3D printers are trendy, make no mistake about it, and they are certainly the future. An one of the reasons is the great accessibility that we have to it with extremely competitive prices and impossible to believe a few years ago.
As you well know, there are different 3D printing technologies of which we talked some time ago, and that you can find in el next article explained in detail.
Today we will focus on MSLA (Masked Stereolithography) 3D printers, and specifically on the most interesting (and best in our opinion) of this year 2021 that is coming to an end.
MSLA printers are normally quite mechanically simple compared to other types of 3D printers, having only one Z axis of movement (layer height).
Another feature, and perhaps the most important of this type of technology, is the printing resolution that we can achieve with it. Some models reach resolutions of 0.035mm (XY) x 0.01mm (Z). These measurements are called voxels and it is the minimum size of a 3D point.
In addition, as we will use liquid resin that is cured by ultraviolet (UV) light, you must be extremely careful when handling it and always comply with safety regulations. The use of gloves, a mask and a ventilated place is essential if we venture into this type of resin printers.
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What to consider when buying a resin printer?
Since there are different types of MSLA printers, it is important to know some of their characteristics in order to decide which machine may be the most suitable for our case.
So we will cite here some of the most important features in our opinion:
If you are already a user of filament (or FDM) printers, you will be used to considerable print sizes, 300x300mm being the size normally recommended for a type of printer with this type of technology.
As you will soon discover, in resin printers (MSLA) the printing volume and always speaking of machines intended for domestic use, these tend to have a limited printing space.
MSLA printers use a screen to mask the passage of UV light used throughout the 3D printing process. And this directly defines the quality, printing speed and duration of the same. Two types of screens are usually used:
Let’s say that it was the standard in previous generations, and that by price they were the most used. On the other hand, they offer slower prints, since this type of screen did not allow the passage of light efficiently and resulting in high exposure times.
Of recent use in this type of printers at the moment. They are much more efficient and allow significantly shorter print times. As an example, an RGB screen may take 9 seconds to cure one layer, while a monochrome screen takes just 2 seconds.
Another important aspect is also the resolution of the panel/screen of our printer. Currently we can find panels with resolutions of 2K, 4K, 6K or even the most recent 8K.
It is worth highlighting the relationship between resolution and screen size. For example, a 6 “screen with 2K resolution has a voxel of 0.05mm (XY). If we use the same resolution on a 12” screen, that voxel will be double, so we will gain print size but lose resolution.
Normally printers with a large print volume tend to double the resolution compared to their sisters with a smaller print volume to maintain a similar resolution (final quality).
As we discussed previously, MSLA technology requires post-processing of our prints, requiring a washing and subsequent curing of all our printed parts.
The good news is that manufacturers make this task easier for us with washing/curing machines that will simplify this task, making it less tedious, fast and above all safe. In the last section of the article you will find some of them and their characteristics.
Best printers by cost/printing volume
We have selected a couple of resin printers that, due to their balance between cost, quality and print size, make them perfect to get started, improve our old printer or, why not, have a second 3D printer.
Elegoo Mars 2 Pro
We recently made a complete analysis (review) of this wonderful resin printer, for us one of the best currently in its segment where the cost/volume/quality is the priority.
We encourage you to take a look to the review to have more information about it. We leave you here its main characteristics:
|Printing volume||129 x 80 x160 mm|
|XY resolution||.05 mm|
Anycubic Photon Mono
Another great resin printer is the Anycubic Photon Mono that competes head-to-head with the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, since both features are very similar.
As points in favor we have the use of a Mono screen and the anchoring system of the printing platform. On the other hand as negative points the use of a proprietary FEP system and lack of active gas filtering.
|Printing volume||130 x 80 x165 mm|
|XY resolution||.051 mm|
Best high-end printers with contained volume
In this section we have selected three resin printers that due to their advanced features, quality and print size make them perfect for advanced use with resin prints.
Elegoo Mars 3
Probably in a few months we will talk about the Elegoo Mars 3 as the basic resin printer to start in printing resins taking over from her sister the Elegoo Mars 2 PRO.
With a 4K resolution, Mono display, standard Chitubox compatibility, and easy leveling system make it an impressive printer.
On the other hand, to contain the price, the quality of materials in its external construction has been lowered a bit, something that should not matter since it does not affect its printing quality.
|Printing volume||143 x 89.6 x 175 mm|
|Screen resolution||4098 x 2560|
|XY resolution||.035 mm|
Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K
The Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K was one of the first to make the leap to 4k with impressive features and reaching one of the best XY resolutions (.035mm)
Perhaps a negative point for this great machine would be its 130mm on the Z axis, which will limit the projects we can carry out a bit.
|Printing volume||132 x 74 x130 mm|
|Screen resolution||3480 x 2160|
|XY resolution||.035 mm|
While we always associate Prusa with their range of FDM printers, they also have SLA printers. And do not have the slightest doubt that the same love that they put to their FDM has been put into their resin printers, making an incredible product, although also at a slightly higher cost.
This Prusa SL1S, how could it be otherwise, overflows with quality everywhere. From the ease of use, to the care (packaging), quality of construction and materials as well as the printing options for Ethernet/WiFi network.
And it has a 2K monochrome screen, offering us an XY resolution of .049 mm.
|Printing volume||127 x 80 x150 mm|
|Screen resolution||2560 x 2160|
|XY resolution||.049 mm|
|Connectivity||USB, Ethernet, WiFi|
Best High Volume Printers
And we come to the last section of our selection of resin printers. We have selected on this occasion two printers that, due to their large printing volume, we believe can be perfect for jobs that require large parts.
The Elegoo Saturn surprises with its size being used to its younger sisters. Its large printing volume and an XY resolution of .05mm will allow us to do our projects faster and, of course, at a large size.
Highlight that, like its sister, the quality of finishes and ease of use make it one of the best printers in the segment of high volume printing.
|Printing volume||192 x 120 x 200 mm|
|Screen resolution||3840 x 2400|
|XY resolution||.05 mm|
Anycubic Photon Mono X
Like the Elegoo model, the Anycubic Mono X stands out for its large volume, being larger in Z than the Elegoo, and printing speed, also incorporating the WiFi option.
It has a great build quality, great volume and speed but in return we find a limited compatibility with Chitubox being the Anycubic slicer somewhat more limited, or the fact that the functions and configuration of the WiFi can be improved.
|Printing volume||192 x 120 x 245 mm|
|Screen resolution||3840 x 2400|
|XY resolution||.05 mm|
Curing and cleaning stations
Finally, and to end the article, we would like to make a brief introduction of some curing stations. These stations are perfect complements (and for me essential) when buying a resin printer.
Think that after each printing you will have to post-process your pieces. This means removing resin residues on the surface properly and then drying (or curing). Of course you can do this manually but it is a real hassle.
The subsequent curing of the pieces made is vital, and can vary between 5 minutes or 1 hour depending always on the size and material used.
This curing station is the most basic of the Elegoo brand, but at the same time economical if you wish to choose not to spend more than 100 euros on a curing station.
It has a turntable and you can configure the processing time of the part. Although, it is very simple and does not have a function to wash our pieces, it is an excellent option if you do not want to spend a lot.
Elegoo Mercury Plus
Very interesting washing and curing station, especially if you have an Elegoo printer since you can use the same anchor on both machines and save valuable time in your curing processes.
It has an adjustable support to adapt to the liquid level of the cube and a 0.96-inch TFT LCD screen and is compatible with all Elegoo Mars, Mars Pro, Mars C, Photon and Photon S. One of the best options currently on the market.
This is another curing station available from another famous printer manufacturer (Geeetech). It only has a curing option, so you must correctly clean the pieces with isopropyl alcohol before inserting them into the station.
Its design and assembly is very simple and like the Elegoo Mercury, it is a very affordable option for all types of pockets.
It also has a rotating platform with a timer, as well as an intelligent protection that turns off the ultraviolet lights when the passenger compartment is opened.
We hope that this short article has been able to help you when choosing your first resin 3D printer.
Feel free to visit other interesting articles from our blog:
- Longer LK5 Pro: Review of a High-Volume Desktop 3D Printer
- Nozzle: Learn all the basics about this essential component
- Elegoo Mars 2 Pro: Review of a great resin printer for home use
- BTT Octopus: Analysis and Setup Guide with Marlin and Klipper
- FYSETC S6: Complete guide to this excellent electronic board for our 3D printers
- BTT SKR 2: How to detect and repair the failure of the first revisions (REV A)
- Elegoo Jupiter 6K: A new flagship arrives on the Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter
- Monoprice Mini Delta v2: The perfect choice to get started in 3D printing
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- BigTreeTech SKR 2: Guide and setup of this new electronics
- Complete guide Fysetc Spider: A real “beast” for our 3D printers
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