Water-washable resins largely remove the need for the arduous resin cleaning steps, and streamline the post-curing process.
Post-processing resins is something of a divisive part of 3D printing. Many enjoy the hands-on treating, washing, curing, and painting to be an enjoyable process, while others (including myself) find it tedious and irritating.
Usually, resin prints require a post-curing system of sanding, painting, and even glossing to look their best. This normally requires alcohol, resin cleaner, sandpaper, and way more work than many of us would like.
It’s tempting to just stick your prints under the tap and call it a day, but since most resins will be damaged by water (especially hard/heavily calcified water), this is not an ideal post-processing method.
This is without even mentioning the damage non-water-washable resins can do to your plumbing. Standard resin fragments damage your pipes over time and can cause some serious issues for your home.
But exactly what is water-washable resin? How much easier does it really make post-curing care? And what are the best and most reliable brands? We’re going to answer all of these questions today.
- What is Water-Washable Resin?
- Water-Washable vs. Standard Resins: Key Differences
- How to Print with Water-Washable Resins
- Best Water-Washable Resin Brands for 3D Printing
What is Water-Washable Resin?
Normally, 3D printing resins contain volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) that react badly with water, usually marking them or even just outright damaging the prints even after they’ve cured.
Water-washable resins are 3D printing materials that don’t include these chemicals, and so are completely safe to wash in good old H20.
With good quality water-washable resins, you’ll find a simple run and scrub with any clean water. While this isn’t the only treatment it will need (you may still need to sand and paint, depending on your project), it eliminates the need for complex – and often dangerous – chemical solutions that you’d normally need to get a good finish.
This is great news for those of you who are either sick of fiddling with alcohol solutions or foul-smelling irritants to get your prints spick and span.
Please note that water-washable resins are toxic and can be harmful to the environment and aquatic life. Always make sure the resin is properly cured and avoid washing it under a kitchen tap.
Water-wash resin should be washed in a basin. For proper water disposal please consult your area’s chemical waste system.
Water-Washable vs. Standard Resins: Key Differences
On the surface, water-washable resin may seem like standard resins that are simply easier to clean, but this is not the case.
Water-washable resins cost more than standard resins, but only on the surface. Without the need for extra chemicals for post-processing, using water-washable resins will save you money in the long run.
A 250ml bottle of isopropyl alcohol usually costs around $7-10, while a 1kg bottle of water-wash resin from Anycubic only costs $5 more than their standard colored UV resin.
Even if you have other uses for isopropyl alcohol in your home, it’s easy to see how this can be cost-effective in the long run if you go for water-washable resin as your new norm.
A common complaint of resin printing is that it often gives off a bad smell. While many companies have worked hard to reduce the odor of their products, resin printing will naturally produce fumes that can really stink up a room.
Not only are these fumes unpleasant, they are also toxic, which is why we recommend printing in a well-ventilated space.
The reduced chemical dependency of water-washable resins makes them naturally less odorous, which is great news if you have a particularly sensitive nose. This advantage is doubled when you consider that you won’t need to use similarly strong-smelling chemicals while post-processing.
Be advised, though, that water-washable resin fumes are still toxic, and cautious measures should still be taken while printing to protect your air quality and respiratory health.
The most common complaint with water-washable resins is that they tend to be more brittle and less durable than the more chemically complex standard UV resins, which is bad news for those of you who need sturdy prints that can withstand rougher treatment.
This isn’t much of a downside if you’re looking to make purely decorative pieces, but is a problem if you’re making miniatures for board and tabletop games like Warhammer or Dungeons and Dragons, which are picked up and moved around often.
If you are planning on using your resin prints as toys or active game pieces, you may find unwelcome breakage far more common when using water-washable resins.
How to Dispose of Water-Washable Resin
Water-wash resin is more environmentally friendly than standard resins because it doesn’t rely on harmful VOCs. However, this does not mean it’s 100% environmentally sound.
You should avoid running water-washable resin prints under a standard faucet because the runoff still poses a threat to aquatic life.
Any used prints or leftover water should be disposed of in your usual plastic waste only after being completely cured and dried. Any uncured resin prints or water contamination will remain an environmental hazard even after disposal.
Please note that these steps and warnings apply to all brands of water-washable resins listed below. All resins are hazardous to both you and the environment and should be handled and disposed of with care.
Performance Review: Are Water-Washable Resins Any Good?
One of the nicer side effects of using water-washable resins is perhaps an accidental one. Because they’re designed to be less chemically dependent, spillages and unwanted globs of resin are far easier to clean than those of standard resins.
Printing-wise, standard 3D printing resins do have a subtle, yet noticeable, advantage in print quality. If you’re looking for extremely high-resolution prints and smoother finishes (admittedly with much more work) then you’ll want to go for standard resins over water-washable kinds.
That’s not to say that water-washable resins do not still produce high-quality prints, they’re just not quite as capable as their standard counterparts of particularly high precision, at least not yet.
In essence, while you will get a clean, high-quality print easily with water-washable resin, it still won’t be quite the same resolution you’d expect to get with standard resins and the added necessary elbow grease that comes with them.
How to Print with Water-Washable Resins
Water-washable resins can be printed at your usual printer settings, though many have reported a lessened exposure time is necessary when compared to standard resins.
The best settings for using water-washable resin with a standard LCD printer seem to be as follows:
- Layer Height: 0.025 – 0.05mm
- Wavelength: 395 – 405nm
- Normal Exposure Time: 5 – 8s
- Bottom Exposure Time: 40 – 60s
When in doubt, always check your chosen manufacturer’s recommendations. But stick with these general settings and you should be fine.
Exposure time will depend on the strength of you light source, and layer height will similarly depend on your printer’s capabilities. So don’t be afraid to tweak these settings to find what works best for you and your printer.
Despite being safer than most other resins, you should still take the normal precautions. This includes gloves, and protective eye and mouth guards if necessary. Resins should also be kept well away from children and pets.
Remember, just because it’s safe to wash with water, doesn’t mean it’s safe to handle. Avoid all direct contact with skin until your prints are fully cured and avoid contact with your skin and mouth even afterward.
With what water-washable resin is and how to use it now under your cap, let’s take a look at some of the best places to get your resin and why.
Best Water-Washable Resin Brands for 3D Printing
3DSourced is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Elegoo Water-Washable Rapid Resin and Water-Washable 8K Resin
- Price: Check latest price at Elegoo here / Check price on Amazon here
- Wavelength: 405nm
- Bottom Exposure: 60s
- Normal Exposure: 8s
- Colors Available: White, Gray, Black, Beige, Yellow, Clear Green, Clear Blue, Clear Red, Mint Green, Smoky Black
High precision and low shrinkage.
Promises hassle-free printing experience with impressive results.
Impressive range of color options.
Make sure the room is well-ventilated, it has an ugly smell.
Elegoo’s water-washable resins are some of the most popular on the market. Boasting the same high precision and low shrinkage as many of their other affordable materials, their water-washable resin promises a hassle-free printing experience with impressive results.
This offering of water-washable resins lives up to Elegoo’s reputation for offering an impressive range of color options. Personally, I adore the clear red, but there is something to be said for the subtle yet appealing beige, which is not a common resin color.
At the time of writing, Elegoo has also got an 8K water-washable resin available for pre-order. While it seems its release is upcoming, the specs remain elusive.
Nonetheless, it seems designed to combat one of the biggest disadvantages of water-washable resins, the slight dip in resolution.
While we don’t know firsthand yet, this looks to be a promising addition to Elegoo’s line and the dream of many resin printing enthusiasts out there. Having the quality and resolution of a standard resin print without the tedium of chemical-based post-processing is something I know I’m willing to wait in line for!
As a VOC-free compound, their water-washable resin promises to be relatively hazard-free, though standard precautions should still apply when handling it.
eSun water-washable resin
- Price: Check price on Amazon here
- Wavelength: 395 – 405nm
- Bottom Exposure: 30 – 60s
- Colors Available: Beige, Black, White, Gray, Blue, Red, Yellow, Clear, Transparent Green, Transparent Red
Great color selection.
Good customer support network.
Easy printability, needing little tweaks to your settings depending on your printer’s capabilities and UV strength.
Known to be quite brittle.
Not ideal for beginners.
eSun may be one of the most expensive water-washable resins on this list, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still worth your time.
With a great color selection (including the clear red I’m quite partial to), and a tenure in reliable resins, it’s a good first step for those of you who want a small amount of resin to give a test run.
Be warned, however, that while eSun does have vibrant colors on offer as well as a good customer support network, its water-washable resin is unfortunately known to be quite brittle. This means it’s only really ideal for decorative projects and little else.
The main reason to go for eSun is for its easy printability, needing little – if any – tweaks to your settings depending on your printer’s capabilities and UV strength. Though that is not to say it’s ideal for beginners, as many people noted needing to take extra careful precautions to ensure good print quality like cautious handling.
Anycubic Water-Wash Resin+
- Price: Check latest price at Anycubic here / Amazon here
- Wavelength: 365 – 405nm
- Colors Available: White, Black, Gray, Clear, Aqua Blue
High quality, low shrinkage, and affordable.
Works with just about any LCD printer and no need for high UV specs.
Great high-quality prints.
Not the most impressive color availability.
Anycubic and Elegoo are commonly compared resin manufacturers, known mainly for high quality, low shrinkage, and affordability.
Anycubic may not have the most impressive (read, largely boring) color availability, but it makes up for this with high compatibility. Anycubic’s Water-Wash Resin+ will work with just about any LCD printer, as it doesn’t need particularly high UV specs to properly print and cure.
As a part of their Resin+ line, Anycubic’s offering to the water-washable resin lineup assures great, high-quality prints with the kind of resolution you’d struggle to replicate in cheaper brands. This is good news for those of you who don’t want to sacrifice high-resolution prints for water-washability.
Boasting a naturally low odor, Water-Wash Resin+ is also a comfortable resin to use if you happen to have a small workspace, though you should still make sure you have a proper ventilation setup.
Anycubic is also known for durable resins, and its water-washable resin is no exception. It is less brittle than many water-washable resins, meaning it should be ideal for making board game pieces and other projects that require movement and transport.
While we can’t promise they still won’t break, Anycubic should be your go-to if you want a water-washable resin that holds up almost as well as standard resin options.
Anycubic is also available in cheaper (but less cost-effective) 500g bottles for $23, making it an ideal purchase if you’re just looking to test the waters (pun intended).
- Price: Check price on Amazon here
- Colors Available: Model Gray and Rapid Black
Durable and easy to print.
Low viscosity and easy to use.
Low color variation.
Slightly high price.
If you want a beginner-friendly resin and don’t mind low color variation, then Phrozen is the brand for you. Their water-washable resin is durable, easy to print with standard resin settings, and virtually odorless.
Despite its relatively higher price (now that their 250g bottles are no longer available), Phrozon is still one of the more popular water-washable resins on the market today due to their low viscosity and ease-of-use.
If you’re a newbie to resin printing in general and don’t mind doing the coloring yourself, then Phrozon is the right choice for you.
- Price: Check price on Amazon here
- Wavelength: 405nm
- Bottom Exposure: 30s
- Normal Exposure: 6-10s
- Colors Available: Clear and Gray
Highly precise and low viscosity.
Low-odor and low-fume printing.
Won’t need a powerful machine to get good results thanks to its low exposure time.
Lack of color variety.
Speaking of brands that make up for their lack of color variety with excellent usability, Sainsmart’s water-washable resin is a highly precise, low viscosity resin that shouldn’t let any beginner or veteran down.
Sainsmart promises low-odor and low-fume printing, making it a safe option for those of you with less room in your workspaces, and its high compatibility ensures that just about any LCD printer can handle it with ease.
With very low exposure time, you won’t need a powerful machine to get good, high-precision results.
While not quite on the same level as Anycubic’s Water-Wash Resin+ or Elegoo’s upcoming 8K, you can rest easy knowing you’ll get high-resolution prints without needing to fiddle around with alcohol solutions and resin cleaners.
To add to the beginner-friendliness, Sainsmart has some of the most clearly outlined directions and advice I’ve seen in quite some time. Even complete newbies should have no trouble getting excellent water-washable prints with these directions, so newcomers need not be intimidated by Sainsmart’s impressive offering here.