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. To determine the best printers for you, continue reading.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • A resin 3D printer comes in SLA or DLP technology and features a resin vat and either laser or projection light.
  • Many filament printers use FDM to create objects, and there are a wide variety of filament choices.
  • For most processes, an FDM printer seems to be the better choice due to its ease of use, but an SLA printer has better dimensional accuracy.

3D Printers that Use Resin vs. Filament

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. For information regarding the differences between printer manages colors vs. photoshop, check out our article.

Insider Tip

Some filament options for FDM printers can be smoothed using post-processing features.

Stereolithography Apparatuses in 3D printing

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 in 3D Printers

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.

Fused Deposition Modeling 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.

Comparisons of 3D Printer Types

  • Cost of materials: SLA resin vats for a volume of one liter cost about $100-200, while one kilogram of filaments ranges from $24-99. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective 3D printer, you will likely want a filament-based one.
  • Smoothness: The surface of an FDM printer’s product is coarse, and the smallest layer height is typically around 50 microns preventing smooth finishes for the lines. SLA printers have a smooth surface finish since their lowest layer height is 20 microns. However, some FDM printers can use a chemical smoother in post-processing, or you can sand some of the available filaments to get a smooth product.
  • Precision: The dimensional accuracy of an SLA printer is higher than that of an FDM when it comes to small pieces and details. However, FDM provides good dimensional accuracy with larger pieces, depending on the printer model.
  • Strength: FDM printers produce durable parts due to the make-up of the filaments, though the durability sometimes depends on the materials. SLA printers typically create delicate and detailed parts.

Warning

Resin printers are significantly more expensive, but they provide more detail and smooth finishes than filament ones.

F.A.Q.S

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)

Christen Costa

Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."

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