What's the Best 3D Printer for You: Filament or Resin?

on March 16, 2024

Both filament and resin printers can be used to create fantastic 3D models, but which print method is best for you?

In general, filament printing is best suited for larger models, whilst resin printers are ideal for intricate or highly detailed models. 

However, before you can decide which printing method is most suited to your next project, it’s important to understand the various differences between the two options. 

FDM vs Resin: What’s the Difference?

Filament printing, also known as fused deposition modelling (FDM), melts the printing material (usually plastic) and deposits it in layers. The nozzle moves in accordance with the specified design, which allows your model to be created layer-by-layer. 

For more information, check out our guide to filament printing.

Resin printing also works in a layer-by-layer format but utilises a liquid resin that hardens when it is exposed to UV light. Each layer is exposed to the UV light as it is placed, thus securing and strengthening it as the model is created. 

For more information, check out our guide to resin printers.

Both DLP (digital light processing) and SLA (stereolithography) printers are types of resin printers, but they vary in how the resin is strengthened or cured. DLP printers, such as the ProtoSpeed Rapid or the Aisga PRO 4K use a UV LCD screen to cure a layer, while SLA printers use a laser to focus the UV light. 

Trilab and Asiga printers 

Choosing the Best 3D Printer

The best type of 3D printer depends on the project you’re working on or the model you want to create:

Model Detail

If you plan to print larger models with less intricate detail, FDM printers –such as the TRILAB DELTIQ 2 3D printer – can certainly fulfil your needs. However, if you’re printing intricate or highly detailed pieces, such as miniature models, industrial prototypes, or medical devices, then resin printers offer a higher level of performance. 

Print Quality

Both filament and resin printers offer a high level of print quality but there are variations, depending on the printer you choose. The layers printed via resin are typically much thinner than those created with a filament printer, which can equate to a better-quality print. 

This is because resin printers are guided by the size of the pixel on the screen, whereas filament layers are dependent on the size of the nozzle. While smaller nozzles are available for filament printers, they are still larger than the pixel size used by their resin counterparts. Due to this, many people maintain that resin 3D printers deliver the best print quality. 

Functionality

If your model is going to contain moving parts, then you’ll need to consider whether filament or resin printing can offer the best performance. Although resin printing is great for accuracy and detail, it can be fairly brittle. As a result, it’s not ideally suited for 3D models that feature moving parts. 

In contrast, filament-printed models are fairly robust and are able to withstand additional force. Furthermore, alternative filament printing materials, such as PETG, can provide enhanced strength, as well as improved UV and heat resistance. 

So, if you’re planning to print models with moving parts, you may find that a filament printer is best suited to your needs.

Speed

Printing speed is often a top priority, so you’ll want to factor this in when choosing between filament and resin printers. While each printer will have a specified print speed, the general consensus is that resin printers are faster at printing multiple models. 

As the nozzle of a filament printer traces parts individually, the print speed increases if more than one object is placed on the print bed. Conversely, resin printers cure the resin via UV light, which takes the same amount of time regardless of how many objects are on the print bed.

If you’re planning on creating multiple models at once, you’re likely to find that resin printers offer faster print times. However, if you’re using a 3D printer to create single models, then check the print speed on individual printers to find a print speed that satisfies your needs.

Size and Volume

To determine what size models a 3D printer can produce, you’ll want to check the build volume. Although this is variable from one model to another, filament printers tend to offer larger build volumes than resin printers.

The TRILAB DELTIQ 2 PLUS filament printer offers a working area of Ø 250mm (X, Y) × 500mm (Z)., for example, while the ASIGA ULTRA resin printer provides a build volume of 121 x 68 x 147mm. 

While it’s certainly worth comparing the build volume of individual printers before making your selection, a filament printer is likely to be your best bet if you’re planning to print larger models.

Post Processing

Once your print is finished, you may need to undertake some additional post-processing work to optimise the output. Typically, post-processing is most associated with filament printers as resin printers tend to deliver a cleaner finish. To achieve a smooth finish with a filament printer, you’ll need to factor in a fair amount of post-processing time, whereas resin prints tend to require minimal post-print enhancement. 

What’s the Best 3D Printer For You?

As you can see, there is no clear-cut answer when it comes to whether filament or resin printers. Instead, it is dependent on your personal preferences and printing plans. Both filament and resin printers offer great benefits, which vary in value depending on the type of prints you want to create. 

As a general rule, filament printers are ideal for large, robust models, while resin printers are well-suited to smaller, more intricate pieces. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, which is why we’re on hand to provide any assistance you might need. 

 

To learn more or to find the best 3D printer for your next project, contact us via our simple online form or give us a ring on +44 (0) 800 689 0719.

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