The 3 Different Types of Resin 3D Printers

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You should know the different types of resin 3D printers so that you can make the best choice for your resin 3D printing applications. Our team has done due diligence in studying and examining the three different types of resin 3D printers. We will explain each type to you as you read on.

What are the different types of resin 3D printers? The three different types of resin 3D printers are SLA 3D printers, DLP 3D printers, and LCD 3D printers. SLA stands for Stereolithography; DLP stands for Digital Light Processing; LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display. These three resin printing technologies produce top-quality 3D parts with liquid-based resin.

SLA, DLP, and LCD resin printers share many similarities. They all create 3D parts using resins from a resin vat (or tank). They also cure resins to make the models solid, and this is where they mostly differ. As you read on, you will see the subtle differences between these three different types of resin 3D printers.

SLA Resin 3D Printing Technology

3 Different Types of Resin 3D Printers
Photo by Tom Claes on Unsplash

SLA printers have a UV laser beam, which they use to carefully solidify resin parts stored in the resin vat. The laser beam shines from under the tank and galvanometers (a set of mirrors) help focus the laser on the exact area that should be cured. The printer continues this process until the entire layer is fully cured. Then, the printer adds the next layer and cures it too before adding yet another until the model is finished.

SLA is the oldest 3D printing technology. But over the years, it has seen tremendous improvements. SLA printers have some major advantages over DLP and LCD printers. However, they have a few downsides too. As you read on, we will show you some of their advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of SLA 3D Printing

Today, SLA is renowned as the most precise 3D printing technology. SLA can achieve a high level of precision even for the most complex 3D parts. Unlike other 3D technologies, the central part and areas far from it have the same measure of accuracy and printing resolution.

Another advantage, which relates closely with its high level of precision, is the smooth finish it gives to the surface of 3D parts. No other resin printing technology has been able to beat this excellent surface finish. Other resin printer types present a staircase-looking effect.

Disadvantages of SLA 3D Printing

The major downside of SLA 3D printers is that it’s quite slow, and that’s partly because of how precise and detailed it is. For every layer printed, the laser beam of an SLA printer will sweep the whole surface before adding the next layer. As expected, this process takes a lot of time.

However, many factors affect the speed of 3D resin printers. If we are considering size alone, SLA printers are the slowest. But if we also consider the printing resolution, LCD and DLP printing technologies take more time to achieve the same precision as SLA printing.

It seems that when it comes to resin printing, you may have to choose between speed and precision. If you want a fast prototype, SLA may not be your best bet. But if you are looking for detail and precision, SLA is the way to go.

✅ Video – 9 Things You May Not Know About Resin 3D Printers

In this video, Mark Rhodes shares his experiences working with resin 3D printers. Why do some people get mind-blowing results and others don’t? How do you ensure reliable resin 3D printing at all times? You will find the answers to these questions and learn many other interesting things in the video. He even recommends resin brands suitable for different resin printer types. You should watch this video to the end.

DLP Resin 3D Printing Technology

DLP printers use a projector to flash light on the entire resin layer at the same time. Several minuscule mirrors help to focus the projector light on the surface of each layer as it carefully solidifies the 3D part. These mirrors are called digital micro-mirror devices (DMD), and there are thousands of them in a DLP resin printer.

DLP resin printers have their strengths as well as weaknesses. They are better than SLA printers in certain areas, but they fall short in certain areas too. Read on as we explain the strengths and weaknesses of DLP 3D printers.

Advantages of DLP 3D Printing

DLP printers generally offer a faster printing time than SLA printers. This is because they cast the whole layer at once. SLA printers, on the other hand, trace each layer’s dimensions with the UV laser beam. As such, you can depend on DLP printers for creating quick 3D prototypes.

Disadvantages of DLP 3D Printing

The major downside of DLP printing is that it’s not as precise as SLA printing. The print resolution depends on how dense the micro-mirrors of the DMD are, and the size of the printing surface. If the DMD system remains the same, as the printing surface increases in size, the resolution will decrease proportionately.

This means that larger models are less precise than smaller models if you are using a DLP printer. This is different from SLA printing where resolution and precision have nothing to do with the size of your model.

The surface finish of DLP printed parts is usually not as smooth as those printed with SLA technology. Most times, there is a “staircase effect” on the model’s surface. What’s more, the projection lenses of DLP systems use oblique projection, which sometimes distorts areas that are far away from the center. This area of distortion increases as the model size increases.

Can You Correct The Distortions?

You can correct the distortions in DLP printing if you use more sophisticated optical systems. But such systems are not so popular because they are usually very expensive.

LCD Resin 3D Printing Technology

LCD printers also flash light on the entire layer at the same time. But unlike DLP printers, there are no mirrors. Instead of mirrors, LCD printers feature LCD panels. As LED light shines on each layer of the model through the LCD panels, the LCD screen selectively blocks the light off in areas that should not be solidified. It only allows LED light to shine on areas that should be cured (or solidified).

LCD 3D technology is the most recent to be invented. But it is catching up really fast with its predecessors. It evolved from DLP technology and has almost fully replaced it. In the sections that follow, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages of this novel technology.

Advantages of LCD 3D Printing

The major advantages of LC 3D printers over other technologies are their low cost and fast printing speed. What’s more, LCD printers use perpendicular projection, which prevents the central distortion caused by DLP systems.

Aside from selectively blocking and allowing the passage of light, LCD systems can also filter light by varying the light intensity of each pixel independently. This means that you can use certain processes to increase the quality and smoothness of your 3D model’s surface. You can get better surface qualities than what DLP printers offer, but it’s still a little lower than what SLA printers offer.

Disadvantages of LCD 3D Printing

One main drawback of LCD 3D printing is that its LED matrixes produce high levels of heat. This is not a good thing if you are creating a long print. The resin may heat up and start solidifying in the tank before you finish printing. The solution to this is to implement an effective cooling system.

Related Questions

Do All Resins Work With All The Resin Printing Techniques?

Different resin types have varying compatibility with the different resin 3D printing techniques. The lasers in SLA 3D printers are very powerful, so they work better with resins that cure quite slowly. Conversely, the LED lights in LCD 3D printers are low-power light sources. So they work better with resins that cure quite quickly. In the case of DLP printers, you can configure however you like and that would determine the type of resins you need. You can’t predict how a DLP printer will behave with resins except you test it.

Some resins work with more than one resin printer types. In other words, the compatibilities sometimes overlap. However, some 3D resin printer companies only allow you to use their branded resin product with their machines. Make sure you check the datasheet of your printer, as well as that of the resin manufacturer to be sure if a brand is compatible with your printer.

What Are Resin 3D Printers?

Resin 3D printers are printers that create 3D models using resins. Because resins are photo-polymer that exist in liquid form, these printers usually contain a light source that will help cure (or solidify) resins layer by layer while printing is ongoing. After printing each layer, resin printers build the succeeding layer on it until it finishes printing the whole model.

As you have read above, there are three types of resin 3D printers – SLA, DLP, and LED printers. SLA resin printers use UV laser beams, DLP resin printers use light projectors, and LCD resin printers use LED lights.

What Is 3D Printing Most Commonly Used For?

The most common uses of 3D printing include making jewelry and manufacturing molds for jewelry. Another common use is in making customizable gifts. Products in this industry include personalized art models and dolls of various shapes. People also use 3D printing for consumable art, like making 3D chocolate and other snacks.

Note that you can’t use resin for consumables, and as such can’t use resin 3D printers for them. There are specialized 3D printers for making consumables. The materials used for printing in such printers are the consumables to be customized.


So far, you have seen the three different types of resin 3D printers. You have learned about where they differ. We have also shown you the advantages and disadvantages of each type. These should help you in deciding the best resin 3D printer type for your printing application.

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