Resin 3D Printer vs Filament: A Guide to Making the Right Choice

Hey there, fellow 3D printing aficionados! Stuck in the “resin 3D printer vs filament” debate? Don’t fret! I’m here to navigate you through their unique traits, standout features, and offer real-world examples and advice. Let’s get started!

Introduction to 3D Printing

In the realm of 3D printing, where a digital file transforms into a three-dimensional object, the “resin 3D printer vs filament” debate stands prominent. With several techniques emerging over time, resin and filament printing have consistently led the pack. So, which one suits you best?

The Basics: Resin vs. Filament

What is a Resin 3D Printer?

A resin printer uses liquid resin, which is then cured or hardened using UV light. The result? Super detailed models with a glossy finish.

What is a Filament 3D Printer?

On the other side, filament printers (or FDM printers) use a thermoplastic filament, which is melted and extruded layer by layer to build your model. They’re reliable and widely used.

Key Differences

When discussing the key differences between resin and filament printers, it's crucial to understand these three main aspects:

When discussing the key differences between resin and filament printers, it’s crucial to understand these three main aspects: the quality of the print they produce, the speed at which they print, and the materials they use. Each of these aspects plays a significant role in determining the suitability of each type of printer for different tasks.

Quality of Print

Resin Printers

  • High Resolution and Smooth Finish: Resin printers are known for their exceptional resolution and smooth finishes. This high level of detail makes them ideal for applications where fine details are crucial, such as:
    • Detailed Miniatures: These printers can capture intricate details, making them perfect for miniature models.
    • Jewelry Making: The smooth finish and precision are beneficial in crafting intricate jewelry designs.

Filament Printers

  • Suitable for Larger, Structural Models: Although they may not match the fine resolution of resin printers, filament printers excel in creating larger, more structurally sound models. This quality makes them suitable for:
    • Functional Parts: Items that need to bear weight or endure stress.
    • Larger Art Projects: When size and structure are more important than minute details.

Printing Speed

Resin Printers

  • Slower Process: The process of printing with resin is generally slower due to the method it uses to cure the resin layer by layer.

Filament Printers

  • Rapid Prototyping: Filament printers often print faster than resin printers. This speed advantage makes them ideal for:
    • Quick Model Generation: Useful in industries where time is a crucial factor.
    • Iterative Design Process: Where multiple prototypes are needed in a short time.

Materials Used

Resin Printers

  • Standard Resin: Great for general purpose printing, it balances detail and cost.
  • Flexible Resin: As the name suggests, this resin results in prints that can bend and compress. It mimics the feel of rubber.
  • Tough Resin: Ideal for parts that need to be durable and withstand stress.
  • Castable Resin: Used in jewelry making, this resin burns away cleanly, making it perfect for casting metals.
  • Dental Resin: Designed specifically for dental applications, this resin is biocompatible and can be used for creating dental molds or even temporary crowns.

Different projects will require different types of resins, so it’s essential to research and select the one that best fits your needs.

Filament Printers

  • Wide Range of Materials: Filament printers can use a variety of materials, offering greater flexibility for different applications. These include:
    • Standard PLA (Polylactic Acid): A common, biodegradable material.
    • ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene): Known for its strength and heat resistance.
    • Specialty Filaments: Such as those infused with wood, metal, or other materials for unique finishes and properties.
    • PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol): Combining the ease of use of PLA with the strength and durability of ABS, PETG is a popular choice for functional prints.
    • TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane): This is a flexible filament, perfect for creating parts that need to bend without breaking, like phone cases or wearable items.

There are many more filament types, but these are some of the most popular. When selecting a filament, consider the end-use of your print and the environmental conditions it’ll face.


When discussing post-processing techniques for 3D printed objects, it's essential to distinguish between the methods used for resin prints and those for filament prints.

When discussing post-processing techniques for 3D printed objects, it’s essential to distinguish between the methods used for resin prints and those for filament prints. Post-processing not only improves the aesthetic quality of the printed objects but can also enhance their physical properties like strength and durability.

Post-Processing for Resin Prints

Resin 3D printing involves a liquid resin that is hardened using a light source. The nature of this process necessitates specific post-processing steps:


  • Removal of Excess Resin: After printing, the object is covered in uncured resin. It must be cleaned using isopropyl alcohol (IPA) or a specialized cleaning solution.
  • Use of Ultrasonic Cleaners: For intricate designs, ultrasonic cleaners can be used to ensure thorough cleaning.

Further Curing

  • Exposure to UV Light: Post-printing, resin objects are not fully cured and remain somewhat soft or tacky. They require additional curing under UV light.
  • Use of Curing Stations: Dedicated curing stations provide uniform UV light exposure, which is crucial for achieving the desired material properties.

Post-Processing for Filament Prints

Filament printing, such as with PLA or ABS, produces objects that are generally more robust directly off the printer but may require different finishing techniques to improve appearance and functionality.


  • Smoothing the Surface: Filament prints often have visible layer lines. Sanding can smooth out these lines and improve the surface finish.
  • Graded Sandpapers: Starting with a coarse grit and moving to a finer grit gives the best results.


  • Applying Primer: A primer can be used to prepare the surface for painting, ensuring better adhesion of the paint.
  • Use of Acrylic Paints: Acrylic paints are commonly used for filament prints due to their ease of application and wide range of colors.

Additional Techniques

  • Filling and Gluing: For larger prints or prints in multiple pieces, gap filling and gluing might be necessary.
  • Sealing: To protect the object, especially if it’s going to be used outdoors, a sealant can be applied.

Standout Features of Resin Printers

Resin 3D printers, often referred to as SLA (Stereolithography) or DLP (Digital Light Processing) printers, come with a unique set of features that make them a favorite for certain applications:

  1. High Resolution: Resin printers can produce extremely fine details, often down to 25 microns or even less. This level of detail is unparalleled in the 3D printing world.
  2. Smooth Finish: Prints from resin printers often have a smoother finish compared to filament prints. This means less post-processing work and a more polished final product.
  3. Material Diversity: Different types of resins, from flexible to tough to castable, allow users to match the material to the specific needs of their project.
  4. Consistency: Due to their method of layer-by-layer curing, resin printers can produce highly consistent results, which is crucial for professional applications.
  5. Isotropic Properties: Unlike FDM prints, which can have layer adhesion issues, resin prints have uniform strength in all directions.

However, it’s essential to note that while resin printers have these standout features, they also come with their set of challenges, such as post-processing needs and material handling precautions.

Standout Features of Filament Printers

Filament printers, commonly known as FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) or FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printers, are the most widespread in the 3D printing community, and for good reasons:

  1. Material Versatility: There’s a vast array of filament materials available, from the standard PLA and ABS to more exotic ones like carbon-fiber infused or glow-in-the-dark filaments.
  2. Ease of Use: Most filament printers are more beginner-friendly, with a more straightforward printing process and less intensive post-processing.
  3. Durability: Certain filaments can produce very durable and robust parts, suitable for functional prototypes or even end-use components.
  4. Affordability: In general, filament printers and their materials tend to be more affordable than their resin counterparts.
  5. Large Print Sizes: Filament printers often have larger build volumes, allowing for the creation of bigger parts or multiple parts in a single print session.

Practical Examples

In the resin 3D printer vs filament comparison, selecting the right type depends on your project’s specific requirements. Each printer excels in distinct areas, making them ideal for different applications. Here’s a look at practical scenarios where you might choose one type of printer over the other.

When to Use Resin Printers

Resin printers are known for their high resolution and ability to produce extremely detailed prints. This makes them ideal for applications where precision is key.

Detailed Miniatures

Jewelry Making

  • Intricate Designs: Excellent for producing fine, complex patterns in jewelry.
  • Castable Resins: Some resins are designed to burn out cleanly, making them perfect for lost-wax casting processes.

Dental and Medical Models

  • High Precision: Essential for dental molds where every millimeter counts.
  • Anatomical Models: Useful in medical settings for educational purposes or pre-surgical planning.

When to Use Filament Printers

Filament printers are versatile and generally easier to use, making them well-suited for a variety of practical and educational applications.

Functional Prototypes

  • Product Development: Ideal for creating functional prototypes of new products or gadgets.
  • Rapid Prototyping: Allows for quick iteration and testing of designs.

Household Items

  • Repairs and Replacements: Can be used to create replacement parts like drawer handles or board game pieces.
  • Customization: Ability to customize objects to fit specific needs or aesthetics.

Educational Projects

  • School Projects: A great tool for students to materialize their ideas and projects.
  • Teaching Aids: Teachers can create models and aids to enhance the learning experience.

Maintenance and Longevity of 3D Printers

In the context of resin 3D printer vs filament, maintaining and prolonging the lifespan of your 3D printer is essential for sustained performance and high-quality prints. Consistent maintenance is key, as it not only prolongs your printer’s life but also minimizes print failures and related problems. Below is an overview of the primary maintenance procedures for both resin and filament 3D printers.

Resin Printers Maintenance

Resin printers require meticulous maintenance due to their intricate components and the nature of liquid resin. Here are some essential maintenance tasks:

Cleaning the Vat

  • Residual Resin Removal: After each print, it’s important to remove any leftover resin from the vat.
  • Prevent Curing Inside the Vat: Excess resin, if left in the vat, can cure and damage the vat’s film.

Build Plate Maintenance

  • Keeping it Clean and Level: Ensures consistent adhesion and print quality. A misaligned build plate can cause prints to fail.

LCD Screen and UV Light Source Care

  • Regular Inspection for Damage or Wear: These are critical components of a resin printer. Damaged LCD screens can lead to failed prints, while a faulty UV light source can affect cure times and print quality.

Filament Printers Maintenance

Filament printers are generally more robust but still require regular maintenance to ensure smooth operation.

Nozzle Maintenance

  • Cleaning and Unclogging: The nozzle can become clogged with filament residue, leading to poor print quality. Regular cleaning is necessary.
  • Nozzle Replacement: Over time, the nozzle can wear out, especially when using abrasive filaments. It should be replaced when worn.

Build Plate and Bed Maintenance

  • Level and Clean: A level bed is crucial for the first layer of the print. The bed should also be kept clean to ensure good adhesion.

Belts, Rods, and Bearings

  • Checking Belt Tension: Loose belts can affect print quality.
  • Lubrication of Rods and Bearings: Proper lubrication reduces wear and tear and keeps the movement smooth.

Safety Precautions

Both resin and filament printers have specific safety considerations that users must be aware of to ensure a safe printing environment.

Safety precautions are a critical aspect of 3D printing, as the processes involved can pose various health and safety risks if not managed correctly. Both resin and filament printers have specific safety considerations that users must be aware of to ensure a safe printing environment.

Safety Precautions for Resin Printers

Resin printers use liquid resins that can be hazardous, so it’s essential to handle them with care:

Handling Resins

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always use gloves when handling resins to avoid skin contact. Resins can be irritating or even harmful upon contact with skin.
  • Respiratory Protection: In areas that are not well-ventilated, wear a mask to avoid inhaling any potentially harmful fumes.

Storage and Disposal

  • Keep Resins Out of Reach of Children and Pets: Store resins in a safe place where they cannot be accidentally accessed.
  • Proper Disposal: Follow local regulations for disposing of resin and related waste, as it can be environmentally harmful.

Work Environment

  • Well-Ventilated Area: Ensure that your workspace is well-ventilated to disperse fumes.
  • Spill Management: Be prepared to deal with spills safely. Have cleaning materials that are appropriate for resin spills.

Safety Precautions for Filament Printers

Filament printers, particularly those using materials like ABS, also have safety considerations:


  • Well-Ventilated Area: Use the printer in a well-ventilated space to avoid the accumulation of potentially harmful fumes.
  • Enclosure with Filtration: If working in a less ventilated area, consider using an enclosure with a filtration system to contain and filter out fumes.

Material Handling

  • Understand Material Properties: Be aware of the properties of the filaments you are using. Some, like ABS, emit more fumes than others, like PLA.

General Safety Practices

Regardless of the type of printer, there are some general safety guidelines to follow:

Manufacturer’s Safety Guide

  • Follow the Guide: Always adhere to the safety instructions provided by the manufacturer. Each printer may have specific safety requirements.

Awareness and Training

  • Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on the safety aspects of 3D printing technologies.
  • Training: If new to 3D printing, consider undergoing some basic training, especially for handling materials and understanding the printer’s operation.

Cost Analysis

In the resin 3D printer vs filament debate, it’s important to consider that while the initial purchase price is significant, the cumulative ongoing expenses can also be substantial.

Resin Printers: Resin can be expensive, and the vat’s protective film needs periodic replacement. Also, consider the cost of cleaning solutions and protective gear.

Filament Printers: Filament spools vary in price depending on the type. Consider costs for replacement parts, especially for high-wear components like nozzles.

Software and Compatibility

Your 3D printing experience can be heavily influenced by the software:

  • Resin Printers: Most come with their own slicing software tailored for their hardware. Examples include ChiTuBox and Formware.
  • Filament Printers: Popular slicers include Cura, PrusaSlicer, and MatterControl. Ensure your chosen software is compatible with your printer model.

Kaeru Studios

Kaeru Studios

Kaeru Studios provides a Patreon service offering STL files for 3D printing, particularly detailed 1/6 scale character statues. It has two membership levels – Komainu and Daruma – offering monthly characters, WIP previews, Discord access, and potential NSFW content. The service is for personal use only, prohibiting file resale or distribution. It features WIPs and final renders of characters from series like “One Piece” and “Bleach,” focusing on fan art and community involvement in character creation, ideal for 3D printing fans interested in detailed models and collaborative design.

My Personal Recommendations

When considering a resin 3D printer vs filament, if your budget permits, owning both could be advantageous. Employ resin printers for projects requiring high detail and use filament printers for more general purposes. However, for beginners or those seeking a versatile all-rounder, opting for a filament printer might be the more practical choice.


In the “resin 3D printer vs filament” showdown, each has its pros and cons. Your choice truly hinges on your specific needs and preferences. Regardless of your pick, the realm of 3D printing is expansive and thrilling, brimming with endless possibilities and innovations, like the role of 3D Scanners!


  1. Which is more expensive, resin or filament printers?
    Generally, resin printers tend to be pricier, both in terms of initial cost and material cost.
  2. Can I paint over both resin and filament prints?
    Absolutely! Just ensure you use the right type of paint and primers for each material.
  3. How long do resin prints last compared to filament?
    Both have a good lifespan, but UV exposure might degrade resin prints over time.
  4. Is one method safer than the other?
    Resin can be toxic, so always handle with care and use appropriate safety gear.
  5. Which printer type is more beginner-friendly?
    Most would agree that filament printers are a bit easier for beginners, but with enough research and patience, anyone can master either.


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Catherine Reed

Hello! I'm Catherine, a passionate explorer of the innovative world of 3D printing. Over the years, I've delved deep into the intricacies of additive manufacturing, understanding both its vast potential and the nuances that come with it. On this website, I aim to share my experiences, insights, and the latest advancements in the field. Whether you're a fellow enthusiast or someone just starting your journey, I hope my work sparks your curiosity and inspires you to push the boundaries of what's possible!

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