Warning: Resin 3D printing is both exciting and intimidating. While it’s possible to create extremely detailed models using UV light and resin, it’s also much messier than its filament-based brethren. Resin 3D printing requires safety measures such as, , and safe storage solutions to make it an enjoyable hobby. That being said, it’s a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.
Prusa Research has been a leader in 3D printing for 10 years and only recently released its first resin printer, the SL1. While the SL1 was a decent machine, it didn’t impress me, as it didn’t have a big selling point compared to other more budget-friendly choices on the market. The new SL1S, however, has something that no other resin printer I’ve used has: insane speed.
- Superb build quality
- Quick prints
- Incredible detail
- Washing and curing is simple and easy
Do not like
- The price is very high for an amateur
Printing in resin is already faster than printing on a standard 3D printer, but the SL1S takes that to the extreme. Resin uses an LCD screen to cure the resin one layer at a time, rather than a standard 3D printer that has to draw each plastic layer. This means that whether you print one model or 10, the print time is the same for resin printers.
Generally, on a printer like the AnyCubic Photon Mono, the print time per layer is around 2.5 to 2.8 seconds. While that may seem fast, the SL1S’ one-second print time puts it to shame. I’ve printed models the full height of the printer in less time than the Mono can print a quarter-size model. It is truly an impressive experience. Some of that speed comes from the settings, but most of it is in the design of the printer itself. Each of the moving parts is precision made and all the moving parts feel great in the hand. It has a premium quality that you don’t find in many resin printers. The Prusa SL1S isn’t cheap, but more importantly, it doesn’t look cheap.
Details are everything
If you’re looking to use your 3D printer for professional purposes or want to create extremely detailed models, you really need to go with resin over filament. It can capture detail like no other, and the Prusa SL1S delivers unreservedly on that front. As you can see on this Dark Dryad from Fotis Mint, every crack in the bark skin is brilliantly captured and the detail makes it look like it’s alive.
It helps that Prusa can control the whole stack when it comes to your resin printer. Prusa manufactures all levels of the 3D printing system, from the slicer that prepares the model to the resin that you put in the machine, you can optimize the experience if you use all of the company’s products. That doesn’t mean you have to use them, but it works best if you do.
To give you an idea of the level of detail the SL1S is capable of, these minis (above) are only 2 inches tall and every tuft on the barley has been printed perfectly. I don’t even have a tool to measure how small they are, but I know they are difficult to print. Even the little pen in the OSHA goblin’s hand printed well.
The Prusa SL1S seems designed for the professional user. Rapid prototyping has always been essential in manufacturing, and being able to iterate on 3D printed models in hours rather than half a day allows you to get your product to market much sooner. If you are an Etsy user selling jewelry or mini Dungeons and Dragons, then the SL1S allows you to print more of your product faster, saving you the most valuable asset: time.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of mess associated with resin 3D printing. To make a resin print safe to handle, you must wash it in isopropyl alcohol and cure it under UV light. Before the birth of the washing and curing machine, we used to clean our prints in a random bowl and then let them cure in the sun. This has resulted in many prints over-hardening, under-hardening, or just looking bad in general.
The CW1S washing and hardening machine solves these problems by being as self-contained as possible. It features a metal tank with a magnetic spinner to clean your prints and powerful UV lamps to cure them anywhere. It works great, although for some reason the wash tub isn’t big enough for a full-size model. The top of the dryad, for example, hits the propeller inside, which could potentially break it. That being said, there is a basket that allows you to wash multiple minis at the same time, speeding up the whole process.
The only limiting factor to buying a Prusa SL1S is the cost. At $2,600 for the set — that includes the CW1S printer and the SL1S printer — that might seem like a huge investment, but if you’re buying for a small business or someone looking to prototype quickly a product, this investment is undeniably tempting. The speed at which the SL1S can print detailed models makes the initial outlay seem less of a burden and more of a belief that your business can succeed.
When it comes to my own workshop, I consistently use the SL1S as my small-scale 3D printer of choice. When I can create a model in less than half the time of another printer of this size, why would I use anything else? I would recommend buying the bundle rather than the standalone printer if you have the cash to do so. The price difference is an additional $600 for the Wash and Cure unit and 3D printer – $2,000 for the SL1S and $2,600 for the CW1 and SL1S together – but the extra money is worth the time you save money by having an efficient workflow.