Photopolymer Resin 3D Printing Safety
Learn the necessary basics of safely and properly handling photopolymer resin for 3D printing with this informative guide.
FDM 3D Printing and Photopolymer Resin 3D Printing are two forms of additive manufacturing that use the same process of adding a material layer by layer to produce a fully formed object. The difference between these two methods lies within the material and machines used, resulting in resin 3D printing having its own unique set of proper safety guidelines. Instead of using a hot end to extrude plastic filament, you are using plastic resins cured by a UV light source to turn your ideas into reality. Following the recommendations on properly handling resin for 3D printing and using quality materials are essential in a pleasant 3D printing experience.
Enjoy a Happy and Safe Resin 3D Printing Experience with MH Build and More
Here at MatterHackers, our goal is to provide machines, materials, tools, and services that deliver a satisfying digital fabrication experience. That includes providing you with all the quality resources needed to successfully start making your ideas a reality in a safe way. We only offer high-quality products that we're confident in from other manufacturers and apply an even higher standard with our own brand name items like MH Build Photopolymer Resin, which offers fantastic quality 3D printing materials and color selections for its low price. MH Build offers an affordable photopolymer resin that delivers amazing print results in a variety of vibrant colors starting at the lowest price available on the market—$16.99 for 500g and $27.99 for 1kg.
Developed and produced in Orange County, California, MH Build Photopolymer Resin utilizes a non-toxic, epoxy-free formula that is engineered to the highest EPA standards so makers have confidence in their health and safety when in constant use of these materials for 3D printing. Toxic odors are non-existent and its careful choice in ingredients makes it safe for use in any setting such as schools, labs, workspaces, home, and more. Our care into the product goes as deep as the packaging as it utilizes a stand-up pouch with a spout to ensure every last drop of resin leaves that container and enters directly into the intended vat or mixing container—drastically reducing unpleasant spills and messes. Stay within budget without sacrificing quality, color selection, or safety when you purchase MatterHackers' MH Build Photopolymer 3D Printing Resin here.
Table of Contents
- First Aid Measures
- Personal and Environmental Precautions
- Safe Resin Handling
- Resin Cleanup
- Storage Guidelines
- Proper Disposal
First Aid Measures
Understanding safety measures is paramount when handling resin. Some resin safety measures may differ by manufacturer as some brands' formulas may be safer than others. Always refer to the resin manufacturer's SDS and guides for the most accurate safety recommendations. As a generally good rule of thumb, if resin comes into contact with your skin, eyes, and mouth, please follow the instructions below accordingly:
- Warning: May cause a sensitizing reaction and or irritation. Repeated or prolonged exposure may cause dermatitis.
- First Aid Measure: Remove any article of clothing that may have come into contact with resin. Avoid exposure to UV light. Immediately go wash the area of skin that came into contact with resin. Use warm water and soap while washing the resin completely off. If any irritation or other symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.
- Warning: High vapor concentration may cause irritation.
- First Aid Measure: If irritation is solely from vapors, reduce exposure. If resin comes into contact with eyes, irrigate with buffered saline eyewash or purified water for a minimum of 15 minutes while holding eyelids apart. After initial irrigation, remove contact lenses if present. Avoid exposure to UV light. Seek medical attention immediately.
- Warning: Ingestion may cause irritation of the gastrointestinal track.
- First Aid Measure: Do not induce vomiting. Immediately drink water or milk. Should vomiting occur, continue drinking water or milk. Never give anything by mouth to an unconscious person. Seek medical attention immediately.
- Warning: Prolonged exposure to vapor may cause temporary discomfort.
- First Aid Measure: If feeling unwell from inhaling the fumes, immediately reduce exposure by entering a different area with fresh air. If discomforting symptoms continue to persist or develop, seek medical attention.
Personal and Environmental Precautions
Proper protective equipment and a suitable environment are essential to safely printing with photopolymer resin. Before handling any resin, make sure the following criteria are met:
- Chemical Safety Goggles
- Wear tight-fitting chemical goggles with side shields to avoid vapors reaching the eyes and unexpected splashes of resin that may occur. If splashing or misting is expected to occur, also wear a full-face shield for additional protection.
- Respiratory Protection Equipment
- While some resins like MH Build Photopolymer Resin and PRO Series Resin have virtually no fumes or odors, some other resins have noticeably pungent vapors. For those particular formulas, wearing an N95 mask or any other NIOHS approved respiratory protection equipment will help minimize inhaling fumes, as well as mist or dust.
- Nitrile Gloves
- MH Build resins use a formula that makes it safe to handle if it accidentally touches the skin. However, we strongly encourage the practice of wearing nitrile gloves at all times when handling any resin as not all photopolymer resins are safe for skin contact.
- Latex gloves also work for handling resin. However, we strongly recommend nitrile gloves as they are more chemical resistant.
- Non-porous Apron/Lab Coat
- Aprons and lab coats over work/everyday clothing are strongly encouraged as an additional barrier between the resin and skin. If wearing an apron, ensure you are wearing long sleeve clothes to protect the arms. Wearing long pants and close-toed shoes are also strongly encouraged. If resin contaminates clothes or shoes, wash them before wearing them again.
- Good Ventilation
- Working in a room with windows or some form of air circulation is critical to avoiding the buildup of fumes that have nowhere to escape.
- Climate Controlled
- Choose a room where the temperature is consistent. Like FDM 3D printing, inconsistent temperatures can cause warping for resin prints.
- Dim or Non-ultraviolet Lighting
- Photopolymer resins cure under UV light. While resin 3D printers have their resin vat behind UV resistant walls, it is still good practice to minimize the chances of the resin coming into contact with external UV light as much as possible by storing printers away from direct sunlight for example.
- Clean off any drips or spills of resin
- Messes can get out of hand quickly. Make it a habit to clean up the workspace after every spill or drip. The faster the mess is cleaned up, the easier it is to clean up. The longer resin is left out in the open, the higher the chance the resin will cross-contaminate with other items.
- Something to cover the resin work areas like a tarp, paper towels, or a silicone mat is strongly encouraged to make cleanup easier and protect work surfaces.
Safe Resin Handling
Only begin handling resin with protective equipment on in an ideal environment for resin 3D printing. When ready to handle resin, adhere to the following safety protocols:
- Always have protective equipment on. Make it a habit to wear it before handling resin. Never touch the container of resin, green prints (resin printed parts that have not been cured), or resin tools without having gloves on.
- Never touch resin until it has fully cured and hardened. Resin is only safe to touch with the skin when it is hard and dry after being under either UV light or heat for a period of time.
- Avoid resin contacting the skin and eyes, as well as any objects and surfaces that should not be covered in resin.
- Minimize touching any tools and surfaces not related to resin 3D printing in order to avoid cross-contamination.
- If pouring resin into a container, take great caution and care in ensuring the resin only lands into the vat. This may mean having to take the vat out of the machine to pour the resin in it. Do this pouring on a tarp, paper towels, silicone mat, or other covering that will protect the surface surrounding the tabletop area.
- If pouring resin back into a container, use a funnel (ideally with a fine mesh strainer) to ensure resin only pours directly into the container. Again, do it on a covering that will protect the surface the container sits on.
- Avoid splashing resin.
- Never use gloves to wipe tools or surfaces covered with resin. Only use paper towels or microfiber washcloths, ideally with some isopropyl alcohol poured onto them. If the surface or tool has paint sensitive to isopropyl alcohol, use warm soapy water instead. For more instructions on how to properly clean tools and surfaces covered in resin, refer to the Resin Cleanup section down below.
- Keep resin away from food, drinks, and other consumable products.
- Keep resin away from children and animals.
- If handling resin for a prolonged period of time, change gloves frequently.
- Reduce exposure to resin if the room is no longer well-ventilated.
- Only take off protective equipment when finished cleaning and handling resin.
Cleaning is important in preventing cross-contamination and minimizing the chances of eye and skin contact. Tidy up your station and tools using the following instructions:
- Some resin can sit in the vat in your machine for a few days; however, it's best practice to pour the resin back into a container after you finish printing in order to minimize contamination and degradation. Refer back to Safe Resin Handling on how to properly pour resin from a vat back into a container.
- Clean tools and surfaces that have touched resin. Do not leave tools or surfaces uncleaned longer than a few hours. Tools and surfaces become more difficult to clean the longer resin remains on them.
- When wiping resin off surfaces or tools, a paper towel with isopropyl alcohol is sufficient. Wipe down any surface and tools with isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel (while wearing gloves) repeatedly until there is no trace of resin left.
- If you are wiping resin off of the inside of the vat, be careful and only apply light pressure. The film at the bottom of the vat (typically made of FEP) is sensitive to scratches and tears so it's critical to be gentle cleaning that area in order to minimize the number of times needed to replace the FEP film. Once the vat is mostly free of resin using a paper towel with isopropyl alcohol, give it another wipe down with a paper towel wet with water. After, give it a final wipe with a dry paper towel. Make sure the vat has completely dried before reusing.
- If you are concerned about ruining the varnish or paint on a tool/surface, use warm soapy water in place of isopropyl alcohol.
- If wiping down tools with isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel is not enough, use a container filled with isopropyl alcohol to dip the tool into and swish it around (careful to not spill any drops) for no more than a minute. Then use a separate container filled with water to clean off the alcohol and any remaining resin. Repeat until tool is clean of resin. Use a dry paper towel to wipe off any remaining alcohol and water.
- Once finished cleaning, leave anything that has uncured resin (i.e. paper towels used to wipe resin, containers filled with unusable resin or resin mixed with other liquids, etc.) out in the sun or under a UV light. This includes gloves, which should be taken off if there is no intention to further touch anything that may have uncured resin on it.
- Once uncured resin on paper towels and in containers has completely hardened and dried, then it is safe to touch and throw away. Read Proper Disposal for more details on safely disposing resin and resin covered items.
To maximize resin shelf life and avoid accidents, adhere to the following guidelines:
- Wear gloves, even when just storing or grabbing a container of resin.
Store in a room with a temperature that falls no lower than 4°C (39.2°F) and no higher than 25°C (77°F).
- Store in a dark storage space such as a cabinet to minimize potential exposure to UV lighting.
- Store away from heat, flames, sparks, and strong UV sources
- Keep out of reach of children and animals.
- Keep container closed to prevent water absorption and/or other contaminates from becoming mixed with the product.
Cured resin is safe resin. What is cured resin? Resin that has completely hardened and dried from heat and/or UV lighting. If the resin is still in liquid form and wet, it is not cured/fully cured. With that in mind, remember the following when intending to dispose of resin:
- Do NOT pour uncured resin down the drain or toilet. Uncured resin is toxic and will be hazardous to the environment.
- Do not throw away uncured resin or anything that has touched uncured resin into normal trash.
- Cure all waste resin until hardened and dry before disposing in regular trash.
- This includes the waste resin on paper towels and gloves used for protection and cleanup. Leave paper towels and gloves that have come into contact with resin out in the sun or under UV light and leave them there until they have fully hardened. Then dispose it with the rest of the regular trash.
- Do not pour water or isopropyl alcohol that has uncured resin in it down the drain or into the environment. Leave those mixtures in a container out in the sun until the water or isopropyl alcohol has evaporated and hardened resin is left. Throw that cured resin into the normal trash.
- If disposing a container that housed resin, pour in some isopropyl alcohol and swish it around in the container to clean off all the resin in the container's walls. Then poor that isopropyl alcohol and resin mix into a container that you can leave out in the sun or under a UV light to dry and harden. Most of the isopropyl alcohol in that mixture should evaporate, leaving only some hardened resin behind. Also leave the open, empty container outside in the sun to dry. Throw the container and leftover cured resin in your normal trash.
- If disposing a failed print, cure the print until it is hardened and dry. Then it is safe to throw away in normal trash.
- If you can't cure your resin before disposal, take it to your local waste collection center as “hazardous materials” waste.
That's it! Wear protective gear, minimize resin contact, and do not touch or throw away any uncured resin until it has completely hardened and dried under the sun or UV light. Follow these guidelines, as well as all the other protocols listed above, and you'll have a happy and safe resin 3D printing experience.
Photopolymer Resin 3D Printing Safety Last Revised on November 2020