The Joys of 3D Printing – Safety!

First, lets just highlight this refers to Resin printers, not filament printers.  I’m sure there are safety issues there as, well, but this is just what I’ve learned from getting a Resin Printer from Xmas, and learning both the hard way and through frantic research how to do it without dying horribly.

So, lets be very clear – the big issue with resin printers?  The resin.  UV sensitive resin is, frankly, absolutely horrible stuff.  Potentially carcinogenic, organic dangerous fumes, can cause increasing allergic reactions over time to the point of very serious burns.  Some resin is worse than others, but it is a hazardous material and needs to be treated very serious.

What does that mean?  Resin doesn’t go down the drain.  All waste resin needs to be UV cured for safety before disposal – the supports, any wiped up on paper towels, and any resin washed off models in alcohol or water.  IPA evaporates off fairly easily – water is more onerous.  Once the resin in the water is cured, though, it can be poured away reasonably safely through a filter and all the resin disposed of.  That’s the key.  You need to make sure _everything_ gets cured by UV exposure.

If you are using more resin, you need to be careful with the alcohol too!  That’s also a dangerous chemical!  I’ve gone very heavily for water washable resins, so I haven’t really got as much experience here.  Some people prefer it as the alcohol reminds them to take it all seriously – water washable leads some people to take risks.

In terms of you – you really want a mask rated for organic compounds.  You are dealing with fumes, not particles.  You want a printer with built in air filters, and a well ventilated space, even if its just a convenient window to air a room out.  You really don’t want to be touching the stuff.  Disposable nitrile gloves are generally the way forward, and they aren’t the cheapest.  If you have reusable gloves – you need to be careful of how you wash and dry them in terms of the waste resin too.

I use a big 20 litre transparent tub for waste water I store outside in the sun, which serves to cure the resin for disposal, and use a smaller tub for cleaning the minis, that then gets dumped into the larger tub.  It is a pain, but you really don’t want raw resin getting into the environment.

You definitely want some portable UV lights to be able to cure minis and the stuff for disposal in a range of locations depending on size.

Resin printing is not for the faint hearted, and if you have kids, you need to make sure they understand just how dangerous the stuff is.

Once cured the resin is pretty safe.  I still wouldn’t use it for anything to do with food – don’t print cookie cutters or that sort of thing! Just remember – when its liquid, its dangerous.

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