If you recently purchased a 3D printer or have greater access to one through work or school, you’ve likely heard about all the cool projects you can perform with one. But have you considered all the available materials, and which ones you should use for the project you have in mind?
Every 3D printer can use many materials and substances to print out models, prototypes, and merchandise. These materials include acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic, polylactic acid (PLA), polyamide (nylon), epoxy resins, steel, silver, wax, polycarbonates, and more. If you’re just starting, it is confusing. To make things easier, here’s a breakdown of the two main types of printing, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA), and the materials both employ to create prints. So, resin vs. filament 3D printing: which is best for your needs? Let’s find out!
The Pros and Cons of Printing With Resin
Stereolithography and the use of resin were around longer than FDM and filament 3D printing. Also, resin printing produces finer and more detailed prints than FDM printers. A resin UV 3D printer employs lasers and creates and solidifies resin layers to produce the prints, making each layer adhere at the molecular level.
While resin does create beautifully intricate and elaborate models, the substance itself is messy and sticky, not to mention toxic when handled before the curing process is complete (you’ll need to purchase a pair of gloves to handle prints before treatment safely). Resin prints are also less durable than those made with filament materials, and many have small build plates, which means smaller prints. Currently, buying a resin UV 3D printer may also run you a bit more than a filament one. But newer desktop models are now developed at lower costs, so the price difference may soon change.
The Pros and Cons of Printing With Filament
As mentioned, FDM printers usually cost less than SLA printers, but that depends on the machine. Some resin printers may run less while producing better quality prints. Still, filament printers are better for beginners. Filament prints faster than SLA (for now) and don’t require the UV and other processing. They are easier to remove from the print bed or plate as well. If made with polycarbonate, filament prints are stronger and more durable, making them the superior material for printing mechanical parts. Filament printers tend to have larger build plates as well, permitting bigger prints. So, if size means more to a project than detail, go with a filament printer.
Shared Pros and Cons
When deciding resin vs. filament 3D printing and which is best for your needs, know that you need to do both resin and filament printing in well-ventilated areas since they can produce toxic gases and particles during their processes. Keep them clean and static-free as well to prevent breakdowns and potential overheating. Have fun!