UV Resin Toxicity – Is 3D Printing Resin Safe or Dangerous?
Safety with resin 3D printers is a key topic that people wonder about, and it is always a good idea to keep informed about toxicity especially with photopolymer resins, whether it is toxic or safe. I went out to do some research to figure out the proper answers and put it in this article.
Uncured photopolymer UV resin is not safe on the skin as it can quickly be absorbed through the skin and result in irritations. Negative effects may not be seen straight away, but after repeated exposure, you can get highly sensitive to UV resin. Fully cured resin is safe to touch.
There are many ways to improve your safety when it comes to 3D printing with resin, so keep on reading on through this article to get clued up on the important information.
What Happens If You Touch Uncured Resin?
In the early days of handling uncured UV resin, not much will happen as a reaction when it comes into contact with your skin, but after repeated exposure and use, you can build up a high sensitivity to photopolyer resin. It is similar to how you don’t feel many affects of respiratory issues until years later.
Some people have said that after years of handling resin and it coming into contact with their skin, they are now sensitive to even the smell of resin where it starts to give them headaches.
Rather than no reactions happening at first, now when uncured resin touches their skin, they soon after break out with skin irritation and rashes.
It can lead to contact dermatitis, a skin rash that can lead to allergies, or even bigger issues if exposed for a long time. That is why it’s important to avoid touching uncured resin in any form, even while partly being cured off the 3D printer.
If the body absorbs enough uncured resin over time, it can naturally develop into an allergic reaction.
Uncured resin has certain chemical properties that makes it easier for the skin to quickly absorb it, getting absorbed even faster if mixed with isopropyl alcohol.
If you do come into contact with uncured resin, you should immediately wash the affected area with cold water and soap for a few minutes since it is quite troublesome to completely remove.
Avoid hot water because it can open up the pores and allow the resin to be absorbed even more.
Other stories I’ve heard are when people get uncured resin on their skin then go out into the sun. Since photopolyer resin reacts to light and UV rays, it actually resulted in a sharp, burning sensation when exposed to the light.
Some people have claimed that touching the resin can affect the body immediately but this fact totally depends on the type of resin you are using and your individual health and tolerance.
Although it does sound alarming, most people follow the safety measures adequately and should be just fine. It doesn’t mean you have to totally avoid resin 3D printing, but you just have to be cautious.
When handling UV resin, I make sure to wear my gloves, a long sleeve top, glasses/goggles, a mask, and move with caution.
How Toxic is 3D Printer Resin?
Proper extensive testing hasn’t been done yet that provides an exact measure of the toxicity of the resin, but it is known to be unsafe and toxic in many circumstances. 3D printer UV resin is chemically toxic not only for the people, but for the surroundings and the environment as well.
Long term use of resin can result in higher sensitivities, and has been known to harm aquatic animals when placed in an aquarium. It’s definitely not something that should be poured down a drain or sink because it can lead to contamination.
That’s why proper disposal of UV resin is so important, so it should be fully cured before disposing of it. You want to avoid inhaling resin fumes also, making sure that your ventilation, mask, and filters are working in unison.
Activated carbon filters work pretty well to ventilate 3D printer fumes and absorbing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Further in this article, I’ll recommend a good ventilation solution.
Resin is similar to other toxic substances that harm the environmental factors if not disposed of properly.
Everything that comes into contact with the resin such as the materials used for storing and cleaning the resin prints should also be cleaned and disposed of in the right way.
While curing resin 3D prints is important, it’s important to know that when the prints are kept under a UV light for a long time, the plastic can start to break down and the particles spread out in the nearby environment.
This factor should be kept in mind especially if you are curing your prints indoors, as opposed to outdoors where they are being exposed to the UV rays directly from the intense sunlight.
With a good UV light, curing shouldn’t usually take any longer than 6 minutes for a large print.
As resin is very toxic for many living creatures, you should be careful while using the resin and disposing of it. Make sure the resin does not come in contact with you, animals, plants, water, etc.
Is Uncured Resin Toxic?
No doubt uncured resin is toxic and can be harmful to the user and its surroundings. The resin is be categorized as uncured until it is in the form of liquid or not hardened with the exposure of UV rays. It absorbs into the skin very easily and is toxic to touch.
The fumes aren’t as bad as contact with skin, but you should try to wear a mask and have proper ventilation when handling UV resin.
It is safe to touch once it is cured but until it is uncured it is a serious safety hazard. The resin 3D printer is designed to provide you safety features so that you don’t have to touch the uncured resin but there are possibilities that you may come in contact with it.
That’s why you are recommended to follow the safety tips to avoid its toxicity.
- Resin 3D printers have built-in safety features to auto-stop when the UV protective lid is removed
- When handling resin, try to remove jewelry such as rings, bracelets, watches, etc.
- Wear nitrile gloves, safety goggles or glasses, and a mask as well
- Try not to eat or drink nearby the work area while handling uncured resin
- Uncured or even partially cured resin is considered hazardous waste. So do not throw it directly into water or a bin
- You can visit your closest chemical waste disposal website and dispose of the uncured resin according to their recommended procedure
- Do not store uncured resin in a refrigerator or near your food and drinks
Is Cured UV Resin Skin Safe & Safe to Touch or Toxic?
Once the resin is exposed to the UV lights and is cured properly, it becomes safe for the skin and can be touched without any hassle. When the resin becomes hard after being cured, the substance does not leach into the things that come in contact with it.
Cured resin is safe, you can get an idea from the fact that many users make helmets and wear them on their face while working.
Is Anycubic Resin Toxic?
Anycubic resin is a plant-based resin that is used for 3D printing. It is not as toxic as compared to other resins, but still toxic as a resin. Although the Anycubic Plant-Based Eco Resin has a low-odor, you still want to avoid contact with skin.
- As it is made up of natural ingredients such as soybean oil, it has no VOCs or any other harmful chemicals.
- Emits a low odor and is easy to work with.
- Biodegradable and eco-friendly
- Provides less shrinkage that helps in getting better quality prints.
- The prints come in a fresh color and look great.
Where most of the people claim that they feel normal, a few users have also claimed that they had headaches after working with resins that have a heavy odor. Anycubic’s normal resin is part of that group, so I’d recommend their plant-based alternative.
There are different opinions in this regard but we suggest you follow precautionary measures because it is better than being sorry after getting hurt.
Therefore, it is recommended that:
- You place the printer in a place away from your main living areas such as in your garage or dedicated workplace.
- The resin doesn’t make contact with your skin because repeated exposure to the skin can cause irritation and allergic reactions.
- Wearing gloves is an essential rule that you should always follow
Do You Need to Wear a Mask When Using UV Resin?
A mask is not required when 3D printing with UV resin, but it is highly recommended for safety reasons. You can get yourself eco-friendly resin like the Anycubic Plant-Based Resin. A 3M respirator with an air purifier is a great combination to increase safety.
When you buy a 3D printer, they usually come with gloves and a mask for safety, so we know it’s recommended by manufacturers.
Usually, the smell of the resin is bearable, the main thing that requires us to wear a mask while printing is the fumes that are emitted from the resin. A simple facemask works pretty well.
You can get yourself the AmazonCommercial 3-Ply Disposable Face Mask (50pcs) from Amazon.
Some resin smell pretty bad and if you are sensitive to smell then you should always wear a mask before initiating the printing process.
The resin my Anycubic Photon Mono X came with smelled really harsh, so a mask was needed for operation. When I got the Anycubic Plant-Based Resin, as talked about above, the odor was very bearable and easy to handle.
Resin fumes have particles and molecules that can be harmful to the body especially if you do 3D printing regularly.
Inhaling the resin particles via fumes may cause allergy, irritations and may also lead to negative health implications in the longer-term future.
The resin used for 3D printing has a clear warning that it is toxic and not food-safe therefore experts suggest wearing a mask or respirator for safety purposes.
A great mask that works pretty well is the 3M Rugged Comfort Respirator from Amazon. You’ll have to get the filters separately, the usual option being the 3M Organic P100 Vapor Filter, also from Amazon for a great price.
You’ll have to get the filters separately, the usual option being the 3M Organic P100 Vapor Filters, also from Amazon for a great price.
The need of wearing the mask can be if you do 3D printing in a well-ventilated area. Some people put filters where the fans are to clean the air straight from the source, resulting in a cleaner output of air.
Do Resin 3D Printers Need Ventilation?
Many resins emit bad smells and fumes so it is a good idea to work in a well-ventilated area because the vapor molecules from the resin may get into your lungs and cause respiratory irritations or issues.
No matter what method you are using for 3D printing, you should have a setup including a ventilation solution. This should help reduce airborne particles and the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from the room or garage you are working in.
If there is no window or any physical possibility of external ventilation, it can be helped by using a good filtration system.
Filtration systems are specially designed devices that have the ability to capture the harmful microparticles and VOCs, preventing you from their negative effects.
As mentioned above, the resin emits fumes, VOCs, and other molecules that are harmful to the human body and health. There is a probability that the fumes will affect you right at the moment but inhaling these particles on a regular basis can lead to major issues over time.
Ventilation is one of the factors that are common in 3D printing whether you are using filaments or resin. Before you install a printing setup in your home you should have a ventilation solution.
Charcoal filters and 3M filters work well for resin 3D printers.
The Eureka Instant Clear Air Purifier comes with x4 activated carbon filters and has a HEPA filter which captures 99.7% of dust and airborne allergens. You can get it for yourself from Amazon for a great price.
It’s rated at 4.6/5.0 at time of writing, a respectable rating for a great product.
How Do You Properly Dispose of 3D Printer Resin?
To proper dispose of 3D printer resin, you need to make sure any uncured UV resin is properly cured under either a UV light from a lamp or curing machine, or direct sunlight. Air and ambient light also helps with curing. Once resin is cured, it can be disposed of like normal plastic.
You should never dispose of liquid resin, it should always be cured and hardened beforehand.
If it is a failed print just put it under the direct light of the sun and let it harden and then throw it in the trash. If it is an empty resin bottle, pour some isopropyl alcohol in it and swish it properly.
Transfer that liquid into a clear glass or plastic container, then expose it to UV light which will then cure any mixed in resin. Some people then filter out the cured resin so the isopropyl alcohol is left over.
You can leave the IPA in the sunlight and let it evaporate completely.
The main idea is to make the resin cure and safe before throwing it out. Failed prints or supports still need to be cured with UV lights before disposing of them.
Do keep this fact in mind that isopropyl alcohol mixed in resin should also be treated the same as the uncured resin. Wait until the IPA evaporates and the resin gets hard under the direct sun and then dispose of it.
What Safety Equipment Do You Need For UV Resin?
A pair of nitrile gloves, goggles, mask/respirator, and filtration system, fall in the list of the equipment that you need for your safety while handling resins throughout your 3D printing process.
- Nitrile gloves
- A mask or respirator
- Safety goggles or glasses
- Good ventilation
- Paper towels
Pair of Nitrile Gloves
- The first thing that comes into consideration is a pair of gloves.
- It will be much better if you wear nitrile gloves as they are better in terms of safety and protection.
The Wostar Nitrile Disposable Gloves of 100 from Amazon is a great choice with very high ratings.
A Mask or Respirator
- Wear a mask as it will protect you from inhaling the VOCs and other harmful chemical molecules which may disturb your lungs and breathing.
- You can also wear a respirator in this case.
As mentioned above, you can go with the normal Face Mask or go with the higher level Respirator with the Filters.
Safety Goggles or Glasses
- Wear safety goggles or glasses to protect your eyes from the fumes of the resin.
- You should protect your eyes to prevent resin from getting into your eyes in case of a splatter.
- If resin enters your eyes, wash them for more than 10 minutes and do not rub as it may cause irritation.
The Gateway Clear Safety Glasses is a popular among users who put safety first. They are lightweight, fits over glasses if you wear them, strong, and very competively priced compared to other safety glasses out there.
Efficient Ventilation or Filtration System
- Work in a well-ventilated area and if the area is not much-ventilated use some sort of filtration system.
As mentioned above, the Eureka Instant Clear Air Purifier from Amazon is a great ventilation system to assist your resin printing adventures
Plenty of Paper Towels
- When you handle uncured resin, it’s going to spill and splatter from time to time so having paper towels on hand is ideal
You can’t go wrong with the Amazon Brand Presto! Paper Towels, rated highly and works as well as you need them to.