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Is 3D Printing Resin Toxic?

Is 3D Printing Resin Toxic?

3D printing is wonderful due to its great productivity and outcomes. If we look at the types of additive manufacturing or 3D printing – in simple terms, we will find out that SLA 3D printing has distinguished perks and outcomes when it comes to the quality and accuracy of the 3D printed models. 

What is SLA 3D printing? This question might pop up in your mind after reading the previous line. SLA or Stereolithography is one of the additive manufacturing types. In this type of 3D printing, photochemical techniques perform the prints. 

Due to the use of photochemical techniques, a query hit the mind of many 3D print users that concerned about the impact of resin on human health. In simple words, is 3D printing resin toxic? 

To answer this query, read on to understand SLA printing and its effects on human health. Also, you will know the safety measures to counterbalance the adverse effects of it, if any.

So, without any further ado, let’s roll in:

Is 3D Printing Resin Toxic?

Before you know the answer to this question, you need to learn about the working of photochemical techniques in SLA 3D printing. So, in SLA printing, linking molecules together is essential for layer formation - ultimately, making the shape of a 3D print. 

However, the SLA printers need to direct concentrated UV light to resin to link molecules. Resin is the raw material in SLA printers, unlike the solid, threadlike filaments in FDM printers. 

The chemistry of resin is helpful that will lead you to know its toxicity. Resin is a liquid made of a mixture of monomers and oligomers which are sensitive to light – photosensitive. 

The photochemical technique combines the short chains of carbon – monomers, and oligomers, into a longer chain to become hard plastic. 

Unluckily, the chemistry of resin is not friendly for human health, especially skin, and for the environment, too. So, the answer to the question is yes, the resin is toxic. 

But that’s not the end. Luckily, a scientific method – the curing process of the resin, can do wonders when it comes to making resin less toxic and usable in 3D printing.

Complications Of Resin

After knowing the toxicity of resin, it’s equally important to know how toxic it is. So, we have compiled our list of complications by resin that you can avoid staying away from any uncertain and critical situation during printing.

Skin irritation and respiratory complication

Resin has chemical nature. Therefore, it can cause a variety of problems, including skin and respiratory troubles. 

For instance, the longer exposure of your bare skin to the resin can cause you Contact Dermatitis. It’s a surface rash that develops into a skin allergy. 

Moreover, the resin gives rise to fumes, naturally. If you are working with resin in a well-ventilated area, you are safe. In other cases, you are likely to develop skin complications due to the inhalation of those produced vapors.

Ingestion and Exposure to the eyes are harmful

As the resin is harmful and toxic, its contact with the eyes and mouth can result in serious health concerns. You should first check whether the product is marked as non-toxic or not. 

However, in both cases, it is advised to stay away from its contact with the eyes and its ingestion. It will cause some serious damage to your eyes and the digestive system of your body.

Harm environment, especially aquatic ecosystems

3D printing in general, and liquid resin in specific, are harmful to the aquatic ecosystem as well as to our environment. The reason is the production of the nanoparticles of the prints. As these particles are by-products of 3D printing, it is a massive concern for our environment, especially aquatic life. 

As per the studies of various scientists, the molecules that compose resin can harm the aquatic ecosystem because they can attach themselves to the nervous system of fish and other several aquatic living things. Tragically, this attachment results in their neurological breakdown, consequently killing them.

Safety Precautions

If the resin is toxic, the SLA printing results in tremendous 3D models in terms of quality. So, you can’t give up on using SLA printing. However, there are certain measures that will keep you and your fellows safe while performing 3D prints. 

Protecting Yourself

Whenever you handle 3D print resin, wear goggles and nitrile gloves as they are protective physical barriers that help you keep your body safe and hazard-free. 

Working in a well-ventilated area is necessary as you read about the by-products of SLA printing that can irritate your lungs after their inhalation. So, it is advisable to perform printing in an open area or a close area with great ventilation. 

Perform the curing process of the resin beforehand. The Curing process help harden the liquid resin turning it from toxic to harmless, solid plastic. The curing process requires sunlight exposure. However, longer exposure can break the resin.

Protecting The Environment

First, clean your surrounding from any resin using soap and water, then wipe it down using isopropyl alcohol – a paint thinner. This way, you will clear all the resin traces from the workspace. 

Make sure to use the last drop of resin to avoid its wastage as well as contamination of the environment. Moreover, the resin is a hazardous chemical. So, treat it the same way you dispose of other waste materials from your place. 

Last but not least, you can use environment-friendly resins. These resins are non-toxic due to their chemical composition that can perform the same results, however, with alleviated harmfulness.

Alternatives - Environmental-Friendly Resins

The cool thing is that you have alternative options for resins that are not hazardous to you and the environment, thanks to environment-based resins. With the same features and functionality, these resins do wonders being non-toxic. 

For instance, Anycubic plant-based UV resin, 3Dresyns for SLA, etc., are SLA resins made from chemicals derived from environmental plants. The manufacturers have researched and created these resins with chemicals that break down quickly and minimize the risks of complications.

Final Words

Albeit the main functioning of resin, as it is the raw material for SLA printing, the toxic side creates concerns for humans. Yes, it is toxic, and if you don’t tackle it with caution, you can keep yourself in a very volatile situation. 

So, use the mentioned precautions and, if possible, replace the 3D print resin with bio-safe resins to downsize the pitfall and danger of this chemical – resin.

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