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Best Resin 3D Printers in 2021

Included in this guide:

Best Resin 3D Printers
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

As 3D printing continues to become cheaper and more accessible, resin 3D printers have become a popular choice for anyone interested in making highly detailed models that wouldn’t be feasible using a filament-fed 3D printer. These MSLA (Masked Stereolithography) resin 3D printers typically only have a single axis of motion, and this simple mechanical system means these machines can regularly be found for under $300. With so many models  on the market, we’ve made this list to help you find the best resin 3D printer for you. 

Resin 3D printers are capable of making high resolution models by curing a liquid resin using a UV light source. This MSLA process uses a masking LCD to selectively block the UV light on a pixel-by-pixel basis, allowing these printers to create models that have a resolution of down to .035mm on the XY axes. This high resolution comes at a price, as parts made on a resin 3D printer require post-processing after printing, and UV resin requires caution when handling. Because resin requires gloves and a mask to handle, we recommend beginners or anyone with young kids consider one of the FDM (fusion deposit modeling) printers on our overall best 3D printers page.

There are several factors to consider before buying a resin 3D printer, so be sure to consider these questions before making a choice.

Shopping Tips for Best Resin 3D Printers  

  • Mono or RGB LCD? The type of masking LCD on your resin 3D printer can have the single largest impact on your overall print speed. Because they are commonly used in other electronics, RGB masking LCDs are cheaper, but slower because they don’t  allow UV light to pass through efficiently and need more exposure time per layer. For example, the RGB LCD on the Creality LD-002R requires 9 seconds per layer, while the Mono LCD on the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro requires only 2.2 seconds per layer.  
  • How much build volume do you need? Most resin 3D printers have smaller build volumes than FDM 3D printers, so you may find yourself limited by this relatively small build volume. If you are interested in printing large parts, you’ll want to look at a large format resin 3D printer such as the Elegoo Saturn or the Anycubic Photon Mono X.  
  • 2K, 4K, or Beyond? A resin 3D printer that uses a 6.08-inch 2K screen like the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is capable of an XY resolution of .05mm as well as a layer height of .05mm. For context, this means even a relatively low-resolution resin 3D printer is still capable of making extremely fine details that simply wouldn’t be possible on an FDM printer. If you need even more resolution, a 4K screen is capable of making finer features, but is typically more expensive. 
  • Post Processing Equipment? Resin 3D printers create parts that require post-processing before they are completely finished. Typically, this workflow involves rinsing the parts in a solvent to dissolve any excess resin on the surface of the part, followed by a cure cycle that uses UV light to fully polymerize the part. This process can be done manually by submerging the part in a solvent and using an inexpensive UV light for curing, but some manufacturers have created post-processing equipment like the Elegoo Mercury X that automate the process and reduce the mess.  

Best Resin 3D Printers 2021 

Best Resin 3D Printer Overall: Elegoo Mars 2 Pro (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

1. Elegoo Mars 2 Pro

Best Resin 3D Printer Overall

Specifications
Technology: MLSA
Build Volume: 129mm x 80mm x 160mm
LCD Resolution: 2560 x 1620
LCD Size: 6.08-inch
XY Axis Resolution: .05mm
Connectivity: USB
Reasons to buy
+Spring-loaded self-leveling build platform+Integrated air filtration system+Solid metal base
Reasons to avoid
-Build volume can feel limiting-Preloaded test print can create difficulty for first-time users

A near-perfect balance between value and performance, it’s hard to find a better resin 3D printer than the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro. It’s fast, well-built, and provides reliable prints without any fuss. The slicer app Chitubox comes with a profile for the Mars 2 Pro that offers a 2.5-second exposure time, which lets this machine race ahead of competitors using traditional RGB LCD screens which can take 5-10 seconds per layer. 

The 129mm x 80mm x 160mm build volume of the Mars 2 Pro is a little on the smaller side, but the two-bolt leveling system used for calibrating the platform is so easy, it almost feels like cheating. Throw in an integrated air filter, a color LCD, and a solid metal base and you’ve got a 3D printer that can make accurate parts quickly and repeatedly.

Generally available for between $250 and $300, the Mars 2 Pro provides rock-solid construction along with a fast-curing Mono LCD screen to give users a smooth printing experience. If you’re most interested in the highest possible resolution and don’t mind a plastic base, the Elegoo Mars 3 offers a 4K screen and a slightly larger build volume for around $300. 

More: Elegoo Mars 2 Pro 3D Printer Review 

Best High-End Resin 3D Printer:  Prusa SL1S (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

2. Prusa SL1S

Best High-End Resin 3D Printer

Specifications
Technology: MSLA
Build Volume: 127mm x 80mm x 150mm
LCD Resolution: 2560 x 1620
LCD Size: 5.96-inch
XY Axis Resolution: 049mm
Connectivity: USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi
Reasons to buy
+Native integration with PrusaSlicer app+Unique tilting mechanism enables fast printing speed+Color touchscreen LCD is user-friendly+One-screw build platform leveling
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-Resin vat sensor is very sensitive 

The Prusa SL1S is one of the smartest consumer resin 3D printers on the market, and it’s packed with features that make it the perfect choice for anyone who wants to get up and running with a resin 3D printer as fast as possible while still making quality parts. The tilting vat on the SL1S allows for blazing fast print speeds, and the color LCD touchscreen guides users through everything from unboxing the printer to calibrating the build platform. 

The Prusa SL1S advertises a jaw-droppingly fast per-layer exposure time of 1.4-seconds, and the native integration with the user-friendly PrusaSlicer app makes adjusting the various parameters of this printer a breeze. The 2K Mono LCD screen provides a .049mm XY resolution, which is more than enough to give parts made on the SL1S a smooth and high-definition appearance. 

With a retail price of $1,999 (or bundled with the optional CW1S Cure Wash station for $2,599), the SL1S is targeted towards prosumers or businesses and is unlikely to wind up on the desk of a hobbyist. For anyone interested in high-resolution printing at a lower cost, the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro and Elegoo Mars 3 both sell for under $300 and offer similar XY resolution at the expense of a slower print speed and a less-intuitive user interface. 

More: Prusa SL1S Speed Resin 3D Printer Review 

Best Large Format Resin 3D Printer: Elegoo Saturn (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

3. Elegoo Saturn

Best Large Format Resin 3D Printer

Specifications
Technology: MSLA
Build Volume: 192mm x 120mm x 200mm
LCD Resolution: 3840 x 2400
LCD Size: 8.9-inch
XY Axis Resolution: .05mm
Connectivity: USB, Ethernet
Reasons to buy
+Exceptionally large build-volume-to-price ratio+Rigid dual-Z linear rail system
Reasons to avoid
-Difficult to find in stock

Combining the ease-of-use of the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro and the larger build volume of printers like the Anycubic Photon Mono X, the Elegoo Saturn is capable of printing large parts quickly just as easily as printing lots of small parts simultaneously. The .05mm XY resolution is on the lower side for most resin 3D printers, but the Saturn is still able to make smooth parts that require minimal post-processing.

Just like its smaller sibling the Mars 2 Pro, the Saturn uses a spring-loaded, self-leveling platform that makes calibration a breeze, something to be grateful for when you have such a large build volume. Replacing the FEP film on the vat is similarly easy, and the entire printing experience is designed to be as frictionless as possible thanks to the native integration with the Chitubox app.

The Saturn has a build volume of 280.46 cubic inches, a dramatic increase from the 100.81 cubic inch build volume of the smaller Elegoo Mars 2 Pro. If you’re looking for a resin printer that offers a large build volume, but you don’t want to compromise with a lower-quality print, the Saturn is an ideal solution. Originally very difficult to find in stock at release, Elegoo has since caught up with demand and the $499 Saturn is readily available at Amazon and on the Elegoo site.

More: Elegoo Saturn Resin 3D Printer Review 

Best  Resin 3D Printer for High Resolution: Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

4. Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K

Best Resin 3D Printer for High Resolution

Specifications
Technology: MSLA
Build Volume: 132mm x 74mm x 130mm
LCD Resolution: 3480 x 2160
LCD Size: 6.1-inch
XY Axis Resolution: .035mm
Connectivity: USB Thumb Drive
Reasons to buy
+4K resolution provides highly detailed XY accuracy+Native integration with ChituBox slicer app
Reasons to avoid
-Difficult bed leveling process-Review unit had some quality-related issues

The Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K offers a fast 2.2 second exposure time thanks to a 4K Mono LCD and plug-and-play compatibility with the Chitubox slicer app. The Sonic Mini 4K offers a best-in-class XY resolution of .035mm, making it a perfect fit for anyone interested in printing small models with high levels of detail and precision. 

The .035mm XY resolution provides extreme levels of detail for making intricate models without compromise. Unfortunately, the Sonic Mini 4K has a Z axis of 130mm, significantly shorter than most other resin 3D printers in this price range. In addition, the build platform uses a four-bolt leveling system that can be tricky to calibrate accurately, and our review unit had some machining-related quality issues that should have been caught before the machine shipped. 

Selling for $399 on Amazon and $349 direct from Phrozen, the Sonic Mini 4K is the perfect printer for jewelers looking to make highly detailed castable-wax prints, dentists interested in making accurate dental models, or anyone else interested in high-accuracy printing. If you’re looking for a slightly larger build volume and want to keep the .035mm XY resolution, the Elegoo Mars 3 offers both for about the same price. 

More: Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K 3D Printer Review 

Best Resin 3D Printer for under $250: Anycubic Photon Mono (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

5. Anycubic Photon Mono

Best Resin 3D Printer for under $250

Specifications
Technology: MSLA
Build Volume: 130mm x 80mm x 165mm
LCD Resolution: 2560 x 1620
LCD Size: 6.08-inch
XY Axis Resolution: .051mm
Connectivity: USB Thumb Drive
Reasons to buy
+Mono LCD screen prints parts quickly +Photon Workshop slicer app is easy-to-use
Reasons to avoid
-Native software lacks functionality-Non-standard FEP film is more expensive than standard

The Anycubic Photon Mono is the perfect entry-point into resin 3D printing: it’s inexpensive, provides fast prints, and offers a reasonable build volume. The 2K Mono LCD offers a fast per-layer exposure time of around 2 seconds, and the .051mm XY resolution is more than enough to get a good-looking part. 

The Photon Mono uses Anycubic’s Photon Workshop slicer app by default, which lacks some of the more advanced functionality offered by the competing Chitubox slicer app. A fast and easy model preparation process combined with quality-of-life features like an angled build platform that prevents resin from pooling make the Photon Mono a great first resin 3D printer. 

The plastic enclosure on the Photon Mono feels a little inexpensive, so if you’re interested in a printer with similar specs that is more robust and heavy-duty, the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is a great choice.

More: Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer Review 

  • gilahacker82
    FYI: You guys posted a summary of the Anycubic Vyper FDM printer under the listing for the Anycubic Photon Mono.
    Reply
  • JARGYLE
    Prices are incorrect and in my opinion there are much better options out there.
    This would be my list.

    Best Overall
    Epax X1-4k
    4K mono screen. They're built like a tank. The X1 platform is upgradable.
    Company headquarters are in the USA (much easier to get parts & support should you need either)
    $549

    Best High End
    Formlabs Form 2 (I prefer it to the form 3)
    $2400

    Best Large Format (there are a lot of good machines in the category)
    Uniz Ibee + Lychee Slicer
    Exceptional build quality & a superior light source to most other printers in it's class
    Can be found new for $400-$500. (frequent promotions) Retails for $1400

    Best High Resolution Machine
    If high resolution is what you're after hold off for now. New tech is just around the corner. Watch for these machines.
    Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k - 8k LCD machine, build quality looks to be much improved over last years 4k model.
    Anycubic Photon Ultra - DLP based machine. Actual resolution is quite low but the quality of the DLP light source is supposed to be a game changer.
    Mars 3 DLP - Another DLP based machine to look out for. I understand the resolution of this machine will be superior to the Photon Ultra

    Best $300 or Less
    Elegoo Mars 3
    Least expensive 4K mono machine. Seems to outperform the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K.
    $300
    Reply
  • mogster
    I've considered getting one of these, but I'm wondering - how do you deal with the smell? As I understand it, the resin requires good ventilation, but I live in a small apartment with a couple windows on one side and a hot climate. I can't imagine having to deal with fumes for hours while something is printing.
    Reply
  • JARGYLE
    An apartment isn't the ideal environment for a resin printer. The smell isnt really what you need to worry about, there are a lot of resins that don't have a strong or unpleasant scent. Dangerous VOC's are the concern & the smell from these fumes may not be noticable. I know at least one resin manuacturer (sirayatech) says that the amount of VOC's released from uncured resin is quite low but VOC's will likely build up inside the printer. You're most likely to be exposed when you lift the lid after completing a print. If you have a window in the apartment you could make some modification to continually vent the fumes, or you could have a fan or something to exhaust them when you're most likely to be exposed. I'd invest in a vat cover to keep the VOC's from entering your living space while the printer isn't in use.
    Reply