UV resin is a form of liquid plastic resin that cures (or hardens) with ultraviolet light. There are a lot of different types available. Let’s explore which are the best.
In my experience, the best 3d printer UV resin is any UV curing resin that’s plant based. An example of this is AnyCubic’s Eco UV Resin. It is far safer than other UV resins, has a lot less noxious odor, and doesn’t sacrifice print quality. It is, however, a little more expensive than other UV resins.
There are two main types of 3d printers – FDM, where the plastic is extruded through a heated nozzle and deposited on a print bed, and DLP or SLA, where the plastic is a liquid resin that is hardened onto a build plate by shining UV light at it. Let’s focus on DLP or SLA printers, and their use of UV resin. DLP or SLA printers use UV Resin to make the 3d printed parts. The technical name for this sort of resin is photopolymer resin, as it reacts to photo, or light, and is a plastic polymer.
Other resins do, however, have their uses, and we’ll discuss those below. There are a lot of UV resin manufacturers out there, and they’re introducing new items to their lines all the time. This is a young technology, and there’s lots of competition for your 3d printing dollar. That means, as time goes on, you should have more choices than even those described here.
Best By Cost
AnyCubic Photon also makes UV resin that isn’t plant based. It’s the cheapest UV resin that you can purchase on Amazon.Com by volume, and does an excellent job in printing excellent detail on models. The activity of printing with a DLP or SLA printer has come way down in price in recent years, but the resin is still somewhat pricey. My suspicion is that as more people buy, the better the prices will become. Supply and demand rules will exert themselves and competition helps drive down costs. Still, this resin is more expensive than the plastic filament used in FDM printers for the same weight. Over time, this should change and prices will drop.
Prices on Amazon.Com (where I get my resin) change quite often, so any table will be out of date as soon as it’s published. Still, let me give you a ranking of the cheapest five resins on Amazon to give you some examples.
- SainSmart Rapid UV 405nm 3D Printer Resin for 3D LCD Printing, General Purpose Photopolymer Curing Resin, 500g Gray
- ANYCUBIC 3D Printer Resin, 405nm SLA UV-Curing Resin with High Precision and Quick Curing & Excellent Fluidity for LCD 3D Printing – 500ML/Grey
- SHINE SING 3D Rapid Resin LCD UV-Curing Resin 405nm Standard Photopolymer Resin for LCD 3D Printing 500Gram Blue
- ELEGOO ABS-Like 3D Printer Rapid Resin LCD UV-Curing Resin 405nm Standard Photopolymer Resin for LCD 3D Printing 500Gram Grey
You’ll see that some of the resins are listed as 500g while the others are listed as 500ml. Note that 500g of resin is actually just a little bit less than 500ml. It isn’t much of a difference, somewhere around 5% difference, but it is different. In the list above, the AnyCubic 3d Printer Resin is actually slightly cheaper by volume than the SainSmart rapid UV Resin.
All of the resins produce excellent results, although I say that only having tested a handful. Still, it’s worth buying smaller amounts of a resin that’s new to you and testing it before moving forward with any bulk purchases.
Best By Properties
Your application for your 3d printed parts may be different than the standard user. Most users tend to print pieces that are for display, or light workloads, and don’t have to have special properties to be useful.
ABS-like resins have the advantage that they’re tough – think Lego-block tough! After all, Lego is made from ABS plastic. If you want something that will withstand the rigors of flight or heavy handling, consider this resin. It’s more expensive, but still easily found on Amazon.Com. It’s good for rotating parts like in quadrocopters, or bits for model R/C cars. It’s not good for thin-walled parts. Walls should be 1mm or over.
Polypropyline-like resin is available, but hard to find. I couldn’t find any on Amazon.Com for home 3d printers, but it is available at Shapeways.Com as an option for you to have them print it. This material is good for where there’s high friction, or you need a smooth surface. So an axle for a spinning part or a commercial-like plastic item for a prototype might be an appropriate use for this sort of material.
- Best printed at Shapeways – not regularly available on Amazon.Com.
Hard or Rigid
Some of these resins are ceramic filled (for rigidity), and some are just plain tough! If you’re looking for a hard material (but brittle) then this is for you. It could be good for fine detail parts like the barrels of cannons on model tanks or weapons on soldiers, or aerials on model cars.
- LCD/DLP/SLA 3D Printer UV Resin (Hard Type) GC3D-HI, Ivory, 0.5Kg
- LCD/DLP/SLA 3D Printer UV Resin(Hard&Speedy Type)GC3D-HSCO,Crystal Orange,0.5Kg
This type of resin is near and dear to me. It’s used when you need the part to be resistant to melting or shape change at higher temperatures when compared to standard 3d UV resins. I use this for making master models for tin spincasting. The vulcanization process for the mold requires the model to be in rubber that melts around 150 degrees Celcius, far too high for regular resin. The heat resistant resin will withstand this, and give a good image in the rubber, so that you can make copies. Spincasting tin is not for the faint of heart, and requires an expensive setup, but if you have this sort of setup, then you’re going to love this resin! Oh, and if you’re making a coffee cup, this would work, too!
Flexible resin is rubber-like after it hardens. It’s great for any use that needs flexibility, like model car tires or flexible connectors for electronics projects. It acts like rubber, and if you get the Iron Gray resin, it’ll look the part. Another possible use is for skin-toned models, like action figures, or anything that can be worn that you want to blend into the color of the skin of the wearer. Again, it’s more expensive than normal LCD 3D resin, but it has that essential property.
- LCD/DLP/SLA 3D Printer UV Resin (Flexible Type) GC3D-ESK, Skin color, 0.5Kg
- LCD/DLP/SLA 3D Printer UV Resin (Flexible Type) GC3D-EIG, Iron Gray, 0.5Kg
Clear resin is great for model windows for buildings, model car windscreens, airplane canopies or even worn glasses lenses. When it hardens, it’s not quite clear like glass, but it can be sanded with a series of finer and finer grit sandpaper or emery paper to get a very clear look. Once more, it’s more expensive, but not excessively so.
For those making jewelry, you’ll need this sort of resin. It means you can design your items, like rings or broaches or earrings, and then use the lost-wax method to create precious metal copies. Watch for the property of leaving no ash behind, so that you don’t get any imperfections in the mold when it’s burned out in making the copy.
Best By the Look
Look is all about the esthetic of the maker or customer, so best by the look could mean many things to many different people. I would look at color as the first variable. You can find many resins in many different colors, but there’s not always going to be a color match to the exact color you’re looking for. An alternative to this is to find LCD 3d Resin with no pigment, and add the recommended pigment pastes (sold separately or as a kit) to the mix to get the exact color that you want.
For me, the color of the resin does not matter, as I spray paint my figures or models with a primer and paint them afterwards. No part of the resin is visible after I’m finished, so you’ll never know what color I used. For some, however, there will be no painting, so the color does matter. I tend to use gray, because, even though I say I don’t care about the color, I do like to photograph the figures and models for this website, and gray turns out the best images, in my mind. A pretty pink World War 2 Sherman tank just isn’t right!
Some models would be best if transparent, but colored. Many manufacturers of UV resins produce such resins. The models produced are harder than those printed on opaque general purpose resin, and are more difficult to sand or file. The effect, though, is quite nice for costume jewelry or display models.
- ELEGOO ABS-Like 3D Printer Rapid Resin LCD UV-Curing Resin 405nm Standard Photopolymer Resin for LCD 3D Printing 1000Gram Translucent
- SHINE SING 3D Rapid Resin LCD UV-Curing Resin 405nm Standard Photopolymer Resin for LCD 3D Printing 500Gram Transparent red
Best by Safety
This is the category where you’ll find my recommendation for the best resin for DLP or SLA 3d printing. I’ve been using the cheapest AnyCubic or Elegoo resins for general purpose use and love the results I’m getting. A recent incident, however, changed my mind. I allowed a very small drip (one drip only!) to drop onto my pants from the build plate when I was removing a model after printing. I didn’t notice the drip for an hour. When I did notice, it was because my leg under the drip felt like it was burning. I removed my pants (luckily I was at home) and found the start of a chemical burn the size of a 3-inch circle. The resin had spread through the fibers of my pants and the contact with my skin started to burn. I caught it in time and washed the pants. I then cleaned the burn area, and read online about chemical burns. Mine was just a red mark, but I didn’t want it to get worse. One site recommended I soak the area for 10 minutes. I did six times better, and sat in the hot tub for an hour! It did the trick. My red area looked far better, and after a day was gone. If it had gotten worse, or blistered, I would have been off to the hospital.
That’s all to say be careful with the resin that you’re using. Had I been using plant-based resin, I could have avoided this issue entirely. AnyCubic has just released a new type of resin that is now widely available, and doesn’t have the same caustic properties as normal resin. As with any resin that’s not the norm, it’s more expensive. I suspect, however, that as people learn of this resin, it’ll catch on and become far cheaper. It has the added bonus of being very low odor, and comes in several colors. My poor World War 2 Sherman tanks will suffer, however, as there’s no gray to date, but there are bright, vivid colors. The blue is the most photogenic, in my opinion, so I’ll likely go with that.
What is a cheap 3d Resin Printer?
I would recommend an AnyCubic Photon or an Elegoo Mars resin 3d printer. These printers work well with the resins listed above and yield excellent results. They’re under $300 on Amazon.Com and qualify for free shipping!
What is the Fastest 3d Resin Printer?
Resin DLP printer speeds are determined by the wattage of the LCD screen that shines the UV light on the resin, and the height of the layer being printed. The higher the wattage, the faster the curing, and thus the faster the printer. If you print at 50 micron layer height, you’ll be roughly twice as fast as the same model sliced at 25 micron layer height. In the home category, the AnyCubic Photon S printer is the highest rated at 50W, but it is more expensive than its competitors.
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