What Types of SLA Resin Are There For 3D Printing? Best Brands & Types
When it comes to resin 3D printing, there are a few types of resins you want to get familiar with. I thought there was only one type when I first started. After some time, I noticed there are more types with some cool properties.
For resin 3D printing, you can choose to use Standard Resin, Clear Resin, Tough Resin, Flexible Resin, Water-Washable Resin, and Dental Resin, each with its own set of unique properties and specific use cases.
I’ll be describing these different types of resins and more in detail in this article, as well as some great brands to get for yourself. Keep on reading through this article for more useful information.
What Types of Resin Are There For 3D Printing?
There are many kinds of liquid resins for 3D printing and each of them boast their own unique properties and added benefits. I will go over them below in simple terms, so you can decide which one sounds more suited to your use case.
The following are the different types of resin that are commonly used for 3D printing:
- Standard Resin
- Clear Resin
- Tough Resin
- Flexible Resin
- Water-Washable Resin
- Dental Resin
- Ceramic-Filled Resin
Do keep in mind that some resins can have multiple properties and types in one.
Standard Resin is the most popular liquid resin used for 3D printing. One of the major reasons for its widespread use is its high quality with great details and affordable pricing.
This type of resin makes high-resolution prints and is best recommended to beginners who are just starting out with resin 3D printing.
The following are the main properties of Standard Resin:
- Smooth surface quality
- Highly detailed features and remarkable quality
- Very affordable
- Can break with little effort
- Minimal impact resistance
- Not suitable for functional parts
- Comes in the largest range of colors
An example of standard resin would be Elegoo Mars Standard Resin.
There are plenty of colors you can get with standard resins such as white, gray, beige, red, blue, green, black, maroon, white, yellow, clear, and more.
Clear Resin is another popular choice for those wishing to make transparent 3D prints. It’s in the same category as Standard Resin, but deserves its own category due to the unique color. Many resins come in clear colors such as clear red, clear green, clear blue, or just clear.
The following are the main properties of Clear Resin:
- High-quality surface finish
- Makes transparent prints
- The clarity may degrade with time as the model is exposed to UV rays
A good example of clear resin is Anycubic Clear 3D Printer Resin 1KG.
The really cool thing about clear resin is how you can mix your own colors into it using something like DecorRom Epoxy Resin Pigment from Amazon to make beautiful, unique colors. You can also do this successfully with white resin.
I wrote an article about Mixing Different 3D Printer Resins Together which goes over how to mix these pigment dyes to create new colors, so feel free to check that out.
Tough Resin is the perfect choice when it comes down to producing strong, functional resin 3D prints that can easily handle stress and strain. It’s also called ABS-like since it resembles the mechanical properties of ABS.
This material is ideal for making mechanical parts like machine assembly components, wearable items, and other objects that need to withstand wear and tear.
The following are the main properties of Tough Resin:
- High impact and shatter-resistance
- Durable and sturdy
- Best for creating sturdy functional parts
- Not recommended for models with thin walls
- Print removal can be a little difficult compared to Standard Resin
An example of tough resin is the eSUN Tough High Impact Resin.
Flexible Resin is a unique material that boasts rubber-like properties. It allows users to create firm parts with a high degree of flexibility, although the latter does depend on the specific Shore Hardness value of the resin.
It can withstand bends and compressions easily and is perfect for making packaging materials, handles, grips, gaskets, and stamps.
The following are the main properties of Flexible Resin:
- Very flexible
- Great impact resistance
- Ideal for making flexible parts
- Can be hard to print with
- Mostly requires a good use of support structures
- Like Tough Resin, it’s also not recommended for models with thin walls
An example of flexible resin would be the Siraya Tech Flexible Tenacious Resin.
Water-Washable Resin is exactly what the name says it is. This material stands out for simple and easy post-processing with water instead of using IPA (Isopropyl Alcohol) or anything similar.
Apart from its ease of use, this resin boasts a low odor and higher strength than Standard Resin. However, it’s quite brittle as well, thanks to the gradual water absorption by the part as you clean and post-process it with water.
The following are the main properties of Water-Washable Resin:
- Effortless post-processing with water instead of alcohol or other solutions
- Appreciable strength
- Fast curing speeds
- Good detail
- Can be dyed or painted easily
- Absorption of water in parts can generally make them crack
An example of water washable resin would be the Elegoo Water Washable Ceramic Gray Resin.
Dental Resin is a special kind of material that is specifically used for making dental appliances. It generally comprises high precision and an exceedingly smooth surface quality.
This resin has the benefit that it can be steam-sterilized using an autoclave, so it’s more suited for professional settings rather than regular consumer use.
The following are the main properties of Dental Resin:
- High compressive strength
- Aesthetic appearance perfect for dental use
- Resistant to abrasion
- Ideal for surgical and dental appliances
- Average fracture-resistance
An example of dental resin would be EPAX 3D Printer Dental Resin.
Ceramic-Filled Resins are a sizable step up from Tough Resins. As the name depicts, this material is usually reinforced with ceramic materials resulting in extremely stiff, and smooth parts.
This type of resin also has great heat resistance and remarkable thermal stability, so you can make highly functional parts that can easily tolerate multiple rough conditions.
The following are the main properties of Ceramic-Filled Resin:
- Very tough and stiff
- Excellent for making fine-featured parts
- Highly resistant to heat
- Ideal for molds, jewelry, automotive applications, pipes, and manifolds
- Below-average impact strength
An example of a ceramic-filled resin would be iFUN Ceramics Resin.
Best Types & Brands of Resin to Buy
Different manufacturers are out there trying to create the best resins for SLA 3D printers, but only a few of them have really achieved that “best” status.
Before we pick the top brands, here are some popular brands that you’ll find when searching for 3D printer resin.
- Siraya Tech
Let’s now look into the best brands that create high-quality 3D printer resin.
Anycubic is one of the pioneers of resin-based 3D printing. The company is headquartered in Shenzhen, China, and has over 200 employees hard at work for it.
It was founded in 2015 by a group of friends who were hell-bent on bringing a change in the world of 3D printing. Fast-forward to 2021, Anycubic is a leading 3D printer manufacturer.
This company has come out with some of the best liquid resins ever that are both affordable and produce top-quality prints. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
- Anycubic 3D Printer Standard Resin (Amazon) – A highly balanced resin that lets you create highly detailed prints with vividly apparent features. Parts made with this resin are quite durable and have a low odor as well. The Standard Resin has a 4.7/5.0 overall rating on Amazon where people have constantly praised the material for its extensive shelf life of 12 months and overall quality.
- Anycubic Craftsman Resin (Anycubic) – A premium-grade high-precision resin that makes models with extremely fine details. This resin is also suited for jewelry items and accessories for its high quality. On Amazon, the material has a 4.5/5.0 overall rating where customers regard the Craftsman Resin to produce ultra-fine details in their prints with little tendency to shrink.
- Anycubic Eco Resin (Amazon) – An environment-friendly resin that’s based on soybean oil. This material boasts the lowest odor out of any other resin and has fast curing times as well. The Anycubic Eco Resin has got a 4.7/5.0 overall rating on Amazon with people regarding it as pleasant to work with. Resin smell can become a huge problem for some, but this material makes sure to provide an eco-friendly printing experience.
Elegoo is another very reliable and trustworthy 3D printer brand that is known for its extensive array of high-performance SLA 3D printers. The company also makes high-quality liquid resins for its consumer base.
Like Anycubic, the company also originated in 2015 in Shenzhen, China, and has since earned quite the name for itself in the 3D printing industry.
If there’s one aspect where Elegoo beats Anycubic, it’s the quality of the customer support service.
Elegoo is famous for having the most skilled and cooperative customer support centers that prioritize customer satisfaction above everything else, even if that means going the extra mile.
That said, we are now going to take a look at some of the best Elegoo resins that you can buy and start creating top-of-the-line prints with right away.
- Elegoo ABS-Like Tough Resin (Amazon) – A fantastic choice of resin for making durable models. This material borrows the properties of the famous ABS filament so it’s quite tough and is also easy to clean up with Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA). On Amazon, the Elegoo ABS-Like Resin is well-received with a 4.7/5.0 overall rating. It’s high tenacity and low brittleness makes it a favorite among people who require functional 3D prints.
- Elegoo Water-Washable Resin (Amazon) – A premium resin that can be rinsed with water for post-processing. This popular material is also known for making attractive and durable prints. The Water-Washable Resin has a 4.7/5.0 overall rating, mostly because of its exceptional ease of use, and a far less irritating odor than other resins.
Siraya Tech is another reputed brand that’s known for making top-of-the-line liquid resins for a wide variety of SLA 3D printers, such as the Anycubic Photon series, the Elegoo Mars series, and even the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K.
People from all over the world have tried out Siraya Tech resins and they’ve fallen in love with their quality, effectiveness, and affordability.
Let’s take a look at some of the best resins offered by this brand below.
- Siraya Tech Tenacious Resin (Flexible Resin) (Amazon) – A high-end resin that boasts high flexibility and toughness for making strong functional parts. People mostly pick this resin up for mechanical prints like bumpers and outer casings. It’s a top-rated product on Amazon with a 4.7/5.0 overall rating.
- Siraya Tech Sculpt (Amazon) – A high-temperature resin with great resolution and surface finish that’s ideal for injection molds. Being an engineering-grade resin that captures details very well, it’s quite affordable, as many people pointed out. On Amazon, it enjoys a terrific 4.8/5.0 overall rating. The resin can hold a temperature of 180°C and doesn’t deform up until that value.
Can Any 3D Printer Print with Resin?
No, not all 3D printers can print with resin since it requires a UV light to cure the photopolymer resin to harden it to a plastic. SLA, MSLA & DLP 3D printers all have a light source that emits through a screen which helps to cure the resin in a resin vat. FDM 3D printers use thermoplastic filament to create objects.
Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) is one of the multiple modern 3D printing techniques that use a liquid resin for 3D printing. SLA branches out to other similar methodologies of 3D printing, like DLP and MSLA, but the base ideology remains the same,
What basically happens is that the resin gets curated by UV light and therefore hardens to adopt a solid form. Only SLA 3D printers are equipped with UV lights and other components required to print with resin.
On the other end of the 3D printer spectrum, we have the technology of Fused Deposition Modeling, which, as mentioned earlier, uses a filament like PLA, ABS, TPU to 3D print.
It does not consist of the parts necessary for printing with resin, such as a powerful UV light source, a resin vat, and a tank where the resin accumulates.
You can read all about FDM and SLA 3D printers, including their major differences in my Resin vs Filament 3D Printers comparison article.
If you’re further interested, it’d be wise to check out the 7 cheapest and best SLA 3D printers that you can easily purchase today.
How Expensive is Resin for 3D Printing?
The cheapest resin for 3D printing costs around $30-$35 per KG like Elegoo Standard Resin, while more expensive resins can go for around $100 like the Monocure 3D Rapid Flex. The more expensive resins like dental or engineering resins can be $300 per KG from brands like Formlabs and Uniz.
3D printer manufacturers have kept pace with the changing economy of the world and therefore strive to produce high-quality products and make them affordable too.
For instance, Elegoo is one of the best 3D printer manufacturers—as described earlier—and has a number of top-notch resins that can be bought under a budget.
The Elegoo Standard Photopolymer Resin 1 Liter on Amazon is priced around $35. You might think that this price will get you a low-quality resin, but that isn’t the case anymore.
You can get high-quality resins at this price, and the Elegoo Standard is one of them. In addition to the pricing, one bottle of resin can last you for around one week to one month, depending on the usage.
For example, if you’re into miniatures and figures, a 500ml bottle of resin will keep you sorted for roughly 2 weeks, so you’re looking at a monthly expense of $70-$90, depending on the type of resin you buy.
If you want a more detailed analysis of 3D printing costs, I highly suggest reading the “Is 3D Printing Expensive or Affordable?” guide.
Is Filament Printing Cheaper Than Resin?
Yes, filament printing is cheaper than resin simply because FDM 3D printers are generally less expensive than SLA machines, and that filament can be bought cheaper than resin. There are additional costs with resin 3D printing too that you have to consider, such as purchasing protective gear and curing machines.
SLA 3D printers usually cost more because the quality of prints they produce is on a whole new level as compared to FDM 3D printing. As discussed in the previous section, a 1-liter bottle of standard resin costs about $35.
This is more than the cost of a 1kg filament spool, which can be bought for as low as $20. The costs are usually lesser with FDM 3D printing as you don’t necessarily have to purchase any protective equipment.
The same cannot be said for resin 3D printing as the uncured resin is quite dangerous when handled with bare hands, so you need Nitrile gloves and a respirator for safe breathing.
I wrote an article about the 23 Best & Useful Accessories for a Resin 3D Printer so you can see what kind of items are involved with resin printing.
SLA 3D printing is taken up by those who require extreme details in their parts, but the trade-off here is with cost and post-processing effort.
What Kind of Resin Is Used in Resin 3D Printing?
The kind of resin used in 3D printing is called photopolymer resin, which is a liquid that turns into plastic through a chemical reaction with UV light. Some people confuse epoxy resin with 3D printing resin, but that is a fundamentally different type of material. Gray photopolymer resin is the most popular color.
As described above, there are different types of resins such as Tough Resin, Water-Washable Resin, and Flexible Resin.
That said, many people often wonder what 3D printing resin is made of. The answer to this is that resins are actually a photosensitive combination of oligomers and monomers, both of which are multiple units of carbon molecules bonded together.
This is just the basic chemistry of 3D printer resin. The specific material properties vary from resin to resin, as some are modified to achieve specific results.
For instance, the water-washable resin is made in such a way that it can be easily post-processed with water. The same cannot be said about parts made with other types of resin, such as Ceramic-Filled or Tough Resin.