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Among the wide range of 3D printers available, many consumers debate between resin vs. filament for 3D printers. As the names of these printers imply, one uses resins for its model development, while the other uses filaments. As a result, there are several differences between the two technologies. And, you can learn about other filament types by reading our comparison guide to ABS vs PLA in 3D printers. To determine the best printers for you, continue reading.
Many printers fall under the categories of SLA vs. FDM 3D printers. For example, resin printers are typically either SLA or DLP. Both of these printer types use resins to create resin prints layer by layer. At this time, filament printers, on the other hand, use FDM to build projects from bottom to top. Not only do the methods for creating 3D prints differ, but so do the strengths, precision, smoothness, price, and ease of use. Check out our article for information regarding the differences between printer manages colors vs. Photoshop.
Some filament options for FDM printers can be smoothed using post-processing features.
A stereolithography apparatus (SLA) printer uses vat photopolymerization 3D printing technology. This resin printer has a laser that sits within a vat of liquid thermosetting resin. The laser then flashes from the bottom of the vat onto the liquid resin, hardening the material by curing it. The printer repeats this step until every point is exposed and hardened before moving to the next layer.
Digital light processing (DLP) printing creates its product by flashing an image of the current layer across the build platform that hangs upside down with a resin vat. These flashes instantly cure all points of the layer of liquid resin directed by a digital micromirror device (DMD.) One square pixel is a point on the level, and, when combined, they form the layer’s image. To understand DLP better, visit our guide on DLP vs SLA 3D printers.
Fused deposition modeling (FDM) printers use material extrusion 3D printing technology. A filament of a thermoplastic polymer creates 3D designs in a filament printer. This process involves heating the filament until it melts or becomes soft enough to be pushed through the nozzle, building layer by layer on the print bed to create the object. In some FDM models, the printer features a heated surface for the designs to sit on.
Resin printers are significantly more expensive, but they provide more detail and smooth finishes than filament ones.
What is SLA/DLP printing?
Resin printers feature SLA or DLP technology to cure resin into the desired product. SLA printers use a laser to cure the resin within the resin vat, while DLP models project an image onto the resin.
How much does the average resin printer cost?
The average hobby resin printer costs between $180-900, with high-end models costing much more.
How much does the average FDM printer cost?
The average entry-level printer ranges from $150-300, with higher-end models costing $300-1,500.
STAT: Globally, 2.1 million units of 3D printers were shipped in 2020, and the shipments are expected to reach 15.3 million units by 2028. (source)