For home and hobby use, you will most likely use a general purpose UV curing resin. Most of these general purpose resins have similar properties, so why not use the cheapest available, as long as it does the job.
The cheapest resin for general model creation that is currently available on Amazon.Com is The AnyCubic Gray Resin at $38.99 per liter. Sales may make this even cheaper from time to time.
Light-activated resins are photopolymers or thermoset polymers. The process of hardening UV resin is called photopolymerization. It’s the technology behind SLA and DLP printers. UV light (in the 405 nanometer wavelength range) is shone either by laser or by screen into a liquid path of UV resin (photopolymer), hardening one layer at a time.
3d resin printing can be used for all sorts of things:
- Standard resins are used for general model making
- Engineering resins have specific properties (such as strength or temperature resistance)
- Medical and dental resins have biocompatibility taken into account (to ensure that they are compatible with humans)
- Casting resins are used for jewelry and have zero material residue after burnout
Look at this article for more on resins and their uses: https://home3dprints.com/what-is-the-best-3d-printer-uv-resin/
For home 3d printing, we’re mostly interested in standard resins. I use Amazon for purchasing my resin. It’s delivered right to the house. There may be cases, however, where you would want to use specialty resins for a use you’ve found. I sometimes make toy soldiers for white metal casting. So in this case, I use temperature resistant engineering resin to be able to withstand 210 degrees Fahrenheit. With that property, the model i print can withstand the temperature of the vulcanization process for making a mold for centrifugal spin casting. I can find these resins on Amazon, too, but they’re quite a bit more expensive (usually around double the cost for a standard resin).
For models or markers I want to use for game figures or game pieces, I’m using the cheapest standard resin that works. After all, I’m going to paint my models or game pieces, either spraying them with a spray can or airbrush, or by brush painting. I find that the gray resin is the best mix of hardness and strength. For example, the AnyCubic Photon printer shipped with 500ml of translucent green resin, and I used that for my first few prints. The detail is crisp, but the material is very tough.
To make two printed parts fit together, I need to sand or file one of them. I found that this was really difficult and time consuming with the translucent green. I eventually got it to work, but it took quite some time to do. With the gray resin, filing was much easier as the material was nowhere near as hard. It took half the time to file and sand to get the same results. The gray has the added bonus that, for photography (like the pictures you see here), the gray shows model details really well!
Resin has a shelf life of around a year, so don’t buy too much resin for your needs. You don’t want it sitting around for very long periods. When the resin is poured out into the printer’s resin bath, it shouldn’t sit longer than a couple of days. The printer, regardless of the tinting of the cover on the printer, is not effectively stopping UV light from getting to the resin, so you don’t have forever to use the resin in the bath. From time to time, strain the resin from the bath back into the bottle.
I take the opportunity with the bath empty to wash out the bath at this time. It’s a messy process, but it’s not hard. I use Mean Green cleaning solution (I don’t like to use isopropyl alcohol, as it’s a fire hazard) to wash it out, removing any uncured resin residue, then rinse the bath in water before lightly drying with a paper kitchen towel. Please be extra careful when cleaning the bath, as the FEP film is delicate and puncturing it or tearing it will require replacing it. If you put resin into a resin bath with a leaking FEP film at the bottom, you’ll ruin your printer (as the resin will leak into the guts of the printer, and that’s a mess!)
What Printer Settings Should I Use?
I have tried six different UV curing 3d printer resins, all of which I purchased from Amazon. No companies donated resin for a review or anything. I purchased 500ml bottles of each and used each one for a few models before emptying the resin bath and trying different models with a different resin.
This wasn’t a scientific study. I didn’t print the same model with each of the resins. I instead printed some models I wanted to make ,then switched resin and printed some more, different models that I wanted. So please, don’t think this is an exhaustive test or scientifically run. There are many more resins than the ones I listed below on Amazon, and I’m sure that there are more yet not available on Amazon.
I thought that I’d use my personal default printer settings as the starting point for each model using the different resin. I’d modify the settings if the print didn’t work but each print worked just fine. So I never varied my settings from my default.
Don’s 3d DLP Printer Settings:
- Layer Height: .050mm (or .025mm for very detailed models)
- Bottom Layer Count: 6
- Exposure Time: 11s
- Bottom Exposure Time: 60s
- Light Off Delay: 6.5s
My recommendation is to try the default settings I list above, and, if that doesn’t work, modify from there. If anything, increase the exposure time and bottom layer count. If all else fails, including your print, perhaps try re-leveling the print bed and giving it another try.
What Do 3d Printing Resins Cost?
Here are the six resins that I tested, and their prices on Amazon at the time of writing:
- Elegoo Rapid Resin Gray $44.99/1000g (approx 910ml (density is ~1.1g/cm^3): $49.44/liter
- Anycubic Gray $38.99/l: $38.99/liter
- eSUN Gray $32.99/0.5l: $65.98/liter
- iFun $$26.95/0.5l : $53.90/liter
- SainSmart $29.99/0.5l : $59.98/liter
- Monoprice Rapid Gray $49.99/liter
The Elegoo resin is interesting in that they don’t sell by the volume (in liters), but instead sell by weight (in grams). I had to look up the approximate density of the liquid resin and convert. So please take my pricing there as an estimate per liter, rather than accurate. The price per 1000g is accurate.
I found a great resource on Reddit for a Google spreadsheet for people’s successful resin 3d prints using an AnyCubic Photon printer. It comes from the AnyCubic Photon User’s Group on Facebook (or they’re the ones that maintain it). Kudos to them for making this sort of information available. I’ve included a link here for it below:
Cheapest Plant-Based Resin
New to the market are UV curing resins that are made from plant material. This can be more expensive than general purpose UV curing resin, but it has several advantages. There is no caustic chemical burn danger and the odor of the resin is far less. These two things alone might make this resin the minimum standard for a home-based printer. It’s far safer for kids and pets to be around.
The cheapest plant-based UV resin on Amazon.Com are:
- AnyCubic ECO UV Resin $89.99/l: $89.99/liter
- I haven’t found any others yet, but I suspect that this will be popular soon, bringing better prices and more competitors.
What are some cheap resin 3d printers?
Currently, the prices of the two most popular home 3d printers are below $300 US. Look at the AnyCubic Photon and the Elegoo Mars printers on Amazon to compare.
Resin 3d printer versus filament
Filament printers (or FDM printers) generally are cheaper but can’t produce the detail that a DLP (or resin) printer can. They can, however, produce models that are larger than home DLP printers.