Treat 3D Printer Resins Very, Very Carefully
I’m reading a horrifying story of how one 3D printer operator had a catastrophic encounter with caustic 3D printer resin.
Photopolymer resin is becoming a much more popular material among 3D printer operators due to the increase of resin-based equipment. These machines are able to easily 3D print very accurate parts unachievable on other types of 3D printers. Recently the pricing for such equipment has dropped significantly and more people are getting involved.
Unfortunately many people still do not understand the dangers of photopolymer resin. In liquid form many resins are quite toxic and sport rather extreme warnings.
In no situation should someone be operating a resin 3D printer without appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) that includes gloves and eye protection.
Don’t believe me? Consider the situation recently described on the AnyCubic Photon private Facebook group, where a 3D printer operator made a terrible mistake.
While moving the printer — with resin still in the tray — some resin sloshed out and splashed his arm and legs. Not a big deal, he thought. He cleaned up the printer and 15 minutes later washed it all off and showered vigorously.
Caustic 3D Printer Resin
Later things got far, far worse:
“Then, later in the evening, about 24 hours after the resin exposure, it began to burn more, and blisters started to appear. When I awoke the next morning, the blisters had enlarged, so we went to the Emergency room. They directed us to the nearest burn center- Over 2 hours away. The dead skin had to be excised, and as it was over about 10% of me, this had to be done under anesthesia due to the pain. Cadaver skin then had to be placed to facilitate healing.”
An image of the victim’s leg was posted to the group, but we will not publish this awful picture to spare you some grief, but you can see it at the Reddit link below. But let me assure you, it is absolutely awful to see. You do not want this to happen to you.
Using 3D Printer Resin Safely
The victim went on to say:
“So- The next time someone tells you that the resins are ‘not too bad’- Something I hear often- Or that people are over reacting about their hazards, remember this. I am not new to chemical handling- And I had taken proper precautions- I had gloves, Eye protection, etc.”
Imagine if this resin had somehow splashed in his eye. Yeah.
One additional safety feature I would add to this PPE list is to ensure there is proper ventilation in the workspace. Resin is liquid and thus vapor is generated that could be inhaled.
It’s not entirely clear which specific resin was at fault in this scenario, but it should be said that resins do differ significantly in properties. Some are highly toxic and even caustic, as this victim unfortunately discovered. Others can be food-safe. Many are somewhere in between.
3D Printer Resin Safety Sheets
Resins should come with or have available the safety sheets that describe the effects of exposure, medical interventions recommended and proper handling techniques. A good read of these sheets is essential when working with any resin.
If your resin vendor does not provide such information, then it may be time to consider another vendor.