Resin 3D Printing: How it Works and Applications

Resin 3D printing
Resin 3D printing

For many users, resin 3D printing remains that amazing, albeit mysterious technology. Because, how does light turn a liquid into a solid object right before your eyes? Not to mention that resin-printed objects are so incredibly detailed and smooth.

In this guide, you will get an overview of everything related to 3D printing with resin, how it works, what materials are used, the different types of 3D printing resins, common applications, and more.

What is Resin 3D Printing?

Resin 3D printing, which involves the use of photopolymerization techniques, is a type of manufacturing technology that creates objects by solidifying layers of photosensitive resin. This type of 3D printing uses a special kind of machine called a resin 3D printer.

A resin 3D printer comprises 4 main parts: a build platform, a source of light source, a vat of liquid resin, and a controller. Let’s see what each of these parts does:

  • The build platform is where the object being 3D-printed with resin is built layer by layer. This part will either move up or down during the process of printing your objects, depending on the type of printer.
  • The light source is usually a laser, but can also be an LCD panel or even a projector. The light cures the resin, solidifying it into the desired shape. In essence, it traces the cross-section of the object being printed on the surface of the resin.
  • The vat of liquid resin is the tank that holds the liquid resin. It’s also where the object is submerged during the 3D printing process. It’s usually made of clear plastic, so that the UV light can reach all areas of the resin.
  • The controller is the “brain” of the printer that tells the laser or light source what to do. It also manages the movement of the build platform and any other parts of the printer.
   Resin 3D printing process
Resin 3D printing process

How Does Resin 3D Printing Work?

Resin is poured into a vat. A UV laser traces the cross-section of the object being printed onto the surface of the resin. The light hardens the resin layer. The process is repeated until the entire object has been printed. Below is a more detailed look at how resin 3D printing works.

Resin 3D Printing Process

The resin 3D printing process, from the very beginning to the very end, can be broken down into 4 main steps: modeling stage, slicing, printing, and post-processing. Here are the resin 3D printing steps in more detail.

1. Modeling: This is the first step in any 3D printing process. You need to create a 3D model of the object you want to print using a computer-aided design (CAD) program. You can also find models online that are ready to be 3D printed.

2. Slicing: Once you have your 3D model, the next step is to slice it into thin layers. This is done using a slicing program, which takes your 3D model and turns it into a series of hundreds or thousands of 2D cross-sections.

3. Printing: Now it’s time to print your object! The slicing program you used in the previous step will generate a file called an STL or G-code that tells the 3D printer what to do. The 3D printer will then start printing your object layer by layer, using the light source to harden the resin.

The process of 3D printing with resin can be done in 3 major ways or techniques: SLA (stereolithography), DLP (digital light processing), and LCD (liquid crystal display).

  • In SLA Resin 3D printing a UV laser maps the cross-section of the object being 3D printed onto the resin.
  • The DLP method used a digital screen to projects the object’s cross sectional image, one layer at a time.
  • The LCD technique employs an LCD screen to map an image of each layer onto the surface of the build platform.

4. Post-processing: The final step is to remove your object from the build platform and clean it up. With resin 3D printing, post processing is done in many different ways.

  • Washing: the print is placed in a container of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to remove any uncured resin. Alternatively, you can place the object in water or you can leave it to dry while placed on some paper towels.
  • Curing: the print is placed in UV light to fully cure the resin and make it harder.
  • Support removal: if your print has any support structures, you need to remove them at this stage. This can be done by hand or with a tool.
  • Sanding/Polishing: the print is sanded and/or polished to remove any imperfections and give it a smooth finish.
  • Patching: if there are any holes or cracks in the print, they can be patched up to improve the appearance.
  • Finishing: the print can be painted or otherwise finished to your liking.

Resin 3D Printing Materials

What are the different types of resin for resin 3D printing? They are several, and each type of resin is designed for specific applications. The different types of these resins are broadly categorized into two: standard resins and a variety advanced 3D printing resins for functional parts.

  • Standard Resin: Standard resin is the most common type of resin used in 3D printing. It’s designed for a wide range of applications and can be different colors.
  • Tough Resin: Tough resin is a type of resin that’s designed for objects that need to be strong and durable. It’s often used for functional parts and prototypes.
  • Flexible Resin: This type of resin is designed for objects that need to be flexible
  • Durable Resin: Durable resin is a type of resin that’s designed for objects that need to be strong and resistant to wear and tear.
  • Castable Resin: With the ability to create highly accurate models, castable resin is often used for mold and jewelry applications.
  • Clear Resin: Just as the name suggests, clear resin is designed to produce molds, lighting parts, and optic applications.
  • Dental Resin: This is a type of 3D printing resin that’s specifically designed for dental applications. It can be used to create dentures, crowns, and bridges.
  • High-Temperature Resin: High-temperature resin is designed for objects that need to be able to withstand high temperatures such as foundry and thermoforming parts.
 Resin 3D printed jewelry
Resin 3D printed jewelry

Resin 3D printing Advantages

The process of using resin to print 3D objects has many advantages over other 3d printing methods. If you’re considering the material for your prototyping needs, parts production or just general 3D printing, here are some of the benefits you can expect:.

Resin 3D Printing is More Detailed

Resin 3D printing is capable of creating highly detailed and accurate prints. This is because the material is cured in very thin layers, allowing for a higher level of detail than when using other methods like filament-based 3D printing.

Resin 3D Printing is Faster

The process of resin 3D printing, particular the type that involves projecting the model’s image onto the resin, is also a much faster method. The use of light means each layer can be cured very quickly. This is unlike other methods such as those that use printing nozzles, which can take a long time to move back and forth across the build platform.

Resin 3D Printing Produces Smooth Surfaces

With the thin layers that characterize resin 3D printing, the final product will have smooth surfaces. This is in contrast to methods like FDM printing which often leave visible layer lines on the finished product.

There are also a few downsides to using resin 3D printer technology, but which do not affect all users in the same way.

  • Resin 3D printing can be quite costly for both the machine and the materials needed.
  • The process can be messy and dangerous if not done properly. It is important to take the necessary precautions when working with resin. Resin 3D printing safety includes wearing gloves and protective eyewear.
  • It requires more post-processing than many other methods. Resin 3D printing post-processing often involves includes cleaning, curing, and polishing the print.
Resin 3D printing vs. FDM prints
Resin 3D printing vs. FDM prints

Resin 3D Printing vs. FDM

The process of 3D printing with resin is similar to that of other additive manufacturing methods, such as filament-based 3D printing. However, there are some key differences.

  • For one, instead of using a spool of filament material like FDM printers do, resin 3D printers use a vat of liquid resin.
  • Resin 3D printing also produces more detailed prints than FDM.
  • In terms of post processing requirements, resin 3D printing is more demanding.
  • Resin 3D printing is also a bit messier than other additive manufacturing methods. This is because the object being printed is submerged in the vat of liquid resin.

Is Resin 3D Printing worth It?

The answer is a resounding yes! The many advantages of resin 3d printing far outweigh the few drawbacks. The process is fast, produces highly detailed, and other important facts.

Resin 3D printing also has a wide range of applications in both the consumer and industrial markets. Some of the most popular applications of resin 3D printing include:

  • Prototyping
  • Dental applications
  • Jewelry making
  • Eyewear production
  • Making miniatures
  • Tooling and manufacturing

Resin 3D Printing Tips

When you’ve decided that resin 3D printing is the right method for your project, you may want to know the things to get started. There are a few resin 3D printing tips to keep in mind for the best results.

1. Choose the right type of resin for 3D printing. Not all resins are created equal. There are many different types of resins on the market. Do your research to find the resin that best suits your needs.

2. If you are interested in resin 3D printing but do not have the equipment or experience to do it yourself, you can always use a 3D printing service.

3. There are many different types of 3D printing services that offer different capabilities and pricing structures. It is important to do your research to find a service that is right for you.

4. When you’ve settled on a specific application of 3D printing for your project, you can begin researching the various companies that offer 3D printing services.

5. As always, be sure to compare pricing and reviews before making your final decision. Some of the things you should consider when choosing a 3D printing service include:

  • The type of equipment they use.
  • The types of materials they offer.
  • Their pricing structure.
  • Their turnaround time.
  • Their customer service.


In the world of 3D printing, there are many different methods and technologies to choose from. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Resin 3D printing is a fast, efficient, and accurate method that produces high-quality prints with smooth surfaces.

Although the process can be messy, its many benefits make it a great choice for those looking to get into 3D printing, especially those looking to produce accurate prototypes and functional products.

Table of Contents
Latest Posts
Contact Us