Filament-based 3D printers have a long way to go in the developmental field for hobbyists, but resin-based printers capture a lot, and so do the resins they use. It is widely believed that resin prints look great but were fragile, but this is no longer true.
Fans have a much larger variety of resins and properties than ever before, so if that’s what keeps you away, maybe it’s time to look the other way. There is hard resin, there is hard resin, there is heat-resistant resin and much more. Some make casting easier, and some even more flexible. If your part or application needs a specific asset, there is probably a resin for it.
What is available?
Resins can be purchased directly from printer manufacturers (such as Elegoo, Anycubic, Phrozen 3D, Prusa, Peopoly, and many more) and some manufacturers (such as Siraya Tech or Monocure 3D) do not make printers, but on resins that work with them. Expert.
Resins usually come in a few broad sections and I will discuss each briefly.
Tough / durable
Hard resins tend to be durable in the sense that they offer some impact resistance and wear resistance and do not break when they break. “ABS-like” is a term commonly used by manufacturers for resins that aim for these properties, but is not an exclusive one. There are also others that fit the bill.
Miniature printing for tabletop games is in a community of people who get a lot of value from resin printing, and those people really value detail and durability because tabletop miniatures are handled a lot and often have small bits. Likes resin Siraya Tech TenaciousAnd Frozen Aqua-Gray 4K / 8K Excellent choice, with high details and durability even in small pieces.
Some enthusiasts even resort to one type of resin alchemy and happily experiment with mixing the resin together (such as adding 10% flexible resin to other formulations) to get just the right results. In fact, the Flex 100 resin of Monocure 3D is specifically aimed at that kind of thing.
Some resins are specially made to bend or lengthen under pressure and are usually called “flex”. However, how much a particular resin flexes (or does not) is not always clear from the picture.
To get a better idea of what a flex resin will look like, look for a shore number with a scale title: 00, A, or D৷. The number is a measure of the hardness of the material; The higher the number the harder. A simple scale with reference to everyday objects makes it easy to explain the noise hardness.
Resins that can soften, deform, or otherwise absorb a lot of heat without degradation are specifically identified as heat resistant, and “high temp” is often part of the name.
Prints made with this resin are tough, but brittle and glassy compared to others. Their heat resistance and dimensional stability mean they make excellent molds for things like thermoforming or injection molding.
Primarily for jewelry application, these resins are made to be burned cleanly during casting, leaving no ash or residue in the process. They come in a few slightly different formulations depending on the manufacturer, but their purpose is the same.
When not mix and match
Most of the resins and manufacturers mentioned above are, broadly speaking, in the same ballpark. The printers they use are masked SLA printers that heal resin by illuminating a UV backlight via an LCD at the bottom of the build tank. Using one manufacturer’s resin on another’s printer is therefore primarily a matter of calibrating exposure times. (There are resources to try to centralize these settings.)
However, there are different types of resin printers and their resins are not interchangeable. Formlabs is a professional and semi-professional printer and resin manufacturer, and their printers use a UV laser for resin healing instead of a UV backlight and LCD screen. They have a fantastic variety of resins for different purposes, but their resins are specially made for their printers. FormLabs resins will not work properly on masked SLA printers, and resins intended for masked SLA printers will not work properly on Formalab printers.
There are so many types it’s hard to say
Resin printing is very accessible and now there are several options for different resins with different features, so whatever you need, there is probably a resin to match it. Just remember to use the right protective equipment, and follow reasonable safety precautions when working with resin. Wear gloves, clean splashes immediately, and please do not spill anything related to printing in the home drain.
Has Resin Printing Solved Your Problem? Perhaps you have a favorite resin, or a resin mixture for a specific purpose? Let us know all about it in the comments.