Filament vs Resin

7/25/2021

Close-up photos of 3d printing resin and filamentA while back, I made a post about the different types of 3D printing. It focused on explaining the differences between filament-based printing (fused filament fabrication, or FFF) and resin-based printing (stereo lithography apparatus, or SLA) and how they go about creating a 3d print. It also linked to an article on All3DP.com that provided more details about FFF, SLA, and many other types of 3d printing.

For this post, I'm once again focusing on filament and resin printing, but this time, I will explain the pros and cons of each in relation to model railroading.

In October of 2020, I procured my first SLA printer. Since then, I've used it to build n scale new models as well printing some older models that had only been printed using filament printer. I have to say that it has been very satisfying because it printed my older models in much higher detail than my filament printers. It is very exciting to have this technology available at my fingertips!

While SLA printing has definetly found a permanent home at Lyforms Small-Scale, filament printing continues to play a big role in creating n scale models. I find that it still works well for larger parts because they come out strong and quickly. I still think that filament printing can print a decent amount of detail for n scale, especially considering that the naked eye is limited to how much detail it can distinguish. Most casual admirers of model railroad layouts won't be able to see details that are too tiny.

Based on my experience, here is my list of pros and cons of filament vs resin. Again, these are in relation to model railroading.

Filament

Resin

Pros

Cons

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to work with
  • Prints are strong and durable
  • Cheaper to print
  • Wide variety of materials and colors
  • Easy to remove prints from print plate
  • Easy cleanup
  • Currently, larger build areas
  • Curing not required
  • Fine details aren't possible
  • Finish not as smooth - layers are visible
  • Objects can warp, misalign, or separate when printing
  • Printing support scaffolds is wasteful
  • May require air filters
  • Excellent details - good for n-scale parts
  • Smooth finish
  • Precise dimensions - dependent on pixel size of projection screen
  • Prints can be used to create molds for traditional resin casting
  • Won't warp or separate
  • Messy clean-up
  • Resin has strong odors
  • Can be difficult to remove from print plate
  • Currently small build areas
  • Requires curing
  • May require air filters
  • Expense to print
  • Prints not as strong and durable
  • Few variety of colors and materials

For more reading, check out this article at All3DP.com: https://all3dp.com/1/sla-vs-fdm-resin-vs-filament-3d-printer-the-differences/.

-Rafe