Choose the Right Formlabs Resin for Your Application

Successful 3D printing is as much — or more, some might argue — about using the right material as it is about using the right printer. When running a Formlabs printer, it’s essential to choose the right Formlabs resin for …

Ile Kauppila

February 21, 2022

Successful 3D printing is as much — or more, some might argue — about using the right material as it is about using the right printer. When running a Formlabs printer, it’s essential to choose the right Formlabs resin for your application.

Formlabs SLA 3D printers, like the Form 3+ and Form 3B+, are popular additive manufacturing options for companies of all sizes. These fast, high-detail machines are highly versatile and can produce anything from rough rapid prototypes to detailed, durable end-use parts.

They owe their versatility to the large library of available Formlabs resins. But with so many options comes one issue — their sheer number can seem overwhelming when trying to pick the right resin.

Let’s take a look at how you can choose the Formlabs resin you need for your manufacturing application.

What to Consider?

Entire scientific studies have been done on the mechanical properties of different SLA materials like Formlabs resins. If you really wanted to go down the rabbit hole, there are potentially dozens of different parameters you could consider.

However, here we’ll focus on the six most significant consideration, which are:

  • Tensile Strength: A resin’s tensile strength, expressed in megapascals (MPa), defines how well a part resists breaking under tension. It’s often the first property engineers consider when choosing materials. High tensile strength Formlabs resins include the Rigid resins.
  • Tensile Modulus: Also called elastic modulus, tensile modulus measures a material’s ability to retain its shape under tensile load. The lower the modulus, the more elastic the material. Rigid 10k is an example of a high tensile modulus Formlabs resin.
  • Elongation: This parameter defines how far the material can stretch before breaking or tearing. Flexible 80A is a Formlabs resin with high elongation percentage.
  • Flexular Modulus: Flexular modulus, closely related to the tensile modulus, expresses how far a material can bend in a certain direction. Formlabs resins Rigid 10k and Elastic 50A have a high flexular modulus.
  • Impact Strength: This parameter indicates how well a material resist sudden impact in a given direction, and are a great measure of its toughness. Formlabs Durable resin is a great example of a resin with extreme impact strength.
  • Heat Deflection Temperature (HDT): HDT tells us the ambient temperature a material can withstand before its other mechanical properties begin to degrade. A high HDT means a part is more heat-resistant — or even fireproof. The High Temp and Rigid 10k Formlabs resins both have high HDT.

For a more detailed look at different mechanical parameters, this Formlabs article is a good starting point. We, on the other hand, can now move on to the materials themselves.

Formlabs Standard Resins

Standard Formlabs resins result in parts with the highest detail quality, while still providing good mechanical strength. The Grey, White, and Black resins are also good bases for parts that need painting or other surface finishing processes.

  • Greyscale Resins: The Grey, White, and Black resins, with a high-detail quality, are your go-to Formlabs resins for general-purpose prototyping and design. They have a strong 65 MPa tensile strength, but they can’t bend or stretch too far.
  • Clear Resin: The Clear Formlabs resin has comparable mechanical properties to its Grayscale siblings, making it a versatile prototyping and design resin. However, its near-optical transparency makes it ideal for applications where you need to see what’s happening inside the part.
  • Draft V1 Resin: Thicker than other Formlabs resins, Draft V1 won’t produce as fine details or high strength, but it prints much faster. This makes it an excellent choice for rapid prototyping, initial design iteration, and fast large-scale parts production.
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Formlabs Engineering Resins

The Engineering resins by Formlabs are more robust than the Standard line. In general, they provide higher strength and durability at a comparable detail level.

  • Rigid 4k Resin: The glass-reinforced Rigid 4k has a very high tensile strength of 69 MPa, with a smooth surface and high stiffness. It’s great for load-bearing applications, such as mounts, brackets, jigs, and fixtures.
  • Rigid 10k Resin: The glass-filled Rigid 10k is the stiffest Formlabs resin available. It can be rather brittle when bent, but it withstands extreme loads without deformation so getting it to bend is a real challenge. It’s the choice for short-run injection mould masters, aerodynamic test models, and other such prototypes.
  • Grey Pro Resin: Grey Pro offers high detail precision and flexibility. It’s a great choice for durable functional prototypes and form or fit testing.
  • High Temp Resin: When you need to bring the heat, go for the High Temp Formlabs resin. With an HDT of 238°C, it’s tailor-made for moulds or parts exposed to hot fluid or gas flows.
  • Draft V2 Resin: Draft V2 is to engineering Formlabs resins what Draft V1 is to Standard ones. It provides short print times and good tensile strength and modulus at the cost of detail.
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Flexible and Elastic Resins

You might not think of 3D printed products as soft and flexible, but with the right material, they can be. These Engineering resins help you when you need to bend but not break.

  • Flexible Resin: Soft to the touch, the Flexible resin has a very high tensile strength of 80 MPa. It’s almost rubber-like, and a great choice for applications where continues deformation is required, like handles, cushions, or wearable products.
  • Flexible 80A Resin: The big brother of Flexible, the Flexible 80A resin has an elongation 1.5 times higher, while also providing higher tensile strength. This improved resin is suitable for all applications as Flexible, but has higher performance.
  • Elastic 50A Resin: The softest Formlabs engineering resin, the stiff but still flexible Elastic 50A comfortable on human skin. This makes it ideal for wearables, compressible buttons, and tight seals.

Tough and Durable Resins

While the Rigid resins are strong but brittle, these Formlabs resins will not give in. The Tough and Durable resins will withstand the most rigorous mechanical stresses.

  • Durable Resin: With a low tensile strength but extreme flexibility and impact resistance, Durable Formlabs resin resembles polyethylene. It’s the choice for squeezable prototypes and impact-resistant jigs.
  • Tough Resin: The Tough resin strikes a balance between strength and compliance. It’s an excellent candidate for sturdy prototypes and assemblies.
  • Tough 1500 Resin: Tough 1500 is the most resilient material in this Formlabs resin family. It produces parts that bend and snap back, making it ideal for, for example, snap-fit connectors.
  • Tough 2000 Resin: The single strongest and stiffest material in this category, Tough 2000 elongates twice as far as Tough. It also has high heat resistance and can be machined after printing, making it great for strong prototypes and functional parts

Formlabs Jewellery Resins

The Jewellery Formlabs Resins produce extremely fine detail and can be directly used with investment casting. In addition to the resins below, Grey and High Temp resins are also useful for creating moulds or jewellery samples.

  • Castable Wax Resin: Containing 20% wax, the Formlabs Castable Wax resin burns away cleanly during casting. It has a surprisingly high strength, making it suitable for both bulky and delicate features.
  • Castable Wax 40 Resin: Castable Wax 40 contain 40% wax, giving it greater detail and a cleaner burnout than its little sibling. That also means it’s softer and may melt at room temperature.
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Dental Resins

Dental 3D printing is quickly becoming standard at dentists’ offices everywhere. The Dental Formlabs resins give dentists the materials they need.

  • Dental Model Resin: This biocompatible Formlabs resin provides high accuracy and strength. It’s a great material for removable dies, surgical guides, and splints.
  • Dental Surgical Guide Resin: Specifically formulated for surgical guides and drilling templates, this resin has an extreme tensile strength and modulus. This helps it retain its shape during demanding operations.
  • Permanent Crown Resin: Needless to say, the Permanent Crown Formlabs resin has extreme strength. This ceramic-filled material produces long-lasting permanent single crowns, inlays, and veneers.
  • Dental LT Clear V1 Resin: This Formlabs resin is biocompatible and complies numerous ISO standards. It’s highly durable and ideal for 3D printing occlusal guards and splints in long-term mucosal membrane contact.
  • Surgical Guide Resin: The SG resin is similar to Dental SG resin, but has higher flexular modulus and strength. This makes it more suitable for surgical tools with extreme demands.

Medical Resins

Last, but not least, the Medical Formlabs resins provide the medical industry 3D printing materials that are safe for bodily contact. In addition, the Clear, Tough 1500, and Elastic 50A are also suitable for printing some medical tools.

  • BioMed Amber Resin: This ISO-certified, short-term biocompatible resin has high durability and can be easily sterilized. It’s suitable for producing drilling templates, fixation trays, surgery planning tools, and other appliances.
  • BioMed Clear Resin: BioMed Clear is a rigid resin that’s safe for long-term bodily contact and provides high wear resistance. Its ideal uses are as medical device components, drug delivery devices, and research and development.

Want more detailed information about various Formlabs resins? Simply ask the helpful SolidPrint3D experts. Call us on 01926 333 777 or email us at info@solidprint3d.co.uk.

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