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Water washable resins: the advantages and disadvantages

Over the past years a wide range of water-washable resins were introduced to the market to make resin printing more consumer friendly. But what are the advantages of these water-washable resins and how do they compare to other resins?

Post-processing of 3D-printed resin parts

One of the biggest disadvantages of resin 3D-printing is the post-processing. Supports need to be removed and parts need to be washed and cured to achieved proper end properties. Post-process Liqcreate resins are already described in an earlier article. In short these can be divided in two mayor steps. Cleaning and curing. Water-washable resins have their advantage in the cleaning step.

When comparing different washing methods it can be summarized to three main methods. Cleaning in IPA/Ethanol, resin cleaner or water. In this article we will discuss the main differences and advantages and disadvantages of these methods.

The biggest advantage of cleaning in IPA/ethanol is that after cleaning these solvent evaporate very fast and leave a solvent free clean surface. The biggest disadvantage is that these solvent are considered to be dangerous goods and leave a nasty smell. Because of the volatility and the flammability it is also not advised to use these solvents directly in an ultrasonic cleaners.

Advantages and disadvantages of water-washable resin

The advantage of water-washable resin is that it can be used in an ultrasonic cleaner and it leaves no smell or vapor. It is very important that the residual water is not thrown in the drain because it contains resin. Water washable resin often contains raw materials that can be harmful to aquatic life. Therefor the washing method would be similar to using a resin cleaner. A second and perhaps more important disadvantage is that the liquid resin is in water soluble. Making the printed part also be sensitive to water and most likely can’t be used in a wet or highly moist environment. At Liqcreate we test all our materials on solvent and chemical compatibility including water. More information about this can be found here. There is one main disadvantages often reported by users of water washable resin. Printed parts can crack over time due to water uptake and swelling, even in (dry) office environments.

Crack in part made with water washable resin from Reddit member.

Source: Crack in part made with water washable resin from Reddit member.

As an alternative Liqcreate offers a non-toxic, non-volatile resin cleaner instead of a water-washable resin. This is because the raw materials used in our resins are specifically selected to reach the best properties. Changing these raw materials for water soluble materials would be a trade-off in regard to environmental hazards, mechanical properties, quality and long term-stability of the end parts.

Team Liqcreate wish you happy printing. If there are any questions or remarks, feel free to contact us at any time.


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