Table of contents
- What is the best resin 3D printer on the market?
- The best resin 3D printers (SLA/DLP/LCD)
- Overview of the best resin 3D printers (SLA/DLP/LCD)
- Resin 3D printers under $1,000
- Post-processing for resin 3D prints: necessary steps
- How do resin 3D printers work and what are the differences between LCD, DLP, and SLA 3D printing?
- Main resin 3D printing applications
- Key benefits and limitations of resin 3D printing
- Resin 3D printer price
- Stereolithography FAQs
What is the best resin 3D printer on the market?
Resin 3D printers are able to offer a very high level of detail and smooth surfaces. They are most commonly seen in dental labs and clinics as well as in jewelry workshops, but are also increasingly popular with hobbyists and makers.
The way a resin 3D printer works depends on its technology: laser SLA (stereolithography), DLP (Digital Light Processing), or LCD-based (using an LCD screen to mask projected light).
All resin 3D printers involve the same workflows, however, requiring several post-processing steps such as resin removal and post-curing.
In this guide, we take a look at some of the best resin 3D printers available in each category (SLA, DLP, and LCD) and provide you with key concepts linked to resin 3D printing.
The best resin 3D printers (SLA/DLP/LCD)
|Resin 3D printer||Technology||Build volume||Country||Price*||Buy|
|Prusa Research Original Prusa SL1||LCD||120 x 68 x 150 mm||Czech Republic||€1,699||Buy|
|Zortrax Inkspire||LCD||74 x 132 x 175 mm||Poland||$1,990||Buy|
|Peopoly Phenom||LCD||276 x 155 x 400 mm||Hong Kong||$1,999||Buy|
|Photocentric LC Precision 1.5||LCD||121 x 68 x 160 mm||United Kingdom||$2,379||Quote|
|UNIZ SLASH PLUS||LCD||192 x 120 x 200 mm||United States||$2,849||Quote|
|Formlabs Form 3||SLA||145 x 145 x 185 mm||United States||$3,499||Quote|
|FlashForge Hunter DLP||DLP||120 x 67 x 150 mm||China||$3,599||Buy|
|SprintRay MoonRay S||DLP||130 x 80 x 200 mm||United States||$3,999||Buy|
|DWS Systems XFAB||SLA||180 x 180 x 180 mm||Italy||€6,000||Quote|
|B9 Creations B9 Core 550||DLP||104 x 76 x 203 mm||United States||$9,955||Quote|
|EnvisionTEC Micro Plus HD||DLP||45 x 28 x 100 mm||United States||$10,000||Quote|
|Asiga MAX||DLP||119 x 67 x 75 mm||Australia||$10,990||Quote|
*Price: These prices are indicative and may vary over time and/or from one country to another (import taxes, shipping fees, etc.).
Overview of the best resin 3D printers (SLA/DLP/LCD)
The best SLA 3D printers (laser stereolithography)
Formlabs Form 3
- Build size: 145 x 145 x 185 mm
- Country: United States
- Price: $3,499
In the past, users have praised Formlabs’ hardware quality and precision, while criticizing the company’s decision to limit compatible materials to expensive Formlabs proprietary resins only. Today, the Form 3 features an “Open mode” that allows the use of generic materials.
More information: Formlabs Form 3 SLA 3D printer
- Build size: 276 x 155 x 400 mm
- Country: Hong Kong
- Price: $1,999
More information: Peopoly Phenom MSLA 3D printer
- Build size: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
- Country: Italy
- Price: €6,000
This makes material handling much easier and cleaner than with non-cartridge systems.
More information: DWS Systems XFAB SLA 3D printer
The best DLP 3D printers (Digital Light Processing)
FlashForge Hunter DLP
- Build size: 120 x 67.5 x 150 mm
- Country: China
- Price: $3,599
With its special jewelry support mode, the Hunter DLP mainly targets jewelers.
More information: FlashForge Hunter DLP 3D printer
SprintRay MoonRay S (MoonRay S100)
- Build size: 130 x 80 x 200 mm
- Country: United States
- Price: $3,999
SprintRay also manufactures the MoonRay D.
More information: SprintRay MoonRay S DLP 3D printer
B9Creations B9 Core 550
- Build size: 104 x 76 x 203 mm
- Country: United States
- Price: $9,995
This digital light processing 3D printer is available with a smaller build volume (B9 Core 530).
More information: B9Creations B9 Core 550 DLP 3D printer
EnvisionTEC Micro Plus HD
- Build size: 45 x 28 x 100 mm
- Country: United States
- Price: $10,000
This digital light processing 3D printer boasts a large touchscreen for intuitive control, 25-micron minimum layer thickness, and is compatible with third-party resins.
More information: EnvisionTEC Micro Plus HD
- Build size: 119 x 67 x 75 mm
- Country: Australia
- Price: $13,990
This 3D printer is particularly suitable for the medical and dental sectors, being compatible with silicone resins.
More information: Asiga MAX DLP 3D printer
The best LCD 3D printers (liquid crystal display)
Prusa Research Original Prusa SL1
- Build size: 120 x 68 x 150 mm
- Country: Czech Republic
- Price: €1,699
This LCD 3D printer– which is also available as a DIY kit– is packed with features such as a tilted print bed, auto calibration, vapor extraction, and more.
More information: Prusa Research Original Prusa SL1 LCD 3D printer
- Build size: 74 x 132 x 175 mm
- Country: Poland
- Price: $2,150
The Zortrax Inkspire resin 3D printer is, according to Zortrax, up to 8 times faster and 9 times more accurate than the currently leading stereolithography 3D printers.
More information: Zortrax Inkspire LCD 3D printer
Photocentric Liquid Crystal Precision 1.5
- Build size: 121 x 68 x 160 mm
- Country: UK
- Price: $2,379
More information: Photocentric Liquid Crystal Precision 1.5
UNIZ SLASH PLUS (SLASH+)
- Build size: 192 x 120 x 200 mm
- Country: United States
- Price: $2,849
The UNIZ SLASH PLUS LCD 3D printer is able to 3D print up to 600 mm of vertical layers per hour.
More information: UNIZ SLASH PLUS LCD 3D printer
Resin 3D printers under $1,000
These affordable resin 3D printers obviously can’t be expected to provide the same level of detail and accuracy as the professional 3D printers listed above. However, they are great as an introduction to resin 3D printing and they do produce good quality prints.
Read our full-length budget resin 3D printer article for a list of affordable machines (starting from $149).
Post-processing for resin 3D prints: necessary steps
Since the objects are printed within a tank of resin, resin drips off of the objects as they are lifted up and out of the tank. There’s always a layer of uncured resin left on the object, and it must be removed with IPA (isopropyl alcohol).
This can be done manually by dipping the part in an IPA bath and gently scrubbing the part with a soft brush, but it is quite time-consuming.
For users that produce resin parts on a regular basis, there are machines called resin washers, or resin cleaners. Ackuretta, for example, markets Cleani, a dual-tank resin cleaner that can wash both the parts and the printer’s platform (yes, that needs to be washed, too.).
When removing a resin 3D printed part from the build plate, it is still soft and slightly malleable. To reach its final physical state the part must go through a post-curing step. This means exposing the object to heat or light. Various SLA post-curing techniques exist:
UV curing chamber / UV cure box
Professional users will definitely want to use a dedicated UV curing chamber for their parts in order to get the most out of the material (strength, for example). Most resin 3D printer manufacturers have UV curing chambers available separately.
UV nail lamp
For small parts, nail UV lamps can do the trick. There are dozens of nail UV lamps available for less than $50.
DIY UV curing chamber
Crafty people also have the possibility to make their own UV curing station!
How do resin 3D printers work and what are the differences between LCD, DLP, and SLA 3D printing?
That light source cures the liquid resin, which is stored in a tank or vat, to form the object layer after layer.
The resin solidification process (photopolymerization) is at the core of three main 3D printing technologies:
- Laser-based Stereolithography (SLA): a UV laser cures the resin in the tank to form the object point by point.
- Digital Light Processing (DLP): the resin is cured by a light projector one whole layer at a time. The light shines in a specific shape depending on the layer.
- Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) or Masked SLA (MSLA): an array of LED lights shine through an LCD screen. The LCD screen acts as a mask or stencil between the LED and the bottom of the resin tank, only letting light through in specific shapes.
All of these resin-based 3D printing technologies form part of the same family: stereolithography. That’s why some manufacturers include “SLA” in the name of their 3D printers, while they actually use DLP or LCD-based technology.
SLA, DLP, and LCD 3D printing technologies.
Laser-based SLA 3D printing technology
An SLA 3D printer cures the liquid resin spot by spot with a laser, so it is potentially more precise than DLP 3D printing.
Contrary to DLP 3D printing, the build volume is completely independent from the resolution of the 3D print. A 3D print with a laser stereolithography 3D printer can be of any size and resolution.
DLP 3D printing technology (digital light processing)
DLP 3D printers use a light projector. The layer’s shape is defined by reflecting or deflecting light with mirrors. With DLP, the 3D printer is able to cure a whole layer of resin at once. Therefore, a DLP 3D printer can potentially 3D print faster than an SLA 3D printer, as an entire layer is exposed all at once instead of one spot at a time with a laser.
However, a DLP 3D printer’s resolution depends on its projector and how many pixels/voxels are available (a full HD projector usually offers 1080p). A 3D printer with a large build volume has a fixed number of pixels, making it impossible to 3D print small details when building at full scale.
The projector used by DLP 3D printer is less expensive and easier to change than the laser used by SLA 3D printers.
LCD-based resin 3D printing technology
Most LCD resin 3D printers use an LCD screen as a photomask– like a stencil– above another light source (LED, UV…). This is where LCD resin 3D printing is different than DLP 3D printing, which makes use of mirrors or other complex systems to direct the light into a certain shape. The technology is also called Masked Stereolithography (MSLA).
Since LCD screens are inexpensive, this technology has made resin 3D printing much more affordable than before and there are now dozens of low-cost, budget resin 3D printers available for a couple hundred dollars.
In some cases, the light emitted by an LCD screen is used to directly cure daylight-sensitive resin.
What is best between LCD, DLP, and SLA 3D printers?
The answer depends on the user’s needs in precision, speed, and budget. We can highlight that:
- Laser SLA 3D printers are best for 3D printing highly detailed and intricate 3D prints, big or small.
- LCD and DLP 3D printers are best for 3D printing batches of small parts, or quickly 3D printing large parts without too many details.
- LCD-based 3D printers are generally much more affordable than SLA and DLP 3D printers.
Did you know?
Stereolithography (laser-based) was the world’s first 3D printing technology to be developed. This 3D printing method was invented by Hideo Kodama in the early 1980s. Some French engineers had also tried to file a patent for the technology, but the application was abandoned.
Chuck Hull officially called the technology “stereolithography” in 1984 and proceeded to create 3D Systems, the first 3D printing company. Today, 3D Systems is one of the main leaders on the 3D printer market.
Main resin 3D printing applications
Resin 3D printers for jewelry
Jewelers use high-precision 3D printers to create molds with the lost wax technique and create incredible jewels.
More information: 3D printed jewelry: how does it work?
SLA, DLP, and LCD 3D printers in dentistry
Dentists and dental labs are starting to use resin 3D printing to build dental crowns, mouth guards, surgical guides, and much more.
More information: 3D printing for the dental industry
Resin 3D printing in medical and healthcare fields
SLA and DLP 3D printing can be used to create medical appliances such as hearing aids.
More information: 3D printing for the medical industry
Hobbies: resin 3D printer for miniatures
Some tinkerers, DIYers, and cosplayers love 3D printing miniatures and figurines.
Samples by La Bête à Pois, SprintRay, and Photocentric (top to bottom).
Key benefits and limitations of resin 3D printing
Benefits of LCD, DLP, and SLA 3D printing technologies
These are some of the advantages of 3D printing with resin:
- Ability to build small and very detailed parts or objects with fine, complex geometries
- Diversity of 3D printable resin materials (ceramic, metal, biocompatible, flexible, rigid, etc.)
- Smooth finish of the parts produced (no easily visible layers like with FFF 3D printers)
Limits of resin 3D printing
As with any technology, resin 3D printing has its limits:
- Post-processing is mandatory (removing delicate support structures, post-curing, resin removal, etc.) and requires a UV curing chamber for good results
- Requires time-consuming cleaning time (for the vat and for the 3D printed part)
- Very smelly and toxic fumes
- Safety precautions required when handling the material
A test print from Photocentric.
Resin 3D printer price
Laser SLA resin 3D printer price
SLA 3D printer prices depend on many factors. The price for a basic SLA 3D printer kit like the Peopoly Moai usually starts at about $1,200. Industrial resin 3D printers, on the other hand, can reach several hundred thousand dollars.
DLP resin 3D printer price
The price of a DLP 3D printer generally starts around $2,000 or $3,000. DLP 3D printers with higher precision and more features cost around $10K to $20K. More expensive digital light processing 3D printers also exist.
LCD resin 3D printer price
LCD-based resin 3D printers are the most affordable resin 3D printer type. There are many LCD resin 3D printers available for under $1,000, and even under $300. Higher-quality LCD 3D printers may cost a few thousand dollars.
UV curing chamber price
Most resin 3D printer brands sell UV curing chambers separately, with prices starting around $300 to $500.
What does SLA stand for in 3D printing?
In 3D printing, SLA stands for stereolithography.
What does DLP stand for in 3D printing?
In 3D printing, DLP stands for Digital Light Processing.
What does LCD stand for in 3D printing?
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, which is a type of screen used in electronic devices (smartphone, TV, etc.). A growing number of resin 3D printers use an LCD screen’s light to cure light-sensitive resin and form objects in 3D.
What is SLA resin made of?
SLA resin is a photopolymer material, which is mainly composed of monomers, oligomers, and photoinitiators. Depending on the “recipe”, the stereolithography resin can be plastic, ceramic, or even metal-based.
How much does a resin 3D printer cost?
A resin 3D printer can cost anywhere from $500 to over $250,000. However, there are many resin 3D printers available for under $10,000.
What is a resin 3D printer?
A resin 3D printer (stereolithography) is a machine that solidifies liquid resin layer by layer to form an object in 3D.