Best Budget 3D Resin Printers: My Picks for 2020
If you are interested in buying a 3D resin printer there are many factors to inform your decision. Below you will find information to help you choose the right one.
There are many different 3D resin printers on the market today. They range in cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. I have worked with both professional quality resin printers and budget consumer models. If you have come to this page you are probably looking for a home 3D resin printer that won’t break the bank. Below you will find my choices for best budget resin printers.
These are the Top 3 Resin Printers for 2020:
- Elegoo Mars (Click here to check the current price on Amazon) – This was my first resin printer for use at home. It has a great price for the quality and can produce great prints.
- Anycubic Photon (Click here to check the current price on Amazon) – Another great entry level resin printer. I do prefer the removable lids on the Mars and the Phrozen over the Photon. While not a major issue it can feel cramped when working inside the printer.
- Phrozen Sonic Mini (Click here to check the current price on Amazon) – The Phrozen offers a mono LCD screen which the Photon and Mars lacks. The mono screen reduces cure times to as low as two seconds per layer.
Why I Picked the Phrozen Sonic Mini:
- The biggest reason is the inclusion of a mono LCD screen. The mono screen speeds up the cure time per layer reducing overall print time.
- The Sonic is still a great value even though it is slightly more expensive than the Mars or Photon
- Removable hood allows access to all areas of the build plate and resin vat
- Quick and easy setup allow you to start printing within a few minutes of unboxing.
Features to Look for in a 3D Resin Printer
- Resolution. The higher the resolution the better. On most entry level printers under $300 you will find a 2k resolution screen. If your budget will allow, consider a model with a 4k screen such as the Mars Pro or Phrozen Shuffle
- The larger your build plate the more items you can print at once. Printing more models at a time increases the lifespan of your LCD screen.
- Good build quality for the value. A solid base and rigid Z axis are important for producing great prints.
- Consumable parts such as LED screens and FEP film are readily available for the printer. Nothing is worse than needing to replace a part and having to wait for weeks or months while your printer collects dust.
- Easy to use LCD touch screen. This is where you will control the printer. If you can’t read the text or the screen won’t register your touches it will make your life miserable.
- Great community of users. It can be hard to troubleshoot problems if you are new to 3D printing. Finding a printer that has a good user community can help you get the most out of your machine.
Other Items You Will Need
Resin printing requires the user to post-process their prints. You will need a way to wash your resin prints and to cure them. You can use a simple solution such as a sealable container with isopropyl alcohol and a UV flashlight. You can even build a DIY curing chamber with a kit off amazon. If you have the budget, I recommend buying a wash and cure station that will save you time.
About Resin Printers
Unlike fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers where the material starts as a solid, resin printer material starts as a liquid. While the liquid resin is not exposed to UV light it will stay in a liquid state. In order to turn the liquid into a solid it must undergo a chemical process. The process uses UV light as a catalyst causing the chemical composition to change. This change results in the liquid resin changing from a liquid state to a solid state.
To understand how the process works we need to examine the molecular structure of the resin. The resin contains molecules called monomers. Monomers are molecules that can bond with other identical molecules and form a polymer. Polymers are substances with molecular structures that are primarily similar molecules bonded together. Many synthetic materials such as plastics and resins are comprised of polymers.
The larger molecular mass of the polymer produces physical characteristics such as toughness and elasticity. The formation of the molecular assemblies results in semi-crystalline structures. This is known as polymerization and results in three-dimensional networks of polymer chains.
To turn cause the chemical reaction that links the monomers into polymers, the printer uses a UV light source, either a laser or UV LED array, to shine on the resin. Using a laser, the shape of each layer is traced onto the resin causing it to harden. For home use printers, an LCD screen is used to mask out the print layer. The UV light exposes through the clear areas on the screen resulting in a chemical reaction that hardens the resin. Once a layer has been hardened the build plate raises and the next layer is exposed. This process continues until the entire print is finished.
Once the print is done the model is then removed from the build plate and washed with a solvent to remove and residual resin. The model is then placed in a curing chamber to finish curing the resin.
Resin printers can deliver higher resolution prints without the visible layer lines of an FDM printer. While resin printers cost more to run than an FDM the increase in quality of the print make them a good choice for those who need highly detailed prints.