The SLA 3D printing process was quite costly a few years back. However, today, more 3D printer manufacturers are coming up with affordable, quality SLA 3D printers for hobbyists and professional use.
SLA printing is extreme accurate but can be complicated.
Among the 3D printers designed for SLA printing is the Elegoo Mars SLA 3D printer. The printer is easy to operate and has a precise printing process .
However, is it worth the money?
Elegoo Mars 3D printer (SLA-LED)
|Speed :||22.5 mm / hour|
|Printing process:||LCD SLA|
|Printing area:||12 x 6.8 x 15.5 cm|
|Layer height:||0.01 to 0.2 mm|
|Particularities:||Fully assembled, touchscreen & “full metal”|
Elegoo Mars 3D Printer Review
To get started with this review, let’s look at an overview of the printer.
Packaging and Delivery
The Elegoo Mars 3D printer is shipped in a cardboard, which is a good idea due to the large plastic cover. After removing the outer cardboard packaging, you will see the SLA printer sealed with a lot of scotch tape.
After opening the package, the first thing you see is a huge block of foam that keeps the Elegoo Mars 3D printer in place.
The printer comes with an English manual and a Toolbox.
In addition to the power cord, the toolbox contains all kinds of “tools” and protective clothing in the form of respiratory masks and gloves.
The tool box contains:
- Assembly tool + spare screws
- Ten paper funnels (lacquer sieves)
- Three pairs of gloves
- Three breathing masks
- A plastic spatula
- A side cutter
- A measuring cup
- Power supply + adapter
- 8GB USB stick
The tools are okay for the work but, of course, are not the best. If you have your own toolbox, by all means use it.
The other components of the 3D printer are located in the 3D printer below the UV cover. The printing platform and the resin container are hidden in the foam.
By the way, the Elegoo Mars does not come with any resin hydraulic fluid. You should order resin together with the printer. Incidentally, that would be the first “disadvantage” of SLA printing: The liquid resin is not really cheap.
The Elegoo Mars SLA 3D printer comes already assembled. Therefore, you will save time on setup. However, the printer more difficult to repair or upgrade.
Quality of the Parts
The feet of the device can be screwed up and down. This allows you to adjust the height individually, which is important for the resin bed.
The printer has a print area of 120 x 68 x 155 mm. This is absolutely average for most SLA 3D printers. However, it is smaller than teh 300 x 300 x 400 mm of a CR-10S Pro.
The SLA printer weighs 5 kg and is a quality 3D printer. The Sparkmaker, for example, weighs only 3kg but looks pretty rickety.
Operating the Elegoo Mars 3D Printer
With SLA printers, you have to level before printing. The instruction manual has the steps to take to level the bed. The accompanying pictures and screenshots will make your work easier.
The instructions are also included as a PDF on the USB stick.
What needs to be done after the first start?
- Move the Z-axis up in the printer settings
- Attach the printing platform to the specified device
- Loosen the two screws on the print platform so that the platform can move freely
- Move the Z-axis to the home position (zero point)
- Position the printing platform in the middle of the resin container by hand
- Finally, tighten the two screws on the printing platform again
The operating system of the Elegoo Mars is the ChiTu L 5.5 series , which is delivered in the 4.2.16 version of the device. The 3D printer is controlled via a 3.5 inch touchscreen.
After switching on the printer, there are only three menu items to choose from.
While the 3D printer can be leveled under the menu item “Tool”, information about the system is available in the system settings.
The Elegoo Mars operations can be done in only two languages: English and Chinese. The changeover takes place at the push of a button in the system settings.
In the print menu, you can view and print the print files on the connected USB stick.
ChiTu DLP Slicer: The Slicer Software
The ChiTuBox for Linux, MacOS and Windows is included in the 8GB USB stick. The interface of the slicer software looks similar to popular FFF slicers, such as CURA.
On the left side of the user interface, there are setting options for the position and scaling of the print object. On the upper bar there are buttons for opening, saving and undoing changes.
Like some FDM slicers, there is the option of hollowing out the object to save precious resin. However, this makes the printing units more unstable and easier to break.
Another unique selling point is the “Dig Hole” button that can be used to drill a hole on the print object. But why would you want a hole in your beautiful printing unit? To remove possible resin in prints that have hollow spots, as the resin inside the printing unit cannot solidify properly.
On settings, the slicer has a ready-made settings template from the Elegoo Mars. These include the mandatory machine and print settings and other setting options for infills and resin.
After the print object has been adjusted to the desired settings, it can be sliced. The program was able to slice my test objects relatively quickly.
As soon as the process is finished, a print preview appears on which you can examine the individual printing steps with the controller. This also shows what can be seen on the LCD during the respective shift.
Overall, the software is well thought out. Beginners will get along better with this software than with the powerful Cura or similar FFF / FDM slicers.
Quality of Prints
In the stereolithography process (SLA) in 3D printing, printing is not done with filament as with FFF printers, but with liquid resin. Synthetic resin begins to harden when exposed to light.
SLA 3D printers take advantage of this and irradiate with a light source precisely at the desired points during the printing process – on one level. The Z-axis moves steadily upwards and thus we “print” 3D.
Depending on the layer height, however, the prints can take several hours even with SLA printing!
The Elegoo Mars 3D printer is not shipped with any resin. Therefore, you’ll have to buy your own resin.
The print file on the USB stick served as the first test print. The file has already been adapted to the printer by the manufacturer and delivers the best possible result. Otherwise you have to “feel your way” with the exposure times, layer heights, etc. (as is the case with filament printers, for example).
In contrast to FDM printers, the finished printed parts still require some post-processing time (and UV post-curing). The prints have to be cleaned to get the superfluous resin residues away. You should clean the prints using an alcohol such as isopropanol.
IMPORTANT: When using a 3D printer and during the post- processing, make sure you follow appropriate protection measures. For example, you should clothing, such as gloves, breathing mask, etc. .
Once the printing units have been cleaned, they still have to harden completely. You can either you use a UV light or you put the prints in the sun for a few hours.
The included accessories are unfortunately mediocre . When I tried to get the figures off the printing plate, a piece of the plastic spatula broke off. But: the quality is awesome!
Due to the inferior plastic spatula, black traces got stuck on the printing plate, which is quite annoying. The traces were difficult to remove. In the meantime I have adjusted the exposure time and now inclined objects with larger surfaces to reduce adhesion.
Troubleshooting SLA Printing Problems
There are various things that can lead to errors with FDM printers. If your printing does not work, check the following:
- Was the printer bed level set properly?
- Is the temperature, the speed, the acceleration correct?
Of course, you can’t expect to get the perfect print image from an SLA 3D printer either – after all, there are different types of resin.
Here are the common errors many people make with SLA 3D printers:
- Bed not properly leveled: The bed has to be pressed onto the home position, onto the foil and then screwed tight.
- Small exposure time: Warning. The first layers in particular have to be exposed considerably longer!
- Dirty pool. There may still be residues in the pool or the film is “steamed up”.
- Print support: This applies to both FDM and of course SLA 3D printers.
- If the print does not come off well,reduce the exposure time of the first layer and / or slightly tilt the model when slicing to reduce the surface.
Invest some time before and after printing – this will save you a lot of frustration.
Quality of the models
Elegoo Mars 3D printer delivers super print quality even out-of-the-box.
There is hardly anything to complain about in terms of the level of detail. Pictured below is one of the first prints. Individual features of the body and skull can be clearly recognized in the skeletons. The eye sockets are also easy to see.
However, the quality suffered noticeably in very flat pressure areas, such as hands and feet. That was also my fault: the support was simply missing.
So approach the matter a little more thoroughly and try out an even more detailed model right away.
One area in which SLA printing is extremely interesting, among other things, is tabletop wargaming. With this Ork ( here the model at Thingiverse ) the support structures are prefabricated. This also makes it clear that it is better to use a support structure more than too little.
Fortunately, it is easy to manually insert support structures in the ChiTuBox.
Clean – let harden – prime. Three steps later the model looks like this:
Overall, I’m more than happy with the print quality. And that’s what matters with this model. If you consider the points I have already listed above, impressive printing results are possible.
Is the Elegoo Mars SLA 3D Printer Worth it?
The Elegoo Mars is one of the best SLA 3D printers on the market. Of course, SLA 3D printers only offer a great advantage when better accuracy is required. However, the 3D printers have a very small printing space, the resin is relatively expensive and post-processing (curing, protective measures, sticky resin residues, …) should not be neglected.
However, if you are in the “miniature world”, the Elegoo Mars is a good 3D printer. The workmanship of the device and the prints are also impressive. The prints have barely visible layers, a relatively smooth surface and a very high level of detail.
However, 3D printers are already relevant for a relatively small target group (hobbyists, modelers, etc) … will SLA 3D printers even find their place in the market?