What’s a Liquid 3D Printer?
We’ve been hearing about FDM 3D printers for a while now, which are widely in use for the best part of the decade. However, another promising alternative in the market is a liquid 3D printer.
Unlike FDM printers, which construct layer by layer using melted plastic, a liquid 3D printer solidifies resin using ultraviolet rays.
This method of printing actually results in a finer resolution than their FDM counterparts. However, the quality comes at a premium.
The photopolymer resin used with liquid 3D printers is far more expensive than filaments in FDM based. Add to that a relatively ‘tough’ cleaning and maintenance regimen and you might consider an SLA printer the best choice.
Nevertheless, if you’re willing to spend those extra bucks, a liquid 3D printer can be a fine choice for bringing those finer resolution models to life!
We searched the web and offline sources to shortlist 10 of the best liquid 3D printers available on the market.
We listed the top 10 printers in a comparison table highlighting their overall rating and unique selling proposition, followed by a detailed description for each product.
Uses of Liquid 3D Printer
A liquid 3D printer offers multiple uses. These machines are ideal for high-precision prototyping. Having a liquid 3D printer at your disposal helps you accelerate innovation. You can use a liquid 3D printer in the following ways:
Manufacturing and Product Design
A liquid 3D printer allows you to prototype rapidly. You can turn ideas into realistic models. Using a liquid 3D printer, you can advance your concepts into high-quality models.
You can work on custom tools, molds, manufacturing aids and so much more. A liquid 3D printer will allow you to customize and design models that you can use for mass production as well.
This also helps reduce manufacturing costs while maximizing quality and speed.
Dentists require complicated tools, but with 3D printing and digital dentistry, you can reduce the risks and uncertainties that come with a synthetic product.
With liquid 3D printing, you can print prototypes that are consistent and accurate for every stage of the dental process.
Similar to dental printing, 3D printing has high-impact medical applications. Liquid 3D printers can be used to deliver tools and devices that you can customize to serve every patient’s individual needs.
While 3D printing allows you to innovate, it also helps you save time with its high-speed printing at a much lower cost than regular production.
Gifts and Toys
There are many occasions in a year where you are required to give gifts to your family and loved ones. However, it can be difficult to get something personalized for them.
For this purpose, you can design and make gifts using a liquid 3D printer. You can modify designs to your preference.
A 3D printer will allow you to make anything, from kitchenware to toys, and so on. You can also use the printer to produce sharply detailed jewelry in various designs.
3D Printer for Education and Entertainment
3D printing is technical but a fun process. You can make 3D printing a hobby in order to kill time. Even when you don’t have financial goals, a 3D printer can be utilized to print fascinating objects.
You can experiment and let your imagination run wild while creating different models or objects.
You can use this multifunctional tool for immersive learning and advanced research in many fields including science, architecture, design, engineering, and so on. Using a liquid 3D printer, you can sculpt, and also make props and models.
|Formlabs Form 3||Editor’s Choice||9.8|
|Peopoly Moai 130||Best Value||9.7|
|Peopoly Phenom||Best Large Format Printing||9.5|
|Zortrax Inkspire||Runner Up||9.4|
|Original Prusa SL1||Best Connectivity||9.3|
|Phrozen Shuffle XL||Best Build Area||9.2|
|Uniz Slash Plus||Fastest Printing||9.2|
|Anycubic Photon Zero||Best Budget||9.4|
|Phrozen Sonic Mini||Best Portable||9.2|
|Anycubic Photon S||Strong and Stable||9.4|
List Of Top Liquid 3D Printers
Formlabs Form 3
Since the inception of Formlabs in ’12, the company has become a juggernaut in the 3D printing industry. Their Form 3 is a stellar liquid 3D printer, which has become hugely popular in the medical and fashion world owing to its professional prowess.
Magnificent on the outside, the printer houses SLA technology based on Low Force Stereolithography resulting in superior texture objects.
The build volume is manufactured to cater to more than half of the 3D printing consumer market.
It employs a large 5.5-inch touchscreen (comparable to display screens of smartphones) for a hassle-free user interface. With a range between 25 to 300 microns, there is enough resolution to produce high-quality models!
Although Form 3 might look similar to its predecessor, it has a host of new features that set it apart, from real-time monitoring and cartridge sensors to the introduction of a new form of resin.
The closed compartment body also makes it a safe choice for usage around children.
With a pro service plan, you will get the best from the company’s support staff so you stay focused on creating those beautiful models!
- An advanced form of SLA known as Low Force Stereolithography
- Great value for its price tag
- Closed body for added safety
- Great quality prints at fast speeds
- The need for support structures
Peopoly Moai 130
Following its hugely successful predecessor, the Moai 130 lives well up to its expectations. Most of the specs remain unchanged, from access to the electronics compartment to the print capacity, with much more.
Leveling the bed has become easier, performance has racked up, and there’s greater versatility with print liquids.
This means you can pick budget-friendly options as well as more expensive specialty resins based on your print requirements.
All these exciting new features make the Moai 130 great value for money and one of the most affordable SLA 3D printers out there.
It does require you to adjust the settings more often than not, but once you know how to tweak it, you can print quality objects effortlessly.
- Can be used with a variety of resins compared to its predecessor
- Great print quality
- Can be difficult for people new to 3D printing
- Lack of network connectivity
- No real-time job monitoring
This is a great liquid 3D printer without a doubt – and a big one! The Peopoly Phenom calls attention to a height exceeding 30 inches. That is the first thing you notice when you unpack this beast.
In fact, it’s probably one of the biggest 3D printer models for home use. This is because of the printer’s huge build volume, which makes it an ideal choice for large format printing.
The Phenom uses a UV LED instead of a laser, which comes from a grid of LEDs beneath the bed. This causes fewer moving parts that reduce complications.
The downside is that the LCD screen will get damaged over time from the UV light, eventually requiring replacement. This will occur after approximately 400 hours of print time. A
ll communication with the Phenom is using a touchscreen – from bed movement and brightness controls to execution of print jobs.
- Excellent print quality
- Large print volume and formatting with its massive build volume
- Requires a lot of tweaking for the desired result
This polish beauty, launched in 2018, is ideal for low and medium-production industries. Used by dental and design professionals alike, Zortrax claims that the printer offers greater precision and faster speeds than its rivals.
The Zortrax Inkspire measures 210 mm x 210 mm x 435 mm (L x W x H) and is made out of a full metal chassis, making it a sturdy workhorse.
You get a pixel size of 50 by 50 microns, which can result in incredibly detailed objects with layers undetectable to the naked eye. Despite the capacity to print in such detail, you can calibrate it in a few minutes.
You can set the exposure time for the model and the supports separately. Using this method, the support structures are hardened and therefore are easier to remove.
The Zortrax Inkspire is the only liquid 3D printer on the market to pull this off.
- Up to 8 times the speed of an SLA
- Up to 6 times more precise than an SLA
- Network connectivity
- A user-friendly touch interface
- Despite an intuitive touch interface, the menu layout has room for improvement
Original Prusa SL1
The SL1 measures 15.7 by 8.8 by 9.3 inches with a model build area of 5.9 by 4.7 by 2.6 inches. It’s a cheaper option that nonetheless packs a sturdy build quality and a host of connectivity options.
The SL1 uses a masked stereolithography apparatus where an ultraviolet LED shines into a high-res LCD panel that sits below the resin tank. The LCD controls which areas of the resin will cure.
You have a plethora of extras that come with this printer, which includes a Prusa resin bottle and a USB thumb drive. The calibration process of the printer is also simple and user-friendly.
- Has the ability to deliver stellar prints
- One of the best budget options
- Multiple connectivity options
- An intuitive easy-to-navigate interface
- Cumbersome cleaning and maintenance
- Small volume
Phrozen Shuffle XL
The Phrozen Shuffle XL can print models up to 24cm tall. It utilizes the same MSLA technology as SL1, resulting in stellar print quality. Compared to traditional SLA 3D printing, MSLA has the advantage of flat curing times for every layer.
As long as the layers remain the same, the print time is constant between multiple parts and an individual piece. Even when it’s not printing, it’s a beautiful machine standing tall in its glory.
The Phrozen Shuffle XL uses a ParaLED Optical Engine that helps maintain high resolution for the prototypes. This technology allows you to print models that can essentially match 2k resolution.
This liquid 3D printer offers only one moving axis. The z-axis motion ensures accuracy and precision for your printing.
The Phrozen Shuffle XL offers high-quality 3D printing that is rare among other FDM printers. You can print intricate designs with this model.
This liquid 3D printer operates at high speed so you get high-quality items quickly.
It is one of the best 3D liquid printers.
- The printer is capable of printing huge build volumes
- Can be connected to the Internet
- Affordable when compared to other liquid 3D printers
- Quality is never compromised while printing
- There are some problems with the user interface
- Printer can be loud and noisy
- Long term operation requires extra accessories
Uniz Slash Plus
Uniz has made a name for itself in the printing industry. The company is known for its high-speed resin 3D printers, including the Uniz Slash Plus.
Uniz Splash plus is an upgrade for Uniz Slash. It is one of the best liquid 3D printers available today.
Uniz Splash Plus used LCD Stereolithography to produce high-quality 3D prints. The printer has a build volume of 192 x 120 x 200 mm. The printer’s XY resolution is 75µm, while it offers an accuracy of ±20µm.
The Uniz smart support technology contributes to a high printing speed that can reach up to 20mm/hour. This liquid 3D printer also has a durable resin vat floor.
The floor is made up of a polymer film, which enables it to last for 1,000 3D printing hours.
The printer also comes with a resin cartridge as well as an empty cartridge. You also get various tools that help you open these resigned cartridges.
This liquid 3D printer uses the Uniz software, which is compatible with various devices, including Windows and Mac. The software allows you to make all the basic changes to your 3D model.
You can move, rotate, zoom and add specific media to your prototype, using this software.
Different controls are available from the control panel while it also provides the information while you print. The software is extremely easy to use.
- Uni-directional peel technology that allows for above-average print quality
- Unmatched printing speed
- Allows you to use various types of resins for printing
- Easy removal of media
- Software only available in English and Chinese
- No control screen as a user interface
Anycubic Photon Zero
Anycubic is a Shenzhen-based manufacturer known for its Photon 3D printers among others. The Photon Zero printer stands at the top as one of the best liquid 3D printers that you can buy.
The Photon Zero offers many high-quality features at a price that can meet your budget easily.
With a solid and sturdy structure, this liquid 3D printer offers a build volume of 97 x 54 x 150 mm. The Photon Zero 3D printer does not require much supervision as it has an easy setup and operation.
The provided tools can allow you to perform multiple tasks, including plate leveling, loosening the place, and much more. The Photon Zero operates at 30 Watts.
The printer emits UV light through its LCD masking screen, which operates at 480 x 854 pixels.
The Photon Zero comes with a resin vat that helps avoid any possible spilling during the printer. This liquid 3D printer also has a UV cooling system that enhances the lifespan of a module.
With a dedicated cooling system, you are able to work on a project with longer work hours.
Apart from this, the UV modules in Photon Zero use various techniques to produce parallel UV rays spread well across the LCD masking screen. The printer also has slicing software that you can customize accordingly.
Meeting your budget requirements, this liquid 3D printer is ideal for beginner and entry-level projects.
- Comes fully assembled and does not require much energy for setting up
- Fully functional touch screen user interface
- Comes with an easy to reach USB
- Linear Z-axis for precision
- Compact and lightweight
- Longer layer cure time
- Low-resolution prints
Phrozen Sonic Mini
Phrozen Sonic Mini is a strong contender to be one of the best liquid 3D printers. The printer uses stereolithography, involving photosensitive resins and UV light to generate different models.
Just like any other liquid 3D printer, the Sonic Mini has an adjustable build platform. The platform requires calibration to create a leveled surface.
While adjusting the corners of the platform can be difficult, the Sonic Mini has an easy calibration process.
The Phrozen Sonic Minu employs the ChituBox software, which can perform multiple functions including the hollowing of a model, adding draining holes, adding support structures, and much more.
You can use this liquid 3D printer with a USB thumb drive for file storage. The printer also has a user-friendly touch screen that allows you to take control of the printer and help adjust the settings.
The Phrozen Sonic Mini also provides a modest build volume to produce high-resolution models. This liquid 3D printer is an ideal choice if you want to print detailed and complex models.
- Fast and easy setup
- Effective enclosure that helps contain the smell of resin
- High printing speed
- Easy operation and leveling
- Allows approximately 2,000 hours of printing
- USB input is obscured
- Build platform is smaller than average
Anycubic Photon S
Using its winning formula from the Photon Zero and making some desirable adjustments, Anycubic takes its Photon S model to the next level. With various mechanical and electronic upgrades, you can consider Photon S one of the best liquid 3D printers.
The Photon S has a build volume that goes around 4.5 inches x 2.5 inches x 6.4 inches. The total physical dimensions for the printer are around 9.0 inches x 7.8 inches x 15.7 inches.
The Photon S comes with a 2k resolution-masking screen that results in better exposure. Compared to its previous model, Photon S can print faster.
The printer comes with a user-friendly operation with a new and improved touchscreen interface. The interface makes it easier to control the settings on your machine.
The printer also comes with an auto-leveling feature that gets you going in minutes.
The Photon S provides a Z-layer resolution of 0.01mm and an XY-resolution of 0.047mm, which results in highly detailed, high-quality prints.
The printer comes with built-in slicer software. The software is easy to use and allows you to download various 3D models for printing. You can also use the software to customize your designs.
- Ideal for beginner and entry-level 3D printing
- The industry-standard speed that ranges from 15 to 18 mm per second
- Allows for precise, small models
- Easy assembly and operation
- Does not allow connectivity through the internet
- No error checking sensors
To make an informed decision about buying the best liquid 3D printer, we compared the products on multiple criteria. Before buying a liquid 3D printer, you should be looking for the following features:
- Axis Adjustability: Your printer will often require you to tighten or loosen the tensions in one of its three main axes using fine-tuning. To reduce the hassle, look for a 3D printer that has easy access for the belt tension adjustment. Otherwise, you could end up spending hours trying to make the necessary adjustments.
- Printing Quality: In order to end up with a high-quality model, your printing quality needs to be exceptional. This is one of the critical features you need to look for when selecting a 3D printer for your home.
- User Interface: A high-quality interface can result in an extraordinary experience. This feature helps you save time that you might have spent navigating through the settings. A touchscreen user interface allows you to adjust the settings easily and helps you customize your models. A good interface also allows you to see the current status of your printer i.e. how much resin is left and so on.
- Heated Bed: A well-heated bed ensures that the foundational layers for your model are well-formed. This feature makes sure that an ideal temperature is established that can result in a model that is well built.
- Printing Speed: A high-speed 3D printer allows you to work on different projects in a limited time. An ideal 3D printer does not compromise on print quality while maintaining high printing speed.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What 3D Printer Software Should I Look For?
3D printers use software from the printer itself and your computer that you can use to create 3D files. The software on your computer functions as a slicer.
Ideally, Cura and Slic3r are some of the popular slicing software. For your printer software, look for software that offers a variety of applications.
What Objects Can You 3D Print?
3D printing is becoming a popular tool to design and produce different models. The printer can be used in various industries and even for home use.
You can print various items through the use of a 3D printer including, but not limited to spare parts, kitchen items, appliances, toys, décor items, welding fixtures, brake lever, metal bracket, motor housing, vase, jewelry, water bottles, and so on.
Is There A Limitation To What Shapes You Can 3D Print?
3D printing will allow you to work on any shape that you desire, depending on the scale. Some 3D printer models come with built-in model designs that you can use for printing.
3D printers also allow you to customize and design models. With a 3D printer, the sky is the limit. You can work on all sorts of creative models.
There are different types of liquid 3D printers and each of them has unique features, which makes them different.
From the printers reviewed above, Photon Zero is the most cost-effective 3D home printer that offers useful features. The 3D liquid printer prints models of good quality.
The Peopoly Phenom is one of its kind as it provides unique features, such as excellent print quality as well as a large build volume.
The Formlabs Form 3 proves to be the best of the best. It has multi-functional capabilities and is made using advanced engineered technology.
The device might be beginner-friendly but it has all the features that an advanced liquid 3D printer could offer.
All these liquid 3D printers have unique selling points and this article provides the ultimate buyer’s guide if you want to buy the best one.