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Resin vs Filament: Which is best for you?

A side-by-side look at the pros and cons of resin vs filament material.

Differences Between Resin and Filament Material

With many 3D printers becoming more affordable for hobbyists and enthusiasts there are more options to choose from. The most affordable house hold 3D printers available today is either resin vs filament. So, before investing in a 3D printer ask yourself why you want a 3D printer? What will you print? Are you okay with the set up and post-processing work involved? I ask myself these questions before determining what next 3D printer I will buy.

To help you make a well informed decision before buying a 3D printer take a look at the guide below as we break down the differences between filament and resin 3D printers. [1]

02 VAT Photopolymerization SLA
Resin (SLA) 3D Printing
Resin vs Filament
Filament (FDM) 3D Printer

Resin vs Filament

Advantages

Resin
  • Better detail or higher quality print jobs
  • Faster printing process
  • Supports a wide range of fillers to control rigidity
  • Premium resins create stronger finished products
Filament
  • Easy to scale with more space to print than resin
  • Accepts a wide range of filament
  • Overall cheaper than resin
  • Easy removal after printing

Disadvantages

Resin
  • Post-processing is messy while removing access material before curing
  • Prone to warping or deforming at 140F+
  • More expensive than filament
Filament
  • Post-processing need to peal off access material and sand for a smoother finish
  • Prone to warping or deforming at 105F+
  • Inefficient with mass production

Quality

Resin
  • Precise high-resolution models
  • Choice of material also impacts quality
  • Can print finer, or thinner, layers than filament 3D printers using Point-by-point projection or layer-by-layer
  • Less rounded edge per layer than seen on objects printed with filament
Filament
  • Higher tensile strength different types of infill patterns can also help
  • Control of temperature and speed impacts quality
  • Control of layer height and adjusting retraction greatly impact quality
  • Proper care of machine maintenance to allow material to extrude correctly

Function

Resin
  • A tank full of liquid photopolymer (thermosetting) resin, which is material that reacts to radiation from UV light forming an object. When light hits the photopolymer resin it causes the object to harden layer by layer until the object is complete.
Filament
  • Uses thermoplastic materials to produce objects. A spool of plastic polymer is fed thru a printing nozzle. Like a hot glue gun, material extrudes out thru a heated nozzle adding material onto the platform. This repeats layer-by-layer until the object is complete.

Post Processing

Resin
  • Washing – Wipe down with isopropyl alcohol wipes
  • Rinse
  • Pealing
  • Curing
  • Sanding
  • Painting
  • Coating
Filament
  • Remove supports
  • Sanding
  • Gluing with acetone or superglue
  • Painting
  • Coating

Speed

Resin
  • Much faster as there are not as many moving parts as filament 3D printers. Only a moving LCD screen is used to adjust UV light direction.
  • DLP printers are even faster as it prints the whole layer at once
  • Layer height also impacts the timeframe
Filament
  • Slower prints have better quality giving the extruder more time to stick together better and more time to cool down
  • Low infill saves material and speeds up printing process time, but object is less durable
  • Layer thickness also impacts time

Strength

Resin
  • Low cost standard resin is not as strong as filament, however higher end premium resin can be stronger
  • Primarily dependent on wall thickness as infill is typically not used in fact models should have drain holes to drain access liquid
  • Choice of material
Filament
  • Infill Percentage impacts strength as the more material used in the infill pattern the stronger the object
  • Greater shell thickness will increase strength
  • Choice of material

Pricing

As far as pricing goes, how much are you willing to invest in?

  • Entry level 3D printers will cost under $500
  • 3D printers for hobbyists may spend $300 – $1,500
  • Enthusiasts may be willing to spend a few thousand dollars ($1,500 – $3,500) on having multiple printers, or larger scale printers
  • Professionals and educators may spend thousands of dollars ($3,000 – $10,000)
  • Industrial-grade 3D printing machines can cost anywhere from ($20,000 to $800,000)

Bottom Line

Regardless what type of 3D printer you invest in, please be conscious of the safety measures necessary to protect your health and living space. Keep in mind of the toxins emitted from the material, especially resin. Be cautious of handling resin prints during the post processing. Check out our article, Post Processing for 3D Printing with Resin Material, to learn how to properly handle your final prints. Just like your kitchen ovens and laundry machines, 3D printers should never be left unattended as they can pose a fire-safety hazard. Would you leave the house with an iron on or hot glue gun? Well… You shouldn’t.

  • Never leave unattended
  • Use in well ventilated space as a result of emissions of toxic fumes
  • Use gloves to protect and avoid skin irritation
  • Steer clear of all moving parts

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