What You Can Do With Resin 3D Printing
Jan 4, 2023 1:45:55 PM
The amount of materials you can print is quite frankly, overwhelming. Each has a slightly different set of material properties that lend themselves to different and varied use cases. We're covering this on our #matchthematerials series.
So let's talk about SLA (Stereolithography) and resin. It's commonly referred to as "resin 3D printing" and is 3D printed using a laser that cures liquid resin into hardened plastic. Like other materials and technologies, this is done layer by layer. But because we're using lasers, the precision is much tighter and more accurate. The number of different resins you can 3D print in is endless. You have your run-of-the-mill Standard Resin, and then a whole collection of Engineering Resins.
Standard Resin 3D print in black, fresh off the build plate.
This is the most commonly used, the lowest price point, and the most versatile of our resin collection here at Makelab. We've seen everything from cosmetic and display models for retail and events, prototypes for jewelry designers, molds for jewelry makers, molds for ceramicists, and prototypes and parts for industrial designers and engineers. With resin, you can get a level of detail that is difficult to achieve with FDM and PLA.
Besides being incredibly accurate, the surface is smooth. This is great for parts that need an additional step of finishing. Whether it's painting, metallizing, electroforming, or felting, this is the material for you. For anyone with a fabricator background, it sands quite easily and retains primer and paint very well.
Part for Seam Limes being finished, 3D printed in Standard Resin.
The cost of resin is higher than other materials we offer at Makelab. One reason for this is the raw material cost and the consumables needed to 3D print a build. Another reason is post processing & support removal! SLA and Resin usually come out of the printer with a large amount of supports. It takes time for us to remove the supports and sand away the many nibs that are required for a successful 3D print. The time to print is also generally longer than FDM & PLA 3D prints.
Another downside is that it's not the most volume-order friendly. Because of the cost and post processing required, it's not the first material we'd suggest for QTY 200+.
It's messy! This isn't a problem for us, but if you're 3D printing SLA and Resin on your own, you will want to make sure you have proper safety equipment, IPA alcohol to clean any resin residue, and lots of gloves (you don't want prolonged skin contact!).
How many materials are offered! PP-like? No problem. ABS-like? No problem. Rubber or silicon-like? No problem. The unique properties of all these materials allow for more realistic prototyping and testing of parts before sending them to production. In short, because of 3D printing, users all over have access to these materials that allow for small testing and short runs.
And the AM industry is just engineering more and more materials with more and more capabilities.
For a list of all our engineering materials, visit our Materials Overview page.
If you're looking for hyper-longevity of parts, these resins may not be for you. Engineering resins function great as prototypes with a short lifespan and short testing period. These materials are UV sensitive and degrade over time, especially with exposure to UV lights (which is all around us!).
Price points are much higher than FDM materials and Standard Resin. This is mainly because of the raw cost of materials. BUT! The price points are still more cost effective than traditional prototyping.