After 2 weeks of trying and testing, I am continually impressed with not only the amazing prints I’ve achieved using the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro, but the speed and simplicity of the entire printing process too, from calibration to cleaning.
A low-cost resin 3D printer, it’s capable of printing 2K quality layers with a mere 2-second exposure time.
Furthermore, its compact form houses luxuries like an in-built air filter and touch screen controls, and it comes bundled with a plethora of helpful tools. For a printer with such a low price tag, you can’t ask for much more.
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3D PRINTER REVIEW
Elegoo Mars 2 Pro
Elegoo Mars 2 Pro: Design & Setup
The Elegoo Mars 2 Pro has a sturdy, metal base and a sleek red and black color scheme. I like the futuristic aesthetic. Despite its compact size, it has a fair amount of weight to it, making it feel secure and stable on your counter. Externally, there is little else to say. On its front is a 3.5-inch touch screen and USB port, and on its back are air vents, power switch, and plug socket.
Putting the printer together was a piece of cake. The machine comes almost fully built out of the box and affixing the final couple of pieces is easy thanks to the sturdy, secure screw of the build platform, and the helpful groove around the LCD screen. I can tell that considerable care has been put into this aspect – ruining a print due to something as trivial as misaligning your build platform or resin vat is very frustrating, and Elegoo have made this almost impossible to do.
After removing the protective film from both the resin vat and the 2K mono LCD screen, it was time to calibrate. To set the machine’s “z=0” level, you need to sandwich a piece of paper between the build platform and the LCD screen and manually move the platform down until the paper “has some resistance but you can still pull it out with slight efforts”.
The subjectiveness of this instruction did leave me a little unsure before my first test print as to whether I had calibrated correctly, but I had no need to worry. Your intuition will do you just fine on this step.
While switched on, you’ll hear a whirring from the Mars 2 Pro’s in-built air filter. This is a feature that a beginner may fail to consider, but it is important — it will save you from having to subject an entire room of your home to that dreaded resin smell.
Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Review: Testing Print Quality
The Mars 2 Pro prints to a 2K resolution across the 129mm x 80mm build platform. Of course, some (pricier) resin printers use 4K LCD screens, but on a build platform this small and to the naked eye, the difference between 2K and 4K is truly negligible. This is no considerable trade-off for 99% of users.
The quality that the Mars 2 Pro is capable of is nothing short of astounding. For those wanting to print figurines, the detail you’ll be able to achieve with this printer is more than plenty.
My test print of Elegoo’s rook chess models was a mixed bag of success. I like the design of the rooks; beneath the spirals on the outside, you can see a staircase-like structure, and a helix in the center, highlighted well I think, by the translucent red resin. The intricate details came out nice and sharp.
However, I was unable to remove them from the build platform without chipping their base. This was due to the exposure time of the first layer being set far too high, leaving them hopelessly stuck to the build platform. But hey, that’s why we have a test model.
The Mars 2 Pro exposure settings of Chitubox are 2 seconds per layer, with 35 seconds for the bottom layer. These settings have worked perfectly for me every time. This short exposure time is an area where the Mars 2 Pro really shines.
Compared to other printers, you can save several seconds per layer, which can really add up to massive amounts of time when printing thousands of layers at once. Depending on what you have to print, the relatively small dimensions of the build platform may necessitate printing in several parts, and the rapid printing at least somewhat offsets this drawback.
It is worth noting here that I did also try the settings recommended by my resin, 8 seconds of exposure per layer with 60 seconds for the bottom layer. These settings resulted in my prints becoming stuck in the exact same way as the rooks, leading to damage. Depending on your resin, your mileage may vary, but I suggest starting with the lower exposure time.
To test how the Mars 2 Pro handles intricate patterns, I printed the Sierpinski Gasket fractal. I noticed no defects on this complicated model.
My next print was a little figurine of Clank from the Ratchet & Clank series of video games. I wanted to test some of the functionality of Chitubox by hollowing and adding support to a model before printing. In my opinion, the Mars 2 Pro is a perfect printer for those who enjoy making and decorating models.
Read more: the best 3D printers for miniatures
Printed in two parts, this T-rex skull shows off how smooth curved surfaces can be with the combination of Chitubox and the Mars 2 Pro. I think that it might have looked better in white though…
Chitubox is the included slicing software for the Mars 2 Pro. The basic, free version of the software is a user-friendly experience with all the features you need from adding support to hollowing.
Simply select the Mars 2 Pro on the list of printers in Chitubox to resize the virtual build platform to the exact dimensions of that of the Mars 2 Pro, and from there it is easy to arrange and slice your models, ready for printing.
One thing you need to know is that the firmware that comes pre-installed on the Mars 2 Pro is not compatible with the .ctb files that the latest version of Chitubox produces, so you should make sure that your printer is updated before slicing your files.
The printer itself is controlled via a 3.5-inch touchscreen on its front. The firmware installed is basic, but in a good way – you can’t really misinterpret anything on there. One nice touch is the ability to see the shape of the layer currently printing on the screen.
Another useful feature is the ability to pause prints part-way through. Oftentimes I use this to quickly take a look if my print is coming along well, or if the resin needs refilling, just for peace of mind.
I did encounter a couple of hiccups due to the Mars 2 Pro’s interaction with different USB sticks. When I had the printer on and then plugged in my own, personal USB stick, the printer would switch off. If the printer was off whilst the USB stick was in, it would not turn on.
It took a while of trying different things and a lot of googling, but I did figure out what was going wrong. Apparently, the Mars 2 Pro is only compatible with USB sticks of memory at most 16GB.
Upon using disk manager to partition 16GB of my USB stick for use, it works just fine for printing, but for some reason still not for updating the firmware. Elegoo do include a USB stick of their own with the Mars 2 pro, which worked properly for the update.
If you’re having any problems using your own USB stick, I’d advise trying the included one. Of course, this is not a significant problem, just something I wish I knew earlier. USB-C compatibility would also have been nice, but to most users this won’t pose a significant problem.
Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Accessories
Accompanying the Mars 2 Pro is a little cardboard box of helpful accessories marked “tool kit”, including plastic and metal scrapers for the build platform and resin vat respectively, diagonal cutters, face masks, latex gloves, paper filters for your resin, and a neat little stand which connects to your build platform.
Each of these items may as well be considered an essential for resin printing – their welcome addition is characteristic of Elegoo’s consideration of beginners.
The purpose of the build platform stand is twofold: it allows you to connect your build platform to your printer at different angles, useful for immediately after printing whilst your model is still dripping with resin, and it can be used to stand the build platform perpendicularly on your table, which allows you to scrape off prints with less risk of un-leveling the build platform by applying force to it from different angles. Surprisingly, I found this to be one of the most useful tools in the box.
Also included is the aforementioned USB stick, which has on it the Chitubox software, a copy of the instruction manual, and a model of a pair of rooks to test out your printer.
Should You Buy the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro?
Its accessible operating, simple assembly and maintenance, and bundled essentials make it perfect for beginners and experts alike. I wholeheartedly recommend this printer.
Yes, the small build platform is a compromise, but the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro prints with impressive speed, to seriously impressive quality, at an even more impressive price point.
Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Full Specs
- System: EL3D-3.0.2
- What slicer does Elegoo Mars 2 Pro use: ChituBox
- Technology: LCD / UV Photocuring / Resin
- Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Min/Max Layer Thickness: 0.01-0.2mm
- Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Print Speed: 30-50mm/h
- Z Axis Accuracy: 0.00125mm
- XY Resolution: 0.05mm (1620 x 2560 px)
- Build Volume: 5.08″ x 3.15″ x 6.30″ / 129 x 80mm x 160mm
- Light Source: UV Integrated Light (405nm wavelength)
- Languages: 12 options (Chinese, English, Japanese, Dutch, Korean, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Turkish & Portuguese)
- Connectivity: USB
- Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Weight: 13.67lbs / 6.2kg
- Does it have a touch screen: Yes, 3.5 inch
- Power Requirements: 100-240V 50/60Hz
- Elegoo Mars 2 Pro Dimensions: 7.87″ x 7.87″ x 16.14″ / 20 x 20 x 41 cm
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