What is the difference between a 3D printer and a resin 3D printer?

Dive right in and discover the marvels of resin-based 3D printing. The tech scene has been abuzz about them for some time, largely attributed to their user-friendliness and the substantial reduction in prices. This surge in interest inevitably leads to questions: What’s a resin 3D printer? or How do they operate? As a tech trainee, I felt a deep urge to shed light on these questions. So, if you’re eager to grasp the ins and outs of these remarkable machines or considering purchasing one, hang tight! Get ready to navigate this exciting realm of resin 3D printers.


What’s the Deal with Resin 3D Printers?
Understanding Different Types of Resin 3D Printing – The How-To!


How Will Your Wallet Feel? Resin 3D Printers’ Pricing
From Elegoo Mars Pro to Anycubic Photon Mono X to Formlabs Form 3

The Real Cost? 3D Printing Resin Supplies
From Elegoo Rapid Resin to Anycubic Eco Plant-Based Resin to Siraya Tech Tenacious Resin

Resin 3D Printer Explained: These are devices that utilize a reservoir filled with light-sensitive liquid resin. By harnessing UV LED light beams in a layer-by-layer manner, the liquid solidifies into a 3D plastic model. This magical technique is termed SLA or Stereolithography, delivering prints of meticulous detail down to 0.01mm layer height.

When embarking on the 3D printing journey, you’ll encounter two primary paths. First, the filament 3D printer, commonly referred to as the FDM or FFF 3D printer. The alternative? The resin 3D printer, also known by its technical names, SLA or MSLA printer. The difference in quality between models from these technologies is striking. The strength of resin 3D printers lies in their ability to render models with exquisite details and flawlessly smooth surfaces. In contrast, FDM printers might not achieve such elevated standards due to constraints like nozzle size and positioning accuracy.

Heart of a Resin 3D Printer:
– Resin container
– FEP sheet
– Construction platform
– UV LCD monitor
– UV resistant acrylic cover
– Z-axis movement linear rails
– Interactive Touchscreen
– USB interfaces

For a clearer perspective, an exceptional FDM 3D printer typically prints with a 0.05-0.1mm (50-100 microns) layer height. Meanwhile, a resin printer boasts precision up to 0.01-0.25mm (10-25 microns), guaranteeing superior details and smoothness. It might require more time, but the resin 3D printers have an ace up their sleeve: they can solidify an entire layer simultaneously, unlike filament printers that trace models.

Models birthed from resin 3D printers exude quality, having layers that merge seamlessly, giving birth to those sought-after high-quality creations. Although more fragile compared to filament 3D prints, the market now boasts resilient and adaptable resins for varied applications. And here’s the kicker – resin 3D printers typically have fewer components in motion compared to filament printers, translating to minimal maintenance!

The most frequent replacements would be the FEP sheet. However, with careful handling, you might not need to replace it immediately after several prints. Beginners might occasionally puncture their FEP sheets, mainly if residues aren’t cleaned prior to the subsequent print. Replacement isn’t bank-breaking, with a set of 5 averaging $15. Another crucial element is the LCD screen. Modern monochrome displays endure 2,000+ hours of printing, whereas RGB versions might last between 700-1,000 hours. The price fluctuates based on the printer model and screen size. For instance, a replacement for the Anycubic Photon Mono X could be roughly $150.

Manufacturers have made strides in extending these screens’ life expectancy. Modern resin 3D printers incorporate enhanced cooling systems to ensure the LED lights’ longevity. Over time, brightness may wane, but proactively adjusting the Light Delay between layer cures can further prolong their lifespan.

Types of Resin 3D Printing & Their Modus Operandi
Resin 3D printing encapsulates a method where liquid resin is stored in a container rather than ejected through a nozzle. Key terminologies or forms include Stereolithography (SLA), Digital Light Processing (DLP), and Masked Stereolithography (MSLA) or Liquid Crystal Display (LCD).

It stands for Stereolithography. An SLA resin 3D printer operates via a UV laser light that graces the surface of a photopolymer container, often called a resin vat. This light meticulously maps out the desired design. The mechanism involves components like a construction platform, resin vat, light source, elevator, and galvanometer pair. Elevators modulate the platform’s height, crafting layers during printing, while galvanometers (movable mirrors) ensure laser beam alignment.

As the UV light interacts with the uncured resin, it solidifies layer by layer, constructing the 3D object. The printer diligently works on each layer until the masterpiece is complete.

Digital Light Processing somewhat mirrors SLA, but instead of lasers, it deploys a digital projection surface for lighting. While SLA can only craft a singular point at any given moment, DLP realizes an entire layer instantaneously, making it significantly faster than its counterpart. Their reliability is also commendable due to the lack of intricate moving parts. The DMD (Digital Micromirror Device) governs the precise light projection in DLP printers. Comprising millions of micro mirrors, DMDs can project light at various points, masterfully consolidating entire layers simultaneously.

The distinction between DLP and MSLA or LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) can be intricate. DLP requires a micromirror device to transmit light from the projector, whereas LCD 3D printing omits this component. Instead, UV beams emanate directly from the LEDs passing through the LCD screen. Given this screen’s masking function, this technique is often labeled as MSLA (masked SLA).

The dawn of MSLA/LCD technology catalyzed the proliferation of resin 3D printing to the masses. Components essential for LCD 3D printing are comparatively affordable, though it’s noteworthy that an LCD 3D printer’s lifespan might be shorter than a DLP’s and might demand more maintenance. Even with this minor setback, LCD/MSLA 3D printing reigns supreme due to its ability to deliver smooth finishes and faster print times. Pixel distortion is a crucial parameter, and it’s significantly less in DLP compared to LCD 3D printing. The light emitted from LCD screens can degrade organic compounds within, implying the necessity for periodic replacements based on usage and performance.