8 Best Resins for 3D Printers
An overview of eight different resins for 3D printings and the benefits of each.
Resins are generally epoxies or modified acrylic monomer compounds. They are partnered with a variety of photosensitive catalysts that react to UV light by triggering cross-linking polymerization, which almost instantly hardens the resin to a solid. Choosing the best resin is not simple as it also requires the best resin 3D printer and the best user skills to exploit it.
There are an increasing number of great resin options, and the market changes all the time. There are also various desirable properties that will suit various print jobs, depending on their end-use. Resins fall into several categories, including: draft, flexible, high-resolution 8K, tough, and water-washable. Some of the best 3D printer resins in the market today are ELEGOO water-washable resin, ELEGOO ABS-like resin, and Siraya Tech’s Fast resin. This article will further discuss the 8 best resins for 3D printers, define what a 3D printer is, its purpose, and how to choose the best 3D printer resin.
ELEGOO water-washable resin offers high performance in printability and durability. It is slightly less tough and flexion tolerant than ELEGOO’s standard resin, produces fine detail in printing, and its models clean easily with water. This resin produces models that have a slightly rubbery feel, like the soft rubber finishes used on some consumer products like headphones, wearables, and expensive handheld products. ELEGOO water-washable resin is compatible with both LCD and DLP machines but is poorly adapted to SLA use. This resin comes in various colors including: white, gray, black, beige, light green, yellow, translucent blue, green, and red. It also has a curing wavelength of 405 nm. The resin can be bought in pack sizes of 0.5 kg and 1 kg at $20–35.
Siraya Tech’s Fast is a fast-cure, general-purpose resin with a curing wavelength of 390 to 405 nm. It offers a balance between being quick to print yet not embrittling the resulting parts. This resin is known for its high toughness and high quality of prints in the price range. There’s a wide range of colors and shades, including: grays of various shades, white, off-white/cream, and black. It also provides a good price advantage when buying larger SKUs—although not all colors can be purchased in all sizes of bottles. One can purchase this 3D printer resin in 1 kg, 5 kg, and 12 kg at a price range of around $40, $155, and $360 for the three-pack sizes. This material was specifically developed for LCD machines and is also compatible with DLP equipment, but it performs poorly in SLA.
Monocure 3D is among the first resin brands to produce pigments that can be added to their resins, to allow custom colors to be printed. These are supplied as pure pigment liquids, in three primary colors: cyan, magenta, yellow, and also black. This product is primarily sold for coloring Monocure 3D resins and has a curing wavelength of 405 nm. When coloring a clear resin, the resultant transparency will be unchanged. The printed item will simply take on the color of the additive(s) at an intensity that is proportional to the amount used. Opaque resins will still be opaque but colorized. These pigments are expensive, but since such additives are typically used in small amounts the actual cost is not generally prohibitive. The pigment sets are sold in 30 ml or 100 ml bottles (per color). The resin is an additional purchase item.
Anycubic launched its eco-product as a response to several resin issues including: an unideal ecological footprint, the foul smell when uncured, toxicity, and the need for excessive safety gear in handling uncured resin. The Anycubic product is based on acrylates, hence the lower smell and much lower toxicity. Anycubic is compatible with both DLP and LCD processes with a cure wavelength of 355 to 410 nm. It comes in various colors including: white, black, transparent green, gray, pink, blue, yellow, and clear. The resin can be bought in 0.5 kg to 6 kg sizes at approximately $20 to $200, depending on pack size.
ELEGOO ABS-Like resin is a slightly flexible material, which makes it better at accepting shock loads without fracturing. This material also has a reputation for poorer reproduction of detail and lower dimensional accuracy than standard resins. The resulting product, however, is nice-looking because of the good surface finish and pleasing translucency/colors. The ABS-Like white has better dimensional accuracy than the translucent colors in the same product range. ELEGOO ABS-Like resin has a cure wavelength of 385 to 410 nm. It comes in a variety of colors, including: translucent red, green, blue, and black; and opaque gray, white, yellow, blue, and beige. The resin comes in 0.5 kg and 1 kg sizes and is priced at $19.99 and $39.99 respectively.
Siraya Tech’s Blu resin gives good results, good dimensional accuracy, and high toughness. It is moderately flexible, which makes it feel like a very hard rubber rather than a rigid plastic. Despite this, it is often proposed for the printing of functional and engineering parts. Siraya Tech Blu resin can stick rather strongly to the build surface, so some care is required in removal. It is also quite viscous at room temperature, so printing at 25 °C or higher is often recommended. The resin may require longer cure and cleanup times, so care is recommended in post-print handling. This resin produces nice-looking models, and the surface qualities conceal some defects, reducing cleanup time in support removal. Siraya Tech Blu resin comes in clear, blue, and black colors, although it is often noted that the black is not very black—more a deep blue. It has a cure wavelength of 390–406 nm. This resin comes in 0.5 kg and 5 kg and is priced at $29.99 to $49.95 for clear and blue in the two sizes and $49.99 for 1 kg in black.
Phrozen Onyx Rigid Pro410 is not a low-cost resin but offers good strength and toughness, great dimensional accuracy, and a good surface finish. It is brittle, in that it cracks without distorting under shock loads. Along with that rigidity, it can hold its shape under steady loads, which is a big plus for many functional part applications. Serious embrittlement over time is sometimes observed, which is potentially a problem with Phrozen Technology’s cure regime. It is therefore recommended that parts be cured smooth and tack-free after washing. This material is DLP and LCD compatible but not suited to SLA equipment. Phrozen Onyx Rigid Pro410 is only available in black color and has a cure wavelength of 405 nm. The resin can only be bought in a 1 kg size and is priced at $69.99.
Nova3D printer resin was developed and marketed by the Nova3D machine brand for their machines. This material offers good strength and toughness at a moderate price. It is also notable for its lower odor and easier cleanup than other resins. Despite these properties, this resin has several disadvantages including: the absence of details, serious yellowing in sunlight, excessive brittleness, and excessive bonding to the build platform. The material is only suitable for DLP and LCD printers and not for SLA machines. Nova3D printer resins come in various colors, including: beige, and black; plus translucent blue, green, gray, and red. It has a cure wavelength of 405 nm. It can be bought in 1 kg, priced at $36.99.
A 3D printer resin is a material that involves a range of chemistry and material types that are blended to achieve particular desired properties. The basic resin materials belong to two wide families—the epoxies and the modified acrylics. Epoxies (or PolyEpoxides) are petrochemical-based monomers that can be “cured” or hardened by cross-linking to themselves (homopolymerization). This curing process is triggered—in the case of 3D print resins—by reactive photosensitive catalysts made from cationic boron trifluoride complexes, for example.
Properties can be tuned by the selection of various pre-polymerization molecules and by the actions of additives and catalysts. The end result is generally fluids that, when exposed to a narrow band of (usually) UV light, will trigger an exothermic reaction. The reaction creates bonds that bridge between monomer and precursor molecules to form cross-linkages.
The purpose of 3D print resins is to allow the additive manufacture of complex and finely detailed virtual designs as rigid and stable functional bodies. They were developed from a range of UV-cured polymers that were widely used for paint and surface coating technologies.
Choosing the best 3D printer resin depends on the users’ needs and part requirements. A number of factors must be considered including:
- High-quality cosmetic surfaces.
- High dimensional accuracy.
- High toughness.
- High ultimate tensile strength.
- Low environmental impact.
- Low toxicity.
- Low odor.
- Easy cleanup.
- Low cost.
- Compatibility with equipment.
A developed understanding of the needs of the processor and the end user of the printed parts must be used in selecting from the wide-ranging options in a complex market.
The durability of resin compared to PLA depends on the various functional aspects. For example, for functional parts with steady forces applied, some 3D print resins offer poor stability, and so they’re not considered as durable under load. Other resins perform quite well in long-term loading stability and are seen as better options (in this regard) than FDM/FFF printed PLA. PLA is not generally considered a standout performer, and other FFF material options may work better.
On the other hand, for functional parts that must act as bearing surfaces (durable in abrasion/rubbing), the performance of well printed PLA is comparable with and can be better than most resin-printed parts. In particular, many resins result in parts that are sticky or soft surfaced, compared with PLA. However, the lack of smoothness of FFF/FDM parts can counter this benefit, rendering PLA more able to break down and be less durable in abrasion.
In ultimate tensile strength, the strongest 3D print resins are stronger than PLA and can be considered more durable. Under shock loading, PLA is generally seen as weak and brittle, whereas the strongest “tough” (i.e., slightly flexible) 3D print resins are more elastic and can be considered more durable as they can distort (elastically or otherwise) under sudden loading.
For more information, see our guide on PLA (Polylactic Acid).
This article presented the best resins for 3D printers, explained what they are, and discussed the benefits of each one. To learn more about resins for 3D printing, contact a Xometry representative.
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