3D printers have evolved greatly. Whereas once 3D printers were fringe devices relegated to hardcore makers and industrial applications, a smorgasbord of budget 3D printers now mean that it's increasingly affordable to own a 3D printer. When comparing filament vs. resin 3D printers, filament or FDM printers tend to be a bit less expensive. But resin, or SLA/DLP printers generally boast higher-quality prints than their filament-based counterparts. Check out the best resin 3D printers you can buy!
What is a Resin-based 3D Printer and Why Should You Buy One?
Unlike filament 3D printers, resin 3D printers use a liquid resin that's then cured by a light source, either LCD or DLP. Since it's a liquid rather than filament, you'll fill a resin reservoir. Then, your build plate lowers into the liquid, and builds your print with the build platform rising out of a resin bath. Accordingly, the print will appear upside down.
Once a resin 3D print completes, it needs to be rinsed off with isopropyl alcohol and water. Then, you'll need to cure it either in the sun or with a device such as a nail curing lamp.
SLA vs FDM Printers
Generally, SLA printers benefit from higher quality than FDM printers. I tend to prefer resin printers because the quality is greatly improved, and it's a bit easier getting started, particularly when comparing budget FDM vs. SLA printers. Thus, resin-based 3D printers are actually wonderful for beginners. There's little hassle with leveling the print bed. Instead, SLA is pretty plug and print. Most SLA printers come with a smaller form factor, so they're more compact. And with the use of resin, it's easy to make models with varying properties. Not only is print quality more precise, but it's also usually tougher than filament printing.
However, resin printers largely feature smaller build platforms than the average filament printer. Additionally, clean up and use is pretty messy. Gloves and a mask must be worn when handling resin, and you'll need to properly dispose of 3D printing resin. Even paper towels used must be correctly trashed. Post-processing is more involved than filament printing. Plus, it's best to print in a well-ventilated area. Cost of resin printers is ofter much higher, but there are tons of budget models available.
Resin 3D Printer Pros:
- High-quality print jobs
- Small footprint
- Easy to use
- Flexible print creation
Resin 3D Printer Cons:
- Complicated cleanup
- Small build platform
- Involved post-processing
Elegoo Mars - Best Resin 3D Printer Overall
Elegoo features affordable, high-quality 3D printers. Its Elegoo Mars ranks as not only my favorite resin 3D printer I've used, but my go-to for all 3D printing needs. The Elegoo Mars is ridiculously easy to set up and use, touts high-quality print jobs, and a shockingly low price tag. Over months of use, I encountered no issues with the Mars aside from running out of resin once, pure user error.
An acrylic hood lifts off easily, and the rear of the device hosts a USB port rather than SD card reader. Since flash drives are more common than SD cards for the average user, it's a pleasant touch. The touchscreen is responsive, and it's simple enough sending print jobs to the Elegoo Mars. The only minor issue is the rear-located USB port which can be a bit difficult to reach. Aside from that, the only issues are related to resin printing. Hitting well above its weight class, the Elegoo Mars is hands-down the best 3D resin 3D printer you can buy, and 3D printer overall, SLA/DLP or FDM. For a supremely functional yet affordable filament printer, check out the Elegoo Neptune.
MonoPrice MP Mini SLA LCD 3D Printer - Best Resin 3D Printer Under $500
Although Monoprice is best known for its budget-oriented HDMI cables and headphones, the popular electronics company dabbles in 3D printers as well. Its MonoPrice MP Mini Delta is one of our favorite filament printers. Likewise, the MonoPrice MP Mini SLA LCD 3D printer is a top-notch resin 3D printer. At around $200, the MonoPrice MP Mini SLA printer is a fantastic printer. Some users have noted issues with guide rails becoming loose, resulting in some Z banding. However, without that, print quality is gorgeous. With a low price tag, the Monoprice MP Mini is an incredibly impressive resin 3D printer that won't break the bank.
AnyCubic Photon Best- Resin 3D Printer for Miniatures
The AnyCubic Photon has become the gold standard for resin-based 3D printers. With its affordability, simple start-up and everyday use, as well as print quality, the AnyCubic Photon rocks. As with many resin 3D printers, the build volume is a bit meager, and use is pretty messy. But these are all difficulties with resin 3D printing, not the AnyCubic specifically. As such, it's a really solid device that's great for miniatures. Particularly with the AnyCubic Photon's small build platform and exquisite detail, this resin 3D printer is a fantastic option for printing minis.
Longer3D Orange 10 - A Great Cheap 3D Printer
At just over $200, the Longer3D Orange 10 is a superb 3D printer. There's a low price point without sacrificing quality. It works pretty much out of the box, and is comparable to the Elegoo Mars or AnyCubic Photon. Unfortunately, the build platform is sort of small. Sure, most resin 3D printers feature a small build platform, but the Orange 10 from Longer3D offers an even smaller built plate than most other resin printers. Nevertheless, it's a resin 3D printer that provides excellent bang for your buck.
The Best Resin 3D Printers You can Buy - Top SLA Printers
Although resin printers still can run in the thousands, an increasing number of budget SLA printers populate the 3D printing space. Additionally, the ease of use coupled with the high-quality of resin prints makes SLA printing arguably better than filament printing. Nevertheless, there are tons of FDM printers which rock. The Alfawise u30 Pro is an awesome, affordable filament printer, as is the Creality Ender 3 Pro.
Confused about 3D printing? Check out these 3D printer myths debunked!