Best Resin 3D Printers: Buyer’s Guide 2020
In creating a list of the best resin 3D printers, we had to sift through dozens of options. Resin 3D printers are becoming more popular due to their superior print qualities, so the market is more crowded than ever with new resin printers to try out.
There are also several questions to consider before choosing which 3D printers to include. For instance, one major question to tackle right off the bat was whether to include DLP printers, since they are resin printers, technically. SLA is more popular at the moment because they are cheaper, but DLP print quality is higher.
In the end, we opted to exclude DLP printers from this list and focus in on SLA 3D printers only since most people out there will get the most bang for their buck with an SLA machine. DLP printers are great for more serious professionals, but SLA printers are better for hobbyists and some small businesses.
Why? Let’s look at the differences between SLA and DLP printers to get a better understanding of the pros and cons of each type.
SLA Printers vs. DLP Printers
To begin, DLP printers (Digital Light Processing), while technically different from SLA printers (Stereolithography), also use resin and function in a very similar way: both types of 3D printers use light to cure resins to create prints. SLA printers use lasers while DLP printers use a projector.
Why does this matter? Well, the laser on an SLA printer must trace out each layer while a DLP projector can cure an entire layer all at once, no tracing needed. That means that DLP projectors are faster than SLA printers (which are themselves very fast). It also means the DLP projectors are much more expensive because the projectors cost more to make and the results are better.
As a result of these design differences and price margins, SLA printers have become more popular for the consumer market while DLP printers have become more common in industrial applications. Here’s a quick overview of the more detailed explanations for this development:
- The speed difference between SLA and DLP printers is a fraction of a second per layer, which will only really have noticeable effects on usability at industrial scales.
- SLA printers tend to have smaller build volumes (for reasons we won’t bother with here) and are therefore better suited to desktop applications than DLP printers, which are useful for creating larger prints.
- SLA printers are relatively cheap compared to DLP printers, so a wider range of people will be able to buy them.
- While the quality of DLP prints is slightly higher and therefore the better choice for industrial applications, SLA printers produce very high-quality prints as well. The difference is only a factor at industrial scales or when printing bespoke functional parts for, for example, medical or aerospace applications.
For all of these reasons, SLA printers are more widely used at the consumer and small-business levels. That’s why we focused in on SLA printers for this guide. We know that DLP printers are technically resin printers as well, but we figured that most people coming to this guide will be looking for an SLA printer, not a DLP printer.
Our Top Recommendations
Out of all of the SLA printers available, we eventually chose to go with the following 5 SLA printers, in decreasing order of quality.
- Sparkmaker SLA 3D Resin Printer
- Hieha SQ1 UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer
- QIDI TECH Shadow 5.5 S 3D Printer
- ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer
- ANYCUBIC Photon S 3D Printer
The Anycubic Photon S is possibly the best 3D resin printer available on the market today depending on your needs. If you are willing to put up with the mess that SLA printers can cause (and given that you are reading this guide, you probably are), the Photon S will deliver superb results and has several improvements on the lower-end SLA printers on this list, such as built-in air filters and dual z-axis rails, that make the printing experience better.
Who should buy it? The Anycubic Photon S is a professional level machine built for small business owners and serious hobbyists. The price tag is a bit higher but the performance is superior to most other 3D printers in the same class. But despite the advanced features, the Photon S is still relatively easy to use even for beginners, which is why it is our choice for the best SLA 3D printer out there right now.
The Elegoo Mars is a close second though. If you are looking for a solid introductory level SLA printer that will produce outstanding quality prints straight out of the box, then the Elegoo Mars is the printer for you.
The Elegoo is quickly becoming one of the most popular printers out there in general, probably because it is so cheap and the quality of the prints is so high. As people begin to work with resins, they often turn to the Elegoo to get started.
For other cheap SLA printer options, check out our guide to the cheapest SLA 3D printers. You’ll find a few repeats: the Elgoo and the Anycubic are both on there. But the printers on this list are best in class, not necessarily cheapest in class, so for more cheap options, check out that list.
1. Sparkmaker SLA 3D Resin Printer
Let’s start this list with the best resin 3D printer to give as a gift (Christmas, birthday, etc.). The Sparkmaker is surprisingly sturdy, and it comes packed with everything you need to start printing within 30 minutes. That makes it perfect as a gift for a beginner – just unbox it, add the resin, load a test print, and start printing.
The Sparkmaker with almost everything needed to start printing immediately except resin. That is a minor downside since many other SLA printers come with at least a small resin sample. But the box does include a mask, gloves, a plastic resin scraper, and a few other accessories like an SD card.
- 100 micrometer XY resolution and up to 20 micrometer Z layer thickness
- 24 UV LED light sources for faster dynamic printing
- ChiTuBox slicing software, test files, preloaded models, software, guide videos
- Comes fully assembled with everything you need to get started immediately (except resin!)
Perfect for beginners
The Sparkmaker is built for beginners. That’s why it is the perfect gift for anyone who is interested in getting into 3D printing. Resin SLA printers are definitely messier than FDM printers, but the results are way better. As mentioned above, FDM printers produce prints with visible layer lines and rounded corners. The Sparkmaker makes prints with sharp corners and smooth surfaces, so if that matters to you then a little messiness is worth it.
Another helpful thing for beginners is that the Sparkmaker comes mostly assembled. That’s good for anyone who wants to avoid getting into the nitty-gritty of building a 3D printer. It does come with a Hex wrench so that you can tighten screws and a solid instruction manual and videos to guide you through getting started.
- Easy to get started printing right out of the box
- Great for beginners
- Video guide for a quick start
- Perfect gift for birthdays and holidays
- Does not come with resin
- Not too many sophisticated features
- [SLA 3D Resin Printer for Precise Printing] - Solid built and industry-grade Z-axis linear guide is easy to level, allowed to print at 100 micrometer XY resolution and up to 20 micrometer Z layer thickness, ensuring a higher resolution and stability but avoiding wavy lines during printing. Unlike most FDM SLA LCD 3D printer, 24 UV LED light sources inside are uniformly distributed in each parallel panel, which delivers more evenly radiation so that print out a better-shaped and preciser model.
- [One-click Operation & Fully Assembled] - This family-friendly mini desktop SLA 3D printer is almost fully assembled, best choice for hobbyist, beginners and professionals or as a Halloween Christmas gift. Printing platform, leveling device, resin tank and slicing software are already set up, you can get started right out of the box. One click of the button to start, pause or stop as you required, so that you can operate it flexibly and worry free with this easy-to-use LCD 3D printer.
- [Professional Slicing Software & Off-line Printing] – This UV photocuring 3D resin printer is compatible with the built-in fastest slicer - ChiTuBox slicing software, which supports Mac, Windows, and Linux system. Relevant test files, preloaded models, software, guide videos are included in SD card to finish slicing instantly. Without connection problem, it will realize off-line printing and produce highly detailed & much smoother objects in an excellent ventilation and quite printing status.
- [Multiple & High-end Resin Material] - SparkMaker photosensitive resin features standout rigidity, elasticity, hardness, super clear while they show great performance in kids education and family entertainment, industrial & medical parts modeling. We have adopted imported photoinitiator so it has stable color paste and helps model shape up faster and preciser with less smell producing. The durable all metal resin tank is removable and easy to clean, which also can avoid resin leakage.
2. HiEHA SQ1 UV Photocuring 3D Printer
The Hieha is not one of the most popular models our there mostly because it has by far the fastest set up time. You can setup and complete your first print within 15 minutes if you know what you are doing.
The instructions say to just pour in some resin and “press play” – no calibration necessary. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with resin which is a minor downside but it works with basically any common resin. Go with eSUN resins if this is your first time using resin printers.
- Direct UV-light Printing (DUP) technology
- All-aluminum body plus acrylic cover
- Taiwanese HIWIN dual linear guide rails
- Dual Z axis rails to cut down on wobble
- XY axis precision of 45 microns
- ChiTu slicer comes with the HiEHA
- 24 hours customer service
- 3.5” inch 2K LCD and FEP film
Solid Build and Gorgeous Color Display
This printer is beautiful. If nothing else it looks very good. The color display is nice and big, and very easy to use. The UI is intuitive so you can really just take it out of the box, add the resin, and press print. As you calibrate it to different resins and try out different features, including the on-board slicer, that display will be fun to use.
The Hieha is one of the more solid resin printers out there mostly because the build quality is so high. It is an all-metal (except for the acrylic cover) well-constructed printer and just in general comes set up and ready to go.
- Printer comes pre-assembled and calibrated
- Start printing within 5 minutes.
- Gorgeous LCD display
- Dual z-axis rails
- On-board slicer and tons of features.
- Fast delivery: as fast as 4 working days.
- Printer runs on a Raspberry Pi, using NanoDLP.
- Wifi enabled
- Output of the UV LED at 60W (twice as powerful as many other models)
- 3.5” inch 2K LCD and FEP film excluded for free replacement parts (can be purchased though)
- Doesn’t come with resin
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3. QIDI TECH Shadow 5.5 S 3D Printer
The Shadow 5.5S is basically what you would get if you combined an Elegoo Mars with a Photon S and dressed it up like Iron Man. It has the air filters from the Photon S combined with the general build style of the Elegoo Mars. And the red and gold finish on the solid all-metal body makes it look like a Tony Stark creation.
The CBD board is basically the same as the Elegoo mars, and the build plate can be directly swapped out for the build plate for the Photon S. And it has the dual-z rails to reduce wobble. But unlike the Photon S which has it’s own proprietary software, the Quidi Tech comes with Chitubox.
- CBD control onboard, Chitubox included
- 2k LCD screen
- Printing area is 115 x 65 x 150
- Upgraded air filtration system
- XY resolution 0.047mm(2560*1440)
- Z-axis accuracy 0.00125mm
- Dual z-axis linear guide rails, double slider fixed, equipped with 4 optical axis structure
LEDs are a cone formation, not an array
The Quidi Tech levels just like the Anycubic Photon S and a mylar sheet to help with that leveling effort. It comes with a bunch of tools: 2 allen wrenchs, 2 screw drivers, masks filter, scraper – basically everything you need to get started right away.
You can open up the bottom quickly from the bottom if you need to replace anything like the LEDs. The LEDs are arranged in a cone instead of an array, which may or may not increase the speed of the prints. Of course, any increase in speed would probably only be noticeable if you are printing a lot or printing huge prints.
- Dual fan for ventilation along with activated carbon air filtration
- 2k LCD screen
- MSLA (Masked SLA) printer
- Light source is an LED array
- QIDI customer support, specifically Linda, is great
- The package does not include resin
- 【Latest QIDI 3d Printer】 QIDI Technology's latest LCD resin 3d printer, comprehensive leading industrial design, precision manufacturing .
- 【Double Z-axis linear guide 】Shadow 5.5S adopts the highest stable structure: unique dual-rail, double-slider fixed, equipped with 4 optical axis structure, making the 3d printer more stable in the printing process, with stronger stretching force for precise printing!
- 【 Convenient to use 】Shadow5.5s is equipped with special high-strength tempered glass and integrated into the 2k lcd screen. During the printing process, the release film is smoother and more durable, and the printing area is 115*65*150. Release film: After the model is printed, the model is more convenient to leave the film.
- 【2K LCD Screen 】Shadow 5.5S is equipped with high-quality 2K lcd screen, which achieves fast curing through matrix ultraviolet light, improves printing accuracy, and thus makes printing result better.
- 【Professional after-service team】 QIDI TECH Professional Amazon after-service team,if you have any problem about our 3d printer,we will reply to you within 24 hours.Free one-year warranty (the 2K LCD and FEP film are excluded ) .
4. ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer
The classic Elegoo Mars is easily in one of the best SLA printers of all time. Many other companies have copied its general design, including some of the printers on the list above. But we saved this one toward the end because we figured that if you hadn’t found what you’re looking for by now, the Elegoo Mars might do the trick.
The build is all-metal and super solid. The Elegoo Mars will clearly last for years. Unboxing and setup takes less than 30 minutes if you don’t know what you are doing, and 15 minutes if you do. It comes with a generous amount of tools to get you started quickly: spatula, allen wrench, hex screw driver, nice cutters, measuring cup, a few gloves, a USB drive, 3 face masks, and a few filters.
- Packaging for the Elegoo is top-notch
- Light Source: UV Integrated Light(wavelength 405nm)
- XY Resolution: 0.047mm(2560*1440)
- Z-Axis Accuracy: 0.00125mm
- Fast Printing Speed: 22.5mm/h
- Build Volume: 4.72*2.68*6.1 inches
Highlight One point
The touch color LCD screen has clear and simply UI. There are several of features accessible through the LCD screen with gives you a simple but satisfying amount of options for printing. For instance, the exposure setting lets you test out the LEDs to make sure they are working.
The box also includes a mylar sheet for bed leveling. Basically, remove the resin vat, plop the mylar sheet onto the bed, and hit the bed leveling button. Then use the allen wrenches to adjust it until you can remove the mylar sheet evenly.
One caveat is that the Elegoo Mars doesn’t come with resin so you will have to buy some ahead of time. So after you level it, reattach the vat and put in the included USB stick to choose a design to print. Then add the resin and press print. Simple as that.
- Easy to set-up and use
- Software is relatively simple to use).
- Far fewer settings to adjust vs FDM printers
- Not as susceptible to print fails as FDM printers
- Great customer support
- Relatively low maintenance
- Sometimes poor quality control
Like other SLA pritners, the Elegoo Mars produces fantastic prints. If you are used to FDM prints, this will be a major upgrade. It can print detailed designs that are spectacular.
The printer doesn’t have any lag, and the only thing you have to get used to is the smell of the resin and rinsing prints in isopropyl alcohol. Otherwise, this is the perfect SLA printer to transition from FDM printing to SLA printing.
- 【Fast Slicing Software】ELEGOO Mars comes with the latest version of CHITUBOX Slicing Software which gives you extraordinary user experience. CHITUBOX takes only 1 minute to slice 30Mb .stl model files while the open-sourced slicing software would take up to 10minutes.
- 【Resin saving and Better Printing】CHITUBOX allows you to hollow out your model before slicing which could save your resin dramatically during photocuring process. Equiped with 40W UV lights and using ELEGOO resin, you can get a better printing result.
- 【Smart and Convenient】3.5'' inch color touch screen equipped with the latest ELEGOO CHITUBOX 5.5 system makes it very easy for off-line printing. The build platform with steel ball balancing structure inside allows you to start printing within 5 minutes after assembly.
- 【High Precision and Resolution】ELEGOO Mars uses a 2560x1440 2K HD masking LCD as to provide accurate printing with XY axis resolution of 0.00185inches / 0.047mm
- 【Warranty and Service】We provide total one-year machine warranty (3 month warranty for FEP and 2K LCD consumable parts) and if you have any questions regarding product operation or software please feel free to contact us
5. ANYCUBIC Photon S 3D Printer
The Anycubic Photon S is the upgraded older sibling of the Anycubic photon UV, which is arguably the most popular SLA printer on the market today. The Photon S is like the Photon UV but with several important upgrades that seem minor but make all the difference in terms of long term usability.
First, because of an upgraded light source, the Photon S can print faster than the Photon UV. Granted the speed increase is only a few fractions of a second per layer, but the overall speed increase adds up quickly and makes a significant difference for larger prints.
Second, the Anycubic Photon S has dual Z-axis linear rails to cut down on the amount of Z wobble. One of the main issues with the Photon UV is that the prints sometimes come out with artifacts and defects due to slight z-wobble. The z rails on the Photon S pretty much completely eliminate that issue.
- Dual Z-axis linear rails for reduced z wobble
- Upgraded UV light source for faster print times
- Touch screen with easy to use menu and progress display
- Sanded Aluminum platform for enhanced adhesion
- Double air filtration system: effectively reduce the spread of noxious vapors from the resin
Air Filters: Are They Worth It?
- High-resolution prints and superior print quality
- Low print failure rates
- Built-in air filters
- Easy to use and quick assembly
- LCD screen with progress display
- Dual z-axis linear rails for reduced z wobble
- More powerful UV LED light source
- Maybe a steeper learning curve than with a basic FDM printer
- Must use safety protection like face mask and gloves
- Great starter 3D Printer, Super easy to setup since it comes almost entirely preassembled, come with all the proper tools to get started, and just a single grub screw to level instead of having to level each corner. Great introduction to 3D printing
- With the Dual Rails, No worry about Z wobble issue; The dual Z axis rail make the bed very stable, this helps with the movement and to make sure the bed does not shift in the middle of printing; Better choice for large x-y objects with super-fine details
- Upgraded LED Array, With the UV upgraded lighting, it makes the resolution and the accuracy in your printing that much better and tighter than any other 3d printer in its class. The pitting in the skin, the hair and the texture in the clothing all can shows up
- More Function, 1 Touch screen, offer a new-Level use experience 2 Sanded Aluminum platform, greatly enhance adhesion make it more stable during printing 3 Double air filtration system, effectively reduce the divergence of odor 4 CE Certified Power Supply
- Photon Owner's Group, On Facebook as the people there are very knowledgeable and love to help with issues; They are eager to give suggestions and advice for everyone to get the best of their Photon and photon S
Conclusion: Best Resin 3D Printers
The best resin 3D printers are the Elegoo Mars and the Photon S. These are the two classic models that have won the hearts and minds of makers across the world. They each provide a different printing experience but overall both are very satisfying machines to use and the detail is unbeatable.
As SLA printing grows in popularity and more people switch over from FDM printing to SLA printing, the quality of these machines will only go up. But the fact that desktop SLA printers are so powerful already and easy to use is astounding. The low price tag also helps.
If you found this article helpful, please leave a comment and let us know which printer you ended up choosing. There are so many different models to try that there are bound to be a few excellent machines that didn’t make it onto the this list. Feel free to add your favorites in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading and happy printing!