How Do Resin 3D Printers Work?

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If everything was created equal

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How to Get Started with a 3D Printer

The world would be a very boring place. Everything would be the same, work the same and there would be no challenges. No one would be excited about 3D printing because every printer would be the same using the same materials.

Thankfully nothing is really created equal and there are different 3D printers as well as different materials to use. There are filament 3D printers, laser 3D printers and even resin 3D printers and there are challenges to learning how to use all of them.

To find out about resin 3D printers and how they work, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about before you enter the world of 3D printing.

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The pros and cons of 3D resin printing

Before we start with the boring details of how resin 3D printers work, here are the positive and negatives of this challenging printing field. Once you have the whole picture it is easier to learn how these machines work.

Pros:

PositivesDescription
Better resolutionIn other words resin results just look better than FDM results. The size of the laser makes all the difference.
It is fasterThat is what you want with your busy schedule. The faster the print the quicker you move on to the next step in the process.
The object is strongerAnother characteristic you want. Quality is king and resin printing does just that make better quality objects.

Cons:

NegativesDescription
The printer is more expensiveA good FDM printer may cost you between $300 &$500 but a low quality resin model is about $1000 and a good one is about $3000. The resin is more expensive than the filament for FDM printing.
No creativityResin printing only prints in one color, one style so get used to the fact you can’t use multiple colors. Post-processing is more difficult and limited creativity hinders your work.
Post-processing is not niceIt will be messy to do this step of the printing process. Rubber gloves and plastic sheeting are necessary and mandatory items to have on hand.
Lack of availabilityFDM 3D printing took off leaving resin printing in the dust. You will find fewer resin 3D printers available today. Cost and limitations keep people away from this style of printing.

How do resin printers work?

The unique aspect of 3D resin printing comes in the way these machines can build your object. They can be set up to print right side up or upside down. That is about the only creative aspect you have with these devices. Outside of the file used to print the object.

The way resin printers work is after you get the settings determined, you lower the build platform into the vat of resin. The device will take the build platform almost to the very bottom of the vat.

Then when one layer is built, the 3D printer lifts the platform so the second layer can be printed. The printing is done with lasers which hardens the resin into the shape you designed. This process continues until the object is built.

The two dominant resin printers

While there are more than 2 resin type 3D printers on the market today, this section will only deal with the 2 that are the most or have been the most popular in recent years.

  1. Stereolithography or SLA- uses UV rays to create the object and can be done in a top down or bottom up method. It is also made to produce very intricate and complicated designs.
  2. Digital Light Processing or DLP- uses a light projector and is able to print faster than SLA. Its light source is cheaper than SLA’s but it also does not produce very detailed models or prints.

Also, you should be aware that the different resins for all types of resin printing are not interchangeable. They all work on different principles and respond to different frequencies.

Be careful which one you choose as you need to fit the printer to the type of design you want. It would be expensive to add a second printer to meet different printing needs.

What to look for in a 3D resin printer

If you are going to spend the bucks, then you should know what to look for in a resin printer. Here are some guidelines to help direct your search:

  1. Quality- the finished product should have good details, good resolution along with smoothness to the finished surface with little shrinking. Look for a resin that makes that possible
  2. Durable- with resin printing this may be a difficult task to meet as they are known to be brittle and can crack or break easily, You will need to use a resin that provides tougher and stronger results
  3. Flexibility- the resins that do this overcome the brittle fragile nature of the print giving them high impact strength, etc., but the printing process can be challenging
  4. Transparency- if you need to see inside your print, there are resins that do this just like FDM filaments can. Just keep them away from UV rays
  5. Bio-compatibility- this is important if you are thinking of making medical equipment like prostheses, implants and more. The resins used here need to be the best of the best to help the patient uses those items
  6. Cost- buying a resin 3D printer is not going to be cheap. You are looking at paying upwards from $1000 for a cheap model and over $3,000 for a good 3D resin printer. Then the resin may be starting at around $200 with the premium resin going for roughly $500. FDM filament can cost between $5 and $20 in comparison.

Some final words

You get what you pay for and when you pay more for resin 3D printers you will get better objects that come in finer detail. Just be careful of the brittle nature of those prints. This is not a style of 3D printing that is for everyone.

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