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In modern societies the dawn of technology brought with it innumerous marvels which are assisting various sectors by enabling swifter processing and better outcomes.

This is evident across the board, from the health section with upgraded apparatuses to gaming companies that via online systems offer endless possibilities both for work and play. Furthermore, the continuous refinement in tech, gears, and gadgets, consequently affects the end-user with an enhanced positive experience while yielding improved fantastic results.

The 3D printing realm is no stranger to this phenomenon. Printing in 3D is already an avantgarde feat, however printers are constantly being rethought, altered, and tweaked, aspiring to heightened machines while also experimenting with varied materials in pursue of more accurate and precise ultimate products or final structures.

Today, we are filtering down to a particular material in the 3D printing world – Resin. Thus, if you are an amateur 3D printer still learning the ropes with a side hustle project in mind, or just printing as a hobby, but even a professional who never tried resin, well, read on as we discover all the facets of these alternative methods of 3D printing.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Blame it on a certain Charles (Chuck) W. Hull who came up with the above term also known as SLA 3D printing, while in 1986 he obtained a patent for this type of tech and founded 3D Systems to sell it.

Simply put, stereolithography is the technique used when printing thin layers of a material that hardens when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.

However, our pal Chuck wasn`t the first to experiment using this method, indeed the merit goes to a Japanese researcher namely Dr Hideo Kodama, who during the 1970s managed to cure photosensitive polymers using UV light.

As patents started to run out during 2009 following wide usage of stereolithography, alternative methods to SLA 3D printing started to arise making way to the small-format desktop 3D printing machines we know today, which enabled access to varied range of users across the spectrum from professionals to enthusiasts. The first additive manufacturing procedure used on desktop 3D printers was Fused Deposition Modelling or FDM.

However, FDMs didn`t meet pro requirements, although thanks to this low-cost extrusion -based technology people started venturing in 3D printing, so FDM still holds the honour of spreading and boosting awareness around this type of printing.

One must appreciate that for specialised 3D printing, biocompatible materials like the ones used in the dentistry section are as important as the skills needed to manufacture minute details for industries like jewellery and microfluidics. The latter refers to the science which studies the comportment of fluids through micro-channels, and the technology of manufacturing microminiaturised devices comprising compartments and channels via which liquids stream or are kept.

Resin Printer – How Does It Work?

Apologies, but we do have more acronyms for you to absorb apart from the prior SLA, as resin printing is segmented into three types.

Stereolithography (SLA)

While fully aware that we already tackled this subject exhaustively above being the most traditional method, however it is good to emphasise that this process allows us to obtain a model in exquisite detail, while it is also pertinent to mention that quality in results depends on the type of printers used.

Moreover, since SLA resin printers hold a smaller build volume they cannot produce bulky items, while it takes longer to complete the task at hand as the laser needs to draw every single layer like a pencil.  

Masked Stereolithography (MSLA)

This is a different kind of SLA printing. Basically, the difference is that SLA is often reserved for industrial applications because of high cost, and it employs a laser to trace the layers.

MSLA on the other hand treats complete layers at once using an UV LED array and an LCD screen.

Digital Light Processing (DLP)

Behold the fastest method of 3D printing! DLP can produce a layer of hardened material in a matter of seconds, then quickly transferred to enable the printing of the following layer.

Similar to SLA, DLP 3D printers engage liquid plastic resin which is melted using arc lamps rather than an UV laser beam. The amount of light is responsible for the resin to cure quickly, resulting in faster printing rates. The DLP way allows us to print high-resolution, complex, and intricate models which can be crafted also at lower costs as it permits the utility of less expensive materials.

The Benefits of 3D Printing in Resin

  • Isotropy – Resin 3D printing keeps the object`s symmetry and uniformity in all directions which is essential for things like jigs and fixtures
  • Watertightness – Items printed in resin are one piece, which is ideal for keeping water out while controlling the flow of liquids or air through the chambers/tunnels created, like we find in cars, biomedical research, and kitchen appliances 
  • Precision & Accuracy – Exact and detailed resin 3D printed objects are required for specialised industries like dentistry
  • Fine Details & Smooth Finish – The final quality makes it easier to sand, polish and paint the resin 3D printed parts, which cuts down on the time needed for post-processing
  • Versatility – Resins allow us to work more freely as its list of properties is countless. Resin can be soft or hard, and can be filled with glass or ceramic, while mechanical assets can be instilled such as elevated temperature deflection or impact resistance

Final Thoughts

As you may have concluded by now, there are a myriad of possibilities in the fascinating domain of 3D printing, and resin is surely leading the way especially where more sophisticated and precise structures are needed.

Engineers, designers, artists, and hobbyists utilising resin 3D printing access an area of high-quality objects which they simply cannot obtain from the usual filament-based Fused Deposition Modelling printer or FDM.

If you are after accurate and detailed assemblages, we highly recommend putting 3D printing in resin to the test as most probably it is the key to your solution to obtain smoother better high-grade results.

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