Comparing FDM and Resin Printing: Comprehensive Insights
3D printing has brought a significant revolution in the way we create miniatures and models. It has given us the ability to print models at home, providing endless possibilities. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the two most popular types of 3D printing technology used in the community: FDM and resin printing. We will discuss the advantages and limitations of each of these technology. Whether you’re an experienced user or a newcomer to the world of 3D printing, this guide will provide you with all the necessary information you need to make an informed decision and choose the right 3d printing technology that meets your needs.
What is resin printing?
Resin 3D printing, also known as SLA (stereolithography) printing, uses UV-curable liquid resin to create highly detailed and accurate models. This printing method is perfect for creating miniature tabletop games because it can produce intricate details and smooth surfaces.
However, resin printing requires post-processing, such as cleaning and curing, to remove excess resin and harden the parts completely. It can be more expensive than other types of 3D printing because of the cost of the resin and the need for specialized equipment like a UV curing chamber.
It’s important to take safety precautions when working with resin, as it can be toxic and harmful if ingested or inhaled. Therefore, it’s crucial to use a resin specifically formulated for 3D printing.
How does the resin printing process work?
The process of resin 3D printing, also known as stereolithography (SLA) printing, involves the use of a UV laser to cure and solidify liquid resin. To begin the process, the build tray is filled with the liquid resin and placed in the printer, which has a UV laser and a moving platform. The UV laser selectively exposes specific areas of the resin to UV light, curing a thin layer of the resin with a thickness of 0.05-0.1mm. The platform then lowers by one layer thickness, and the process is repeated until the entire model is built up layer by layer. Once the model is printed, it is removed from the build tray and cleaned to remove any uncured resin. The model is then cured in a UV chamber and can be used as-is or further processed by sanding or painting.
What is FDM 3D printing?
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is a 3D printing technique that employs a thermoplastic filament to build up an object layer by layer. The filament is fed into an extruder, which melts it and deposits it in precise locations. The print bed moves according to the design, while the extruder moves along the X, Y, and Z-axis to create the final object.
FDM 3D printing is popular among hobbyists, students, and small businesses because of its low cost and accessibility. It’s also widely used for prototyping and functional parts, as it’s easy to use and budget-friendly. However, FDM 3D printed parts may have visible layer lines and be less precise or smooth than SLA parts.
FDM 3D printing is ideal for printing large objects and parts that don’t require high precision. It’s also great for printing strong and durable functional parts and objects with a high degree of overhang.
The major differences between FDM and resin 3D printing are as follows:
- Print Quality: Resin 3D printers excel in delivering high-quality prints characterized by intricate details and impressive resolution. On the other hand, FDM printers are recognized for producing prints with comparatively lower resolution and less intricate detailing.
- Print Speed: FDM 3D printers generally outpace resin printers in terms of speed. FDM printers utilize a filament that is melted and extruded onto the build plate, allowing for a faster printing process. In contrast, resin printers cure liquid resin layer by layer, requiring more time.
- Materials: FDM printers utilize filaments composed of thermoplastics like ABS, PLA, and TPU. In contrast, resin printers rely on liquid photopolymer resins to create prints.
- Post-Processing: FDM prints often necessitate post-processing steps such as cleaning, sanding, and painting to achieve a smooth finish. In contrast, resin prints boast superior surface quality, reducing the need for extensive post-processing.
- Cost: Resin printers generally come with a higher price tag compared to FDM printers. Additionally, the resins used in resin printing tend to be more expensive than the filaments employed in FDM printing.
- Size and Build Volume: FDM printers typically feature larger build volumes, enabling the printing of larger models. Conversely, resin printers are generally smaller with more limited build volumes.
- Safety: Resin printing requires precautions for handling and using UV light during the printing process. FDM printing is considered safer as it operates at lower temperatures and does not emit UV light.
- Detail and Complexity: Resin printing is well-suited for producing small, detailed, and complex models with precision. In contrast, FDM printing is better suited for larger and less intricate models.
Resin printing is typically considered a better option for printing small and intricate miniatures as it produces prints with higher resolution than FDM printing. Resin printing can create smoother and more detailed prints, and can even reproduce very fine details and complex geometries.
Both resin and FDM printing can be used for printing big terrain pieces for wargaming. However, most affordable resin printers have small build plates, making it necessary to split the printable object into smaller chunks that can fit in the printer. FDM printing can also produce detailed prints, but the surface finish may not be as smooth as resin. FDM printing is generally less expensive, but it may require more post-processing to achieve a smooth surface finish. Another advantage of using FDM printers for terrain pieces is the speed, as resin printers produce highly detailed surfaces and take time to harden each layer of resin, making it a slower process.
Manufacturers can benefit greatly by partnering with a 3D printing service provider like Chemtron Asia. This collaboration provides them with access to a wide range of 3D printing technologies. They can streamline their product development, optimize their designs, and reduce costs – all without having to invest heavily in equipment. By leveraging this strategic alliance, manufacturers can effectively compete in today’s dynamic business landscape while keeping up with the latest technology and innovation trends.