest in a wash and cure station.
Resin post-printing process.
How to know when your resin prints can be touched with bare hands?
You can touch resin prints without your gloves on only after the cleaning process is complete – when it’s not sticky to touch (use a paper towel to test this) and it’s hard enough so that your nail can not damage it.
After the print is ready:
- Carefully remove the print from the build plate
- Clean it with denatured/isopropyl alcohol. Rinse it a couple of times and rub with a brush, then let them stand for a while – for best results alcohol should evaporate before curing. To make this process faster you can use paper towels to collect the excesses.
- Carefully remove your supports with the snips (please wear protective glasses during this process!).
- Cure the print using direct sunlight or 360-410nm UV light source. Curing time depends on UV source power and printed object’s dimensions. The object is cured when it is not sticky to the touch.
- Now the print can be handled with bare hands but to get rid of the resin smell and make it pleasant to the touch it is also recommended to wash it with water and soap.
It may seem like a complicated and time-consuming process, but in reality, it’s not. It takes time to get used to it and the end result is so worth it!
Best way to easily clean your resin prints
If you want to archive the best results with your 3D resin printer consider investing in an ultrasonic cleaner or a wash and cure station.
For miniature printing, in our opinion, this is the best solution with the best final results. The small ultrasonic cleaner won’t cost you a hand and a leg– you can find some good deals between $30-$100. There is no need to use a brush and additionally clean your print – just take it off the build plate and place it into the ultrasonic cleaner (filled with s cleaning agent), press the button and wait for 1-5 minutes.
It’s very easy to use but be careful, this is not a toy – turn off the device after you are done using it. Do not operate it without any liquid inside and read operation instructions before the first time use.
In comparison to the wash and cure station, you will need to buy an additional curing device (for example, a UV lamp to cure gel nail polish) or put your prints under direct sunlight.
Wash and cure station
The name of the station might imply, that you can do both – wash and cure – at the same time, but actually you can’t. You will need to wash your print first, and then cure it.
Simply take your build plate and put in the washing station, put the lid on, press the button, and wait for 2-6 minutes. Remove your prints from the build plate, remove the supports and put your print on the rotatable curing platform.
This is a simple and user friendly solution to deal with your resin prints. It is not as delicate with small and brittle miniature prints as an ultrasonic cleaner but this station does its job. Prints come out clean and sharp. And you can always use a little brush to additionally clean some small details of the print that the cleaning solvent was struggling to get to.
How to dispose of your 3D printer resin?
All the failed supports, dirty cleaning agent, and old resin must be cured before utilizing. When removing the supports it is best to put them together with the used paper towels on a tray and when the process is finished place the tray under direct sunlight or into your curing station. After the curing 3D printer resin is no longer toxic and you can dispose of it.
How long does 3D printer resin last. Is there an expiration date?
Most 3D printer resin manufacturers claim that standard photosensitive resin’s shelf time is up to one year from the date it is manufactured, but if stored sealed and in proper conditions resin can maintain its properties up to 3 years. We do not recommed keeping it so long as reactive chemical components do lose their efficiency with time.
How long can you store 3D printer resin in VAT?
Manufacturers claim that you should clean your VAT if you do not plan to print in the next 48 hours. It is also strongly recommended to clean your VAT and filter the used resin if you had a failure during printing – in other cases, the cured supports might break the printer’s screen.
If you do not plan to print in the next 48 hours – VAT must be sealed and protected from a UV light source (the sun). You can leave the resin in VAT (sealed) up to a week or two – it should be just fine, just do not forget to carefully scrap FEP film with a plastic scraper before the next use to make sure no cured resin (failed supports) is stuck to the bottom also it is good to stir the resin before using it again.
We hope you have found this resin printing guide helpful. Be sure to check out our other articles!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comment section below.