The Beginning Of The Age Of 3D Resin Printers


For several years now, filament-based plastic printers have ruled the hobbyist market, with a new iteration on squirting plastic appearing on Kickstarter every week. SLA printers, with their higher resolution and historically higher price for raw materials, have sat in the background, waiting for their time to come.

Now, with the Sedgwick printer now available on Kickstarter, we may finally be seeing some resin printers make their way into hackerspaces and workshops the world over. Instead of other DLP projector-based resin printer where projector light shines up through the resin tank, the creator of the Sedgwick, [Ron Light] is doing things the old-fashioned way: shining the projector down onto the surface of the resin. He says it’s a simpler method, and given he’s able to ship a Sedgwick kit minus the projector for $600, he might be on to something.

There are a few other resin printers coming on the scene – the LittleSLA will soon see its own Kickstarter, the mUVe 1 is already shipping, and over on Hackaday Projects, the OpenExposer project is coming along nicely. All very good news for anyone who wants higher quality prints easily.

23 thoughts on “The Beginning Of The Age Of 3D Resin Printers

  1. is there any data regarding the characteristics of the printed components . Stress testing and flexibility and uv resistance ? how do they compare with PLA and ABS on a strength level.

    1. Think of the finished product as having the strength of a resin cast object. It is strong but it is also more brittle than abs. Kind of a tradeoff, resolution vs durability.

    2. I was thinking the same, I would like to see some comparison of material properties. IMHO these resin parts have no practical use,because it is so brittle, it seems to me that it is similar to concrete – strong at compression, but weak at tension load. Daily use of resins is to reinforce them with some fibers – glass fibers or carbon fibers, just like concrete has steel armature.
      So unless these SLA printers learn, how to add some armature to the part, I think that those parts do not have any practical purpose, so does not justify such a purchase in first place.
      I do not care, if FDM printer has less precision, but at least it can build something with practical use – plastic cover, custom case or whatever else, where there are little loads and forces involved.

        1. Yes!

          The biggest caveat is that if you’re doing burnout casting, you need to be careful which resin you choose. Unless it’s a special material, it will leave behind a soot that will affect the cast part.

      1. “I do not care, if FDM printer has less precision, but at least it can build something with practical use – plastic cover, custom case or whatever else, where there are little loads and forces involved.”

        This. Resin printers may have more resolution, but so far I haven’t seen them printing anything useful. I see only small, very detailed trinkets that don’t justify building something so expensive to run.

    3. At work we use a Projet by 3DSystems. We’ve used two different resins. The first one we used, I forget the name, but it was wretchedly brittle and weak. It also could not stand up to any abrasion. We now use “X”, which is much tougher than the other. It is still brittle as can be, but the yield strength is noticeably higher. Super-thin parts (.100″ or less thickness) printed with X can be functionally flexible like ABS parts can be. But, they still are not great for wear. The surface is not actually smooth, but microscopically bumpy. That can be bad for mating parts that need to move relative to each other.

      We typically use our Stratasys Dimension to print durable prototype parts that prove the concept and then use the Projet to print parts for fit checking. So, when it has to fit, resin print. When it has to function, ABS.

      Further, I have used the resin prints as molds for silicone and medium durometer plastic castings. Using it as the mold is less than ideal. It’s far better to just print the part, cast it in silicone, and then use the silicone as the mold for the plastic. The resin material does not play nice with mold release compounds, and some of the plastics I’ve used actually bond to it despite the mold release. Plus, designing a mold can be time consuming, whereas dropping a part into a cup of silicone takes hardly any effort.

      The only other good thing about resin is that you can print a 100% full tray of parts in a relatively short amount of time, because all the parts are sprayed simultaneously. The real problem is when the parts are tall, because the resolution is so fine. I estimate that the Projet takes about 16 hours to print a 1.5″ tall part (or parts).

      1. The link wasn’t meant as spam, but I should’ve mentioned that you can view their materials and the material properties with the “Materials” tab about halfway down the page.

  2. correct me if i’m wrong here and I could be way off but the problem with sla printers is not their initial cost or degree of difficulty to build but instead the higher cost of resin over pla printed material. Again could be way off on this one.

    1. seems that way to me, when our company was looking at getting a 3d printer the resin started making us question SLA, then the fact that the resin has a shelf life though SLA directly out the door as we wouldnt be using the machine every single day

      1. On the other hand, it doesn’t have the cost of a high-resolution projector either. It does benefit from both the precision and low cost of a PC soundcard.

        It hasn’t printed anything useful yet, but it’s early days (still in the early Beta stages). I suspect that it’ll be printing more useful stuff before too long.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s a tank, a moving z platform, a control board and a pump. Then a projector of your choice. If the projector + resin isn’t included how on earth can something like this cost more than a standard extrusion model? It should cost much less :S Captain Obvious, I call upon thee.

    1. Don’t forget the enclosure, with the tinted acrylic – which I think is a special type to block UV. The pump might not be just any pump, I recall some didn’t work well with certain properties of UV sensitive resin. The tank might be a special material – at least it is if it’s designed for shine-through, to not block UV.

      But maybe you’re right. It may just be a different market, because the extrusion 3D printers are pretty mature from a cost-reduction standpoint, having been about 9 years now. SLA 3D printers are still relatively new to the DIY world, only a couple years old now. I would expect the prices to go down as it matures.

      1. There is no UV coming out of a projector. There are filters on the lamp and UV cant pass through most of the optical elements of the projector. That being said blue light is bad for your eyes, long term exposure can cause eye issues so you need orange plastic to filter that out. Hopefully they are just using orange acrylic instead of the much more expensive uv filtering acrylic.

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