Resin-based 3D printing offers an ideal combination of speed and resolution. It achieves this by using a photo-curable resin that is usually cured by the direct application of UV light beams. But how long does 3D printer resin last? And how long do different types of 3D printer resin last?
How long does 3d printer resin last? The standard photosensitive 3D printer resin can last several days in the vat in the printer. However, there are some resins that need to be agitated to remain usable. You may also need to clean the bottom of the vat so that things don’t stick to the bottom of the vat.
For unopened 3D photo-sensitive resin, it can last for months or even years if it is sitting on a cool dry shelf and kept out of the light. You can leave the liquid resin in the standard printer tray for a day or two if you cover it with the standard orange cover.
How long does 3d printer resin last in other cases? We'll explain how long it can last and give tips on how you can extend its life.
How long does Moai resin last?
Moai resin is designed for laser curing, not UV curing. That means it isn’t UV sensitive. This makes it much less sensitive to indoor UV, whether it comes from overhead lights or light filtering in through windows. That means Moai resin can be left in a covered container for several days, as long as it is protected from sunlight and evaporation.
How can you extend the life of the UV sensitive resins?
One of the key tricks is protecting the resin from light. It could be as simple as putting a piece of paper over the vat when you walk away from it so that stray light from the hallway doesn’t affect the resin when you open the door as you leave for lunch. Using cardboard is better. Keeping windows closed and having heavy blinds is another solution, though moving the resin to a sealed storage compartment is better.
When you pour some resin out of the container, close the lid instead of leaving it open. This is a safety measure, as well, since the resin can irritate the skin if you touch it and the fumes can bother your lungs and eyes. That’s aside from the fact that resin left outside or otherwise exposed to light can cause it to cure until it cracks. And you can’t recover from that. Don’t forget to store open or large numbers of closed resin containers where there is adequate ventilation.
How long does a SLA resin tray last?
SLA resin trays often have a Teflon coating that allow the printed polymer to stick to the build plate. However, that Teflon layer will wear down over time. This means you have to swap out the trays periodically if you want to continue smooth printing. Teflon’s performance is roughly half way between PDMS and FEP trays.
How long do SLA resin trays last? If you have a tray with a PDMS coating, the life span depends on how long you print without a breathing floor and how reactive the resin is. This means you could get anywhere from two to twenty prints from a single tray. The manufacturer’s instructions will give you more specific information on the particular brand of resin tray. In contrast, Envision glass plates may last fifty prints.
The life of an FEP resin tray depends on the thickness of the FEP, the size of the bottom layer of the printed piece and the movement speed of the tray. These trays can often be used for hundreds of prints, but thinner FEP material and a high degree of print tray motion wears it out faster. And higher resolution prints will wear it out faster, too.
How do you extend the life of 3D printer trays?
Have low ambient levels of ultraviolet light, including the overhead lights in your lab. Use proper cleaning procedures so you don’t remove the protective layer on the printing tray. You could in theory design print jobs to reduce the wear on the tray.
How do you improve the life expectancy of UV cured resin?
Resin printed material has its own life expectancy. Some 3D printed resins continue to be sensitive to UV light after they’ve been printed. You can protect these materials by painting them. Or you can store the printed items where they won’t be touched by UV light. Sunlight is the obvious culprit, but traces of UV light from LED grow lights are also a factor. You can also switch to a resin formulation that’s somewhat immune to UV exposure after it has been printed.
What are the side effects of shortened 3D printer resin and print tray life?
When both have shortened operating life, you’ll have to clean the trays more often due to resin buildup. You’re also more prone to bad print jobs because of resin sticking to the tray or not flowing as expected. Cleaning procedures that don’t remove bad resin or remove the protective layer on trays will hurt print quality, as well. If you use the printer heavily, you’ll often use resin before it can go bad but wear out printer trays and other components. Replace consumables as necessary to maintain 3D print quality.
How does resin formulation affect its life expectancy?
Another factor in this equation is the resin formulation. The shelf-life of the resin and the storage requirements to maximize that shelf-life depend on the resin. Yet the resin formulation can determine how it is stored, too. We tend to protect the sixty dollar one liter bottle of resin better than the five dollar bottle. And if you don’t use it very often, you’re more likely to store it in a protective storage compartment, especially if it is expensive. Treat all resin the same way, and you’ll maximize its shelf life.
How fast you use the resin will depend on what you’re printing and how. You can estimate the volume of an object that you’re going to print. You should try to leave a hole in the product so that it can drain out excess resin. That reduces how much resin you need to complete a print job, though it means you need to be careful regarding the resin’s age and quality. (Some people poke a hole in it with a needle, too, to let liquid drain out.) If you drained excess resin into a separate container, either reuse it nearly immediately or discard it so that you don’t end up mixing fresh, good resin and deteriorated resin.