How Do Resin Printers Work?

The UK is the fifth-largest global user of 3D printers. 

And one of the top 3D printing methods that many companies are switching to is resin 3D printing.

Resin printing lets you print a more detailed design at a high speed. Unlike FDM prints, resin prints are waterproof, which is a necessity for the automotive and medical industries. And for some items like jewellery master models and custom dental devices, resin printing can save you money as well.

If all of this sounds enticing, then you'll want to know exactly how resin printers work. 

So whether you're an artist looking to bring your designs to life or you're engineering prototypes for the medical industry, the chances are high that you could benefit from a resin printer.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how they work.

Stereolithography

Stereolithography, or SLA, is the name of the most popular process that 3D resin printing uses.

Surprisingly, this printing method has been around since 1983! It was patented by a man named Chuck Hull, who invented the process to help engineers make prototype parts quickly.

This process involves printing thin layers on top of each other. The material used must be curable under ultraviolet (UV) light, such as with liquid resin printing.

This concentrated beam of UV light then dries and cures the surface of the prototype. 

As stereolithography caught on, it was mostly used in the automotive industry at first. Later, many other industries started to use it, from medicine to construction to aviation.

One of the most popular early uses of stereolithography was in printing Invisalign dental aligners. 

Eventually, the design of the stereolithography printer changed and smaller models became available. While the printers used to be large and only for industrial use, they're now available in a variety of sizes so that places like design firms and dentist's offices can use them too.

What Is Resin?

While your first thought when it comes to resin is the sticky material that comes from plants, resin for 3D printing is a bit different. 

Resin for 3D printing is what's called a photopolymer fluid. This means that it changes from liquid to solid when it's cured with a UV laser.

You can use different types of resin in your 3D printer depending on what texture, pliability, and durability you need for your project.

Types of Resin in 3d Printing

Some of the most common types of resin used for 3D printing include:

  • Standard resin
  • Grey resin
  • Clear resin
  • Tough resin
  • Flexible resin

Standard resin is translucent with a slightly yellow colour. This type of resin is great if you're on a budget, and it also gives you a high-quality surface and lots of ability for detail. However, it can break easily.

Grey resin has one of the smoothest surfaces of any resin, so it's great if you need to paint over it after printing.

Clear resin is a great choice if you need to make a transparent print. This type of resin is water-resistant and gives you high surface quality.

And if you need functional and strong 3D prints, then tough resin is the way to go. Tough resin has been hardened with a laser, so it's the perfect choice for wearable items or any parts that will be exposed to wear and tear.

Flexible resin is easy to bend and compress. This makes it a good choice for anything where you need flexible parts, such as grips, gaskets, and handles.

Resin Printing Step-by-Step

The first step in resin printing is filling up the resin tank. The printer may do this automatically, or you may have to fill it up if you have a 3d printer at home.

Next, the printer will spread out a very thin layer of resin. The UV light will then "draw" the outline of your print across the resin. Every part of the resin that's touched by UV light will solidify.

The next step in resin 3D printing is that the platform in the printer moves so that the uncured, liquid resin can come through. The laser then solidifies this next layer.

The printer repeats these steps, curing new layers of resin until your print is complete. Once the printing process is finished, the printer will raise the print from the resin tank.

What's great about resin 3D printers is that the excess liquid will flow back into the tank, so you can use the leftover resin for other projects.

Once you remove the print, you'll have to do some manual finishing. This can involve removing the supports that held the object up as it was printed. It also includes smoothing any rough surfaces, polishing, and painting the print, if needed.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

While stereolithography is the most popular resin 3D printing method, digital light processing is also a popular choice for the best 3D printers.

Digital light processing is similar to stereolithography. The difference is that digital light processing uses a digital projection for the light source (rather than a laser). 

Inside the printer, a digital micromirror device directs the light from the projector to the resin tank.

Since DLP printers can solidify an entire layer at once, this type of printer is a bit faster than a stereolithography printer. 

Take Your Business to New Heights With Resin Printers

If you've been frustrated with the rough edges and amount of finishing work you have to do with your plastic prints, then a resin printer could be just the solution for you.

Whether you need a resin printer for its speed or for the durability of its finished products, we've got what you need at Jaquba 3D.

We carry both SLA and DLP printers so you can choose the type and size that's best for your industry and projects.

Ready to bring your designs and prototypes to life? Then check out our selection of resin printers today!

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