There are numerous 3D printing procedures available in the marketplace. Learning the nuances from each will help you understand what to expect from the final prints, allowing you to actually determine which technology seems to be appropriate for that specific application.
The Resin 3D printer has been gaining popularity for some time now, owing to their ease of use and substantial price decrease. As a result, numerous individuals are curious about what the resin 3D printer is, as well as how it performs. If you want 3D printers that generate top-quality prints of great detail, you must consider purchasing the resin 3D printer.
What is a Resin 3D Printer?
The resin 3D printer can be described as a machine which holds a photosensitive resin as well as exposes it layer by layer to Ultra violet LED beams to stiffen the resin in the 3D plastic model. This same technology, known as Stereolithography or SLA, can produce 3D prints of very great detail at a layer height of 0.01mm.
When purchasing the 3D printer, you have two main options. The first one is a filament 3D printer, also known as an FFF or FDM 3D printer. The second, which is the resin 3D printer, is also recognized as a MSLA or SLA 3D printer.
If you compare the quality of the models produced by all these technologies, users will most likely notice a significant distinction in quality. The resin 3D printer can produce 3D models with extremely smooth surfaces and fine details.
To convert liquid resin to solid objects, all the resin 3D printers utilize a similar basic physics. Each print file’s slice is converted into an ultraviolet light pattern, which shines to the liquid resin’s tank. The bed in majority of resin printers begins as a layer height just above source underneath the tank.
Because of their ability to generate detailed prints, the resin 3D printer is frequently useful in creating prototypes as well as small objects. They are, however, more expensive compared to some 3D printers. Also, they require specific resins, which make them difficult for beginners to use.
How Does Resin 3D Printing Work?
In comparison to filaments utilized in the FDM technology, resin 3D printing employs plastic resin as its raw material. This same liquid resin utilized during 3D printing is usually made of epoxy or it could be a mixture of methacrylic and acrylic monomers. Once subjected to UV light, such monomers start forming molecular bonds quickly between them and then transform them into solid polymers.
3D printing process with resins, such as FDM printing, is additive in nature. The above signifies that this building process is done layer by layer, with one layer forming molecular bonds only with the subsequent layer. This process is repeated until the entire model is recreated.
Types of Resin 3D Printer
Stereolithography or SLA
SLA is the initial 3D printing technique, which has long been linked with engineering, particularly in aerospace. SLA utilizes movable mirrors and a laser to help in directing small points of light. This ultraviolet laser will make the resin harden wherever it is focused, allowing each layer to be drawn quickly.
SLA printers may have an inverted design, in which the model appears to be pulled up from the tank. They could also have a specific upright design, in which the platform would be lowered into the resin tank during the completion of each layer.
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
You might have come across “DLP” as a term in reference to the projector technology, and this is where the connection lies. The DLP resin printer employs a similar micromirror technology which DLP projectors utilize in projecting images.
Here, DLP projection serves to cure the whole resin layer at once, making DLP printers slightly faster compared to the SLA models that only cures each point at once.
LCD Resin Printers
To cure every layer, the above printers employ an LCD panel having a specific UV backlight. This same LCD panel acts mainly as the mask, selectively blocking or allowing light to pass through.
This clever application of established LCD technology has significantly reduced the price of resin printers. The majority of the low-cost resin printers on the market today employ LCD technology.
Compared to the DLP printers and SLA machines, which are prone to distortion, LCD resin printers can both be faster and significantly more accurate. The short lifespan of the LCD printers is their major drawback.
Difference Between SLA and DLP Resin Printers
DLP and SLA resin 3D printers seem to be typically regarded as the most precise and accurate 3D printing technologies and processes. The discrepancies between the machines made by different manufacturers can explain the accuracy as well as precision differences more compared to the discrepancies between both technology solutions themselves.
For instance, manufacturers of entry-level DLP or SLA printers may use readily available lasers, projectors, or galvanometers while trying to maximize performance. Professional DLP and SLA 3D printers, such as Formlabs Form 3, have an optical system that is specially designed to meet the requirements of the professional client applications.
There is a trade-off present between the build volume and resolution when dealing with the DLP 3D printer. The projector, which determines the amount of pixels and voxels available, determines the resolution. This same pixels becomes smaller as one tries to move the projector nearer towards the optical window, increasing resolution but reducing the amount of build area that can be used.
Since the build volume of a SLA 3D printer is entirely independent of a print’s resolution, then stereolithography is more scalable. Any location inside the build platform is capable of supporting one print in just about any size and resolution.
Among all the 3D printing technologies, DLP and SLA resin printers are renowned for producing parts having the softest surface finishes. When describing the differences, most times, these can only be seen on very detailed models or tiny parts.
How Fast is Resin 3D Printing?
There are numerous resin 3D printer manufacturers who claim to possess very fast machines, but when you take into account all the technologies as well as variables at play, the comparisons are usually oranges to apples.
Resin printer speed is influenced by the volume, materials, quality and type o light source, and print resolution chosen. Because of this, there are resin printers of $250, while there are some of $250,000.
Nevertheless, some technologies are faster compared to others. SLA is typically slower compared to DLP, as we previously mentioned, and the resin may cure even more quickly depending on the intensity as well as quality of the source of light.
Next, think about the additional tools you’ll need asides from the 3D printer. The post-processing necessary for parts that are resin 3D printed makes them unusable right out from the print chamber. After printing, these parts will keep curing for 24 hours. They can be manually washed and left in the sun, but specialized cleaning as well as curing stations will make the process much faster.
Numerous printer manufacturers provide external or integrated cure as well as wash units. For majority of the streamlined workflow, make efforts to get the three units from one manufacturer.
Types of UV Resin in 3D Printing
Standard resins offer a clean surface finish as well as very precise features. Additionally, there come in different colors (from clear to different opaque colors). The brittleness of the standard resin is a drawback, which makes this type better suited for prototyping.
Certain photopolymers can be employed mostly in medical sector for different end-use devices and products such as retainers since they are biocompatible. They also give accuracy while creating an object and are wear-resistant.
This resin was developed for parts and prototypes, which face direct flames from fire or high temperatures. With respect to the manufacturer, the prints have the ability to resist temperatures of about 536 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is a practical option for producing intricate investment patterns. A specific wax pattern is wrapped around a ceramic mould during the process of investment casting. Wax is burnt away and then molten metal is then poured into it to make a part whenever the mould has become solidified.
Durable or hard resins help in simulating the properties of the PP and ABS thermoplastics, ensuring more strength, longevity and sturdiness than the standard resins. PP-like and ABS-like resins are appropriate for all functional prototypes, low-wear and low-friction mechanical parts, and consumer products.
This deals with a photopolymer having ceramic components that are created to ensure that the prints imitate objects crafted from ceramics. Also, if made using such resin, the object would look, act, and feel like a real ceramic component, maintaining all geometrical possibilities that the resin printing can offer.
The flexible resin solidifies into “rubber” such as material and affords flexibility and elasticity. It’s broadly utilized in bendable prototypes that can maintain their shape through deformations.
Benefits of Resin 3D Printer
Resin 3D printers are famous for generating top-quality prints that have smooth surfaces and fine details. This is because of some factors. First, the resin 3D printer makes use of liquid photopolymer resin that is cured through ultraviolet light. With this, you can have accurate control over the printing, which will lead to more detailed and smoother prints.
Surface finish is better
When it involves 3D printing, one of the aspects that consume time is post-processing. Also, this could deal with everything concerning the painting and sanding to the addition of finishing touches such as weathering effects or decals.
Furthermore, the resin print’s clean floor doesn’t need any painting or priming. This means you will be able to save more time.
Much Faster Than FDM
The technology of LCD 3D printing is quicker compared to FDM 3D printing for different reasons. First, LCD printers make use of UV light for curing resin. This is a whole lot quicker than all the heating processes utilized by the fused deposition modeling printers.
Furthermore, LCD 3D printers feature better resolution compared to FDM printers. This means they are able to produce better information much faster. Due to this, the technology for LCD 3D printing is right for anyone that has to print top-quality parts very quickly.
Also, the variety of resins available strives to cover the common needs and applications. The fact is that this list keeps growing very quickly. Also, every photopolymer resin includes working components necessary for the reaction, as well as additives such as functional supplements, and dyes.
In contrast to powder or plastics materials, photopolymers usually appear as waterproof and solid. Also, they don’t take in moisture from air, and you can utilize them for different applications.
Disadvantages of the Resin 3D Printer
Composite prints have no option
High-end FDM printers may have more than one extruder; this allows it to create prints from combining various filament materials. Also, this could be very useful whenever you are printing a particular model, which needs support structures, because some of the materials are just more suitable to serve as support. The resin- based printers lack this benefit.
FDM printing has largely overshadowed resin-based printing, despite the fact that the latter was the first-ever technology for 3D printing that was developed. With a huge userbase as well as a good and thriving community, the filament-based printing keeps attracting more industries, organizations, and hobbyists.
Messy and difficult post-processing
For each resin-based and FDM printing, the post-processing is very important when you want your prints to include a top-grade finish. There is a need to remove support structures, sand the imperfections and polish them away, and then apply a suitable paint.
Application Areas of Resin 3D Printing
Product development and Prototyping
For objects with large size and simple geometries, then resin printing might not be the most appropriate option as a result of its costs. However, products having complex textures and forms may look amazing using this approach. In addition, the demonstration and prototypes models would be functional, impressive, and precise. Also, the technologies for specific resin printing technology, like MJ or PolyJet, multi-textured and full-color objects could be created at once.
Props and Animation
The imagery generated from a computer is now generally utilized in cartoons, films, and visible graphics. However, the real action, as well as the props model is still used today. Furthermore, the designers, movie-makers, animators, and toymakers utilize them for a much better quality, as well as improving their digital designs. Also, there are some 3D printing techniques that work well for all these industries. One of these industries is vat polymerization where props are detailed and small.
Good-looking, smooth, and precise models are usually manufactured from Resin. This takes place in very short periods. Making use of castable materials, it is possible to send the prints directly to the casting services so as to help create the last piece in the metal.
Difference Between Resin 3D Printers and FDM
There are two major liquid-based materials used for 3D printing. These are thermoplastic filaments and resins.
FDM printers make use of filaments, while the resins are majorly utilized for the SLA (Stereolithography Apparatus) Technology.
Using resin for your 3D printing is usually much messier compared to the use of thermoplastic filaments. So, the thermoplastic filaments are usually meant for the beginners. The resin printing needs much more effort, most especially when you are getting the resin model from your build platform. In order to receive your eventual product, make sure the resin is washed off through the immersion of some of the part into isopropyl alcohol.
After this, curing it under Ultra Violet light becomes necessary. The printing of the filament part is much more manageable because you only have to by a specific magnet-built in extracting the completed piece. However, the filament parts will not have to undergo any further processing.
Smoothness and Precision
In the FDM printer, the resolution of the printer has to do with the nozzle size, as well as the extruder movement’s precision in the X/Y axis. This smoothness and precision of a printed model is also affected by some other factors. When the force of bonding present in-between the layers is much lower compared to that in the resin printing, as well as the upper layers’ weight squeezing the layers underneath, then some printing issues like shifting or misalignment of layers and warping may ensue.
Resin wins when we talk of quality. This is because resin printing offers a better quality in contrast to the filament printing. In order to get a similar printing standard making use of the FDM 3D printer, then the printing time has to increase, which will lead to higher costs.
How to Evaluate Resin 3D Printers
When thinking of the right resin 3D printer to buy, you will hear some industry and jargon-specific terms. Also, if taking a look at the specification sheet of the printer could cause a spinning to your head, then note that you will not discover great differences in the price ranges making use of a similar technology.
Furthermore, there are manufacturers that only discuss the resolution, while some others usually mention the accuracy and resolution. Resolution indicates the possible thickness of the layer, i.e. 100 μm or 50 μm that produces layer lines that are visible if you take a closer look. Also, smaller resolutions like 25 μm will be difficult to view even when close. Take note that you can smoothen the resin prints’ surface completely using sanding, as well as other techniques for finishing.
This accuracy has to do with the error window for consistency during each print. Take for instance, the +/- 20 μm accuracy indicates that the print resolution might be 20 μm under or over what you have programmed.
Generally, when the resolution is higher, then the longer these parts will take before they can be printed. However, this is where industrial machines and professionals are different from the resin printers for consumers – the ability to print the parts of the high-resolution very quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a resin printer shape an object?
The resin 3D printer has the ability to form a specific object upside down or normally. This depends on the positioning of the components in the machine and if its build platform will be lifting up or dropping down. The upside-down orientation is frequently used for the desktop machines due to its ease of operation and fabrication without a reducing in quality.
One important factor regarding the upside-down type of resin printers has to do with the supporting structures and print adhesion. This prevents one of the parts from falling off as a result of gravitational pull.
How can I use the Resin 3D and SLA printing?
Generally, the vat polymerization is a flexible method of fabrication with different technologies and materials great for many tasks and industries. In general, this revolves around different applications that require very smooth surfaces and great digitalization.
How Much Does a Resin 3D Printer Cost?
The cheapest resin 3D printer costs about $250. If you have around $350 to $800, you can get a reliable resin 3D printer of medium range. For the high-quality resin 3D printer, you can prepare about $3000. These days, resin 3D printers are becoming cheaper.
If you have been opportune to have a look at the quality of a completed product of a resin 3D printer, you will wonder why they are yet to get caught on. The resin products usually have an amazing and fresh look. They lack layer lines that are visible, which are the features of the filament based type of printing. They aren’t just more detailed, they are mechanically stronger too. Furthermore, SLA printing features a precise and powerful laser, which ensures that very tiny movements count. This leads to a greater print resolution as well as greater overall quality.