Budget Replacements for SLA Printers - LCD Resin Printing


SparkMaker 2.0 Upgrade Version FHD Photocurable LCD MSLA 3D Printer Industrial Household UV Light Curing Photocuring Resin Printing

Ship From Germany

TRONXY Ultrabot UV LCD 3D Printer With UV 2K Touch Screen Offline Resin 3D Machine


LOTMAXX CH-10 LCD MSLA 3D Printer UV Light Curing Photocuring Resin Printing with 3.5 inch Color Touch Screen

Ship From Germany

QIDI TECH LCD 3D Printer Shadow 5.5 S UV LCD Resin Printer with Dual z axis Liner Rail


Creality3D LD - 001 DLP Light Curing 3D Printer

Getting started with the resin 3d printer 

1. What's a resin 3d printer?

resin 3D printer is a printer based on resin 3D printing (also known as vat polymerization), it uses a photosensitive resin cured by a light source to create solid layers and, eventually, whole parts. 

2. How many types of resin 3D printing?

There are three main technologies of stereolithography (SLA), digital light processing (DLP) and liquid crystal display (LCD) or masked stereolithography (MSLA) for printing miniatures with smooth surface finish and high-quality details.

3. SLA vs DLP vs LCD/MSLA resin 3d printer: differences, pros, and cons

What is the SLA 3D Printer?

An SLA 3D printer is the most well known and oldest resin-based 3D printer. 

Stereolithography printing uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser that is guided by a galvanometer to draw a pre-programmed design onto the surface of the photopolymer resin vat, and the UV-sensitive resin is photochemically solidified and forms a single layer of the desired 3D object. 

Then, the build platform lowers one layer to submerge the cured layer into the liquid resin vat, and a blade recoats the top of the resin vat. This process is repeated for each layer of the design until the desired 3D object is completely built.

What is DLP 3D Printer?

DLP 3D printer as one descendant of SLA printing is also used in the additive manufacturing process. DLP 3D printing is different from SLA printing with a digital light projector as the light source rather than a UV laser for curing photo-reactive polymers. It flashes images of whole layers onto the bottom of the resin vat with a light selectively directed by a digital micromirror device (DMD).

What’s an LCD 3D Printer?

LCD 3D printing also is known as Masked Stereolithography or MSLA, is the latest additive manufacturing process, nearly the same as DLP. LCD 3D printer also flashes the whole layers at the resin vat but with the UV light coming from the LCD rather than a projector. As the screen acts as a mask, it reveals only the pixels necessary for the current layer, so no other device is required to direct the light.

Differences between SLA, DLP and LCD 3D printing

The main difference between the SLA, DLP, and LCD 3D printing technology is the light source. SLA uses a laser beam while DLP uses a projected UV light from a projector and LCD uses the metal halide lamp or UHP cold light from an LCD panel.

Light sourceUV laser beamProjectorDisplay
Build volume++-+
Print speed+++++
Print quality+++++

As SLA uses a UV laser to manually trace the dimensions of each layer, SLA 3D printing is slower in print speed, whereas DLP and LCD are faster with a projector or display to create entire layers at once.

SLA, DLP and LCD 3D printing: pros and cons

Pros① Higher precision: up to 0.1mm;
② Fine details;
③ Supports 0.1-0.15mm layer scanning
① Faster print speed; Good details;
② High original contrast;
③ Miniaturized machine;
④ Dust-proof closed optical path
① Lowest cost;
② Faster print speed;
③ Good details;
④ Simple components for easy assemble and maintenance
ConsHigh cost;
Limited choice for materials and colors; Slow print speed;
Complex architecture for difficult maintenance
A bit expensive;
Some suffered from minor voxel distortion
Some suffered from minor pixel distortion

In sum, all these three resin-based printers feature smooth surface finish and good details. When compared to SLA, both DLP and LCD has a faster build speed and a lower cost. 

Besides, LCD 3D printers use cheaper and simpler components than SLA and DLP 3D printers, which makes LCD printer a cheaper resin 3D printing solution. It means that resin 3D printing is getting more common, within-reach, and much more affordable for a wider audience of makers. 

If you’re looking for a resin 3D printer with accuracy and resolution above everything else, an SLA 3D printer should be your first choice. If you are a professional who prefers fast print speed and smooth details but has a limited budget, you won’t go wrong with a DLP 3D printer. However, if you are a beginner moving to resin 3D printing, LCD printers would be the best affordable investment.

4. Resin vs filament 3D printing: are SLA 3D printers better than the FDM 3D printer?

Resin vs filament 3D printers

Resin 3D printer as mentioned above is a resin-based 3D printer that creates finely-detailed 3D objects with UV resin material. 

Filament 3D printer true to its name is a filament-based 3D printer that uses thermoplastic filaments such as PLA, ABS, PETG, TPG, PP, wood, or metal material and extrudes the melted filament out onto the build platform to stack the layers to finally form a 3D object. 

The big difference between resin 3D printer and filament 3D printer is the 3D printing technology. As mentioned above, the resin 3D printer mainly uses the SLA, DLP, or LCD printing technology. But for a filament 3D printer, it is based on the 3D printing technology of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), so we could also refer the filament printer as an FDM 3D printer.

Let’s compare the SLA 3D printer and FDM 3D printer to see the differences, pros, and cons of resin 3D printing and filament 3D printing and figure out which fits your needs most.

SLA vs FDM 3D printer: differences, pros, and cons

What’s the FDM 3D printer?

FDM, short for Fused Deposition Modeling, is also called as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) or Filament Free-form Fabrication. FDM 3D printing is the most popular and affordable printing technology in the printing layer by layer to form a 3D object. 

How does an FDM 3D printer work?

For an assembled-ready and settings-done FDM 3D printer, after you select the 3D model file to print, the printer will heat the filament making it semi-liquid. Then the filament is extruded through the nozzle to form the first layer on the print bed as the extruder motor moves back and forth. This process is repeated to build layer by layer until the 3D model is complete.

What’s a 3D printer composed of?

SLA 3D printer is mainly composed of resin vat, build platform, liquid resin, and elevator, while the components of an FDM 3D printer include a print bed (or heated bed), extruder, block heater (or hot end), nozzle, filament, feeder, cooling fan, motors, mainboard, positioner, display, pulley and so on.

Differences between SLA and FDM 3D printer

SLA and FDM 3D printing technologies are both popular but very different. Let’s compare these two technologies on materials, colors, print quality, print speed, application, maintenance cost, and price, then sum up the advantages and disadvantages of SLA and FDM 3D printer

Printing typeSLAFDM
MaterialsExclusive materials and design make it only fit on its printer, hard to find the replacement parts. Print on a variety of materials such as PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, nylon, ceramics, wood, and so on. The universal diameter of filament makes it widely compatible.
ColorsLimited colorsVarious colors
Print qualityHigh accuracy print, smooth surface finishLow resolution, limited in the complexity of the details
Print speedFaster printing speed Fast built speed
Build volumeSmallLarger
Ease of useComplex and toxic to use, not recommended for 3D printing beginnersEasy to operate, best entry-level 3D printing choice
Maintenance cost High cost for the replacement of resin material, resin tank, and build platform  Low cost for replacing the nozzles, filaments, and extruders
UsersBest for professionals and makersBest for beginners, hobbyists, and makers
ApplicationBest for miniatures such as jewelry, dental or other objects in need of intricate details and smooth surface finishBest for batch production and larger construction volumes of rapid prototyping

Advantages and disadvantages of SLA and FDM 3D printer

From the above chart, we could see the advantages and disadvantages of SLA 3D printing and FDM 3D printing clearly as follow:

Printing typeSLAFDM
Pros①Best for highly detailed and complex miniatures;
②Smooth surface finish, no sanding is required;
③High precision;
④Plug and play
①Best for batch production and larger construction volumes;
②Fairly affordable;
③Inexpensive and widely available materials;
④Wide compatibility with durable filaments;
⑤Easy to operate
Cons①High cost; 
②Fragile resin material, easily damaged by exposure to the sun;
③Highly toxic liquid resin is not recommended for inexperienced users
①Low resolution, required to sand or polish the surfaces; 
②Required to calibrate the printer properly, or it will lead to printing problems like warping, misalignment, and shifting layers, threading and nozzle clogging

To sum up, if you need to print 3D objects of precise details and smooth finish, buy a resin-based 3D printer (high precision for SLA 3D printer, fast speed for DLP 3D printer, friendly budget for LCD/MSLA 3D printer. As for batch production in large build-volume objects, an FDM filament 3D printer would be the best budget choice.

5. What is the resin 3D printer used for?

Compared to filament 3D printers, resin-based 3D printers featured with high print quality, smooth surface finish, and fast print speed are widely used in the dentistry, engineering, and jewelry industries. 

6. How much is a resin 3D printer?

A resin 3D printer (SLA or DLP printer) costs almost three times more than an affordable FDM printer before the LCD/MSLA 3D printer, priced at minimal $3000. 

That’s why the FDM 3D printer took the first place in the market all the time, but the arrival of an LCD 3D printer re-changed the trend to offer a cheaper solution to resin 3D printing. Only if you invest the same or maybe lower price as an FDM printer in a resin 3D printer, you will get a better 3D model with faster speed and better details. 

The price of LCD or MSLA resin 3D printers starts at less than $300 on Gearbest, it’s absolutely a big deal on resin 3D printing.

7. Is getting a resin 3D printer worth it?

If you’re a beginner to resin 3D printing, an expensive laser SLA or DLP 3D printer is unworthy of purchase. 

However, if precise details and smooth finish is your top priority, you won’t go wrong with a budget-friendly LCD/MSLA 3D printer, whether you are a hobbyist or budget creator. Believe or not, what you are investing would pay off someday. 

8. How dangerous is resin 3D printing and how is uncured resin toxic? 

As mentioned above, the resin 3D printer uses liquid resins as materials to create the objects. As photosensitive mixtures of monomers and oligomers, these liquid resins during the photochemical process to become hardened plastic are highly toxic, releasing irritants and pollutants. 

But this toxic material didn’t stop 3D printing professionals and hobbyists, resin 3D printing is getting more and more popular, so don’t worry, you will know how to keep your resin 3D printing safer when you have learned what way resin is toxic.

Here is how the resin is toxic as follow:
①Harmful to the skin and respiratory system;
②Harmful when exposed to eyes or ingested;
③Toxic to the environment;
④Unstable curing process.

9. How to use a resin 3d printer properly?

As the liquid uncured resin is toxic, you should use the resin 3D printer carefully and properly in this way:

① Use in good ventilation to prevent the resin fumes from entering your throat or lungs.
② Wear safety nitrile gloves to keep your skin from exposing to the liquid resin. If liquid resin gets on skin, wash it off promptly with soap and water.
③ Wear safety goggles to avoid exposing your eyes to the irritating resin (if possible, wear a face mask like you are doing a chemical experiment).
④ Read all safety instructions and user manual beforehand for fully prepared to safely print.
⑤ Rinse the finished prints with isopropyl alcohol to be free of uncured resin and allow it to air dry. And if possible, expose the prints to UV for additional curing.
⑥ Cure the liquid resin that you’re planning to throw out. Because curing the liquid resin with UV light could transform it from toxic to harmless, you could expose the unwanted liquid resin to the sun or any other UV light source until the liquid resin is completely cured. The cured, dry plastic is harmless to touch.