For your stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing projects, you can use a number of different liquid resins to create objects. SLA 3D printers are very different to FDM printers because you are using the special properties of resin itself.
Working with resins in 3D printing comes with a few hazards. Resins are toxic and need to be safely stored, handled and disposed of. This makes the disposal process of SLA resins much more complex than with plastic filaments and FDM.
Handling liquid resins should be done only with gloves, and you may also want to wear a mask to prevent breathing in any fumes, and protective glasses to keep you safe from splashes.
But don’t worry, we put together some great tips and safety precautions on how to best store and dispose of your resin.
Preparing Your Printing Project
How Much Resin Do You Need For Your 3D Printing Project?
Before you get started with your project, it’s important that you carefully determine how much resin you need for the project. This will help to prevent waste, and it also saves you money as you won’t have to buy too much.
When handling liquid resin, it’s essential to wear gloves and goggles throughout your 3D printing process as they will protect you from any spills of hazardous material.
Generally, it is much easier to manage the epoxy resin when it is hardened than disposing of it in liquid form. When you mix your hardener and the resin, make sure to do so in small bits as it’s easier to manage, and will save you from wasting any resin.
Making The Most Of Resin Spills
During the printing process, it’s relatively easy to handle the resin. Most importantly, keep your gloves on at all times, especially when pouring resin into the vat, if you need to add more during the printing, and also when cleaning up.
For cleaning resin from surfaces and the 3D printing equipment, always have some isopropyl alcohol ready. Cleaning with alcohol allows you to remove any resin spills properly.
As you’ll also need alcohol to clean the building platform and the vat after you are done with your project, it’s good to get a big bottle.
If you choose to clean any resin spills, please check the solvent caution on the label to ensure none of the toxin ends up in the soil or water systems.
After Your 3D Printing Project: Clean Up And Disposal Of Resin
There are a few essential steps to follow when cleaning up after your printing project. You will need to remove your 3D print object from the build platform, then clean the vat and the building platform.
It’s a good idea to put some paper towels around the printer when you start cleaning as this will prevent the resin from leaking onto any surfaces. Also ensure that you are wearing gloves throughout the cleaning process.
In order to clean the build platform, pour some alcohol onto a paper towel and wipe the surface until there’s no resin left. You can clean the vat in the same way, always keeping your gloves on.
As part of the post-printing cleaning, also slowly pour the remaining liquid resin from the vat back into its container. When the vat is empty, use paper towels with alcohol to wipe out any remaining uncured resin.
If any resin has been exposed to moisture it’s best to dispose of it as unused resin may get damaged. However, if the resin is mixed with hardener, it can have a longer shelf-life.
Liquid Resin Disposal
While it’s tempting to flush liquids down the toilet, you should never pour resin down your drain. This could damage the pipes and it could leak into water systems and the soil causing serious harm to the environment.
But how do you dispose of your 3D printing resin then? The best way to dispose of your liquid resin is to take it to a nearby waste collection or recycling center. These collection points usually handle hazardous items like paint, electronics and batteries.
Before you drop the resin off at your local waste collection point, you need to safely seal the container where you store the resin and label it so that the staff at the waste collection can handle it safely.
It’s also a good idea to check the SDS sheet on the product label which will give you additional information on what toxins you are dealing with, and how to dispose of them safely.
Cured Resin Disposal
When cured, resin is not dangerous anymore, and you can then handle it without gloves. The resin can then be disposed of with the regular trash.
It’s best to always let resin cure before disposing of it. Same goes for resin storage containers. Whether they are empty or contain scraps, leave the containers open and in the sun or a warm place for everything to completely dry.
How To Store Resin Safely
As liquid resin is a hazardous toxin it’s essential that you store it safely when you are not using it. Resin can easily react with UV light, and that’s why resin manufacturers usually use light-proof, black containers to keep the resin in.
It’s also recommended to keep the resin containers away from the sun, so just put the container in a cabinet or a dark place.
Is Resin Recyclable?
Resin is not just a popular material for a lot of general household items such as jewelry, ashtrays or coasters, but it’s also the ideal product to use for 3D printing.
Resin has been used for many years in the manufacturing industries, but what do we do with resin products when we don’t need them anymore? Can we recycle resin?
The general answer is: Yes, you can recycle resins, but not all resins can be recycled. There are five different types of resins, and only eco-resin, silicone resin and epoxy resin are recyclable.
Depending on their state, most resins are environmentally friendly, although for example, epoxy resins are only environmentally safe when they have been cured and completely dried.
On the other hand, natural resins made from plants are the most environmentally-friendly resins because they are organic which means they don’t pose a threat to nature.