Is Plant-Based Eco UV Resin For 3d Printing Worth It?

AnyCubic Eco UV Resin Gray 500mL

UV resin is both toxic and caustic. Drip it on your pants and in an hour, you’ve got a chemical burn on your leg. A big enough drip, and leave it long enough, and you’re likely off to the hospital. Still, it’s perfectly safe if you treat it with respect and store it correctly. You have to wear nitrile rubber gloves to protect your hands when handling it. Do that and you’re safe. But isn’t there a better solution? There is now eco-friendly plant-based UV curing resin on the market.

Eco-friendly UV resin is not caustic and still prints very well – no discernable difference in quality from regular UV prints. You will definitely reduce the harsh resin odor that you get from regular UV resin. Eco-friendly UV resin is more expensive (around two-and-a-half times the price of regular UV resin) but the benefits may be worth it (especially if you have kids or pets around).

Let’s go through the pros and cons of Eco UV resin and see if it’s right for you.

Who Makes Plant-Based Eco UV Resin?

Currently, AnyCubic (makers of the AnyCubic Photon printer, amongst others) is the only commercially available eco UV resin. It’s available straight from AnyCubic, and any of its retailers. Here’s a link to Amazon.Com for the 500mL Gray Eco-Friendly UV resin.

Is the Quality Still There With Eco UV Resin?

Actually, it is! That surprised me when I first tried it out. I was expecting the model to not have the same detail definition that I’ve grown to expect from my standard UV resin. I use an AnyCubic Photon printer, and AnyCubic claims that its Eco UV resin is good for any DLP resin printers. I believe them, as the components of the AnyCubic Photon are essentially the same as the Epax X1 or Elegoo Mars, so I would expect no difference for those of us printing at home.

Is Eco UV Resin Biodegradable?

Soybean oil. AnyCubic’s Eco UV resin is made from soybean oil. That’s great news for those concerned about the long term effects of printed materials using Eco UV resin. Inside, in a regular, dry environment, this resin will be hard and of similar properties to other resins. It can be filed, sanded, and painted. It won’t break down at all in normal indoor use.

But outside, it will compost. If you leave it long enough, it will break down into organic compounds. You can put failed prints or unwanted prints in your composter or in the garbage, knowing that they’ll break down organically. It removes a big concern for us model makers about the use of plastics. It’s a bio-friendly alternative to industrial resins and plastics. And that’s a good thing!

Is Eco UV Resin Toxic?

AnyCubic’s Eco UV resin is not toxic. It contains no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or Bisphenol A (BPA), both common in other industrial resins. It’s not caustic, but AnyCubic still recommends that you wear nitrile rubber gloves and a mask when handling the uncured resin. I have followed that advice for the gloves, but have been remiss on the mask, so I can’t give any first-hand knowledge of the impact on unprotected hands. I didn’t seem to suffer any from not wearing a mask, but that’s me. AnyCubic does recommend one when working with this uncured resin.

With kids and pets around, it would be a great step up in safety to use this sort of resin exclusively. I wouldn’t drink it, nor would I let my skin sit in it. It’s still resin, and it hardens to a plastic-like consistency. A spill, though, should be no more than a wipe to clean up, and accidental contact should be vastly less harmful than standard UV curing resins.

What About Eco UV Resin Spilled On Clothing?

Eco UV resin will wash out of clothing just fine. Don’t let uncured resin sit on clothing or soak into clothing that you’re wearing. Change immediately and wash the clothing to remove the resin. You don’t want this stuff to harden in the fabric. That could ruin the clothing permanently.

It shouldn’t be anywhere near as bad as regular UV resin for chemical burns to skin. AnyCubic claims you shouldn’t have that danger, but I’d rather err on the side of caution. I don’t do anything different in handling Eco UV resin than I would if I were handling regular UV resin.

Is it Easy To Clean a Freshly Printed Eco UV Resin Model?

Cleaning is essential to ensure that you don’t have any residual resin on the print, clinging to small details. Once you’ve UV cured the resin, it’s too late to clean that off (except with a knife, file or emery board). To get those details crisp and sharp, clean the model thoroughly.

You can use soapy water, or isopropyl alcohol or Mean Green home cleaner to clean the printed model. I use a pickle jar with Mean Green in it, and another with just water, and agitate in each for 30 seconds. Some use ultrasonic bath cleaners to clean the print with excellent results. I would use Mean Green and not use isopropyl alcohol in an ultrasonic cleaner due to the fire hazard. Mean Green would be ideal for an ultrasonic cleaner. I really don’t like using isopropyl alcohol for much of anything, due to the fire hazard.

Essentially, my cleaning routine for freshly printed models is the same as with regular UV resin. You can replace Mean Green or isopropyl alcohol with soapy water, but I haven’t tried that. AnyCubic claims it works just fine. But I’m already set up with Mean Green and regular water for washing my printed models, so it would be more work to do something different. If you only used eco UV resin, you could set up to only use soapy water, I suppose. As I said, I haven’t tried this myself.

Is Eco UV Resin Food Safe Or FDA Approved?

No, it’s not. Once completely UV cured, it should be safe enough, but that’s not good enough for me. Still, the Plant-Based Eco UV resin is far better than the regular UV resin in this regard, but I’m still not trying it. I’m using it to make toy vehicles and figurines for my game play, and for that, I’m perfectly happy. No putting those in your mouth! I’m sure there are those that would argue that it could be safe, but I’m not even willing to take the chance. Just don’t. That’s my advice.

And for making stuff for resale, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States certainly hasn’t approved items made from this resin for consumer use. So don’t start making collector spoons and selling them. That’s a terrible idea. Not only could you hurt someone, but it’s likely illegal too (although I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV).

What’s the Difference In Price To Use Eco UV Resin?

I buy regular UV curing resin for my AnyCubic Photon for around $20.00USD from Amazon.Com for 500mL of gray resin. For 500mL of AnyCubic Eco UV resin, I would pay around $50.00USD. That’s a two-and-a-half times multiplier on the price for the same amount of resin. That’s pricy.

Currently, AnyCubic is the only company offering an eco-friendly UV resin for 3d printing, but that’s going to change. As more companies enter the market, the price will likely fall. It will not be as cheap as the industrially made UV curing resins out there, but it should get a lot cheaper. I would guess that once others enter the marketplace, we will see a multiplier more like 1.25 or 1.5 (so more expensive than regular UV resin, but not quite so expensive as it currently is). Of course, that’s just a guess, but I can see a large demand for this resin as 3d DLP resin printing becomes more widely adopted.

So really, the only reason not to use eco UV resin is the price, and that’s likely to drop. It prints as well as regular UV resin, it smells better, it smells less, it cleans up the same, and it cures the same. What’s not to like? For some, it’s just the price that they don’t like. For many out there, though, the safety aspect makes this a no-brainer. It’s biodegradable and it’s far safer.

Other UV Curing Resins

Take a look at these other articles on UV resins that you can use with your DLP resin printer. Eco UV resin is included in the list, but there are all sorts of different resins that can be used, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Have a look!

Related Questions

What is eco UV resin?

Currently, there is only one eco resin specifically made for 3d DLP resin printing (from AnyCubic), but there are other eco UV resins on the market, and it’s only a matter of time for more 3d DLP resin printing versions to come out. The eco UV resin is a complex polymer made from soy bean oil and, in some cases, sunflower oil. It is synthesized into a light-curing resin liquid.

How long does eco UV resin take to biodegrade?

After a model is ground into smaller chunks (around 5mm diameter), it will take anywhere from 50 to 100 days to biodegrade, depending on the conditions in your composter. It will decompose into carbon dioxide and water, but it may leave some oily residue (after all, it was made from soy bean oil). You can mix it in with any of your other biodegradable and compostable materials (like kitchen waste) and the “soil” created is perfectly safe.