What is resin?
Resin is a liquid plastic that 3D printers expose to UV light in an effort to harden them into a design. This is a bit different from another method of 3D printing that involves melting a filament, or plastic, and oozing it through a nozzle into a design. Resin printers are capable of exceptional detail and are often used in making miniatures and models and have been quite useful within industrial applications like dentistry.
Let’s talk about some of the types of resins - their purposes will be obvious from their names.
What types of resin are available?
There are a few different kinds of resins available with different specialties, we have listed them:
- Standard resin
- Tough resin
- Flexible resin
- Waterproof resin
- Ceramic resin
- Mammoth resin
- Transparent resin
- High detail resin
You could categorize resins in more ways, but we won’t drag on with more for your sake.
Which resins are the best for 3D printing?
You can call Flashforge Standard a standard resin, indicating it is well rounded and doesn’t specialize in anything specific. Flashforge standard does a couple of things well: it holds up to heat as it could be used to print with heat forming and it offers lots of detail from a resin not entirely designed for the purpose.
The print strength is fairly high for the price and standard purpose. The resin results are also easy to clean and make maintenance pretty easy. Most people who print with it also report that models come out quite clean with no need for trimming or even sanding. Pretty good for a standard resin!
You have some choices in color, though not overwhelming with white, red, black, transparent, gray, and green. Plenty of options for most people!
One downside: Flashforge standard kinda stinks while printing, but if that’s the worst thing, we’ll take it.
You could call this a standard but more environmentally friendly resin than Flashforge. The biggest difference is that the smell is far better due to using a different mixture - though Anycubic wisely won’t tell you what the mixture consists of, but we really don’t expect them to. This isn’t quite as detailed as Flashforge for the purpose of printing models, but it does offer good results when printing models - and if it helps the environment and our noise hairs, it could well be worth it.
Anycubic is notable more expensive than Flashforge at $50 for a bottle, but it can be worth the price you pay.
Siraya Tech Fast
This one has a fairly obvious name: it prints fast! Siraya prints quickly and offers great detail for the speed you get - which is uncommon in 3D printing, with or without resin. The resin also dries relatively quickly and is easy to clean up. Siraya is most like printing with ABS in the world of 3D printing filaments - it is easy to handle, rigid, tough, and doesn’t require sanding unless you want to.
For the price, Siraya is very good. Printers who are worried about speed or generally want to print at a high volume will like this the most of all, simply because fast printing doesn’t normally have this easy of cleanup or the level of detail.
ELEGOO ABS-Like Resin
ELEGOO wins for best budget resin. A 500-gram bottle costs less than $20, making it a few dollars cheaper than the average resin. Also, this is literally called ABS-Like Resin for a reason - it acts like ABS with the ability to stay rigid and resist warping while remaining strong and heat resistant. Primarily available in basic colors like green, gray, white, and blue, you’ll find it quite useful and versatile for a variety of projects.
There are many review questioning how much this resin will shrink while printing, and those who do might need to learn how to best tune their printer for the purpose.
As if calling a resin Hard-Tough isn’t convincing enough, the performance of this resin speaks for itself. Users rave about the durability of eSun’s Hard-Tough and according to some Amazon reviews, a person literally tested a printed product by throwing it out of a third story window without damaging it.
Some resins and 3D printing materials lose their toughness after being exposed to heat and cold for too long. Hard-Tough takes on that challenge and lasts for a while longer. Hard-Tough is also known for offering superior detail when printing highly intricate models, so it manages to balance being durable with printing exactly as intended. You can even drill holes into it to insert lights, clips, hangers, etc without damaging the remaining resin or making it unstable.
You’ll get access to a total of four color: Black, blue, gray, and white, which does generally round out the colors of m models most people make.
Another resin with a strong name indeed has a strong finish. It is also versatile and flexible, as it works in a variety of resin printers with a UV range of 385-405 nm. The resin is overall very strong and has one of the highest rated flexes in the class - and doesn’t even smell too terrible.
The downside here is the price. See it here. If you want a flexible, even more detailed print that could be deemed professional quality, consider looking at Strong-X. Another small downside is the lack of colors, but we don’t expect a lot and think you could just paint it.
Liqcreate is rather heavy duty and is often used to make injection molds. You might not even need this resin if you are an amateur.
Note that this is designed primarily for use in Formlabs printers. Other printers might need some tweaks to work properly within, but you could figure that one out. This is the toughest offering Formlabs has and can be used for industrial applications. Some do warn that this resin can cause extra wear and tear on your resin tank, so be prepared to clean it more often or replace it - but the results of having very tough ABS or higher rated plastics are worth it.
Monocure 3D Rapid
3D Rapid is what you would call a “Draft Resin”. Monocure is meant for hobbyists who are OK with strong results that are not the most breathtakingly detailed, but are also able to cure within seconds and be ready right away. This is the kind of resin you might want to use when experimenting for a project, or when you don’t need to meet a high standard for detail, performance, or durability.
Still, Monocure holds up and is a decent choice of speed matters instead of overall quality. Want to print several things fast? This might be your resin of choice.
Monocure 3D Flex
The cool part about “flex” resins is that they create flexible products that can bend more than a bit, making them more useful for every day products that don’t need to be quite so rigid. In the case of Monocure 3D, it does this well and Monocure also encourages mixing Flex with other Monocure products to make prints more durable without having to make the project completely rubbery.
With that said, if you think that your existing resin has the chance to make something brittle, consider adding this in as a supplement, especially for an important print. Many reviewers say it helped stabilize prints that might otherwise be difficult.
Like Tough, Flexible is meant for Formlabs printers. Their Flexible options are fine and sturdy enough to print wearables and soles for your shoes, so they have some serious sturdiness and will withstand repeated abuse from your feet or movement without becoming overly compressed.
Flexible is probably better suited for professionals and very serious amateurs who expect very high performance out of their resins, and they’ll pay the price for it -though it is worth it!
Phrozen Aqua 8K
You might have already heard of 8K printing. The difference between 8K printing and “4k” printing is very similar to the differences in resolution on your TV - more pixels means more places to add detail. Phrozen Aqua 8K takes full advantage of printers that operate with software capable of producing 8K resolution.
If you want some of the best detail available for a figure or something with lots of resolution and fine points, this is one way to go. Note that this is meant to be used with Phrozen’s printers though it is possible to use it with others that have 8K software.
Elegee is much like Phrozen’s Aqua 8K, with a slight difference. Elegoo offers a water soluble version that makes their prints a bit easier to remove - and thus a bit less likely to be damaged while removing your print from the bed. In Elegoo’s favor, they offer both water soluble and non-water soluble. Non-water soluble has slightly easier storage since the resin won’t absorb as much moisture right out of the air.
Phrozen Onyx Rigid 410
This resin is designed mostly for high detail minis. The plastic produced is tough and of high enough quality to survive falls to the floor and sudden impacts. Phrozen developed this resin in part with the help of an adhesive company, Henkel, so the prints stay together well after the first layter. We think you’ll be impressed at how well these pieces hold up, and how detailed they get.
Look for updates
With more and more 8K resins coming out, and resins developing in general, you are sure to see more new resins on the market all the time. Manufacturers constantly try to make their resins give more detail, speed, and different colors as well as abilities.
Find the right resin
You’ll want to explore a variety of research methods in order to know what your best option is for a resin for your project. The author of a project you are downloading might have a good suggestion, otherwise, you’ll want to consider how much detail you need and how much time you have. Are you good at getting prints off your print bed safely and easily? Does it need to be flexible?
These are all questions you can ask yourself before picking out a resin. A good resin does well at what you need it to do!
Our general suggestion is to try a few resins and see how they work. Even if it means buying the smaller bottle which makes less economic sense - it means you don’t buy a big bottle of something you might not use a lot.