Models on the Shuffle XLSource: Windows Central

Best MSLA Resin 3D Printers Windows Central 2020

Resin 3D printing — often called LCD printing or MSLA printing — is the latest technology to reduce in price to the point where the hobbyist can afford to play. If you are looking to buy your first resin printer, then we suggest the Elegoo Mars. The Mars is a great 3D printer for a fantastic price, and it has an amazing community to help you make the most of it. We have used a lot of these printers over the last few years, so we have plenty to recommend.

Best Overall: Elegoo Mars

Mars Pro and MarSource: Windows Central

Elegoo has been at the forefront of the MSLA revolution, and the Mars is its flagbearer. Based on the Epax design, the Mars is a small 3D printer with an even smaller build plate. If it were an FDM printer, the 60x120mm print area would be laughed out of town, but because it is resin, the volume is respectable.

When I first used the Mars, I couldn't believe that a printer that cost so little could produce such quality prints. Even at 0.05, the tallest layer height you'll want to use, the layer lines are all but invisible to the naked eye. The models are so crisp, so smooth, that they could easily be mistaken for injected molded products, rather than the 3D printed models they are. Some of my favorite prints I've ever produced have been made on the Elegoo Mars.

Because Elegoo are so active in the 3D printing community, and its printers are so reliable and cheap, there is a massive community around the Mars and Elegoo's coming printer, the Mars Pro. The community has embraced the machine and set about making it even better with printable parts to enhance your experience. One of my favorite additions is the USB extension that lets you plug the USB thumb drive into the front of the machine, and not the back. Whoever thought that reaching round to the back of a machine full of toxic liquid needs a good talking to.

The Elegoo Mars is a fantastic printer for just about anyone. Are you just starting? The Mars is simple to learn, with very few moving parts to go wrong. Maybe you are looking to start a business? The Mars is cheap enough that you could buy several and make yourself a print farm. The possibilities are endless with the Elegoo Mars.

Pros:

  • Great price
  • Superb print quality
  • Fantastic community

Cons:

  • Ports on the back

Best Overall

Elegoo Mars

Community favorite

When 3D printers are this good at such a low price, it's a no-brainer to pick one up as soon as possible.

Best Bundle: Prusa SL1 3D printer and CW1 curing station

Printing and CuringSource: Windows Central

I'll start by saying that the SL1/CW1 is expensive, likely too expensive for a hobbyist. However, if you are a small business owner, it may be worth picking up. As a system, the SL1 is fantastic. From the start of the print through to the curing of the finished model, the Prusa SL1 works flawlessly. The internet connection is beneficial if you want to create a print farm too. You can use multiple SL1 printers in tandem to make a little mini factory.

Special mention has to go to the CW1 — the curing station that comes in the bundle —as it is an almost perfect piece of design. Not only can it cure your print using UV, but it can also wash and dry it. If you want to get the most out of your resin printing, a good curing station is essential.

The Prusa SL1 looks excellent and has some unique features that make it stand out from the crowd. The resin detection is excellent — it tells you how much resin is in the vat and if you have enough for the print you are trying to make — and the filter system gets rid of all those smells and potential particles that come from resin printing.

The price is still too high for the average user, but if you are looking to make 3D printing your job, the Prusa SL1 is a great choice.

Pros:

  • Network ready
  • The curing station is the best thing ever
  • The resin sensor is very helpful

Cons:

  • Really
  • Really
  • Expensive

Best Bundle

Prusa SL13D printer and CW1 curing station

Premium quality and price

The SL1 is a great printer with a very high price tag. It might not be worth the cost, but the CW1 curing station definitely will.

Excellent Detail: AnyCubic Photon

Anycubic PhotonSource: Anycubic

When I first decided to try resin printing, the Anycubic Photon was the printer I picked, and I wasn't disappointed. The printer itself is built solidly with a proper raising door instead of an acrylic cover you have to lift off. The build plate and the vat are made of the same blue anodized metal that looks and feels great.

The print quality on the Photon is terrific, and, more importantly, it is consistently amazing. In the time I have been using the Photon, I have had just two failed prints, out of more than 100. Once you have the build plate leveled, and if you don't move the printer, the Photon will print almost perfect prints continuously.

My biggest complaint about the Photon is my biggest complaint of 3D printers everywhere. It seems like all of the big printer companies got together and decided that putting power buttons and USB ports on the back of their products was a good idea. It isn't by the way; it's a terrible idea and needs to go away as soon as possible. Thankfully companies seem to be figuring this out, and many of them are offering more printers with ports on the front.

Pros:

  • Solid construction
  • Excellent print quality
  • Anti Aliasing

Cons:

  • The LCD screen is a little janky
  • Ports on the back

Excellent Detail

AnyCubic Photon

Unfailingly good

The Anycubic Photon was one of our first resin printers. It prints remarkable detail at a small cost.

Manufacturing Monster: Peopoly Phenom

Massive manufacturingSource: Matterhackers

Sometimes size does matter. The Phenom by Peopoly has the largest print area of any MSLA printer I've seen. It's around five times the area of the average resin printer and can print objects up to 400mm high; that's taller than most standard FDM printers! The size will allow you to print some awe-inspiring models in one piece, including cosplay items, but that's not the best thing about the size.

Having a massive build plate on a resin printer allows you to print multiple models at the same time without increasing the amount of time it takes to print them. For a small business, looking to manufacture on a medium scale, something like the Phenom is perfect as it allows you to bulk print quickly and with stunning detail.

While the price is high, it isn't so high that you could invest in one or two to start your business empire. Be warned though, the Phenom sounds like a jet engine with all the cooling fans it needs, so you'll need to put it somewhere out of earshot.

Pros:

  • Massive build area
  • 4K resolution
  • Solid construction

Cons:

  • Really loud

Manufacturing Monster

Peopoly Phenom

Create a mini factory

The Peopoly Phenom is perfect for a small business wanting to mini-mass produce items for sale, or for making massive models.

Best for Starters: NOVA3D Elfin

Nova3D ElfinSource: Windows Central

The Elfin from NOVA3D has some great features that make it worth your purchase. For starters, it looks way more interesting than the standard MSLA printers around. The triangular shape is striking and, although the ports are technically on the back, the form allows for much easier access. The Elfin also has a simple locking mechanism for the vat that makes removal much easier, especially with one hand.

The only downside of the Elfin is the proprietary slicer. When you decide to make your software for your hardware, and then force people to use it, you better be sure it's at least as good as the software people are already using. Chitubox is almost universally accepted in the community as the best slicer around, but the Elfin doesn't let you use it. Instead, you have to use its slicer, which doesn't have any of the essential features you need in a resin printer.

Pros:

  • Network ready
  • Pre-leveled at the factory
  • Fun shape

Cons:

  • Proprietary slicer

Best for Starters

NOVA3D Elfin

Ready to go

With networking capabilities and a pre-leveled build plate, the NOVA3D Elfin is a striking printer that gets the job done.

Unique Look: Anet N4

Anet N4Source: Windows Central

When most of the affordable resin printers are built using the same open-source blueprint, they tend to look very similar. The Anet N4, however, tries to break that mold slightly by adding some dimension to the body of the machine. By tapering the shape of the N4, Anet has achieved a look that I am happy for people to see, instead of hiding in the workshop.

The entire build of the Anet is good. The metal vat and build plate look great and feel premium, much more premium than the price would suggest. While this isn't my favorite MSLA printer — Anet uses its slicer, which sucks — the price and looks make it a decent choice.

Pros:

  • Cool pyramid design
  • Rigid construction

Cons:

  • Proprietary slicer

Unique Look

Anet N4

Pretty pyramid

The Anet N4 is a 3D printer that does everything you need it to, and it does it looking really darn striking.

Bottom Line

If you are looking to buy your first resin 3D printer, or if you are looking to expand your collection, I cannot recommend the Elegoo Mars highly enough. It sits at that perfect intersection of fantastic price, excellent build quality, and superb printing results. I currently own two Elegoo printers, and they are easily my most use machines. They always churn out quality prints daily.

While the other small scale printers on this list are also great — the Anycubic Photon is another workhorse that I adore — the Mars is the best choice for those getting into the hobby. Some of 3D printing's best stars use the Mars, and because of that, the community has embraced it as the go-to machine for learning the basics.

Building materials

While MSLA/resin printers can be purchased extremely cheaply, the materials you need to print things can be expensive. Unlike FDM printing, which uses relatively safe filament — the filament is a solid plastic that gets melted by the 3D printer — resin printers use a liquid that reacts to UV light.

The process of making this material makes the result cost more than its FDM counterpart. While the prices are still not too crazy, you should expect to pay significantly more for your resin than you would for filament.

Play it safe

Resin is a tricky substance to play with. It's messy, smelly, and toxic if it gets on your skin, so you need to choose the right one and handle it with care if you can. There is a lot more equipment required to work with resin, a lot of them for your safety.

First and foremost, you want to have a good pair of disposable nitrile gloves between the resin and your skin at all times. I made the mistake of getting some resin on the back of my hand, and the next day, I had to take a trip to the doctors to get pills to stop the reaction from swelling my eyes shut. Resin is no joke people; it can even cause chemical burns, so be careful.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

James Bricknell has been in the 3D printing game for four years and has one claim to fame; He has met the 3D Printing Nerd. Find his ramblings on Twitter @keridel

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