Resin 3D printing is an additive manufacturing process that 3D-prints items using photochemical processes. Concentrated UV light is aimed onto epoxy in order to bond particles together, eventually producing the shape of the desired part. Unlike FDM (fused deposition modeling), SLA (stereolithography) does not use spools of solid, thread-like filament as its raw material. Fluid resins, on the other hand, are reactive mixes of monomers—short links of carbon molecules that join into larger chains during the photochemical process to form hardened plastic.
Unfortunately, epoxy is more harmful than FDM filaments due to its chemical makeup. But fear not: scientists have identified a few easy strategies to counteract this. Here’s what you need to know about 3D printer resin toxicity.
Resin Is Irritating to the Skin and Lungs
Never put your exposed skin in contact with 3D printing resin’s liquid ingredients. They can cause contact dermatitis, which is a rash on the skin that can turn into an allergy if you’re exposed to resin over an extended length of time. Resins also emit fumes, and unless you operate in a properly ventilated environment, the toxic vapors’ molecules will enter your lungs and irritate them as well. If you have weak lungs, the irritation may even become fatal. Therefore, when you’re working around resin, be sure to wear a ventilator or painter’s mask to avoid any inhalation of toxic materials.
Resin Is Harmful to Your Eyes and Mucous Membranes
If the resin isn’t clearly designated as nontoxic, don’t put it near or in your eyes or mouth. Standard 3D printing resin isn’t classified as food safe or eye safe. As such, if it comes in contact with these regions of your body, it can cause irreparable damage. Furthermore, when you’re working with these molecules, always be cognizant of the risks involved for the people around you and provide proper safety equipment for everyone involved.
It Is Toxic to the Environment
One of the most important things to know about 3D printer resin toxicity is that it’s also toxic to the environment. Unfortunately, multiple independent scientific investigations have found that the molecules in most types of printer resin may attach themselves to the central nervous systems of fish and other aquatic species, disrupting their nerves and acting as poison to their nervous systems, slowly killing them.
The toxicity of printer resin is an issue, but knowing that there are a multitude of ways to ensure your safety when you’re working with these chemicals should be a comfort. Ultimately, you can consider using a 3D printing service to cut out the hassle and risks.