Resin VS Filament in 2024: A Comprehensive Comparison

Resin VS Filament in 2024: A Comprehensive Comparison

3D printing technology has revolutionized manufacturing, prototyping, and even hobbyist projects. Two of the most popular types of 3D printing are Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and resin printing. This article will delve into the details of these technologies, comparing their processes, advantages, disadvantages, costs, and practical applications to help you determine which is better for your specific needs.

What Is Resin 3D Printing?

Resin 3D printing, also known as stereolithography (SLA) or digital light processing (DLP) and LCD printing, is a form of additive manufacturing that uses photopolymer resins as the raw material. These resins are liquid and solidify when exposed to a specific light source, typically ultraviolet (UV) light.The most often wavelength of resin 3D printers are 405nm.

How Does Resin 3D Printing Work?

Resin 3D printing operates by selectively curing liquid photopolymer resin using a light source. The process involves the following steps:

  1. Preparation: A 3D model is sliced into thin layers using slicing software.
  2. Printing: The 3D printer's build platform lowers into a vat of liquid resin. A UV laser or projector cures the resin layer by layer, building the object from the bottom up.
  3. Post-Processing: Once printing is complete, the object is removed from the build platform and cleaned of excess resin. It may require additional curing under UV light to fully harden.

What Are the Advantages of Resin 3D Printing?

  1. High Detail and Precision: Resin printers can produce highly detailed and intricate designs with smooth surfaces, making them ideal for applications requiring fine details.
  2. Material Properties: Resins can be engineered to have various properties, such as flexibility, toughness, and heat resistance. Even some resins' feature like ceramic.
  3. Versatility: Different types of resins are available, including standard, tough, flexible, castable, and biocompatible resins.
  4. Smooth Finishes: Resin prints often require less post-processing to achieve smooth finishes compared to FDM prints.

What Are the Disadvantages of Resin 3D Printing?

  1. Material Cost: Resin can be more expensive than filament.
  2. Post-Processing: Resin prints require thorough cleaning and curing, adding time and effort to the printing process.
  3. Health and Safety: Liquid resin can be toxic and requires careful handling and proper ventilation during use.
  4. Build Volume: Resin printers typically have smaller build volumes compared to FDM printers.

Software for Resin 3D Printing

Resin 3D printing, similar to FDM printing, requires specific software to prepare 3D models for printing. This software, often referred to as slicing software, converts digital 3D models into instructions that the 3D printer can understand. Here are some popular software options for resin 3D printing:

1. Chitubox

Chitubox is one of the most popular slicing software options for resin 3D printing. It is compatible with a wide range of resin printers and offers a user-friendly interface with powerful features.

  • Features:
    • Easy model preparation and support generation
    • Versatile slicing options
    • Real-time print previews
    • Adjustable layer thickness and exposure times
    • Optimized settings for various resin types
  • Compatibility: Supports many popular resin 3D printers, including Anycubic Photon, Elegoo Mars, and Creality LD series.

2. Lychee Slicer

Lychee Slicer is another powerful and user-friendly slicing software for resin 3D printers. It is known for its intuitive interface and robust feature set, making it a favorite among hobbyists and professionals alike.

  • Features:
    • Advanced support generation with manual and automatic options
    • Comprehensive slicing settings for fine-tuning prints
    • Customizable resin profiles
    • Real-time slicing previews
    • Integrated model repair tools
  • Compatibility: Works with a variety of resin printers, including those from Phrozen, Anycubic, and Elegoo.

3. PreForm

PreForm is the slicing software developed by Formlabs for its line of professional resin 3D printers. It is tailored specifically to work with Formlabs printers, offering seamless integration and optimized performance.

  • Features:
    • Automatic and manual support generation
    • Optimized settings for Formlabs resin materials
    • Detailed print previews and simulations
    • Automatic orientation and layout tools
    • Integrated firmware updates for Formlabs printers
  • Compatibility: Exclusive to Formlabs printers.

4. Photon Workshop

Photon Workshop is the proprietary slicing software for Anycubic's Photon series of resin printers. It is designed to provide users with an easy-to-use interface and advanced slicing capabilities.

  • Features:
    • Simple and advanced support settings
    • Customizable slicing parameters
    • Real-time layer previews
    • Auto-layout and orientation tools
    • Integrated exposure settings for Anycubic resins
  • Compatibility: Specifically designed for Anycubic Photon series printers.

5. NanoDLP

NanoDLP is a versatile and advanced slicing and control software for resin 3D printers, especially those using DLP technology. It offers a range of features for managing the entire printing process.

  • Features:
    • Web-based interface for remote control and monitoring
    • Detailed slicing settings and support generation
    • Real-time print monitoring and control
    • Integrated model repair and analysis tools
    • Compatible with multiple operating systems
  • Compatibility: Supports a wide range of DLP and LCD resin printers.

6. Z-Suite

Z-Suite is the slicing software developed by Zortrax for their line of resin and FDM 3D printers. It offers a range of features specifically tailored to resin printing.

  • Features:
    • Automatic and manual support generation
    • Adjustable layer thickness and exposure settings
    • Real-time slicing previews
    • Advanced print optimization tools
    • Seamless integration with Zortrax printers
  • Compatibility: Primarily designed for Zortrax printers but supports other models as well.

7. 3D Sprint

3D Sprint is developed by 3D Systems for their range of 3D printers, including resin-based systems. It provides comprehensive tools for preparing, editing, and managing 3D prints.

  • Features:
    • Advanced support generation
    • Detailed slicing settings and customization
    • Real-time print previews and simulations
    • Integrated model repair and analysis
    • Optimized settings for various 3D Systems resins
  • Compatibility: Primarily supports 3D Systems printers.

What Is Filament 3D Printing?

Filament 3D printing, or Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), is the most common type of 3D printing technology. FDM also called FFF in industrial 3d printing. It uses thermoplastic filaments that are melted and extruded layer by layer to create a solid object.

How Does Filament 3D Printing Work?

The FDM process involves the following steps:

  1. Preparation: A 3D model is sliced into layers using slicing software.
  2. Printing: The printer's heated nozzle melts the thermoplastic filament, which is then extruded onto the build platform, layer by layer, following the pattern defined by the sliced model.
  3. Cooling: Each layer cools and solidifies almost immediately after being extruded, creating a stable base for the next layer.

What Are the Advantages of Filament 3D Printing?

  1. Cost-Effective: Filament materials are generally less expensive than resins.
  2. Ease of Use: FDM printers are straightforward to use and widely available.
  3. Variety of Materials: A wide range of thermoplastic filaments is available, including PLA, ABS, PETG, and more specialized materials like carbon-fiber-reinforced or metal-filled filaments.
  4. Large Build Volumes: FDM printers can print larger objects compared to most resin printers.
  5. Durability: FDM prints are generally more durable and can be stronger than resin prints, depending on the material used.

What Are the Disadvantages of Filament 3D Printing?

  1. Detail and Precision: FDM printers typically cannot achieve the same level of detail and precision as resin printers.
  2. Surface Finish: Prints often require significant post-processing to achieve a smooth finish.
  3. Print Speed: FDM printing can be slower, especially for complex or high-resolution prints.

Software for Filament 3D Printing

Several software options are available for preparing and managing filament 3D printing, including:

  • Cura: A popular, open-source slicing software with a wide range of features and compatibility with many 3D printers.
  • PrusaSlicer: Developed by Prusa Research, it is tailored for Prusa printers but supports other models as well.
  • Simplify3D: A premium slicing software known for its advanced features and high customization options.
  • OctoPrint: An open-source web interface for controlling and monitoring 3D printers remotely.
  • Bambu Studio: Bambu Studio is an open-source, cutting-edge, feature-rich slicing software

Cost Comparison: Filament vs. Resin 3D Printing

Material Costs

  • Filament: Typically ranges from $20 to $50 per kilogram, depending on the material and quality.
  • Resin: Generally costs between $50 to $150 per liter, making it more expensive than filament.

Printer Costs

  • FDM Printers: Entry-level models start around $200, while more advanced models can cost several thousand dollars.
  • Resin Printers: Entry-level models start around $300, but high-resolution and larger-volume printers can be significantly more expensive.

Maintenance and Operation Costs

  • FDM Printers: Require regular maintenance, such as nozzle cleaning and bed leveling, but generally have lower operating costs.
  • Resin Printers: Require consumables like resin vats and build plates, and the post-processing materials (alcohol, UV curing stations) can add to the cost.

Strength and Durability: Filament vs. Resin 3D Prints

Filament Prints

  • Strength: Filament prints, especially those made from materials like ABS or PETG, can be very strong and durable. Reinforced filaments (e.g., carbon fiber) offer even greater strength.
  • Flexibility: Some filaments, like TPU, provide flexibility and impact resistance.

Resin Prints

  • Strength: While standard resins are more brittle than most filaments, specialized resins (e.g., tough or flexible resins) offer improved mechanical properties.
  • Durability: Resin prints can be more prone to cracking and are less impact-resistant compared to FDM prints.

Speed Comparison: Resin vs. Filament 3D Printing

Resin Printers

  • Layer Curing: Resin printers can cure entire layers at once (in the case of DLP and LCD), making them faster for detailed prints.
  • Setup Time: Resin printers require setup and post-processing, which can add to the total print time.

Filament Printers

  • Layer-by-Layer: FDM printers build objects layer by layer, which can be time-consuming for high-resolution prints.
  • Continuous Operation: FDM printers generally have fewer post-processing requirements, allowing for continuous printing without much downtime.

Conclusion: Which Is Better?

Choosing between FDM and resin 3D printing depends on your specific needs and priorities.

  • For High Detail and Precision: Resin printing is superior, making it ideal for applications like jewelry, dental models, and intricate prototypes.
  • For Cost-Effectiveness and Durability: FDM printing is generally more affordable and produces more durable parts, suitable for functional prototypes, larger objects, and practical applications.
  • For Ease of Use and Flexibility: FDM printers are easier to use and maintain, with a wide variety of materials available.

In summary, both technologies have their strengths and weaknesses. Assessing your project requirements, budget, and desired print quality will help you make an informed decision. Whether you choose FDM or resin printing, both technologies offer exciting possibilities in the world of 3D printing.

Choosing the right slicing software for resin 3D printing can significantly impact the quality and success of your prints. Each software offers unique features and optimizations tailored to specific printers and resins. By selecting the software that best matches your printer and project requirements, you can ensure efficient and high-quality resin 3D printing. Whether you're a hobbyist, professional, or somewhere in between, there's a suitable resin 3D printing software to meet your needs.

Previous article Top 10 strongest 3d printer filaments
Next article Best 3D Printers for Beginners in 2024