Which resin 3D printer is best?

Though still a more recent technology, 3D printers are versatile desktop devices, giving their owners the power to bring the objects of their imagination to life. Resin 3D printers stand out for being less mechanically complex than filament 3D printers and capable of manufacturing objects with high levels of detail.

The Elegoo Saturn MSLA 3D Printer is one of the finest resin 3D printers on the market thanks to its precision and computing power. Others are specialized toward the printing of large objects, affordability and so on.

What to know before you buy a resin 3D printer

Objects 3D printers can make

Unlike the matter replicators or nanotech seen in works of science fiction, current generation 3D printers are used to create physical objects made out of plastic filament, liquid resin or other substances that can melt and harden. The strength, texture and color of your printed objects depends on the color of the material you’re currently using with printer. With rare exceptions, owners of 3D printing machines pause their printer and manually switch out the filament/resin if they want an alloyed object with multiple colors. 

Design or acquire object templates for your 3D printer

There are websites full of free object templates for 3D printers. These are specially formatted files that can be uploaded to a 3D printer through a USB port or SD Card. Manufacturing professionals and hobbyists can also use Computer Aided Design — CAD — software to create their own custom 3D models, then export them into a format their 3D printers can accept.

Sprucing up freshly printed 3D objects

After the printing process is complete, you will frequently need to polish the freshly printed object before it’s ready to be used or displayed. After printing a complex object with a filament 3D printer, users often have to clip off supporting struts or sand rough patches with sandpaper. Items manufactured by a resin 3D printer, in contrast, should almost always be dipped in a solution bath to remove any resin that wasn’t hardened by the UV light. 

You can then treat your new 3D printed object like you would a model from a model kit. Experiment with painting and decorating your new creations.

What to look for in a quality resin 3D printer

Precision build plates and LCD screens

Filament 3D printers have extruders or print beds designed to shift along two or three axes of motion. However, the build plates of resin 3D printers generally only move along the z-axis, slowly pulling an upside-down object up and out of a resin bath. Always make sure your resin 3D printer’s build plate is designed to be easily aligned with the resin bath, and check the UV-filtering LCD screen below the resin bath for any glitches or manufacturing flaws.

Printer cases that don’t give off excess noise or odors

When printing an object, the whirring motors and beeping interfaces of 3D printers can be loud and disruptive. 3D printers can also give off toxic-smelling fumes as liquid resin is hardened by UV light. 3D printer products with cases or filters are less noisy and smelly in general, making them a good fit for both offices or home environments.

Inuitive, functional controls and software

Resin 3D printers can be controlled through a built-in manual interface, software on a computer or even remotely through phone apps. Owners of 3D printers will also need compatible 3D modeling applications if they want to create, modify or export object templates of their own. When shopping for resin 3D printers, the quality and accessibility of these programs are in some ways more important than the quality of the printer itself. Even the best 3D printers will be useless if you can’t operate them, after all.

How much you can expect to spend on a resin 3D printer

Most quality desktop resin 3D printers cost somewhere around $400. Cheaper, beginner-friendly resin 3D printers have prices in the $200 range, while top-of-the-line products with advanced capabilities can have a value of over $1800.

Resin 3D printer FAQ

What advantages does resin 3D printing have over filament 3D printing?

A. By delicately applying layers of liquid resin to a build plate, then curing the resin with ultraviolet light as the build plate rises, resin 3D printers can create objects with much finer detail.

What advantages do filament 3D printers have over resin 3D printers?

A. The build plates of resin 3D printers tend to be smaller than the print beds of filament 3D printers. Furthermore, the hardened resin products produced by these printers can be more delicate than objects made from extruded filament.

What’s the best resin 3D printer to buy?

Top resin 3D printer

Elegoo Saturn MSLA 3D Printer

Elegoo Saturn MSLA 3D Printer

What you need to know: The Elegoo Saturn MSLA is a great choice for DIY hobbyists and professional fabricators who want to create finely printed, large-scale resin pieces.

What you’ll love: This high-quality liquid resin 3D printer is capable of printing large individual models and groups of several small models at a fast pace. A special railway and shock absorption system ensures the printing possess is generally quiet and unobtrusive. 

What you should consider: The calibration and set-up process for this 3D printer product can get a little complicated.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top resin 3D printer for the money

Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer

Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer

What you need to know: This device is affordable, highly functional and well-suited for newcomers to resin 3D printing.

What you’ll love: The Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer can use wax, polymer or plant-based resin to create accurate prints of 3D models at a fast yet quiet pace. It comes with a UV light-blocking cover and has a printing space well-suited for manufacturing tall objects.

What you should consider: The printer is smaller and more compact than other models and comes with a companion app that’s not the most intuitive.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Anycubic Photon Mono X 4K Resin 3D Printer

Anycubic Photon Mono X 4K Resin 3D Printer

What you need to know: This larger cousin to the Anycubic Photon Mono is well-suited for printing large-scale resin objects at a fast pace without sacrificing quality or detail.

What you’ll love: The Anycubic Photo Mono X 4K allows users to print at a whopping 60 millimeters an hour. A 4K screen and upgraded UV light sources allow for extremely detailed prints. A complimentary phone app lets users adjust settings and start print operations on this device remotely.

What you should consider: There’s no added protection between the VAT and the screen, so if your resin leaks, it may cure on the screen.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Coleman Gailloreto writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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