Standard 3D printing resin isn’t known for its strength. On the contrary, it’s among the most delicate and fragile 3D printing materials.
But, it does produce much higher resolution prints with finer details and features than FDM filaments, so it’s no wonder makers and businesses favor it for decorative, artistic, and prototyping parts.
For projects requiring extra resin toughness, there’s a growing trend of offering more durable and stronger 3D printer resin among manufacturers.
In this guide, we’ll explore the strongest 3D printer resins, how strong they are, and the applications they best suit.
The Strongest 3D Printer Resins
1. ABS-Like Tough Resin
ABS-Like resin is a catch-all term used for what we’ll call the more standard type of robust 3D printer resin. As the name implies, it pulls in some of the properties of ABS: shatter-proof, decent levels of detail, impact-resistant, and heat-resistant.
If we compare ABS-like resin vs standard resin, ABS-like is a strong option for all types of durable resin 3D printing projects where a downgrade in overall surface finish and detail is acceptable.
Recommended ABS-Like resins:
- Peopoly Moai Tough Resin: Available in clear color and suitable for SLA printers, Peopoly Moai is a strong resin that can take a beating. It’s among the lowest-cost options out there, so one for those that want the benefits of tough resin without the high prices.
- eSun Hard-Tough Resin: Designed to work with LCD printers, eSun’s tough resin boasts a higher toughness impact resistance than typical ABS-like resing. It works particularly well for durable parts that benefit from a rugged material. It also has strong mechanical properties and can sustain drilling without any structural damage.
2. Flexible Resin
Printed parts are firm and have a high elongation at break percentage. They can be bent and easily pulled out of shape without breaking or shattering. Due to its elastic properties, flexible resin offers excellent impact and shatter resistance, much like rubber.
A sure-fire sign of a flexible resin is its transparent quality. Shore Hardness, a measure of a material’s overall hardness, is generally used to indicate the flexibility of the resin, usually around 80A.
Recommended flexible resins:
- Formlabs Flexible 80A: An elastomeric resin, Flexible 80A offers superb flexibility for a resin along with stiff shape retaining properties that resembles rubber. It bounces back when pressed, and offers a soft-to-the-touch surface finish.
- Liqcreate Flexible X: As the marketing blurb notes, Flexible-X is soft, flexible, and elastic with excellent rebound properties thrown in for good measure. It can elongate up to 160% and is compatible with all types of resin printers – SLA, LCD, MSLA, DLP.
- Siraya Tech Tenacious Flexible Resin: Siraya Tech Tenacious Flexible Resin stands out for its high impact resistance and flexible properties. According to Siraya, a part printed with the resin can withstand being bent 180° without snapping or shattering.
- PrimaCreator Value Flex Resin: PrimaCreator Value Flex Resin is a great option for those looking for an affordable tough flexible resin. It has an elongation at break of 130% and excels at bringing out details.
3. Engineering Resin
Engineering resin is a name given to a group of tough resins with different properties destined for professional, usually engineering-based applications with a hefty price tag in tow.
Popular variants include tough resins similar to ABS-like, flexible resins, strong and rigid resins with high thermal and chemical resistance, and reinforced resins.
These are chiefly designed for product development, prototyping, rugged end-use parts, housings, enclosures, jigs, fixtures, connectors, robotics, medical devices, turbines, fan blades, electrical casings, automotive housings, and more.
Recommended Engineering 3D Printer Resin:
- Liqcreate Strong-X: An incredibly tough and strong resin, the Liqcreate Strong-X boasts one of the best tensile strengths on the market at 84 MPa. It’s stiff, heat resistant, and is compatible with SLA, MSLA, and DLP resin 3D printers. It’s also well-priced for an engineering resin.
- BASF Ultracur3D Rigid RG35: BASF Ultracur3D Rigid RG35 offers superb rigidity and durability while also being reasonably flexible. It’s also moisture resistant and has a solid 49 MPa tensile strength.
- Formlabs Tough 4000 Resin: Formlabs Tough 4000 Resin aims to offer both stiffness and precision through a glass reinforced composition. This results in a polished finish, while also being resistant to deformation over time.
4. Biocompatible Resin
Biocompatible resin is designed to meet medical standards for prolonged skin contact, making them popular in fields such as dentistry and other prosthetic-producing medical fields. The properties of biocompatible resin are generally identical to standard tough resin with high tensile strength.
Some biocompatible resins emphasize resistance to fluids, fractures, shattering, wear and tear, heat (for sterilization purposes), and chemicals to ensure they retain their structure and shape when in contact with fluids, skin, and high temperatures.
Common applications include dental models and retainers, anatomical models, splints, wearable technology, surgical tools, laboratory jigs, fixtures, tools, and other medical devices.
Recommended Biocompatible Resin:
- B9Creations BioRes: A durable, impact resistant resin, B9Creations BioRes is designed for prolonged skin contact, making it suitable for dental and medical applications. At $320 a bottle, it doesn’t come cheap, though.
- Loctite 3D MED413 HDT60 Tough: Loctite 3D MED413 HDT60 Tough targets medical applications thanks to ISO 10993-5 & -10 standard biocompatibility. It’s designed to retain all its properties at body temperature. Other features include a smooth surface finish and solid tensile properties. Common applications include hearing aids and medical equipment components.
5. Speciality Resins
Specialty resins boast special properties alongside the toughest expected from strong resins that make them useful for specific applications. They tend to carry a hefty price tag due to their more complex formulas, reaching hundreds of dollars per bottle.
High-temperature resins can sustain air, fluid, and gas flows at high temperatures for applications such as mounts, fixtures, molds, inserts, and housings.
ESD resin is also considered a Speciality resin and is designed for parts used alongside electrical components. They are typically static-dissipative: trays, end-use components, prototypes, tools, and fixtures.
Others include magnetic resin, chemical resistant resin, and monomer-free resin.
Recommended Speciality Resin:
- Formlabs ESD Resin: Formlabs ESD Resin is designed for parts sitting alongside electrical components and circuitry. Applications include, static-dissipative parts and enclosure for electronics.
- 3Dresyn MH Magnet Holder: 3Dresyn MH Magnet Holder is an ultra-tough and rigid resin designed to latch onto magnetic surfaces.
- Liqcreate Composite-X: One of the strongest resins on the market, Liqcreate Composite-X boasts an 85 MPa tensile strength thanks to a formula that includes reinforced nano-micro composites. It works in SLA, MSLA, LCD, and DLP resin printers. Other attributes include chemical resistance and low shrinkage.
Tough Resin Applications
- Gadgets and products subject to wear and tear
- End-use parts
- Machinery components
- Dental applications
- RC model parts
- Shatter-resistant parts
- Seat belt clasps
Resin Strength Explained
Tough resins exist to tap into the coveted high-quality detail and precision of resin but also provide resistance against wear and tear, stress, impacts, compression, and strain. This makes it particularly beneficial for applications with low tolerance and high compliance, such as engineering and functional prototyping.
Just how strong is the strongest resin for 3D printing? And is resin stronger than FDM filament?
Here’s a breakdown of the average tensile strength – a measure used to signal the max stress or weight material can sustain – of standard resin, the strongest 3D printer resin, and some popular FDM filament types, ABS and PLA.
- ABS – 32 MPa
- PLA – 28 MPa
- Standard Resin – 20 MPa
- Tough Resin – 40-50 MPa on average up to 170 MPa for the strongest SLA resin
It’s important to note that these represent averages. Tensile strength and the perceived toughness can vary drastically based on the quality of the filament, layer height, and the structure of the printed part.
But, for a general understanding of how materials differ, these give us a good idea of how much stronger tough resin is than standard resin. Resin print strength is substantially improved when using tough variants.
Strong Resin Pros & Cons
High resistance to strain, stress, cyclic loads, wear and tear
High tensile strength
Offers flexible resin 3D printing
Suitable for demanding, low-tolerance applications
Much more expensive than standard resin
Poorer surface finish, detail, and resolution than standard resin
Tricky printing, especially print removal
Not all resins are compatible with all 3D resin printers
What Is the Strongest 3D Printer Resin?
The strongest 3D printer resin currently available is Liqcreate’s Composite-X. It features a tensile strength of up to 85 MPa when UV and thermally cured properly, which is roughly four that of typical resin. This toughness is chiefly due to the use of reinforced nano-micro composite that makes it suitable for applications such as functional, rapid prototyping, industrial uses, and wind tunnel testing.
Which Resin Is the Strongest?
The strongest resin is typically engineering resin, formulated for high stress and strain applications, and aims to match the strength of injection-molded plastics. Alongside tensile strength, engineering resin tends to offer better chemical resistance and stiffness than typical 3D printing resin.
Second to engineering resin for toughness is ABS-like resin, which takes many of the tougher qualities of ABS to deliver durable, shatterproof, impact-resistant 3D printer parts. It’s also possible to buy tough resins that weave in some of the elasticity usually found in flexible materials. These aim to match the properties of rubber with excellent rebound performance, elongate at break, and smooth surface finish.
Can Resin Prints Be Strong?
Yes, resin prints, specifically tough resin, can indeed be strong, at least compared to what we’d usually expect from the material, which is typically fragile and breaks easily. If you want to create stronger resin prints, look to ABS-like tough resin, engineering resin, and flexible resin. These are available with up to four times the tensile strength of standard 3D printing resin.
Aside from using strong 3D printer resin, other factors can boost a part or model’s strength. These include using larger layer heights, employing supports during printing, and adhering to the proper, manufacturer-recommended washing and curing process. For the best results, we recommend adhering strictly to manufacturer-recommended temperature settings and cure times.
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