3D Printing Resin Additive FAQ
Q: What are you talking about when you say "resin additives"?
A: Resin Additives are Mica Powder (ultra fine mineral or synthetic based pigmented powder that generally has a metallic or pearl/shimmery finish. Commonly used in makeup/nail art, poured resin art, painting and other artistic ventures), Glitter, Dyes (in powder or liquid forms) & Scents
Q: What sort of resin do I need to use additives like mica and glitter?
A: Thicker, more viscous resin work better but almost all resin will work with some level of additives.
Q: Clear or opaque resin?
A: Both! Clear resins, or transparent resins tinted with dye or pigment will give you the most visual bang for your buck when it comes to mica and glitter. Opaque resins take on an almost velvet like finish and shimmer when using mica powders.
Q: What size glitter can I use?
A: Finer/smaller is better, especially on machines that don't have tilting vat or wiper function to agitate the resin and keep things mixed between layers. That being said, you can use larger glitter. The larger/ more dense your particles, the faster they will settle out though. so keep that in mind when looking for candidates.
Q: What dye can I use?
A: You want to look for dye specifically formulated for 3D printing resin (monocure and some other companies have CMYK kits) OR Epoxy dye that specifically list "non toxic" or "alcohol free"
Powder based pigments also work but are much harder to find and more expensive. They work similar to mica powders, which on their own contain pigmentation. Pigment pastes like UVO by smoothon also work extremely well and have the added benefit of being UV stable which helps prevent color bleaching.
A: Yes! scents for candle making, food and those formulated for epoxy resins work well. you dont need very much per vat. A few drops at most.
Q: Wont the glitter/mica ruin my FEP?!?
A: It's a possibility, but the chances are low. so long as you are sticking to mica powders and flat faced glitter (glitter that has a flat surface face on both sides, rather than 3D glitters or sequins) your FEP should stay hole/tear free. That being said, the added particles do cause mild abrasion and will wear down your FEP slightly faster than just resin alone. The main concern comes with the particles wedging them selves under the edge of the VAT where the FEP is pulled tight. Over time this build up may cause the FEP to tear or stretch slightly. Consider using a separate vat for normal resin and additive resins.
Q: What machine type can I use additives in? Does glitter cause SLA lasers to refract/reflect?
A: You can use most currently available consumer resin machines. LCD based machines like Elegoo Mars/Saturn, Anycubic Photon, Prusa SL1, Creality LD-002r, etc will all work. As will laser based machines like the Peopoly Moai and Form Labs Form(1/2) (both these machines have vat agitation). With the latter two machines, the mica and most glitter, even larger size particles, have had no real effect on the laser path in my personal experience and testing
Q: How do I clean out my vat after using mica/glitter?
A: Use a plastic scraper (preferably the one provided with your machine or similar) to remove as much excess resin from your vat first. wipe out your pour corner with a paper towel.
pour in a small amount of isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher), enough to swish, move around your FEP. use a silicone spatula or squeegee to scrape/push and residual particles/goop out of your corners, and along the vat edges. swishing/swirling the isopropyl around as you work. Wipe out with paper towel. Repeat as needed.
Q: Do temps effect additives?
A: while it wont directly effect the additives (unless you're using something like heat reactive dye or powders for color shifting) temp does change how viscious resins are which will indirectly effect the way the additives settle/mix (except for liquid dyes). however, you should always follow your recommended printing temps for your resins.
Q: Do specific layer heights work better than others with additives
A: because of how the particle additives settle and print your specific layer height wont effect things too much. Larger particle sizes may have less "clipping" with thicker layers though.
Q: Do you need to adjust print time with dye/pigment additives?
A: Only on very dark/opaque pigments. Taking a clear to a dark blue/or black would need a minor increase in time to compensate for the shift in resin transparency
Q: Does the dye stain or effect the FEP?
A: Not that I've seen. A lot of resins already come with pigment added (either in a liquid or powdered form) and the added epoxy dye doesn't seem to effect the FEP any more so than the dyes in the manufacture resin. This also holds true for the pigment added from mica powders.
Q: I tried a print with mica but it only shows up on the bottom or the top of the print (when viewed from above or below) why?
A: because of how resin printers work, the mica and some larger glitter is only very visible on the layer's horizontal surface. This is the part of the layer that was touching the vat when it was cured. becuase of this, how your part is oriented in relation to the vat/print bed affects how visible your mica is. You can see examples of print orientations Here
BJD Gel Nails (2016, old)
BJD Gel Nails (2017, new)