3D Printer Showdown: $350 Consumer Vs $73,000 Pro Machine

The quality of consumer-grade 3D printing has gone way up in recent years. Resin printers, in particular, can produce amazing results and they get less expensive every day. [Squidmar] took a miniature design and printed it (or had it printed) on some cheap resin printers and a 65,000 Euro DWS029. How much difference could there be? You can see for yourself in the video below.

We were surprised at the specs for the more expensive machine. It does use a solid-state laser, but for that cost, the build volume is relatively small — around 15 x 15 x 10 cm. There were actually five prints created on four printers. Three were on what we think of as normal printers, one was on the 65,000 Euro machine, and the fifth print was on a 10,000 Euro printer that didn’t look much different from the less expensive ones.

Of course, there is more to the process than just the printer. The resin you use also impacts the final object. The printers tested included a Phrozen 4K Mini, a Phrozen 8K Mini,  a Solos Pro, and the DWS 029D. The exact resins or materials used was hard to tell in each case, so that may have something to do with the comparisons, too.

Do you get what you pay for? Hard to say. The 8K and Solos were neck-and-neck with some features better on one printer and some better on the other. The DWS029D did perform better, but was it really worth the increase in price? Guess it depends on your sensitivity. The 8K printer did a very credible job for a fraction of the cost. Of course, some of that could have been a result of the materials used, too, but it does seem likely that a very expensive dental printer ought to do better than a hobby-grade machine. But it doesn’t seem to do much better.

The DWS printer uses a laser, while most hobby printers use UV light with an LCD mask. We’ve seen low-end resin printers on closeout for around $100 and you can get something pretty nice in the $200 neighborhood. In between these two extremes are printers that use Digital Light Processing (DLP).

35 thoughts on “3D Printer Showdown: $350 Consumer Vs $73,000 Pro Machine

    1. What difference would a scale really show on identical prints from different machines? Since they’re both the same size, the only real difference to consider is quality comparison.

    1. This is an important consideration – paint has a thickness that will tend to mask the difference in resolved details at that scale.

      That $60k printer is likely to be more relevant for small engineering parts than for cosmetic models that need painting.

    1. That’s because it’s censored, they held it hostage to get you to watch to the end.

      Tldw; the $65,000 printer was even more crisp and precise than the sonic mini 8k, but that printer was surprisingly close given the huge price difference.

      1. Indeed, though the real question between the hobbyist and the pro machines is what materials they can work in – if your still limited to exactly the same materials then the only reason to ‘go pro’ would be warranties, running costs/speed and MTBF, which with the price differential would need to be really damn fast or really damn durable in comparison.

        As far as I know (though I am not an expert and we are sticking in the world of UV cure resins not sintered powder printer) the pro level machines with their direct unmasked laser can do a few other UV active resin that won’t kick well on the lower grade machines, but I don’t think either class can really do materials the other can’t, its just the layer times get high on the less powerful masked UV sources, which probably also lowers the crispness of the end result…

        1. I highly doubt the laser machines can outspeed the new monochrome MSLA printers with any resin.

          Exposure time for standard resins ends up being around 2-4 seconds to expose the whole plate for one layer.

          Unless the special resin takes 5 to 10 times longer to expose than normal resins, I can’t see the laser having more through put of items (since it has to draw the outlines of every item on the plate).

        2. As a person that actually was trained (as in at least three) in Italy DWS HQ (as a sales, service technician and technical advisor) O can tell you that RWS resins are not the same as even quite expensive LCD resins.
          There’s ton of differences that make them superior.
          This is why I have my XFAB and my LCD’s. If you need quick and dirty and cheap – go for LCD.
          If you need PRECISION – go for DWS 029.Ot comes with a steep price tag, but all top of the line proffesional devices do so.

          1. Plus a tooth printed from a certified medical resin won’t land you in jail and you kids and grandkids under a bridge after a poisoning compensation lawsuit.

  1. I mean if all you are doing is making useless toys I guess it doesn’t matter, I know the crazy expensive one we have at work can do some wild shit at a super high rate (one of the samples it came with is a nearly perfect optically transparent bike chain printed in situ)

    1. Mechanical tolerances are usually better on the high end machines. When printing precision parts for checking function and fit the cheaper consumer printers may just not cut it (although they keep getting closer).

      Plus maintenance agreements when the company is footing the Bill

    1. Exactly. You don’t buy a $65000 server because it’s faster than your $5000 workstation (it’s not), you buy it if you’ll be losing $100000 of business every day that it’s down.

      1. You could literally buy 100 of the consumer printers for the same price, run 50 at a time and have 50 for backup. No need to wait for a service representative to get to you only to tell you the part he needs is on backorder or he has to go get it from the warehouse.

        1. The problem here is, more importantly, in it being a MEDICAL (ergo CERTIFIED) instrument. You don’t use cheap consumer printer and who-knows-what containing resins in a branch where a slightest discomfort or poisoning can cost you and your kids and their grandkids a living in attorney fees and compensations.

    2. I would expect a *far* more rugged machine, service available, faster, high quality motion system, axes square to each other, etc. And earlier machines will cost more because (1) they could, (2) fewer economies of scale – engineering time spread over only a few machines, (3) no established mass market so companies had to go where there were customers with deep pockets.

  2. so, he’s comparing trinkets by hand? proper compare and contrast needs to be done with much better video production honestly. I found the video subjective and not horribly useful. Find a benchmark design with varying resolution down to as small as visible and show me the results of that. Not some Warcraft critter.

    1. Agreed, comparing products based only on one parameter is limiting ones perspective. If this is only for hobby use, then why spend the money. If for profit or high demand, then more features would be required (durability, throughput, cust. serv., etc).
      However, using a character for a test subject is quite useful, it shows the x y and z coordination and output tolerances.

      1. I understand that, but if he did cuts of the prints at varying parts of high detail and screwed them down to a board to show the cheap to expensive printer side by side, it would be a better presentation. Even if the comparison I’m requesting is done at the end after all the constantly moving parts and comments it would have worked better for me to make a judgement.

        He’s doing more than I am, so I shouldn’t judge so harshly, but a number of videos comparing products do exactly what he’s done here and in the end the comparison of quality is difficult to judge.

  3. I’d bet the price difference has two major origins: 1) development costs, as these machines tend to be in-house developed, instead of being mostly copied from someone else, and 2) the huge price tag of certification for medical applications. You just can’t afford to use cheap consumer printer in medicine, where the patient is able to collect your money and your grandkids’ money and their grandkids’ money in compensation lawsuit.

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