Vat Photopolymerisation uses a vat of liquid photosensitive polymer resin. This 3D printing resin hardens on exposure to light. This property is used to build objects layer-by-layer from the ground-up till the complete object is printed. The most common processes in this category are Stereolithography (SLA) and Digital Light Processing (DLP).
Both these technologies use liquid resins. Manufacturers formulate a number of resins for generic or very specific applications. Here we take a look at some of the common 3D Printing Resins.
Standard 3D Printing Resin
This is the most common and general purpose 3D printing resin available. A lot of 3D printing resin manufacturers supply such general purpose resins but it is important to check the material fact sheet to understand the properties and its relevance to your specific application. All SLA/DLP 3D Printer manufacturer provide their own Standard Resins.
All resin 3D printer and resin manufacturers provide such a standard resin as it is the most widely used material.
Tough 3D Printing Resin
This is a specific purpose 3D printer resin. It serves a special application for parts where strength is a crucial factor. A tough resin balances strength, and stability when subjected to comparatively higher stress or strain. It is suitable for strong prototyping and functional parts and assemblies.
Flexible 3D Printing Resin
The name says it all. The flexible resin is obviously for applications where the end-part has to bend and or compress and more importantly regain its original shape without any deformation. The flexible resins are soft on touch and are for very specific applications. Some applications are packaging handles, grips, dampening parts, prototypes for wearables with strap or belt, etc.
Castable 3D Printing Resin
Castable 3D printing resin has been used in Photopolymerisation for a long time. Earlier this used to be the only 3D printing method to employ castable feature. The fact that the vat photopolymerisation printed parts have excellent surface finish adds to the advantage of it being a common process used for castable 3D printed parts. The most obvious application is the jewellery industry and metal casting.
The castable resin is designed to capture the intricate details of a jewellery design. The most important function of the resin is to completely burnout without leaving any ash or any other residue so that they can be easily used for investment casting.
Many companies and generic material manufacturers produce castable resins.
Dental 3D Printing Resin
These resins are developed for dentistry applications like crowns & bridges, retainers, and splints, surgical guides, etc. Supplementary materials like model resin for dental models, SG resin for surgical guides (these are biocompatible materials) & clear dental resin for splints and retainers (these also are biocompatible materials) are also developed for use in particular applications.
Companies like SprintRay, Formlabs, NextDent, etc. provide such dental resins.
Clear 3D Printing Resin
This is a basic standard 3D printing resin for transparent applications. Only Vat Photopolymerisation technology allows for a clear printed part possible in 3D printing. Clear resin is mostly used in optics, mould-making, aesthetic parts requiring transparency, etc.
Formlabs provide such clear resins in standard or dental form.
High-Temp 3D Printing Resin
High-temperature 3D printing resin is developed at a low cost by Formlabs and it offers great resistance at high temperatures. This material from Formlabs has a Heat-Deflection Temperature of 289oC at 0.45 MPa. This is a stand-out feature of this material and it is incredible that engineers can get such a material in a desktop 3D printer.
Open-Source 3D Printing Resin
Autodesk believed in democratizing the technology to an all new level when it launched its open-source 3D printer Ember. It not only disclosed the design for its DLP 3D Printer but also shared the recipe for its photopolymer resin used in the Ember 3D printer. It felt that users will develop their own resins at home and released the formulations for standard clear resin.
Although Autodesk has discontinued the manufacturing of its 3D printer. But it helped in paving a way for enthusiasts to build their own 3D printers and 3D printing resins.
Daylight 3D Printing Resin
Daylight 3D printing resins are formulated by Photocentric, an English chemical manufacturer, making photopolymers or liquids. These resins harden on exposure to visible light, unlike other photosensitive resins which harden only on exposure to UV light.
Photocentric is one of the handful of manufacturers which uses such resins. This resin allows for a quick and easy operation by eliminating the need for harmful UV light. The Daylight resins are available with varying properties like tough, high-temperature, castable, firm, flexible, etc.
Ceramic 3D Printing Resin
Recently Formlabs launched Ceramic resin. This is an experimental material and will be tested for improvements.
Other companies have also tried their hand at developing a ceramic resin and one such company, Porcelite, launched a Kickstarter campaign for its ceramic resin. It is available online for buying.
Bio-Compatible 3D Printing Resin
NextDent, a leading manufacturers of dental materials for3D printing which was acquired by 3D Systems last year has a vast range of resins targeted towards use in dental applications. While these serve a specific use the enormous range is worthy of a special mention.
All its materials are biocompatible and CE-certified. With their range of dental materials dentists can use very particular resin for a particular type of product. Some of resins include NextDent Denture 3D+, NextDent Ortho Clear, NextDent Ortho Rigid, NextDent Model 2.0, NextDent Gingiva Mask, NextDent Cast, etc.
Colour 3D Printing Resin
Unlike some 3D printing methods which print in full-colour, resin printers can print only in a single colour. Moreover, not many manufacturers have experimented with coloured resins. But by carrying out personal experimentations, some customers have directly mixed two coloured resins to create a personalised colour to print their parts.
Formlabs recently launched their ‘Color Kit’ on an experimental basis. They even explained the process to get the needed colour by mixing the different colour pigments in accurate quantities. Although this is not a direct coloured resin but a way to get coloured 3D prints.
As the industry is growing a lot of new specific-purpose resins are being developed by 3D printer manufacturers. Resins like High-speed, Medical, Hearing-Aid, Molds & Tooling, High-Detail, etc. are available while some may really serve a specific purpose some are just variants of similar materials offered by competitors (although the properties may differ a lot)
With a number of 3D printing resins available in the market, it is important to know what you really need a 3D printer for and its application. Based on the application you can very easily decide which resins are good for your application. Considering the rapid growth 3D printing industry is going through it is advisable to join forums and read a lot before actually buying the printer or the resin.
About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D Printing which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Read more such informative articles on our 3D Printing Info page.