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From miniature figurines to high-tech, medical implant manufacturing, 3D printing has become extremely popular and is set to become even more popular as more industries start utilizing this relatively new method of manufacturing. Read on to find out more about the different types of 3D printing, what the best resin 3D printers are and how to go about printing a 3D object.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is 3D Printing?
- 2 Types of 3D Printing
- 3 What is Resin 3D Printing and How Does it Work?
- 4 Which Resin 3D Printer Should You Buy?
- 4.1 Best Budget Resin 3D Printer: CREALITY LCD Resin 3D Printer
- 4.2 Best Bang for Your Buck Resin 3D Printer: LONGER Orange 10 Resin SLA 3D Printer
- 4.3 Best Resin 3D Printer for Bigger Prints: ELEGOO Saturn 3D Printer
- 4.4 Best Overall Resin 3D Printer: ELEGOO 2 Mars Pro
- 4.5 Best User-friendly Resin 3D Printer: PHROZEN Sonic Mini 4K Printer
- 4.6 Best Resin 3D Printer for Enthusiasts: ANYCUBIC Photon Mono SE
- 5 How to Print with a Resin 3D Printer
- 6 An Overview of the Resin 3D Printing Process
- 7 What is the Best Resin for 3D Printing
- 8 Tips and Tricks
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 Frequently Asked Questions
What is 3D Printing?
3D printers typically use a digital model or a CAD file to create physical, three-dimensional objects. 3D printing refers to the manufacturing technology that creates parts by adding layer upon layer of material to create a completed 3D object. This is different from other forms of manufacturing that require the subtraction of material such as the milling process. Thus 3D printing is sometimes called additive manufacturing. 3D printers are ushering in the new era of manufacturing. Let us take a look at the different types of 3D printing.
Types of 3D Printing
There are many different types of 3D printing. Some of them are exclusive to industrial manufacturing but some of them are more accessible to the hobbyist market. And with the development of new technologies, 3D printing machines are becoming more affordable for the hobbyist market. Some are more affordable than others but choosing the right 3D printer largely depends on your specific needs as well as your budget.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
In recent years the most common form of 3D printing has been Fused Deposition modeling also referred to as fused filament fabrication (FFF). This type of 3D printing involves a thermoplastic filament that is fed through a heated printhead. The FDM 3D printer head lays down layer after layer of molten filament until the project is complete. Generally speaking, the finished objects can have a rough finish in comparison to other methods of 3D printing. FDM is cost-effective and great for proof-of-concept models or basic prototyping.
Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
Multi Jet fusion fabricates three-dimensional objects using nylon powder. An MJF 3D printer uses an inkjet that deposits a solidifying agent into the powder that is then activated using a heating element until the object is completed. MJF offers fast production times and products with high mechanical abilities and a smooth finish.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective laser sintering uses nylon powder which may sound similar to MJF, but a laser is used to fuse the fine power to produce the finished object. Like the other additive manufacturing methods, SLS creates the part layer-by-layer from a digital 3D model. SLS is great for quick prototyping and making working parts. Because of the nature of SLS, it is suited to larger-scale production than other 3D printing methods.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
Digital light processing is a resin 3D printing process as it uses photosensitive, liquid resin to create prints. The resin is hardened layer-by-layer by the means of a digital light projection screen. DLP makes for quicker building speeds and the projector can harden an entire layer of the object at once. This method is not ideal for printing mechanical parts as the parts can be structurally weak but it is great for fast prototyping.
Liquid Crystal Display Printing (LCD)
LCD 3D printers use an ultraviolet LCD screen to cure photosensitive resin, thus also fall under the category of resin 3D printers. The screen flashes the pattern of the required layer which cures that layer of resin before moving onto the next. This is repeated until the 3D object is finished. This process is cost-effective and produces high-quality functional parts.
Stereolithography (SLA or SL)
Lastly, stereolithography is another form of resin 3D printer that creates models from photosensitive resins. The resin solidifies when exposed to an ultraviolet laser. SLA is the earliest form of industrial 3D printing. SLA printers achieve super smooth finishes and great tolerances. This process is great for parts that require a high level of accuracy. In this article, we will be taking a look at some best resin 3D printers available, read on to find out more.
What is Resin 3D Printing and How Does it Work?
SLA, DLP, and LCD printers all use photosensitive, liquid resin in a vat that is solidified to create a 3D object. This process is called vat polymerization. Resin 3D printing technology has been around longer than you may think. The technology itself dates back to 1986 when Chuck Hull coined the phrase stereolithography (SLA) printing. But the process can be traced even further back to a Japanese researcher named Dr. Hideo Kodama who invented the layering approach of stereolithography.
Most Resin 3D printers have a reservoir that is filled with resin. Some resins can be toxic so if the reservoir requires the user to fill it manually, care needs to be taken. The printer then lowers a platform to the resin to create a thin layer of resin on its surface. With an SLA printer, the laser traces the pattern of the first layer of the object which solidifies the resin. This is repeated layer by layer until the completed 3D print is formed. The object is removed from the printing machine. Further processing is usually required before the object can be used.
Because of the accuracy of resin 3D printing, it is being used in multiple industries where accuracy is essential such as dental, health care, engineering, and jewelry design. Luckily for us, resin 3D printers are available in the form of desktop printers for hobbyists and professionals alike. Read on to find out about the best 3D resin printers on the market.
Which Resin 3D Printer Should You Buy?
FDM printing is more affordable but 3D resin printing produces higher-quality parts. Whether you have had some experience with FDM printing or not, this article will serve as a guide in helping you to decide which 3D resin printer is right for your needs as well as your pocket. It is important to note that some liquid resins can be toxic and smelly, the process of resin 3D printing can also be messier than FDM. But don’t let that stop you from utilizing this amazing technology.
Best Budget Resin 3D Printer: CREALITY LCD Resin 3D Printer
The Creality LCD resin 3D printer is an excellent budget printer. It is equipped with a carbon, air filtration system that reduces the smell of resin when it is going through the exposing process. The Creality resin printer comes with the newest version of CHITUBOX slicing software. CHITUBOX is an amazing piece of slicing software that can slice a 30Mb .stl file in one minute. Its 30W UV light prints fast at four seconds per layer. The Creality is easy to set up and has a built-in 3.5 inch full-color touch screen. It also offers easy leveling with the assistance of four hex screws which are loosened before dropping the plate that is then aligned to the level of the screen. When you buy this machine you will have lifetime technical support and 24 hours customer service. The Creality resin printer has a perforated built plate which increases the adhesion of the build which lessens possible print failure.
- LD002R equipped with air filtering system
- Takes only 1 minute to slice 30 mb model files
- 30W Powerful UV light for fast printing, ensuring 4s per layer
Best Bang for Your Buck Resin 3D Printer: LONGER Orange 10 Resin SLA 3D Printer
Coming in at a slightly higher price point is the Longer Orange 10 resin 3D printer. If you can squeeze a few extra bucks for this resin 3D printer you will be glad you did. This printer is virtually plug-and-play as it is ready to use straight from the box. It may have a small build plate but its print quality far exceeds what would be expected from a machine at this price point. The Longer Orange 10 printer comes with a built-in, full-color touchscreen and boasts easy leveling and a full metal body. This machine exceeds expectations and offers great value for money. Another great thing about the Longer 10 resin 3D printer is that it comes with its own custom slicer that is super fast. This is great for those who just want to get to printing. This machine comes pre-assembled and has a build volume of 3.85X2.17X5.5 inches.
- Compare to other printers (4 spotlights), this 3D printer uses 24 parallel LED lights
- Output 100M slicing file in 1 minute, 3 times faster
- Full color touch screen, preview and monitor print status in real-time
Best Resin 3D Printer for Bigger Prints: ELEGOO Saturn 3D Printer
If what is holding you back from resin 3D printing is the small and limiting build area, the Elegoo Saturn breaks the mold. The Elegoo Saturn offers a 7.4X4.52X7.87 inch build volume which is far bigger than other resin 3D printers on the market. The Elegood Saturn has a built-in 3.4 inch touch screen and an easily accessible USB port. The sandblasted build plate offers better adhesive and the screws on the build plate make for longer-lasting leveling. The Elegoo Saturn allows you to print multiple models simultaneously. The Elegoo Saturn shines when it comes to speed. This Intense, LCD monochrome display cures resins in less than two seconds. This machine has two cooling LCD cooling fans but sadly does not come with an air filtration system so it is advised to use this machine in a well-ventilated area. It also comes fully assembled and sports semi-automatic bed leveling.
- Comes with an 8.9inch 4K Monochrome LCD with an HD resolution of 3840 x 2400
- Reducing the layer printing time to 2 – 3s, which is 60% faster than Mars Pro yet
- You can print multiple full-sized models at the same time
Best Overall Resin 3D Printer: ELEGOO 2 Mars Pro
The Elegoo 2 Mars Pro is an LCD, resin 3D printer that boasts a two second curing time per layer which means quick printing. It has a carbon filter that filters out the potentially toxic fumes which makes using the machine that much more pleasant. The quality of the print is excellent for its price point. The multi-language interface breaks down barriers to potential uses and the printer comes with a one-year warranty. With a CNC machined aluminum body, the Elegoo 2 Mars Pro has an exceptional build quality as well as a sandblasted build plate that increases adhesion. Though the Elegoo 2 Mars Pro’s build area may not be as big as the Saturn’s it is still above average at 5.1X3.1X6.3 inches. This machine also boasts quick resin layer curing and the USB port is found on the front of the machine which is way more convenient than having the port on the back.
- Comes with a 6.08 inch monochrome LCD of 2K HD resolution
- Takes only 2 seconds per layer exposure to cure resin
- CNC machined aluminum body makes Mars 2 Pro a very formidable machine
Best User-friendly Resin 3D Printer: PHROZEN Sonic Mini 4K Printer
If you are looking for easy entry into the world of resin 3D printers then the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K is exactly what you’re looking for. The Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K is the most consumer-friendly resin 3D printer available. This resin 3D printer may not be the most affordable on the list but it has a 4K LCD curing screen that is capable of producing very high-quality prints. The mono LCD is guaranteed to work up to 2000 hours and comes with a three month warranty. The Phrozen Sonic Mini is lightweight, compact, and thus very easy to store. The Phrozon Sonic Mini 4K supports a build volume of 5.2X.2.9X5.1mm and has a print speed of around 80mm per hour. This machine’s LCD has a pixel density of 722 pixels per inch which can produce some prints with impressive resolution.
- Most consumer-friendly 4K 3D printer on the market.
- 4K resolution, prints at 35µm, and produces highly detailed 3D models.
- With a printing speed of 80mm per hour, its able to print one layer in only 2 seconds
Anycubic is a trusted brand within the world of 3D printers. The quality of their products is exceptional and their pricing is competitive. The Anycubic Photon SE packs a punch when it comes to quality prints at a high speed. This 3D resin printer has a simple and functional design that will look great on any desktop or workspace. Besides producing high-quality prints the surface finish is excellent and will please even the pickiest of enthusiasts. What is great about Anycubic 3D printers is that they come with lifetime technical support. The Anycubic Photon Mono SE comes with its own slicer software which allows you to do everything from hollowing your prints and punching holes. This machine may be a little pricey but it is a solid build and it produces prints with exceptional detailing.
How to Print with a Resin 3D Printer
While FDM printing is cheaper and far less messy it cannot rival the print quality of Resin 3D printing. Trying something new can be daunting especially in the high-tech world of 3D printing but with some time, patience, and a little guidance you will be well on your way to producing high-quality prints that you can be proud of. Whether you are a seasoned hobbyist or a total noob, The following steps serve as a guide to getting the best out of your printer as well as to give you an overview of the resin 3D printing process.
What You Will Need
Making sure that you have everything you need is the very first step. Just having a resin 3D printer will not get you all the way to the end of the process. Once you have collected the items below there will be less chance of any interruptions, project failures, or unnecessary mess.
- A resin 3D printer
- Print files (There are many free resources available online)
- Nitrile gloves
- Safety goggles
- Paper towels
- Putty knife or paint scraper
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Plastic funnel
- Your resin of choice (Be sure to check the printer specifications)
- Slicer software (this converts the digital model into instructions for your printer)
An Overview of the Resin 3D Printing Process
Resin 3D printing is involved but with the correct supplies and patience quality models can be produced. Once your printer is dialed incorrectly and you have everything you need all that is left is to put in the time and be ready to troubleshoot. And again patience will pay off in the end.
It is strongly advised that you follow safety precautions as resin can be toxic and isopropyl alcohol can be flammable. Wearing gloves and goggles is a must as resin. It is also best to attempt your first print in an area that you do not mind making a mess in. Working in a well-ventilated area will ensure that you are not breathing in harmful fumes. Make sure resin is out of reach from children or animals.
They are bound to happen and are part of the process, especially if you are just starting out. Print failures will more than likely be due to incorrect settings, be it support settings or curing settings. After a failed print, It is best to filter the liquid resin back into the bottle using a funnel and then refill the vat before you reset the settings and try again. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for both the resin and the printer. This will reduce the number of print failures and get you closer to producing a successful print.
Slicing software or slicer software essentially translates your model (STL file) into a language called G-code. This code is essentially instructions that your printer can understand. It slices up the model into multiple layers that your printer will print one layer at a time. There are many different options available but it is best to check what the recommended slicing software is for your specific machine. Luckily, most machines come with slicing software.
Dialing in your resin 3D printer is crucially important if you want to increase your chances of a successful print. Different resins will cure at different exposure times. This will affect the lift speed of the build plate which will influence the time it takes to complete a print. Many variables contribute to a successful print, for the best results always consult the instructions that came with both your resin and printing machine.
Hollow Your Prints
Solid prints may have a nice weight and feel but 3D printing resins can be expensive. It is for this reason that you will probably want to consider creating hollow prints. The settings for hollowing your print will be found in the slicer software. Be sure to include resin drainage holes on the underside of your print. This will allow the uncured resin to drain out and make curing and finishing a lot easier.
Supporters do just that, they support your model and prevent print failure. Supports create an added connection of your model to your build plate and thus better adhesion and greater structural support during printing. There is nothing worse than your print breaking off the build plate mid-print. Getting this right may take a bit of trial and error but be patient. It is very rewarding to pull off a resin 3D print successfully.
This can be a pain. Ideally, you want a printer that has a self-leveling bed but sometimes manual leveling may be required. This may require screw adjustments. Luckily, once the bed is leveled there is usually no need to do it again if done correctly. It is always wise to consult the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to leveling the bed. Bed leveling is an important step and should not be neglected.
This is the downside of resin 3D printing as opposed to FDM printing. The clean-up. Once you have completed a print, post-processing is required before you can use your model. First, you will have to take the build plate out of the printer. Lay it on its side but lay down some paper towels to avoid too much of a mess. A plastic putty knife or scraper will help you to remove the print from the build plate. Place the print in isopropyl alcohol for about five minutes and then remove it and allow it to dry out on some paper towels. Remove the supports with clippers before the model cures. This will make it far easier than doing it after the resin is fully cured. Leave the model under a UV light source to cure further.
What is the Best Resin for 3D Printing
With all the different types of photosensitive resins available for use with your 3D printer, you may be wondering where to begin. What follows is a run-down of some of the best photosensitive resins that are available. Whichever resin seems to suit your needs it is advised that you refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to see what type of liquid resin is ideal for your printer.
Best Budget UV Resin: ELEGOO 3D Rapid Resin
Not only is this photopolymer resin affordable it also has low shrink properties which ensures high precision and a quality finish. Elegoo 3D Rapid Resin is available in multiple vibrant colors and is ideal for larger prints where there is not a lot of detail. This resin works with most DLP and LCD 3D resin printers. As with most photopolymer resins, it is toxic so it is advised that you wear gloves and goggles when using this product.
- Specially designed for reducing volume shrinkage during the photocuring process
- Great stability and proper hardness guarantee a worry-free printing experience
- With high quality pigments and photo-initiators inside the resin
Best Hard-wearing Resin: SIRAYA Tech Blu
Although it is not the most affordable, Siraya Tech Blu produces extremely tough, hard-wearing, and precise, high-resolution prints. 3D resin prints can be brittle but that is not the case with this resin. In this regard, Siraya Tech breaks the mold and is worthy of your consideration if you are looking for a tough resin to print with.
- It balances strength and hardness and is ideal for the production of functional parts
- Is also formulated with a high success rate on the LCD printer printing quickly
- Prints can be easily cleaned with standard alcohols and posts
Best Eco-friendly Resin: ANYCUBIC Plant-based Resin
Anycubic Plant-Based Resin is made from soybean oil and contains no harmful chemicals. It is far easier to clean up spills with this resin with standard detergents. It is also BPA-free and contains no volatile organic compounds. Anycubic Plant-Based resin is easy to use, it also boasts quick curing times and produces high-quality prints. On top of all that Anycubic Plant-Based Resin is available in a wide variety of colors.
- Has very pure and amazing color effects, presenting you a more perfect printed model
- The resin can ensure the strength of the molded part without excessive shrinkage
- Using soybean oil as raw material, the source is green and environmentally friendly
Tips and Tricks
- When starting with resin 3D printing it is advised that you select an entry-level resin 3D printer, as these printers are generally more user-friendly than their professional counterparts.
- Unlike FDM, resin printing can be a messy process. Cover your work surface with a paper towel or plastic sheeting to prevent making a mess that will be difficult to clean. Resin can stain your work surface, floors and can be a nightmare to remove it from carpeting.
- When rinsing your print in isopropyl alcohol it is advised that you rinse more than you think is necessary as uncured resin that is left on the model to cure could ruin the look as well as the finish of your model.
- Do not be afraid of using supports. If done correctly they will not ruin your model. They will break away and what is left is quite easily removed and cleaned. What will make this process easier is to remove the supports before the model is fully cured.
- Setting up your model to print at an angle can increase the number of supports. Doing this in such a way as to create supports that run on the underside and along the sides of your model can reduce visible marks showing up in plain sight after post-processing.
- When post-processing, you will need to fully cure your model under a UV source. Leaving your model outside in the sun will do the trick however it is advised that you use a UV curing box. You can easily and inexpensively create one yourself.
- Researching optimal settings for your specific resins and printer can greatly reduce print failures. There are plenty of resources online for resin 3D printing, from forums to open source software and free printable models.
There are a lot of quality resin 3D printers on the market. The one you chose will depend mostly on how much you are willing to spend as well as your specific needs. Resin 3D printing offers exceptional print quality. Don’t let the extra post-processing stop you from experiencing the wonders of this additive manufacturing process. A resin 3D printer will be well worth the investment and choosing one that is referenced in this article will ensure that you get off to the right start. Happy printing!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I allow my Resin 3D Print to Fully Cure?
Allowing your resin 3D model to cure fully outside in the sun or in a UV curing box is recommended before you use your model as this will enhance the strength and integrity of your part and allow it to stand the rigors of use.
How to Design 3D Objects for Print?
You can use virtually any 3D design software as long as you can export the file in an STL format. This will ensure that it will be compatible with the slicing software. There is software available online that you can download for free such as Blender.
Why Choose Resin 3D Printing?
FDM is the most popular form of 3D printing because of its affordability and ease of use. Resin 3D printing has its downsides but when it comes to print quality, structural integrity, and surface finish, fused deposition modeling cannot compare.
How Long Does a Resin 3D Print Take to Complete?
There are many contributing factors to the length of time it takes to complete a print with a resin 3D printer such as the size of the project, the type of resin, the complexity of the part as well as settings such as layer height.
Are Resin 3D Printers Faster than FDM Printers?
Generally speaking, resin 3D printers can print faster than fused deposition modeling printers. But there is also post-processing to consider and other influencing factors such as UV resin exposure time, the number of supports used, and the size of the object.
What is 3D Printer Resin Made From?
The makeup on 3D printer resins will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but generally, they are made from photo-sensitive polymer that is formulated to harden under exposure to UV light. Some resins are plant-based and tend to be far less volatile than other 3D printing resins.