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If you were to buy an SLA printer today ?


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I've been holding off on the SLA printers - the reason is although I think they look great I have in the past bought two PLA printers, spent lots of time, effort, money and frustration getting them to work reasonably and then not used at all.

 

The SLA printers look much better and had I not already spent so much on printers to date I would have snapped one up by now.

 

But I am coming around and wondering which is the best to buy at the moment.

 

Most attractive price-wise is the AnyCubic Photon Mono with the Wash and Cure 2.0 for around the £320 mark.  But then I think £320 is a fair amount of money and I'm going to have to print a lot of miniatures to break even.

 

And the AnyCubic is quite old now (the mono isn't but my understanding is that basically put a mono screen in the original design) so are any of the alternatives worth looking at.

 

As for the 4k, my understanding is that increased resolution isn't actually increased resolution - it is the same resolution over a bigger area - so bigger prints  - is that correct.

 

So the detail of a print done on a Photon Mono and a Photon Mono X will be the same.

 

Another question - how brittle is the resin.  Mostly I would be using it for wargaming miniatures - would tank gun barrels be prone to snapping as soon as you look at them?

 

Cheers,

 

Nigel

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No, the Photon Mono isn't an old printer.  The monochrome printers use similar designs to the last generation, but they are entirely new - new mainboards, new screens, new LCD arrays and improved Z-axis arrangements.  It's a bit like the fact that all cartesian FDM printers use the same basic design, but there's a huge difference between an old Anet A8 and the latest Prusa or Creality printer.

 

Secondly, most of the different LCD-based printers are using the same components and are functionally identical (or at least, extremely similar), so it's more down to detail differences and personal preferences - metal vs. plastic vat, levelling mechanisms, etc.  So, for instance, the Anycubic Photon and Elegoo Mars will function pretty much the same, but I'm less of a fan of Elegoo's ball screw levelling system.

 

Most of the 6" class of printers have 2k screens with a pixel size of around 50um.  The larger size (typically 8.9") printers use 4k screens and, as you said, end up with about the same effective pixel size of around 50um.  So no, you won't get more detail out of a larger printer (or a smaller printer, for that matter).  There is one exception though: the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K is a 6" class printer that uses a 4K screen, so it has a 35um pixel size.

 

The other big difference is 'colour' vs monochrome LCD.  The first generation used a colour LCD, which let less light through, require longer exposure times, and have shorter lifespans.  The newer generation (ca. last autumn) uses monochrome LCDs which let through much more light, so each layer exposes faster, which in turn resuls in a longer life expectancy for the screen.  There isn't a detail difference, monochrome printers just print a little faster.

 

So as far was what's out there now, you've got a few alternatives.  The Anycubic Photon Mono and Elegoo Mars 2 Mono are probably the two most mainstream choices.  They're not perfect, but they're very good budget level printers with solid design and a large user base.  They're the default choices, and are so for a reason.  The Epax E6 gets a lot of praise as a competitor, but it's more expensive than the Photon or Mars with a less rigid design.  The Phrozen Sonic Mini is also a possible competitor, and their 4K model is higher resolution than the Photon or Mars, though it's also more expensive.

https://www.elegoo.com/collections/mars-series

https://epax3d.com/collections/frontpage/products/epax-e6-uv-lcd-3d-printer

https://phrozen3d.com/products/sonic-mini-4k-resin-3d-printer-phrozen

 

Lastly, you really don't need a wash and cure station.  They're a little more streamlined, I suppose, but you'll get identical results just swishing your prints in a couple of jars of isporopyl alcohol and placing them under a UV light (or the sun) to finish curing.  And you'll probably waste less resin and use less solvent, too.

 

As for how robust the resin is... it depends on the resin and how long you cure it.  Regular resins are probably on par with your standard scale model polyurethane resin, but there are ABS-like resins with more flex so they're less likely to break.  

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Thanks for the info.

 

Interesting what you say about the Wash and Cure.  Must admit that I don’t know much about them, just read various recommendations.

 

How do they work? Why would it waste more resin and solvent (I assume that is IPA).

 

Cheers,

 

Nigel

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You need a decent amount of IPA to use the wash & cure machine.

Problem is IPA with resin in it is less effective to wash parts.

So you will need the same amount of pure IPA for the 2nd wash cycle, and in the best case (using recycled IPA for the 1rst bath), you will need 3 time the amount to have a working routine (one recycled for 1rst cure, 1 pure for the 2nd, 1 reserve).

And it could be worst, some resins simply don't recycled (yeah I'm talking about you Anycubic "Eco" (sic) Resin), and in the end you will burn IPA like crazy.

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Happy Elegoo user here. I bought a second printer a few months ago, and rather than buy the Pro or 2 Pro, I just bought another new old stock Mars. Made sense to have the same side by side. The thing about faster print times is, do you actually need to turn the print around quickly? If you are putting it on at night, do you need it to finish at 3am, or would 6am do? 

 

Mars 2 Pro would probably be my choice if I was starting out today. I would say pay more if you need the functionality, but the main nice-to-have I would want would be larger print area and that is a different league of printer. 

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Hi there 

I am a 3D newbie and I bought the Longer 30 Orange about a month ago and for the price its good value. I paid just under the 300 euro mark for it on Amazon with all the bits and bobs to get started. The quality of  the printer is good ; have a look for yourself I just posted some of the finished products over on the sci-fi section See here and here 

 

As said above you will use alot of alcohol for cleaning and a UV curing machine is worth the investement if you live in dank dark grey west Europe.

 

I am printing off Industria mechanika AUG Otis.M Mecha robot all week and its a hoot prining off a kit; requires a bit of logistcal organistaion alright but al least it gets you out of the gate quickly as the Fusion 360 DIY design routte has a steep learning curve even with a CAD background.  

  

Good luck 

Regards 

Brian 

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I would stay away from the bottom line Anycubic, could never get mine to print well. Now got Elegoo Saturn, a lot more money but so much better. I would go for the Elegoo Mars 2 or one of the smaller Phrozen machines. I bought the Anycubic wash and cure machine, the wash is too cumbersome, I just just old ice cream tubs or similar with IPA in with a tooth brush to scrub parts down, BUT the curing part of the machine is GREAT.... as it rotates while curing it cures parts evenly.

If money is a huge factor, I would suggest getting the best printer you can afford and then get a curing machine in a few months.

 

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On 3/9/2021 at 9:36 AM, plasticguy said:

You need a decent amount of IPA to use the wash & cure machine.

Problem is IPA with resin in it is less effective to wash parts.

So you will need the same amount of pure IPA for the 2nd wash cycle, and in the best case (using recycled IPA for the 1rst bath), you will need 3 time the amount to have a working routine (one recycled for 1rst cure, 1 pure for the 2nd, 1 reserve).

And it could be worst, some resins simply don't recycled (yeah I'm talking about you Anycubic "Eco" (sic) Resin), and in the end you will burn IPA like crazy.

Thank you for this. IPA is incredibly expensive here. There is no way to use the machine using less? I’m a total newcomer, trying to figure out what to use. I actually bought one Wash&Cure machine already - very cheaply - but I guess it can still can be used to cure parts.

Edited by Torbjorn
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I noticed the price of IPA shot up at the start of the pandemic, I presume because it is the main component of hand sanitiser.

 

Before the pandemic I was used to paying £20 delivered for a 5 litre bottle, but I saw it shoot up as much as £80.  It has now settled back down and you can actually buy it slightly cheaper than £20 now.

 

Cheers,

 

Nigel

 

 

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3 hours ago, Torbjorn said:

IPA is incredibly expensive here. There is no way to use the machine using less?

 

You could switch to water-washable resin and use water instead.  Otherwise...  are there any forms of alcohol that are reasonably priced in Norway?  Ethanol, methanol and their derivatives will work, too.

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95% methanol can be found for 10€ per litre. IPA is around double that. What strength do you guys use?

 

 

I guess denatured alcohol may contain other chemical that may affect the resins?

Edited by Torbjorn
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7 hours ago, Torbjorn said:

Thank you for this. IPA is incredibly expensive here. There is no way to use the machine using less? I’m a total newcomer, trying to figure out what to use. I actually bought one Wash&Cure machine already - very cheaply - but I guess it can still can be used to cure parts.

 

The more useful way to use less IPA is:

- make your parts less prone to retain uncure resin (more drain holes, bigger drain holes)

- use resin with which IPA recycle very well and use the two bath method.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Any views on the comparison between:

 

Anycubic Photon Mono and Elegoo Mars 2, I imagine that they are pretty much the same, looking for those small differences, those slight edges.

 

I’ve tried a lot of googling but all I seem to find is Anycubic Photon Mono vs Elegoo Mars 2 Pro which is not quite like for like.

 

Cheers,

 

Nigel

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They are 2 monochrome fast printing machines, for the best part they are the same. The Photon has marginally more build volume (an extra cm on the z axis) but the Mars comes out of the box with Chitubox which is a more reliable and stable slicer. I'd go Elegoo. 

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3 hours ago, Bangseat said:

They are 2 monochrome fast printing machines, for the best part they are the same. The Photon has marginally more build volume (an extra cm on the z axis) but the Mars comes out of the box with Chitubox which is a more reliable and stable slicer. I'd go Elegoo. 

wait what?

 

Chitubox is a slicer, not the operating system of the printer.

 

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25 minutes ago, plasticguy said:

wait what?

 

Chitubox is a slicer, not the operating system of the printer.

 

Yes, and the Mars comes with Chitubox on a USB ready to install on your computer, which is about as simple as it gets :)

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1 minute ago, Bangseat said:

Yes, and the Mars comes with Chitubox on a USB ready to install on your computer, which is about as simple as it gets :)

Yes, and my photon came with Chitubox on a USB too, I never plug this thing either on the printer or my laptop.

 

Who buy a 3D printer bc a free software you can found on the net,  is provided on a USB key?

 

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About cleaning  ... I don't have a printer yet but have been following this chat about the volume of IPA needed and wondered if it would be effective to load up an airbrush with it?   Maybe you could begin the rinse with slightly used IPA and finish with new material?    Then again, maybe I'm way off base.

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When I was looking at printers last year, before mono, the main criticism of the entry level Photon and Mars was the Z- Drive which as better in the the higher models and there were even third-party add-ons.

 

The main function difference between the photon and the mars was how the bed was levelled.

 

The other differences were minor - like the location of the USB port.

 

Was any of that improved when they brought out the mono versions of the photon and mars - did they improve the Z-Drives?

 

And for anyone that has tried the Photon and Mars, which is the easiest and more reliable to level?

 

Cheers,

 

Nigel

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Looking at entry level printers, the Photon build plate has a ball joint to allow angular adjustment but has no Z-axis play. Therefore you have to drive the Z axis gently to the desired position, tighten the ball joint and then set this position as zero on the controller. The Mars has a sprung loaded joint which means it can allow for variations in the Z axis and you just have to loosen the bolts, set the controller to go to home, push down to help the springs align the plate, and tighten the bolts.

 

The Mars 2 is similar to the Mars although the instructions now suggest making small Z adjustments after tightening the bolts and then setting Z=0.

 

The Photon Mono and Mono X have 4 bolts on the build plates which slide in slots allowing for variation in the Z axis but, unlike the sprung-loaded Mars, not helping to push the plate onto the levelling paper.

 

Once you are confident I don't think any of them are particularly more or less difficult than the others. If you use the machine sensibly there seems very little need to keep meddling with the alignment anyway.

 

The Mars has the USB slot in the centre on the rear. This seems really inconvenient for access but does reduce the chance of knocking it accidentally once it is installed.. The Photon and Photon Mono have the USB on the side towards the rear. The Mono X has it the side towards the front and the Mars 2 has it on the front. If you really want the connection in a particular place it is not hard to find a USB extension cable and work out a way of attaching it. I have my printers in trays and just secure the socket of the USB cable onto the sides with bulldog clips.

 

The Mars and Photon have very similar slides for the Z axis. Those on the Mars 2 and Photon Mono are the same style but seem a bit more robust. The Mono X has two guide rails so should be more stable. This is an area where the more expensive printers, e.g. Mars Pro, are an improvement.

 

HTH

 

Tony Andrews

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Many thanks for the comprehensive response, one question though.

 

Do the Mars 2 and the Mars 2 Pro not have the same Z-drive arrangement.

 

I know on the originals, the Mars had a dual rod whereas the Mars Pro had a rail, but from what I can see with the version 2 both the standard and Pro have the same rail system.

 

As far as I can see the differences between the Mars 2 and the Mars2 Pro are

 

Plastic vs metal resin vat

Pro has carbon filter

Green vs red cover

 

Reviews are saying that though having a plastic vat may seem inferior there is no real difference - besides you can buy metal vats cheaply.  That the value of the carbon filter is questionable as the recommendation is to still make sure the work area is well ventilated - it also points out that the replacement filters are quite pricey and difficult to get hold of.  And green vs red is just cosmetic.  The reviews conclude that the Mars 2 performance is identical to the Mars 2 Pro and there is little gained from paying extra for the Pro.  Chronologically, Elegoo just released the Mars 2 Pro, the Mars 2 standard came  later.

 

Cheers,

 

Nigel 

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On 3/20/2021 at 11:57 PM, Tony Andrews said:

The Mars has the USB slot in the centre on the rear. This seems really inconvenient for access but does reduce the chance of knocking it accidentally once it is installed.. The Photon and Photon Mono have the USB on the side towards the rear. The Mono X has it the side towards the front and the Mars 2 has it on the front. If you really want the connection in a particular place it is not hard to find a USB extension cable and work out a way of attaching it. I have my printers in trays and just secure the socket of the USB cable onto the sides with bulldog clips.

 

The Mars and Photon have very similar slides for the Z axis. Those on the Mars 2 and Photon Mono are the same style but seem a bit more robust. The Mono X has two guide rails so should be more stable. This is an area where the more expensive printers, e.g. Mars Pro, are an improvement.

 

HTH

 

Tony Andrews

 

USB port on the front is a design/ergonomic error.

 

Elegoo did this mistake on the Saturn prototype (you can find a video on the Uncle Jessy Chanel).

Yes, it seems nice at first sight, then one day comes the typical accident with the vat or a finished part and you've got your so-useful USB port & USB drive with resin on them  (if you're lucky) or worse resin into the connection.

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If you are thinking in testing these resin 3D printing waters on a budget I concur with the previous comments and the contenders in the small factor arena are the Anycubic Photon Mono (and not the SE) and the Elegoo Mars 2 (and not the 2 Pro).

 

I want to remark the low cost factor because for anyone wanting to discover how this tech works that seems to me the smartest path for gaining some first hand experience with this amazing tech without breaking the bank.

  

Both feature all the "must have" ticks in the checkboxes you may need. Rather capable 6" 2K monochrome display delivering very sharp and precise prints, linear rail and a good UV lamp (led array in the case of the AC Mono and a fantastic COB led in the Elegoo Mars 2). And both are really simple to operate.

 

AC Photon Mono is, in my honest opinion, the queen of the entry level mono printers with a hard to beat value for the money. Note this comment is based on AC uses to run special sales in their Aliexpress official store almost every month. Past days this printer was available at a rather ridiculous price of 164eu, free shipping, and shipped from their european wharehouses (UK, DEU, SP, FR, CZ, PL...). One plus -personal opinion here always- of the AC printer is the almost undestructable four screws levelling system for the buildplate. I find this the best and more secure levelling solution. Another thing I like a lot is that it does not include any cooling fan, and this makes this printer the most silent one out there.

 

On the other hand, and this is something quite relevant for me at least, the big plus of the Elegoo Mars 2 is the core. Unlike the AC machines with their proprietary boards, Elegoo printers use Chitu System boards and that´s why Chitubox is their native slicer. Perfect partners indeed! The UV lamp of the Elegoo Mars 2 and Mars 2 Pro is covered by a single lens delivering the best and most uniform light, far superior to any led array. In this regard, the Mars 2 is one step ahead the rest.

 

Other than than, and in terms of actual printing, the only remarkable difference is that the Z axis is 10mm higher in the AC printer. 160mm for the AC Photon Mono vs 150mm for the Elegoo Mars 2. This makes no difference to me but others opinion may vary, of course.

 

None of those printers include air filtration for the resin fumes. That´s not a concern in my experience and I much prefer to have a printer without air filtration actually. That means one fan less and a more quiet operation always.

 

The price difference between them is not that high so the final decision will be driven by personal preferences mostly. But no matter which one you would chose, you can´t go wrong with any one of those two printers.

 

Of course, there are more small factor printers out there but do not let these two low end, entry level printers mislead you. Both are capable machines and both deliver some good and solid printing.

 

Regards!

Alvaro

Edited by Alvaro Rodriguez
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