Mixing 3D Printer Resin; Can it be done safely?

You just got your first resin printer, installed a slicer for those types of printers, and then started printing.

Now, you’re almost out of resin, so you buy another type of resin, however, can you mix those and still get quality prints? Can you change their colors/dye them?

In this article, I will be answering those specific questions, as well as how to create your own colors, if the newly mixed resins can be stored in the vat of the printer, and more!

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Can you mix 3D printer resin?

The general consensus is that mixing different resins of the same type is not a problem, even using different colors and/or brands is fine, but the resin type should be the same. 3D printers are mostly designed to use specific kinds of resins and are calibrated to the optimum curing time relative to the resin’s properties and the light source of the printer.

Each 3D resin type has a history of scientific research that supports the specifications of use to provide the end-user with a reliable product that has been tested under numerous conditions, including the final product’s longevity.

If you don’t mind waste and unnecessary costs, you can unleash your inner scientist and experiment to create a resin you believe will be just right for you. You may find that the resin you want to create actually exists on the market. Explore all your options before you dive in headfirst only to discover that you are reinventing the wheel.

A crucial consideration to keep in mind is the safety measures when working with resin. Resin is toxic, not all resins, but a fair number are poisonous, so it’s best to treat all resins with the same degree of caution. Gloves, breathing masks, and protective eyewear are essential every time you work with resin.

Adverse health effects may not be immediately felt or visible, but prolonged exposure to them will eventually take its toll.

Can you Mix different Resin Types?

Mixing different resin types comes with its own set of complications, and it is generally not recommended. Yet, according to some makers in the field, the answer is yes. You can mix different types, brands, or qualities of resin together to achieve a desired end product, but the resin types must have a standard compatible curing process: UV light.

However, you should be aware that your printer’s specifications may have to be adjusted to ensure that the curing/printing process will not be adversely affected.

Mixing two resin types and successfully printing a design does not automatically qualify the mix as a success. You may find that your final product will become brittle after time or may over cure with time and develop cracks. Either way, the quality of your print may be compromised.

Remember that mixing two different types of resin is not a tried and tested scientific certainty. Although it appears to work, you should still research and understand the resin’s characteristics and how they will be altered once mixed.

SLA (Stereolithography) technology uses a laser to cure the resin during the printing process and is capable of high precision work with intense detail and a smooth finish. It is a slow printing process as the laser follows a predetermined path to complete each layer.

DLP (Digital Micromirror Device) technology is almost obsolete. It has been replaced with LCD technology where pixels control the light passing through to cure the resin, and each layer is exposed in one quick simultaneous exposure. LCD technology is commonly used in hobbyist 3D printers and can produce fine detail and smooth finishes.

Resin is made specifically for each different technology but can be used between them as they all use UV light as a curing medium.

Each type of printing technology will have different curing times, but the curing medium is constant. Where laser technology produces high quality and fine detail, it is a slower process, LCD technology is faster and high quality and fine detail are also achieved. In many industries like dentistry, this technology compares favorably with SLA technology.

Here is an example of mixing two different resin types. Resin that produces a soft, flexible end product can be combined with a resin that produces a hard solid structure to change the soft resin’s characteristics, making the end product a more ridged sculpture.

The resins’ density may differ, and fill-level sensors on the printer may have to be adjusted to accommodate the new density. The mixing process should be measured so it can be replicated for future use.

Randomly mixing two resins without exact measurements will simply remain a trial-and-error exercise as it will affect curing times. When combining different resins, always record the process with as much detail as possible.

Can you mix different color resins to create a custom color?

The color of the resin can be changed to suit the print you are making. Custom colors can be ordered, or you can custom make your own colors by mixing different resins together.

A transparent or light-colored resin will have a different cure exposure time to darker colors, so when mixing a darker hue of a color, be sure to amend the cure exposure time accordingly. Similarly, if the resin’s density is altered, you will have to change the fill sensor on your printer.

Can you Dye 3D printer Resin?

Adding dye to the resin to create the desired color is a 3D printing reality, and there are dyes on the market specifically made for this purpose.

The dye can be added to the resin to create a uniformed color, or it can be added systematically to create the desired effect. An example of this would be adding small amounts of liquid dye to the resin during the print process to get a final product that fades from light to dark or one color to another.

If you’re making more than one print with this effect, you will go through a lot of resin as each print will begin with a single color. It is best to dye the end product to your liking after it has been printed using transparent or a light-colored resin. This way, you will be able to control your resin use.

A big no-no when it comes to resin dyes is to use dyes that are not designed for 3D resin. Acrylic ink used as a dye will separate from the resin after it has been mixed while normal Indian ink will not blend into the resin at all since it separates immediately.

Fabric dye will tend to neutralize curing, and you will not be able to print. Using acrylic paint as a dye will affect the resin’s adhesive quality, and the print will not stick to the build plate. Food coloring has been tried and tested, and it is not compatible with 3D resin. It will not mix well with the resin and produce fault lines in the print that result in the print breaking along the lines.

Using dyes not specifically made for 3D resin will in some way, alter the characteristics of the resin and in most cases, it will be to the detriment of the print.

How to dye the resin

To get the specific color for your print, you will need to start with a neutral color resin-like white or use a transparent resin. Pour the resin into a mixing container and add a few drops of dye to the resin. Stir it until the dye has mixed well with the resin. Add a few drops at a time and stir well until you reach the desired color.

The dye can also be added to a color resin -like yellow or green- to either change the color or change the existing color’s hue. The dye should always be added in minimal quantities allowing you to slowly build towards the desired result.

Powdered dyes are available but stick to fine powder dyes as mixing is much more comfortable and it produces a consistent result.

Steps to Dying your own Resin

Assuming you already have a dye, such as the CMYK Pigment sets by monocure3D, the next step is to get your hands on some transparent or white resin, if possible.

  1. Add Resin to Disposable Cup.
  2. Slowly Add pigment to the Resin in single drops.
  3. Mix the Dye and the Resin thoroughly with wooden stirrers.
  4. Check the color and add more pigment if necessary.

And that’s about it! Pretty simple, huh?

Now, what should you do with your leftover dyed/mixed resin?

Can you store mixed and dyed resins in the Vat/tank?

When mixing and dying resin, it is best only to mix the quantity you need for the print or prints you intend to create.

Mixed or dyed resin will have different characteristics, and storing for extended periods may affect the resin. Generally, the 3D resin has a shelf life of one year as is the case with Anycubic and Elegoo resin. From the expiry date, the resin will begin to break down, affecting its efficacy.

Mixed or dyed resin can be stored in the vat or tank for a limited time between printing, but the resin will need to be stirred before printing again. Usually, there will not be problems, but this depends on how and where your printer is situated. If the room gets sunlight and the temperature varies, then the resin will be affected both by the suns UV rays and the increase in temperature. 

Storage is best in bottles designed to store resin, since they are light resistant and stored in a cool temperature.

However, it’s worth noting that if you decide to store dyed or mixed resin in the bottle you shouldn’t put it back into the original bottle since you run the risk of mixing uncured resin with cured resin, which is why filtering the resin left in the vat before putting it back in the bottle is extremely important, but you will end up mixing two different colors as well.

I mentioned that stirring the resin in the Vat before using it is essential, and so is shaking the bottle where you store the resin before you use it.

Do different color resins need different exposure times?

It’s important to get the right perspective on curing times relative to different colors. Opaque colors will block light penetration and thus require longer exposure times to cure each layer, and translucent colors will have a shorter exposure time.

Each color will have its own specific exposure time with some time differences between colors being small while others present a larger difference. When different resin types or colors are mixed, you will have to determine the optimum cure time to print successfully.

Here’s a huge list of resins, their colors and their exposure times that you should check out!

Conclusion

Mixing different resin colors, and even different resin types, is totally doable, but it may affect the overall strength of the end product and the overall printing settings may need to be adjusted.

Now, there are some other considerations that you have to take into account when printing with resin printers, such as the overall cost, not only when compared to FDM printers but also in general, because you will have a lot of additional expenses that you might not have considered.

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