While high-resolution prints are what resins are mainly known for, most are unusable for pretty much anything but decorative pieces. But ABS-like resins, or tough resins, promise to change this.
For more practical prints with durable materials, people turn to stronger FDM printing filaments like ABS and TPU. With high tensile strength and impact resistance, they’re preferred for prototyping and parts manufacturing.
However, resins aren’t the one-trick pony they once were, and now tough and ABS-like resins are making resin prints more durable and better for more practical applications.
- Elegoo ABS-Like Resin – Affordable and Colorful Strong Resins
- Anycubic ABS-Like Resin+ – Ideal for Hobbyists
- Siraya Tech Fast ABS-like Resin – Fast Curing and Easy Post-Processing
- Formlabs Tough and Durable Resins – The Professional’s Choice
- Formlabs Durable Resin
- Formlabs Tough 1500 Resin
- Formlabs Tough 2000 Resin
What is ABS-Like/Tough Resin?
Like stone resins, tough resins are standard UV printing materials that have been treated to mimic a specific look, feel, and property. In this case, they’ve been manufactured to emulate the surface finish and strength of ABS filament, which is known for its high tensile strength and durability.
Compared to standard resins, ABS-like resin is off the charts in terms of durability and tensile strength, making them ideal for more than just miniatures and statuettes.
Because of this toughness, it is a lot harder to remove from the bed plate, and tougher resins cost a pretty penny too. So if you’re looking to just make mini figures and the like, you may want to stick with your standard resins instead.
Strong resins are measured using the Shore hardness scale, effectively the measurement of an object’s flexibility and impact resistance. Flexible resins also score higher than standard resins on this scale.
These measurements start with Shore 00, which includes particularly soft and spongy things like gummy sweets and rubber bands. Shore A measures from pencil erasers to rubber shoe soles, and Shore D is on the harder end of the spectrum with particularly sturdy materials like truck tires and shopping cart wheels.
While there are other measures of Shore hardness, we’ll only be looking at these three.
As you’d expect, particularly strong resins are on the higher end of the Shore scale. Elegoo’s ABS-like resin, for example, has a Shore hardness of 75 D, placing its strength between that of a shopping cart wheel and a hard hat.
This level of hardness is what you should expect from strong resins. Compared to ABS’ average Shore hardness of D 100, the highest measurement on the Shore scale, you can see why these resins are known as ABS-like.
In essence, strong resins are a lot tougher than their standard counterparts, but are still not quite as sturdy as standard ABS filaments.
Tensile strength is the measure of how much weight and force something can withstand before fracturing or breaking. This force is measured in PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) and gives us a good idea of how durable tough resins are.
Tensile strength itself is measured using MPa (Megapascal) units, which indicate how much force any particular material can withstand. Structured steel has a tensile strength rating of around 400-420 MPa, meaning it’s capable of withstanding up to around 60,000 – 70,000 PSI.
|Resin Product||Tensile Strength (MPa)|
|Elegoo ABS-Like Resin||30-52|
|Anycubic ABS-Like Resin||35-55|
|Siraya Tech Fast ABS-like Resin||33|
|Formlabs Durable Resin||31.8|
|Formlabs Tough 1500 Resin||33|
|Formlabs Tough 2000 Resin||46|
This should give you a good indication of how these measurements work, as well as why punching a sizable dent in a steel door or wall is a common visual example of a superhero’s strength.
Typically, ABS has an average tensile strength of 40 – 57 MPa, and tough resins surprisingly average out around the same, capping out at around 55 MPa.
This means that, while tough resins aren’t as hard as ABS, they’re capable of withstanding around the same amount of force and impact. Effectively, when it comes to overall tensile strength, ABS and ABS-like resins are highly comparable.
Compare this to standard UV resin’s tensile strength of around 20 – 25 MPa, and you’ll see that tough ABS-like resins are over twice as strong as their garden variety counterparts.
Young’s modulus is the final, and perhaps least important measurement we’ll cover today. Effectively a measure of elasticity, Young’s modulus uses GPa (Gigapascal) and KSI (kilopounds per square inch) units to measure the amount of stress with which something can be pulled or strained before it snaps.
To make it easier to understand when compared to tensile strength, I’ll be converting these to the MPa and PSI that we’ve looked at already.
Steel averages at 200000 MPa which, when added to what we already know of its MPa, shows just how durable it is even under the intense constant strain of up to 29 million PSI.
Standard ABS filament has a maximum of around 2.9 MPa. Once again comparing this to Elegoo’s ABS-like resin, which caps at 2.385 MPa according to their website, we can see that ABS-like resins are comparable in elasticity and strain-resistance with standard ABS filaments.
What are Tough Resins Used For?
Where most standard UV resins are only good for decorative prints, tough resins have a much wider range of practical uses.
Generally speaking, ABS-like resins are great for making prototypes and parts that need to have high impact resistance but don’t necessarily need to be that flexible.
Belt buckles and clasps are a great example of such applications, since they need to be flexible enough to be pushed in and out, but also strong enough to withstand the force being applied on a regular basis.
Tough resins are also used for clock parts and other mechanisms that need to withstand constant movement. Just be advised that even tough resins are brittle if printed too thinly, so they aren’t ideal for smaller parts.
The recommended minimum wall thickness for most ABS-like resins is 1 – 2mm, which is a lot thicker than the standard minimum thickness of around 0.1mm.
Thinner prints made with even the toughest resins will still break easily with too much pressure, and so are generally suitable for only larger projects that require durability without being hard as rock.
Effectively, these stronger resins are good for parts and repairs for things like shoe heels, which need the consistency of strong rubber and the toughness of ABS.
ABS-like resins aren’t indestructible, however, and aren’t comparable to industry-grade materials, so don’t expect to repair your car or anything. That said, those of you interested in DIY and mechanical engineering will find strong resins incredibly useful.
How to Print Tough Resins
Tough resins are relatively simple to print if you’re used to using standard UV resins.
Ideal printer settings differ somewhat depending on your chosen brand, so you should always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for the best settings before getting to work.
If you’re still in any doubt, we recommend a layer thickness of no less than 50 microns and an exposure time of 40 seconds.
Post-processing tough resin prints isn’t any more tedious than usual post-cure treatment with isopropyl alcohol. Just be sure to let any excess resin cure before disposing of it with your usual plastic waste.
ABS-like resins are no more dangerous than standard UV resins, so your normal safety precautions should be taken.
Wearing protective gloves and eyewear is recommended, as is a well-ventilated workspace so you avoid breathing in any harmful fumes. While most tough resins do not contain carcinogenic material, the fumes while printing are still harmful to respiratory health.
Be sure to avoid direct contact with the skin until your strong resin is fully cured, and avoid contact with the eyes even afterward.
Now we’re going to look at some of the best tough resins available and why they’re ideal if you want a strong ABS-like resin for your practical printing needs.
Best ABS-Like Tough Resins
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Elegoo ABS-Like Resin – Affordable and Colorful Strong Resins
- Price: Check price on Amazon here / Available at Elegoo here
- Shore Hardness: 75D
- Tensile Strength: 30 – 52 MPa
- Young’s Module: 2.385 MPa
- Available Colors: Gray, White, Yellow, Blue, Beige, Translucent, Clear Red, Clear Blue, Clear Green, Mint Green, Smoky Black
Elegoo host an impressive range of resins, offering just about everything from water-washable to plant-based resin alternatives to standard materials.
Their ABS-like resin is a tough and versatile resin that’s incredibly affordable, and so ideal for household use. Those of you looking to make good, highly durable prints at home and on a budget should look no further.
One of the key benefits of Elegoo’s ABS-like resin is its color variety, which is found in most of its resins. Available in a much wider range of colors than most other resin manufacturers, it’s ideal if you’re looking to expand your creative horizons and make something eye-catching as well as tough.
These options don’t come at the cost of general strength, as Elegoo’s ABS-like resin lives up to its name by being comparable with standard ABS in tensile strength and elasticity.
It’s also available in 500g bottles for only $19 if you only want to test out ABS-like resins or are otherwise working with a very limited budget.
Anycubic ABS-Like Resin+ – Ideal for Hobbyists
- Price: Check price on Amazon here / Available at Anycubic here
- Wavelength: 365-405nm
- Tensile Strength: 35 – 55 MPa
- Available Colors: White, Black, Gray, Aqua Blue, Beige, Transparent, Transparent Green
While slightly more expensive than Elegoo’s tough resin, Anycubic’s own offering is in its Resin+ line, meaning it’s been upgraded to have lower shrinkage, better resolution, and a longer shelf life than most kinds of standard UV resins.
Those of you who don’t print often or only have a few small projects in mind for now will be happy to know that Anycubic’s ABS-like Resin+ can last up to 18 months if stored properly, which is pretty impressive compared to the usual 12-month window.
Anycubic is also one of the safest strong resins around, as it contains only 75% of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in their normal resin line. This means that the fumes emitted while printing are less harmful than those of standard resins.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe, and we still recommend a well-ventilated workspace so you don’t damage your respiratory health.
ABS-like Resin+ is also one of the more flexible resins on this list. With high tensile strength added to its impressive elasticity, it’s one of the better options for making things like belt clasps or other wearable designs.
Siraya Tech Fast ABS-like Resin – Fast Curing and Easy Post-Processing
- Price: Check price on Amazon here
- Available Colors: Gray, Navy Gray, Creamy, White, Smoky Black, Green, Mecha White
What Siraya Tech lacks in color variation it makes up for in, as its name suggests, speed. Boasting a very low exposure time of only around 2.6 seconds. Not only that, but it’s also the quickest and easiest option for strong resins on this list for post-curing.
Customers report excellent post-processing results with even their navy gray option having an impressive shine and smooth surface even with vigorous scrubbing.
Speaking of scrubbing, this ABS-like resin is the least brittle of the bunch, making it ideal for thinner walls and smaller parts. Though it’s important to remember that to still print with a minimum thickness of 1mm.
This strong resin is perfect for smaller parts or miniatures that you want to keep in good condition and in one piece with constant movement, like board game pieces.
Formlabs Tough and Durable Resins – The Professional’s Choice
- Price: ~$200/L — Full selection available at Dynamism here
- Tensile Strength: Up to 65 MPa
- Available Colors: Gray Only
While few household resins can be compared to industrial-quality materials, Formlabs selection of tough resins is ideal for those of you with more professional uses in mind.
They have three varieties of some of the strongest SLA resins around, so we’re going to briefly break each one down here from weakest to strongest.
Note that Formlabs also offers rigid resins for $220-300, though its applications are limited due to their lack of elasticity, so instead we’ll be looking at their more ABS-like resins that are both impact resistant and flexible.
Formlabs Durable Resin
Of the three, Formlabs durable resin is the most elastic, and can be bent and pulled more than most tough resins before breaking.
This makes it ideal for prototyping smaller, squeezable parts and prototypes that need to be both pliable and highly impact resistant like pistons and door jams.
Formlabs Tough 1500 Resin
The tough 1500 resin is, like the durable resin, more pliable and elastic than most strong resins on the market. It’s slightly stiffer than its predecessor, though, which makes it more ideal for parts that need to stay rigid but also need a little flexibility.
The main reason to get the tough 1500 resin is that it’s certified for prolonged skin contact after being fully cured. This makes it a great choice for wearable items like glass frames and watch straps.
Formlabs Tough 2000 Resin
One of the strongest resins out there, and the closest of the three to ABS, the tough 2000 resin has incredibly high tensile strength up to 65 MPa, which is actually higher than standard ABS.
If you’re looking to make professional-grade parts for prototyping, Formlabs tough 2000 resin is as strong as you’ll get for its price, and is invaluable as a resin that’s stronger than we thought resin could be even just a few years ago.