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3D Printer Resin vs Filament: Which has the best value?

Let’s begin and compare and contrast 3D Printer Resin vs Filament, what are the major differences and what are the costs.

The most popular of them that run on Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) technology uses filaments, strands of different kinds of materials with plastic as the chief ingredient.

The printing process involves the melting of thermoplastic filaments, which is used to layer the workpiece on the print bed. The melted filament hardens by itself after being layered in the printing process.

The other printer which is also very popular but mostly for niche 3D printing jobs is run on Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) technology and uses resin for printing.

In SLA printers, the object is printed layer by layer on the print bed. In the SLA printing, the printer uses UV light to solidify the liquid resin. In the place of resin, a curable photopolymer can also be used.

The process to harden the liquid resin is called curing. Usually, SLA printers build the object from top to bottom. For this, the print bed lifts the object upwards to steer it out of the resin’s path. For the light that hardens the resin, digital light processing (DLP) or lasers are used.

Differences between FDM and SLA Printers

Although there is a basic similarity between FDM and SLA 3D printers in how they carry out the printing or building workpiece, there are many differences on the practical plane. FDM printers work faster than SLA printers because the latter takes longer to harden and solidify the printed model. FDM printers work more reliably and require little maintenance compared to SLA Printers

FDM 3D Printers


  • Affordable, entry-level printers available
  • Filaments are less expensive than resin
  • Easy to use
  • A variety of Products


  • Final print quality depends on post-processing

SLA 3D Printers


  • Extremely high-quality and precise print works
  • Laser beams create the finer details
  • Industry Grade Machine


  • Few options in affordable, entry-level printers
  • Resins are more expensive than filaments
  • Not so easy to use, especially compared to FDM

Which is better – FDM or SLA?

If you are looking for a 3D printer that can produce high-quality printing work, with a noticeably higher degree of precision and smoothness, you should choose an SLA printer. But if you can do with everyday 3D printing, you can choose an FDM printer. There is a huge difference in the cost of the two printers, with SLA staying ahead of FDM.

FDM printers are good for the following job:

  • Rapid and large-scale prototyping
  • Building workable models at low costs
  • Great for experiments and hobby pursuits
  • When quality and finish is not so important

SLA printers are good for the following job:

  • When you are looking for precision in intricate work
  • When the durability of the work piece is not important
  • Can help crate casting for mass production such as in jewelry manufacturing

3D Printer Resin vs Filament Cost

In the 3D printer resin vs filament cost debate, we find SLA printers’ costs to be on the higher side and there is a good reason for this. In terms of cost, FDM printers are less expensive compared to SLM printers.

While FDM printers are available in budget and entry-level categories, it is hard to find an SLA printer at such low prices. That’s why FDM printers are the first choice of everyday users. An entry-level FDM printer can be found for $500 while customized FDM printers can cost as per the specifications.

On the other hand, finding an SLA printer for less than $1000 is difficult while on the higher-end, it can be customized and the price would depend on specifications. The price can range from $5000 to $100,000, or more. Besides the cost, the running cost is also expensive in the case of SLA printers. While filaments can come at $25 per kg, 1 liter of resin may cost $80.


3D printing is a hot technology with the possibility of widespread application in many industrial fields and sectors. A lot of research and development is going on and every new model has some of the other advanced technologies built in the system.

Both FDM and SLA printing technologies have their respective merits and applications. For common day-to-day use, FDM 3D printing machines are good while SLA printing machines are good for high-quality work where the precision of design and surface finish are important criteria.

In the 3D printer resin vs filament cost discussion, we find FDM printers’ costs to be on the lower side.

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Joshua Garcia, Founder

Hi, I'm Joshua. I created Maker Industry to share my passion for maker tools and help others learn about 3D printing, CNC systems, laser cutting and more. Learn More