11 Best Budget Resin 3D Printers

3D printers have arrived for the mass market. However, working with them is not quite as easy as printing on paper. Moreover, there are many things to consider before buying a 3D printer. For example, you have to determine the printing technique that would be right for you.

The most common 3D printers are those that print with filaments and resin. Filament 3D printers (also known as FDM 3D printers) are easier to get started with. However, if you want to print items where details matter (for example, miniatures), you will get better results with printers that use resin.

Let’s compare these two printing technologies in detail.

Filament vs. Resin 3D Printing Technologies

3D printers that process filament on spools have long been the cheapest options for 3D printing beginners. However, this is no longer the case as there are now some resin printers that are cheaper.

FDM printing technology with filament is less precise than that of the resin printers. However, with layer thicknesses from 0.1 mm, FDM 3D printers still offer a decent quality. This always requires precise calibration and correct software settings.

The standard FDM printers have a large build volume. Most can print objects taking a space of about 150 to 300 mm. In most cases, you won’t have to rework the printed product, unless you really want a perfect surface.

One of the major benefits of FDM 3D printing is the large range of filaments available. Apart from many colors, the filaments also come in different properties and are cheap. If you need to print models from materials with special properties, or will be printing a lot of materials, you are better off with an FDM printer.

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FDM printing (Left) versus SLA printing (Right) quality. Both ships are of the same size.

When it comes to print quality and attention to detail, resin is clearly ahead. The individual layers are barely visible at 0.05 mm and less. However, the printing of the very thin layers takes a long time and is comparatively expensive.

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Resin printers are ideal for small prints

A major disadvantage of resin 3D printers is that they offer a small printing space. The technology is unsuitable for large prints, despite the increased installation space.

fdm 3d printer and resin 3d printer build volume
On the left and in the middle shows the build space of FDM printers. On the right is the maximum print size of a cheap resin printer.

Another disadvantage of resin 3D printers is that the liquid resin produces odor. Moreover, there is a lot of work to be done after the actual printing. The cleaning process and post-curing under UV light takes time.

Finally, the variety of resin available is smaller compared to what we have with filament. Moreover, resin is more expensive than filament.

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Resin is available in different colors, and from different manufacturers.

If you want to print large and/or cheaply, an FDM printer is the right choice. If the quality and small objects are primarily important, resin printers are better suited.

We’ve written a more comprehensive guide on 3D Printer Resin vs. Filament Printing. Read it for more information on how the two printing technologies compare. Also, check our Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started with 3D Printing. Finally, for recommendations of cheap printers, check the Best 3D Printers Under $200.

11 Best Budget Resin 3D Printers

SLA printers rely on resin to cure layer by layer. As a result, you can print models with enormously fine details. The costs for these printers have dropped significantly in recent years. However, the consumables are still more expensive than filament.

The main difference between the very current printers and those that have been available for some time is the display. More on this below in the comparison test.

1. Anycubic Photon M3 Plus

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Anycubic Photon M3 Plus

AVAILABLE ON ANYCUBIC

The Anycubic Photon M3 Plus is our test winner among resin printers.

Apart from having an above-average installation space of 197 x 123 x 245 mm, the M3 Plus has an auto-feed system that is new in this price range and automatically refills the resin tank. The unit also has a UV matrix, which has been revised by the manufacturer. The matrix ensures sensationally short exposure times and thus high printing speeds.

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Anycubic M3 Plus Print Quality
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Anycubic M3 Plus Print Quality

The printer has an FEP film with a matte surface. The roughened surface ensures a level of detail and great printing results that have not been achieved before in our tests.

However, the size and features come at a price (check price). If you are interested in the new M3 series but have a lower budget, you should alternatively take a look at the cheaper and smaller standard M3.

On the other hand, if the Plus is still too small for you, you can get the M3 Max, which has an installation space of a whopping 298 x 164 x 300 mm.

 

2. Anycubic Mono X

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Anycubic Mono X

CHECK PRICE ON ANYCUBIC 

The Anycubic Mono X was not only the largest but also the best resin printer that we have tested so far. For reasons of fairness, however, we must add that the Mono X is one of the first printers with a better exposure display.

The printer’s biggest advantages are its high resolution, durable monochrome display and significantly shorter exposure times compared to all other printers in the list.
While the printer no longer sets standards, due to the good price-performance ratio and good long-term experience, it still makes it on our list of the best budget resin 3D printers.

3. Creality Halot One Plus

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Creality Halot One Plus

AVAILABLE ON CREALITY 

The Creality Halot One Plus is a consistent and sensible further development, in which the main focus was user-friendliness. Moreover, the installation space has also changed. With its 197 x 122 x 245 mm space, the Halot One Plus closes the gap between inexpensive standard printers and expensive XL printers. When we reviewed the printer, we liked the pleasingly clear user menu and the very high print quality.

However, the best thing is that the most important printing parameters, such as speed and exposure time, can be set directly on the printer. The settings defined by the slicer are then easily overwritten. This means that if you only want to adjust small things, you don’t have to re-slice the 3D model!

Print Quality of the Creality Halot One Plus
Print Quality of the Creality Halot One Plus
Print Quality of the Creality Halot One Plus
Print Quality of the Creality Halot One Plus

Thanks to WLAN, a direct cloud connection and printing is also possible without having to go to the PC. The offer and the possibilities of the cloud can still be expanded, but the approach is right.

The main issue we have with this printer is the print volume and the high price. Also, the air filter has little effect and the ability to connect to the cloud becomes a paid service after the first free year.

4. Elegoo Saturn S 4K

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Elegoo Saturn S 4K

AVAILABLE ON ELEGOO

The Elegoo Saturn S does not have a large installation space. However, it is fast and produces high quality prints. These small improvements, compared to the old Saturn, have a positive impact in practice. With this unit, you can reach printing speeds of up to 70 mm per hour. The previous model managed just 40 mm per hour.

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Elegoo Saturn S Print Quality
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Elegoo Saturn S Print Quality
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Elegoo Saturn S Print Quality

The budget resin 3D printer has a higher resolution mono display with 4098 x 2560 pixels. The display does a good job, but the revised FEP foil even better. This unusually matt film provides a much better grip. In fact, we have even retrofitted it to other printers.

The integrated filter does not completely eliminate resin odor from the printer. However, the effect is noticeable. Another thing, this relatively small printer isn’t exactly cheap (check price).

5. Anycubic Photon M3 Max

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Anycubic M3 Max

AVAILABLE ON ANYCUBIC 

Think only small prints are possible with resin? It used to be the case sometime back, but not any more thanks to the Anycubic Photon M3 Max. With its huge installation space of 300 x 298 x 164 mm, the printer creates even larger prints than some filament printers. Moreover, the prints are of a significantly higher quality.

The printer has the same light matrix that the M3 Plus has, and a large mono display with a 7K resolution (6480 x 3600 pixels). The practical automatic refill system for resin is also on board.

Anycubic M3 Max Print Quality
Anycubic M3 Max Print Quality

However, due to the large dimensions, he XL printer is not easy to level. We also lack a reasonable RERF test (exposure test) with this model. Therefore, determining the perfect settings for it is a bit tricky. In terms of printing speed, the M3 Max is only averagely fast and cannot keep up with the M3 Plus.

This XL resin printer is not exactly cheap, (check price). However, the price is justified in terms of equipment and possible size.

6. Creality Halot One

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Creality Halot One

AVAILABLE ON CREALITY 

The Creality Halot One, which is available for just under $200, surprised us with its excellent print quality and great value for money. The printer has a 2K monochrome display, which will have a longer service life than the printers of the first generation.

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Creality Halot One Print Quality

Despite the lower resolution, the quality of prints of the Creality One are comparable to those produced by resin 3D printers with 4K or 6K resolution. So far, we have only achieved or slightly surpassed the quality produced by this printer with the Anycubic Mono X and M3 Plus.

7. Voxelab Proxima 8.9

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Voxelab Proxima 8.9

AVAILABLE ON VOXELAB 

The Voxelab Proxima 8.9 convinced us in the test with great print results and easy setup. The printer’s installation space measures 192 x 120 x 200 mm, which is above average. The 8.9-inch mono display has a resolution of 3840 x 2400 pixels.

The resin 3D printer has a layer thickness of 0.05 mm, and printing speed iof 17-25 mm/h. In terms of user-friendliness and reliability, the company delivered.

However, the printer is a little bit expensive for hobby users.

8. Elegoo Mars 3 4K

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Elegoo Mars 3 4K

AVAILABLE AT ELEGOO

The Elegoo Mars 3 4K was the first resin printer in our Test Lab. Although there is now a successor model and an improved Pro version, the original Mars still has great potential.

In addition to reliable operation, the sharply reduced price and the large community speak in favor of this model. Coming at less than $200, the Elegoo Mars is one of the best budget resin 3D printers that we recommend for beginners.

9. Longer3D Orange 30

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Longer Orange 30

AVAILABLE ON LONGER 

The LONGER Orange 30 was one of the cheapest SLA printers when it was released. Today, it costs less than $200.

The smooth operation and the good print image are some of the highlights of this printer. The only thing we didn’t like in the test was the pluggable printer cover.

10. Anycubic Photon

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Anycubic Photon

AVAILABLE ON ANYCUBIC

The Anycubic Photon was one of the first budget resin printers for home consumers, together with the Elegoo Mars. We like the high-quality workmanship, the harmonious and compact design, and the huge community around the model.

While the manufacturer offers a much cheaper resin printer with the Photon S, we prefer the original Photon because of the lower resolution.

In the test, we had slight starting problems at the beginning due to poor grip. This is why the Photon comes low in our list of budget resin printers. Moreover, it is relatively expensive.

  • 7. Elegoo Mars 3 Pro (MSLA)

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AVAILABLE ON ELEGOO

The Elegoo Mars 3 Pro is a high-quality resin 3D printer that comes with many features. This printer has a build volume of 143.43 x 89.6 x 175 mm, and remains stable throughout the printing process.

Let’s look at some of the features of this 3D printer.

Sanded Aluminum Plate

The Elegoo Mars 3 Pro has a sanded aluminium plate that provides great adhesion during the printing process. With resin printing, bed adhesion is important since there is a lot of liquid movement. If the bed adhesion is poor, the prints are likely to fail.

Built-in Active Carbon Filtering

The 3D printer has built-in active carbon filtration that helps to absorb the fumes from the resin during the printing process.

There is also a turbo cooling fan and a silicone rubber seal that helps to keep out the resin odors.

COB UV LED Light Source

The Elegoo Mars Pro 3 has a COB light source that produces uniform light emission and the fantastic heat dissipation performance. The light source provides a great maintenance rate on the lighting.

This light system hardens the resin, ensuring you end up with high-quality prints.

Elegoo Mars Pro 3 Specs

General Specs

Technology LCD
Type Resin
Year 2020
Assembly Fully-assembled
Manufacturer Elegoo
Country China

3D Printing Properties

Build Volume 130 x 82 x 160 mm (5,1 x 3,1 x 6,3 inches)
Layer Height 10+ microns
XY Resolution 50 Mircons (2560 x 1620 pixels)
Z-Axis Accuracy 0.00125 mm
Print Speed 30-50 mm/h
Bed-Leveling Manual (assisted)
Display 3.5″ full-color touchscreen
Built-in Camera No
Third-Party Materials Yes
Materials 405nm UV resin

Software Requirements

Recommended slicer ChiTuBox
Operating system Windows / Mac OS X
File types STL, SLC, OBJ
Connectivity USB

Dimensions & Weight

Frame dimensions 200 x 200 x 400 mm
Weight 6,2 kg

Elegoo Mars Pro 2 Features

  • Comes with 2 extra FEP films
  • Built-in active carbon filtering
  • 5-inch touchscreen
  • Sanded aluminum build plate
  • CNC machined aluminum body
  • COB UV LED light source
  • 2 second per layer exposure
  • 08-inch 2K monochrome LCD

Why We Love the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro

  • Professionally designed and durable
  • Has proper filtering systems for absorbing the resin odor
  • Sold with a 1-year warranty and 6-months warranty for the 2K LCD
  • Uniform light emissions that improve print accuracy
  • 2 second per layer exposure for curing
  • Instructions available in 12 different languages

What You Should Be Aware of

  • During printing, the resin has to be refilled more often than with other printers
  • It’s hard to see through the top cover

Our Verdict

The Elegoo Mars 2 Pro is a solid resin 3D printer under $500. This printer produces great quality prints than FDM printers.

Comparison Review of Budget Resin 3D Printers

Features

With resin (SLA) 3D printers, the differences in terms of features are smaller than with FDM printers. The most significant differences are in terms of print area and the exposure display.

The Mono X with 192 x 245 x 120 mm print space, and the M3 Plus with 197 x 123 x 245 mm space print the largest print objects. These are followed by the Nova3D Elfin with up to 130 x 150 x 70 mm. The Anycubic Photon offers the least space with 115 x 155 x 65 mm. Elegoo Mars and Longer Orange are in the middle with 120 x 155 x 68 mm and 120 x 170 x 68 mm, respectively.

Display

Mono X, M3 Plus and the Halot One are the newest devices in this review. These two have a monochrome display (black and white). The advantage of this display compared to LCDs is their longer service life.

In connection with the strong UV lamp, very short exposure times are also possible. This noticeably increases the printing speed for large objects. With three exceptions, the printers have a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels. Only the newer monochrome display printers stand out. The Halot One only manages 1620 x 2560 pixels – but you can’t tell from the great print image. The Mono X, on the other hand, offers a resolution of up to 3840 x 2400 pixels, the M3 Plus even 5760 x 3600 pixels.

Monitoring the print status or starting a print job via WLAN only works with the Nova3D Elfin and Anycubic Mono X and M3 Plus models. While most printers work with an attachable cover, the Anycubic is the only model that has a closed housing with a flap on the front. Both have advantages and disadvantages and so this point is a matter of taste.

In terms of print quality, all resin printers were convincing in our tests. The newer monochrome displays offer the best print quality regardless of the actual resolution. The differences between these printers are minimal.

The difference in quality from the first generation printers are actually visible. However, it’s important to have the correct slicer settings for the respective resin and to properly post-processing the print.

To properly rinse and post-cure the printed models, we recommend using a Wash & Cure station. Read our guide on how to clean resin VAT after 3D printing. If you’re having trouble separating the print object from the print platform, read our guide to magnetic build plates for resin printers.

Conclusion

Our tests from the past show that a reasonable 3D printer does not have to be expensive.

If you plan to print large objects, you the available space should be more important to consider than the price. The Anycubic Mono X is the most suitable for resin 3D printing. Its strongest competitor is the Elegoo Saturn.

If you have already decided on the budget resin printer to buy, here are some places where you can get free print templates: Free STL Files for 3D Printing. We’ve also written a guide on how to paint 3D printed miniatures.
Other guides you may be interested in include post-processing resin 3D prints and resin 3D printing problems and solutions.

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