Within the last year, cheap LCD 3D printers have completely changed how we perceive resin 3D printing. Once considered a more industrial 3D printing technology costing thousands of dollars for an entry-level SLA printer, LCD 3D printers now start at just over $200. And they’re good, too.
LCD 3D Printing: An Introduction
The differences between DLP and LCD 3D printing are subtle: DLP printers use projectors to cure resin, solidifying the whole layer of resin in one ‘flash’ — making it faster than SLA.
LCD builds on this technology by harnessing the power of LED lights which are shone through an LCD screen rather than a projector. This LCD screen filters out the areas which aren’t to be solidified — the areas not part of the model — so only the voxels (3D pixels) that are part of the model are cured by the UV light. This method means there are no need for a directing tool such as the galvanometers used in Stereolithography.
As with all resin printing technologies, we do not recommend them as 3D printers for beginners or as 3D printers for kids. They can be more risky for people new to 3D printing, as resin is more irritant and potentially dangerous than the plastic filament used by FDM 3D printers.
LCD vs DLP
- For a full explanation, read our in-depth comparison of LCD vs DLP.
LCD 3D printing is faster than SLA, and overall the same speed as LCD — they both flash entire layers at once. But LCD shines by further democratizing resin printing, with cheaper prices than have ever been seen previously. These are the first printers to cost the same as FDM printers — the ELEGOO Mars costs just $249.
To conclude, LCD 3D printing acts as a more accessible start to resin printing. The printers on average use cheaper parts, and you can’t expect the quality of a $100,000 machine from a $250 printer, but for those who want to experience resin printing without breaking the bank, they’re ideal.
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Best Cheap LCD 3D Printers 2020
|Name and Brand||Max Build Volume (mm)||Price||Best Price to Buy||Alternative Purchase Option|
|AnyCubic Photon S||115 x 65 x 165||$460-500||Gearbest here||Amazon here|
|ELEGOO Mars||115 x 65 x 150||$259+||Gearbest here||Amazon here|
|QIDI Tech Shadow 5.5 S||115 x 65 x 150||$269-300||Amazon here||Gearbest here|
|AnyCubic Photon||115 x 65 x 155||$249+||Gearbest here||Amazon here|
|LONGER Orange 30||120 x 65 x 170||$289||Amazon here||Gearbest here|
1. AnyCubic Photon S — Best Cheap LCD 3D Printer Under $500
- LCD 3D printer price: $250 — Available on Amazon worldwide here / Anycubic Store here / 3DJake UK & Europe here
- Max print volume: 115 x 65 x 165 mm
- Warranty: 1 year (excluding 5.5″ LCD screen and FEP film)
The newer Photon model, the Photon S, builds on the immense success of the original Anycubic Photon. The original was so good that it still features in this ranking, and absolutely deserves to be here; but the Anycubic Photon S rightfully surpasses it.
Like with all LCD 3D printers, the Anycubic offers scalable production — you can print six identical models in the same time it would take to print just one. The Photon S is now far easier to assemble as it comes almost fully assembled already — you just need to make the resin vat and level the printer.
Most importantly however, the Photon S has key upgrades made to the Z axis to minimize wobbling and enhance precision and print quality. The new LCD printer is now extra stable, and capable of producing extremely high quality prints.
- AnyCubic resins start at $19 for 500ml. You can view them here.
- Replacement FEP film is not covered by warranty. They cost $23 here.
- Replacement resin vats are available here.
Other improvements such as upgraded LED lighting to improve resolution and accuracy complement the stabilized Z axis, and as a result the Photon S is one of the few most popular printers on the internet right now. The size differences are minimal — the Photon S can print 10 mm taller prints than the original Photon — but the improvements to the printer’s mechanics and functioning justify the extra $200 in price. The original Photon was still good enough to make waves in the LCD 3D printer industry, and the Photon S undoubtedly adds to Anycubic’s stellar reputation for making great low cost resin printers.
2. ELEGOO Mars Pro — Best LCD 3D Printer Under $250
- LCD 3D printer cost: $249 / £229 — Available on Amazon here / 3DJake UK & Europe here / Available on Gearbest here
- Max print volume: 115 x 65 x 150 mm
- Warranty: 1 year (3 months for the LCD screen and FEP film)
Undoubtedly one of the best low cost resin printers, we rate the ELEGOO Mars Pro very highly. The price seems almost too good to be true, yet this cheap LCD printer shines through with good quality, fast speed and cheap resin materials.
The printer is promoted based on its speed: not just in printing, but how quickly it slices and prepares models too. The ELEGOO Mars Pro comes with CHITUBOX slicer — which we discuss further in our best resin 3D slicer ranking — which they say can slice a 30mb STL file in just one minute. They also highlight some useful tools you can use such as one that hollows out your models before you print — saving on expensive resin costs.
- ELEGOO also sell their own resins which you can find here.
The 3.5 inch touchscreen is easy to use, and the 2K LCD screen offers great precision for the price — 0.047mm XY resolution. The company say the low cost LCD 3D printer prints at around 22.5mm/h, so don’t expect large models to be printed in minutes, but it isn’t slow either. It has also been upgraded significantly on the original Elegoo Mars, with a more effective Z-axis guide-way system which creates smoother parts with less obvious layer lines, as well as a number of safety improvements.
It’s a great introductory resin 3D printer for beginners, as it’s cheap, easy to assemble and use, and offers great results.
3. QIDI Tech Shadow 5.5 S
- Price: $299 / £329 — Available on Amazon worldwide here / 3DJake UK & Europe here / Amazon Australia & NZ link here
- Max build volume: 115 x 65 x 150 mm
- Warranty: 1 year (doesn’t include the LCD screen of FEP film)
Several QIDI Tech 3D printers have impressed us, especially the X-Pro which features in our best dual extruder 3D printer ranking. We were therefore not surprised to see how good their LCD printer, the Shadow 5.5 S, was for such a low cost machine.
Featuring a 2K LCD screen capable of printing at 47 microns, QIDI have worked hard on making this a very high quality printer. This shows in the effort put into stabilizing the printer — especially the Z axis — with their new unique dual rail design to prevent any Z axis wobbling.
- QIDI Tech also sell resins for their printers. 500ml resin is priced at $24.90 here.
In addition, the 2020 model Shadow 5.5 S features an upgraded air filtration system. This double filtration system is great for reducing odors and prioritizing safety. QIDI Tech also talk up their after-service team who will reply to any problem you have within 24 hours to help you get back to printing. They also say the printer has been widely adopted in the architecture, 3D printed jewelry, design, medicine and education sectors.
4. Anycubic Photon — Low Cost LCD 3D Printer Kit for DIY resin printing
- Price: $269 / £299 — Available on Amazon worldwide here / Amazon UK link here
- Max print volume: 115 x 65 x 155 mm
- Warranty: 1 year (excluding LCD screen and FEP film)
The younger brother to the awesome Photon S — but no slouch either — the AnyCubic Photon is still a fantastic printer, and one of the highest selling printers in the world. For those who want to save the $200 in extra costs for the Photon S, the original Photon is still a fantastic choice for inexpensive resin printing.
It’s only slightly smaller than the Photon S — by 10 mm in height. It requires more assembly than the Photon S, but it is still very simple to assemble. It also comes with a 2K LCD screen and has the 47 micron precision, and you also have access to lifetime technical support where experts guarantee to respond to your problems or queries within 24 hours.
5. LONGER Orange 30 — Great LCD Printer For Beginners
- LCD 3D printer price: $299 — Available on Amazon worldwide here
- Max resin print volume: 120 x 65 x 170 mm
- Warranty: 1 year (doesn’t include the LCD screen or FEP film)
The LONGER Orange 30 is the new and improved, upgraded version of the original Orange 10 — which itself is a very good LCD printer. Upgrades on the original include a slightly larger build area (120 x 65 x 170 mm) as well as improvements to stabilize the Z axis with a new slider design that helps print parts of the highest quality.
The Orange 30 makes a great LCD 3D printer for beginners who may not understand all the nuances of resin printing. This is because of features like automatically stopping printing if the temperature gets too high to avoid any safety risks. The 2.8″ touchscreen is ergonomic and easy, and LONGER have their own custom slicer for importing 3D models.
The LONGER Orange 30 also features improvements that they call the “Uniform Matrix Lights” — offering better performance in the consistency of the LED lights. In addition, the lights have been upgraded to become more intense, making curing the photosensitive resin faster, and therefore printing quicker.
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