Many beginning printing studios, artists, animators and ordinary users are interested in printing and 3D modeling, wondering which 3D printer is the best to choose for certain purposes. Who is a better filament printer vs a resin 3D printer? You will get a detailed answer to this question after reading this article.
Filament vs resin 3D printer: what kind of decision is the most relevant for you
Choosing a 3D printer is best based on your goals. If you are printing large and high-volume figures for cosplay, then an FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer is the most appropriate solution for you. Most large printing companies and enthusiasts use this kind of 3D printers.
If, however, a person uses miniatures where extra detail is needed, then the best solution for you is an SLA (Stereolithography) and DLP (Direct Light Processing) resin printers. Resin print is very often used for the production of small parts, chips, complex cards and templates. These types of printers make a small image more detailed and are ideal for this purpose.
Features of FDM printer
The point of this method is the deposition of ink. This type of printing is familiar to most ordinary people. A plastic fiber, called a filament, is melted on a heated tip and applied to the printing plate or on the print bed. The next layer is stacked on top of the previous one after a while.
In addition, filament 3D printers are very good when working with rare fibers such as nylon or carbon fiber. The production of fused filament fabrication is a labor-intensive process, but it deserves attention because 3D printing with these filaments rarely deforms under any conditions.
FDM printing is widely used for modeling and manufacturing large parts, such as cosplay masks or helmets. Doing filament printing is also not a complicated and time-consuming process and is great even for beginners. Most printing centers use FDM printing because they are cheap and reliable. In addition, there are plenty of material variations for every budget.
FDM printing is currently one of the most popular forms of printing, but is gradually being superseded by resin printers, which are slightly cheaper to operate, maintain, and with use of the consumables. However, it still has its advantages and disadvantages, both relative to resin printers and to SLA 3D printers and DLP 3D printers.
Resin printers: their advantages and disadvantages
Stereolithography or digital light processing (SLA/DLP) printers are devices designed to print liquid resin sequentially. Budget versions of these printers use an LCD display that exposes the resin parts from UV light, and they are subsequently cured. After the first layer has cured, the next layer is applied on top.
The disadvantage of SLA 3D printers is that they are not usually designed to make large parts, unlike filament. Resin also cures a little more slowly than liquid resin because it requires a polymerization process. Another disadvantage of resin printers is that the finished product often needs to be rinsed under running water, unlike FDM prints.
Detailed comparison of resin and filament characteristics
The resin printer is known for its excellent print quality. Resin printing does have layers, but they are so thin that they are not visible to the naked eye. Each layer is about 25-50 microns thick, while filament prints are usually 100-300 microns thick. The difference is noticeable.
The parts that filament printers print are strong and durable, as discussed above. In addition, it is possible to use alternative plastics such as PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), which have a high level of durability and resistance to UV light.
Note: Works made on filament 3D printers have much less strength if the forces act across the layers, so it is always very important to consider the projection of the parts during manufacturing.
In general, both filament and resin prints have certain advantages and disadvantages – consider them when creating your parts and works.
The process of filament on 3D printers
The glue gun located on the printer head works in three dimensions. The extruder module guides the plastic filament to the red-hot tip head, where it melts to the desired temperature and creates the print by flowing out of the hot nozzle. The tip head moves in three dimensions – X-axis (left and right), Y-axis (up and down) and Z-axis (diagonal).
The tip head can move differently in different printers: in some, it moves from the X-axis to the Y-axis, in others, it moves toward the Z-axis. The final result of any quality prints is that the red-hot rubber falls onto the red-hot plate in the first layer, hardens slightly, and then the second layer falls out on the layer again, and it goes until the shape is finished.
Note: Some plastics release too many toxic substances during operation. The fumes can irritate a person’s upper respiratory tract and can be a real problem for allergic people. Always use a protective mask, and place the printer in a well-ventilated area.
When choosing FDM printers, be sure to consider what type of filament you will be using. A heated print table is just as important if you want to use as much filament as possible. Using a filament type such as ABS, for example, be aware that a cold printing surface can result in the printed object being bent or even stuck when printing.
Otherwise, you risk not extremely fine detail, but an ugly caricature that will go to the trash.
Resin printing – what you need to know for the job
Stereolithography or simply SLA printing was invented in 1986. SLA 3D printers use a liquid resin that hardens under ultraviolet light. This process is called photopolymerization. For most amateur SLA printers, the source of this light is an LED that is attached to the printer’s LCD panel. It can pass one type of light and convert it to another for printing.
There are a huge number of resins on the market today that are designed for one type of printing or another. These include hard plastics, flexible plastics, jewelry resins, and resins used in dental offices. Standard amounts of resin are sold in 1-liter bottles.
The disadvantage of resin printers is that they are dirty and toxic. They are even more toxic than filament, so resin printers always require well-ventilated areas and gloves and a mask when working with them.
Resin printing has some serious drawbacks for beginners, including working with slicers and washing parts (discussed later in the article), the need for small construction plates, treatment with isopropyl alcohol, and drying in the sun. If you need more guides oh how to use 3D printer read another article on our website.
At the time when resin printing was in its infancy, it was much more expensive than FDM, but at the moment the quality of FDM printing has increased, and resin printing is slightly cheaper when it comes to the industrial use of 3D printers.
What’s special about the fused deposition modeling method
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is the original first 3D printing in the world, dating back to 1980. This type of printing is great for beginners and is also widely used by those who make figures or products on an industrial scale, such as Lego figures, gears, elements of the game of monopoly, and many others.
All components printed with this method are made from high-quality engineered thermoplastic, making this technology useful for mechanics and large industrial manufacturers. The printed parts are very durable and unaffected by the environment.
This form of printing is useful in all areas and makes it possible to significantly reduce production costs, relying usually on quantity and then on quality.
Types of films while 3D printing
There is a great variety of films for printing on 3D printers, each of which is designed for a specific purpose. The most popular and easy-to-use determinant of extruder temperature and other settings is PLA (polylactic acid), which is also biodegradable, fragrance-free and does not require heating the plate to assemble. It is also usually much cheaper than other materials.
You may also be interested: How to paint PLA on one’s own
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) is the second most common material, but it is stronger than PLA. However, this type of film is more demanding than PLA. It requires higher extruder and print plate temperatures to prevent deformation of the future figure. Material types such as, PETG (polyethylene terephthalate).
TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), nylon and other chemical compounds such as multifiber filament and wood fibers make it possible to print figures that look like metal, wood or even carbon products.
Slicer in the printer – an essential element of the work
Actually the whole process of 3D printing starts with project designing. A slicer is printer software that converts an image into code for more efficient and clearer printer operation. Both FDM printers and SLA resin printers have a slicer. The slicer can set the most optimal print settings automatically. The language of 3D printers is called Gcode.
Some printer sellers, such as XYZprinting, use their in-house developed slicers. Software manufacturer Ultimaker produces the CURA slicer, which is open source and warmly welcomed by fans of quality prints. Other excellent slicers are represented by such brands as KISSlicer, PrusaSlicer, Repetier and Slic3r.
If you work with two or more FDM printers, experts recommend using the universal CURA slicer solution, which supports more than two hundred 3D printer software.
The rule of thumb for using solvents when working with resin
Although resin printers are easy to use, it takes some time to learn how to set them up. When working with resin, fingerprints are often left on the product, so it is very important to remove their traces with solvent. Isopropyl alcohol is excellent for this task. Flushing stations are very often used to flush parts, although even a regular large kitchen sieve will do the trick.
Note: Resin is a fairly strong solvent, so it is important to use rubber gloves when in close contact with resin. This also applies to situations where you need to remove a container of resin or to remove finished prints from something.
In addition, the solvent tends to become turbid and lose its cleaning properties after a few uses – it must be replaced and disposed of as chemical waste. It is forbidden by safety and environmental protection to discharge the solvent into the sewer system. The solvent is also used by many people as a flower stirrer.
Some people buy special vats, add a little paint, stir it and get a different color or consistency, and sometimes it really works. A lot of experts have noticed that, in general, filament printers are easier to use than resin printers. They don’t leak, they don’t need rinsing for the final product or figure, and FDM printers are also generally much easier to set up than resin printers.
Need to change the color? No problem – just discard the old material as ordinary trash and prepare the printer bed again. There are indeed high-strength resins on the market, and they have an excellent degree of polymerization. However, their price is too high for small production.
The way out of this situation is to mix different types of resins. If you want a part that is not sticky and has clear contours, you can simply mix a more expensive, high-strength resin with an ordinary resin while 3D printing. This can guarantee you success and make production cheaper.
Cost of consumables for resin printers and filament printers
Many people are concerned with the question, “How much money will I spend to buy the necessary items and eventually get a quality print?” Everyone can get the answer to this question by reading this paragraph to the end. So, most of the expenses are filament or resin.
- Filament is usually sold in 1 kg rolls and costs $25 per roll. Consumption depends on the size of the piece.
- Resin usually weighs 500 g to 1 kg and costs $35 to $45 per kg.
As you can see, resin costs more per 1 kg, but it is often less consumed because of the smaller size of the resin printer. If you want to make larger parts, then experts recommend reducing resin consumption by making the parts hollow and making a drainage hole so that the excess resin can flow back into the container.
Filament printers usually use a mesh pattern in the parts. This is what is called a pattern design. It saves material. An additional cost item, of course, is the maintenance of 3D printers. However, given that they rarely break down, you won’t spend much money on them.
In general, you could say that resin printers are a little bit wasteful in maintenance and consumables, unlike FDM printers.
Final comparison: which printer is better, resin or filament
It is important to rely on a few key factors when choosing a particular printer. First and foremost is the price-performance ratio. A better solution, of course, would be an FDM printer. In addition, filament is not as expensive as resin. Below you will find prices for some models of these and other printers:
- Filament Printer: Creality CR10S Pro – approximate cost is $600.
- Resin Printer: Elegoo Saturn – approximate market price is $450-$550.
- Filament Printer: Ultimaker S3 – approximate retail price is $4,000 to $5,000.
- Resin Printer: Phenom Prime MSLA – an average price from $3,000 to $4,000.
Filament printers cost a little more, but have undeniable advantages. They have cheaper consumables, are less toxic, and have a shorter cycle of part production. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that resin printers are more suitable for industrial scale.
SLA/LDP printers are also an excellent solution. They print with a laser, which results in a precise, high-quality print. As for durability, all types of printers offer excellent print quality. Whether it’s a book holder, a pattern, or a high-end children’s toy, all products are of excellent quality.
If we touch on the topic of printer assembly volume, there are really tiny variations for resin printers that will easily create the smallest part. In this respect, they are much better than other types of printers and have the smallest size of 190×120×150 mm. The printing speed of different types of printers varies widely depending on the brand, type, and settings.
While the maximum print speed for most resin printers is about 100 mm/hr, it goes up significantly to 720 mm/hr for DLP printers and SLA printers. These printers are often the most efficient and can do the job perfectly.
Conclusion: What type of printer to choose
Going back to the beginning of the article, the answer to this question is quite simple: “It all depends on your goals”. If you are going to print cosplay swords, helmets and other attributes, then 3D printing from FDM is a great solution for you. It presents the greatest range of possibilities, and you needn’t pay a very expensive cost.
For example, Creality Ender 3 V2 printer can be included in this class of printers. Among other things, it is able to print with filament and has a function to resume the process even if you have a power outage.
Printing miniatures for board games, and highly detailed parts like a pro, you’ll need a resin printer (SLA/DLP). If you are not afraid of solvents, caustic smells and the polymerization process, then working with such a printer you will get high-quality parts in a short time. As an example, Elegoo Mar printer is a great solution for amateurs at an affordable price.
Fantastic prints are guaranteed, even if you just set it up in the garage and start working. Most importantly, do not make rash decisions, follow safety procedures, always learn new processes and your hobby or business is destined for success.