3D printing is all about the details, and unfortunately the important details are often difficult to spot without cutting through the thick cloud of PR and marketing that has perpetually surrounded our industry. While many people looking to purchase their first 3D printer are often taken back at the initial cost of the printer itself, many are even less prepared for the cost of ongoing maintenance, the cost of materials and quite often the amount of post-processing that objects fresh off the printer require. The plastic materials used by FDM printers typically need a considerable amount of sanding to remove striation marks, not to mention the removal of any support material. And often those looking for less involved post processing work by purchasing a printer that uses light-cured resins are taken by surprise by the need to clean fresh prints in costly, harsh and dangerous chemicals.
Laser cutter, engraver and 3D printer manufacturer Full Spectrum Laser has decided to make post-processing resin parts easier, cleaner and safer with a new stereolithography resin that can be cleaned with just water. The new 3D printing photopolymer has a highly attractive finish with excellent mechanical properties, and any excess resin material left on the print can easily be dissolved by rinsing with plain water. The Water Washable Resin is now available for sale online at $150 per 1 liter bottle, which is roughly the same price as standard resin materials.
Overall the stereolithography 3D printing process is often less hassle than FDM printers, produces a better surface finish and has a much lower failure rate. However it can be pretty messy and dangerous for use in homes or small offices thanks to the light-cured resin itself. When the object being 3D printed is finished, it will still be coated in a slick coating of excess uncured liquid that needs to be removed pretty quickly to avoid the part being deformed by the layer of materials being slowly cured by natural light.
Most resins require the use of solvents like isopropyl alcohol or acetone to remove any excess uncured material and to provide the smooth finish to the parts’ surface. Not only are these solvents expensive but many of them contain volatile organic chemicals that can be harmful to the environment and dangerous for humans. It is also inadvisable to use them in small, confined poorly ventilated spaces like a home or a small office.
However, Full Spectrum Laser’s Water Washable Resin material only needs to be cleaned with water to dissolve the excess material and obtain the same surface finish. Not only does this remove the need for dangerous chemicals and solvents, but it removes the cost of purchasing those dangerous chemicals and solvents. That can add up to a huge savings, and make FSL’s entire line of resin 3D printers quite cost effective to own compared to those of other manufacturers. And of course the lack of chemicals required also makes them a safer option, ideal for classrooms or small businesses who may be unsuited to dealing with hazardous materials.
“Secondary School educators have come to us with a growing need for a resin which not only performs well, but which is also more appropriate for the classroom environment. With the customer in mind, our team is excited to now be offering our Water Washable Resin, which requires no harmful chemicals for removing excess material,” explained Full Spectrum Laser Lead Materials Scientist Charlie He.
The Water Washable Resin materials have been designed to be completely compatible with FSL’s entire families of stereolithography (SLA) and digital light projector (DLP) 3D printers, that includes both the Phoenix and Pegasus lines. Using the Water Washable Resin is the exact same process as printing with any standard FSL resin material, and won’t require any additional step or upgrade of existing printers. The process of dissolving the excess resin with water is quite straightforward only needs to be briefly rinsed or soaked. FSL says that their Water Washable Resin has a similarly high level of durability and shares the same high resolutions as their standard resin material.
Have you tested this resin out yourself? Let us know your thoughts in the Water Washable Resin forum thread on 3DPB.com.
Here is a video showing off the process and the quality of the final part detail: