Does 3D Printer resin cause cancer?(Explained)

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In recent years, 3D printing has transformed from a niche hobby into a mainstream technology, empowering creators, inventors, and everyday individuals to bring their digital visions to life. However, as we embrace this technology, it’s crucial to pause and consider the implications it has for our health.

Read: The Top 5 Fastest Resin Printer 2023

Does 3D Printer resin cause cancer?

3D printer resins contain chemicals that can be hazardous, including potential carcinogens. The risk of cancer depends on the type of resin, exposure levels, and individual sensitivity. Using protective equipment and following safety guidelines, such as working in well-ventilated areas, can significantly reduce health risks.

What is 3D Printer Resin?

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3D printer resin is a liquid material used in resin-based 3D printing technologies, such as Stereolithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP), and LCD masking. This type of resin is made up of photopolymer components that harden under specific types of light, usually ultraviolet (UV) light, to form solid 3D objects.

The primary components of 3D printer resin include:

  1. Monomers and Oligomers: These are the building blocks of the resin that polymerize (link together) when exposed to UV light, forming the solid plastic of the printed object.
  2. Photoinitiators: Chemicals that absorb UV light and initiate the polymerization process, causing the monomers and oligomers to link together.
  3. Additives: Various substances added to the resin to modify its properties, such as colorants, stabilizers, and flexibility enhancers.

When a 3D printer projects UV light onto the resin, either in a pattern (for SLA and DLP printers) or across an entire layer (in LCD printers), the exposed resin hardens while the unexposed portions remain liquid.

This process is repeated layer by layer until the entire object is printed.

3D printing with resin is known for producing objects with high resolution and smooth finishes compared to filament-based 3D printing methods.

However, uncured resin and the printing process can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other hazardous substances, necessitating precautions such as using gloves, masks, and adequate ventilation during handling and printing.

What toxins can you get from a 3D printer?

3D printer resins contain a mix of chemicals that can potentially release toxic substances both before and during the curing process including:

  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): Many 3D printer resins release VOCs as they cure. VOCs can cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, and prolonged exposure can lead to more serious health issues like headaches, nausea, and even damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system.
  2. Styrene: Some resins contain styrene, which is a suspected carcinogen. Exposure to styrene can result in respiratory issues, irritation of the skin and eyes, and, with long-term exposure, may increase the risk of cancer.
  3. Acrylates and Methacrylates: These are common monomers found in many 3D printing resins. They can cause skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, and in severe cases, respiratory problems. Some acrylates have been identified as potential carcinogens.
  4. Photoinitiators: These chemicals are added to resins to help them cure or harden under UV light. Certain photoinitiators can be toxic if inhaled or come into contact with the skin, causing irritation or allergic reactions. Some may even have potential carcinogenic effects.
  5. Isocyanates: Used in some UV-curable resins, isocyanates can cause irritation of the respiratory tract, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and in severe cases, asthma-like symptoms. They are also known skin irritants.
  6. Phenols: Some resins may contain phenol or phenolic compounds, which are toxic if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. Exposure to high levels of phenols can cause skin burns, liver damage, and systemic toxicity.

is 3d resin toxic after curing?

After curing, 3D printer resin is significantly less toxic than in its liquid state. The curing process involves the polymerization of the resin’s components, transforming them from a liquid to a solid state.

During this transformation, the chemical substances react to form polymer chains, drastically reducing the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other reactive monomers that can be released.

However, it’s important to note that “fully cured” resin can still pose some risks, although much lower compared to its uncured state. The degree of toxicity after curing depends on several factors:

  1. Complete Cure: The level of toxicity significantly diminishes if the resin is fully cured. Incomplete curing can leave behind unreacted monomers and other potentially harmful substances.
  2. Type of Resin: Different resin formulations contain various chemicals, with some being more hazardous than others. Manufacturers may add stabilizers, pigments, and other additives that can influence the toxicity of the cured product.
  3. Handling and Processing: Sanding, cutting, or post-processing cured resin can produce dust or particles that may be harmful if inhaled or come into contact with the skin. Proper protective equipment should be used during these activities.
  4. Sensitivity and Allergies: Even after curing, some individuals may be sensitive to components in the resin, potentially causing allergic reactions or skin irritation upon contact.
  5. Environmental Impact: While not directly related to human toxicity, the environmental impact of disposing of cured resin, especially if not done properly, can be a concern.

how do you use a resin 3d printer safely?

Using a resin 3D printer safely involves several precautions to protect yourself and your environment from the potential hazards associated with resin printing. Here are some key safety guidelines:

1. Work in a Well-Ventilated Area

Resin fumes: Uncured resin can release harmful fumes. Ensure your workspace is well-ventilated to dissipate these fumes effectively.

2. Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Gloves: Always wear nitrile gloves to prevent skin contact with the resin, which can cause irritation or allergic reactions.

Eye protection: Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from splashes.

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Respiratory protection: Consider using a respirator with organic vapor cartridges in poorly ventilated spaces or if you’re sensitive to chemical fumes.

3. Handle Resin Carefully

Spills and splashes: Clean up spills immediately using an appropriate cleaner (often isopropyl alcohol) and dispose of waste properly.

Storage: Store resin containers in a cool, dark place, tightly sealed to prevent leakage and exposure to light.

4. Use the Printer and Materials According to Manufacturer Instructions

Follow guidelines: Always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for both the printer and the resin. This includes recommended exposure times, printer settings, and post-processing steps.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS): Review the MSDS for each type of resin you use to be aware of its specific hazards and recommended handling procedures.

5. Post-Processing Safety

Cleaning: Wash printed parts in isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or a recommended cleaning solution to remove uncured resin. Use containers that can be sealed and handle the parts with gloves.

Curing: Cure parts with UV light in a designated curing station or under direct sunlight, wearing protective equipment to avoid exposure to UV light.

6. Disposal of Resin and Waste Material

Proper disposal: Dispose of uncured resin, contaminated cleaning solutions, and disposable PPE as hazardous waste according to local regulations. Cured resin parts are usually safer and can be disposed of with regular waste, but check local guidelines.

7. Equipment Maintenance

Clean regularly: Keep the printer and any accessories clean and in good working order. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance.

8. Health Precautions

Know the risks: Be aware of the health risks associated with resin exposure, including skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, and potential toxicity from prolonged exposure.

9. Educate Yourself and Others

Safety training: Ensure that anyone using the resin printer is fully trained on safety procedures and understands the risks.


In conclusion, the question of whether 3D printer resin causes cancer is complex and requires consideration of various factors including chemical composition, exposure levels, and individual susceptibility.

Regulatory agencies and industry standards are evolving to ensure safer use of these materials, emphasizing the importance of adhering to safety guidelines and practices.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) provided by manufacturers play a crucial role in educating users about the risks and proper handling of resins.

As research continues and regulations become more robust, it is vital for both users and manufacturers to remain informed and vigilant about safety measures. Ultimately, balancing the innovative potential of 3D printing with health and safety considerations is key to harnessing its benefits while minimizing risks. The collaborative effort between the industry, regulatory bodies, and the scientific community will be pivotal in clarifying the carcinogenic potential of 3D printer resins and ensuring the technology’s safe advancement.


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