Resin vs PLA

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nzhitman

New Member
Hi ... So I'm looking for some advice. I have started printing The Mandalorian in PLA and have questioned getting the armor made in resin instead.

Can somebody please enlighten a noob as to the pro's and con's for both?

Thanks in advance
 

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JOATRASH FX

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Unless the object is extremely detailed, small, or you really need a smooth surface directly, I'd recommend against printing in resin. Use resin for detail props... guns, maybe some detailed helmets, and PLA when you need things to take a pounding, where weight is an important factor (for mounting on an undersuit). It makes zero sense to do Mando armor in resin, unless you intend to make molds of it and cast in fiberglass. (Not to mention it'd cost a small fortune.) I would probably do the helmet shell in PLA and the ears in resin.

Weight (general, for thicker parts):
PLA<<<<Resin

Strength/Durability:
PLA>Resin

Fine Detail:
PLA<<Resin

Sharpness of edges:
PLA<<Resin

Material/Printing Cost:
PLA<<<<<<<<<<Resin

Work needed post-production:
PLA>>Resin
 

offearth

Member
Unless the object is extremely detailed, small, or you really need a smooth surface directly, I'd recommend against printing in resin. Use resin for detail props... guns, maybe some detailed helmets, and PLA when you need things to take a pounding, where weight is an important factor (for mounting on an undersuit). It makes zero sense to do Mando armor in resin, unless you intend to make molds of it and cast in fiberglass. (Not to mention it'd cost a small fortune.) I would probably do the helmet shell in PLA and the ears in resin.

Weight (general, for thicker parts):
PLA
Strength/Durability:
PLA>Resin

Fine Detail:
PLA
Sharpness of edges:
PLA
Material/Printing Cost:
PLA
Work needed post-production:
PLA>>Resin

Resin isn’t weaker than PLA, that’s not even close to the truth. Siraya Tech Fast is ABS like resin, sands super easily and has a UV resistance that PLA doesn’t offer. PLA is prone to snapping if dropped or flexed too much.

The biggest difference here is price. FDM printing is massively cheaper and if you want to get into resin printing on a large machine you’re talking $1800+.
 

nzhitman

New Member
Further information, I have printed and finished the helmet in PLA and was intending on printing the rest of the body armor in PLA but I have been offered a complete set of armor (minus the helmet) in high impact resin for $250. Assuming a month in total time including shipping, what are your opinions now?
 

JOATRASH FX

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Resin isn’t weaker than PLA, that’s not even close to the truth. Siraya Tech Fast is ABS like resin, sands super easily and has a UV resistance that PLA doesn’t offer. PLA is prone to snapping if dropped or flexed too much.

The biggest difference here is price. FDM printing is massively cheaper and if you want to get into resin printing on a large machine you’re talking $1800+.

OK, it looks like we're going to have to break this down, yeah?

My comments, based on the very brief question asked, were a was a quick, general comparison, made with the OP’s goal in mind and with the intent of not needlessly complicating things. Perhaps you could have considered that before making accusatory statements regarding truthfulness. I didn’t have time to go into MDS’s and compare tensile strength, modulus, elongation and so forth. (And based on the very short question, I didn't think it was warranted either.) Since the comparison was for PLA, I also assumed the discussion was aimed at options printed on more affordable, hobbyist-type machines (Anycubic, Peopoly, and perhaps to a lesser degree Formlabs, which are lower-end pro machines) and not industrial printers, because those rarely come up here. Those are, of course, a different ball game.

There are of course many types of print resins, but generally, the (hobbyist) ones that are suitable for props and armor, in terms of detail-precision, are on average less durable than PLA in practical terms (i.e. with finished, properly modeled pieces). Yes, there ARE stronger, less brittle print resins- if you have seen any of my projects here on the RPF, you'll see that I've used them. There are flexible rubber-resins (such as Formlab's "Flexible") that, once cured, you can bend in half or throw across the room without them breaking. However, I have found them generally impractical to use for most prop and armor projects for several reasons- among them warping issues and too-low heat deflection temperatures.

Siraya’s blue seems, looking at the MDS, to be very close to Formlab’s ’Tough’ resin, which I found to be rather worthless for props and armor- at least on the quality and level of precision I aim for. They even share the same color, not that it has to be relevant. It does have a higher heat deflection temp, which seems to be a major difference, but other factors actually seem weaker- and the Tough resin wasn't all that strong in the end, when I tried it.) Softer/durable resins tend to have issues with stability over time, warping while printing or other issues. More durable resins also tend to be more flexible, which means theres a risk of paint cracking unless you use softeners, something that's much harder to do when you want a chrome-like surface, as would be the case in the Beskar version of the Mando armor. Oh, and since we're evaluating truthfulness, claiming UV-cured resin offers better UV-resistance than PLA is a whopper of a statement, considering print resins grow more brittle the more you subject them to UV light! Some makes of PLA, on the other hand, have been known to be able to withstand year-long exposure to the elements. Anyway, we can generally assume that armor pieces will be painted and sealed, thereby making the UV-resistance point fairly moot, color fastness notwithstanding.

There's always a tradeoff. If someone could make a UV-print resin with the precision and detail of, say, Formlabs' Grey or Grey Pro, and have the overall durability of something like Tough, it would be the Holy Grail of resins. So far, I've yet to see one. (Formlabs actually just released a new variant, called "Tough 1500", that seem extremely strong, but I very much doubt it's stability over time. There has to be a compromise somewhere.) Granted, I've mostly worked with Formlabs' resins, but the others I've come into contact with, have not given me cause to think they are better.

As for the "$1800" cost, I'm guessing you're referring to the Phenom (whereas I was referring to material cost, not machine cost). The Phenom looks interesting, but even that machine can't print a full helmet, and I wonder how well it would handle larger armor pieces.

Further information, I have printed and finished the helmet in PLA and was intending on printing the rest of the body armor in PLA but I have been offered a complete set of armor (minus the helmet) in high impact resin for $250. Assuming a month in total time including shipping, what are your opinions now?
That's still not enough information to make an informed recommendation. $250 for a full resin printed Mando armor set seems too good to be true. (It wouldn't even come close to covering the materials on my machine, let alone other costs.) For cast-resin armor.... it seems a bit more on-par in terms of cost, but I wouldn't expect fantastic quality at that price, in any material.

Either way, if printed thick enough in resin to be somewhat durable, it's probably going to weigh a lot and risks making the flight suit sag. Hard to judge without more info. I've printed helmets in resin myself, not armor. Though I'm almost tempted to try it now, just for the hell of it.
 

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offearth

Member
OK, it looks like we're going to have to break this down, yeah?

My comments, based on the very brief question asked, were a was a quick, general comparison, made with the OP’s goal in mind and with the intent of not needlessly complicating things. Perhaps you could have considered that before making accusatory statements regarding truthfulness. I didn’t have time to go into MDS’s and compare tensile strength, modulus, elongation and so forth. (And based on the very short question, I didn't think it was warranted either.) Since the comparison was for PLA, I also assumed the discussion was aimed at options printed on more affordable, hobbyist-type machines (Anycubic, Peopoly, and perhaps to a lesser degree Formlabs, which are lower-end pro machines) and not industrial printers, because those rarely come up here. Those are, of course, a different ball game.

There are of course many types of print resins, but generally, the (hobbyist) ones that are suitable for props and armor, in terms of detail-precision, are on average less durable than PLA in practical terms (i.e. with finished, properly modeled pieces). Yes, there ARE stronger, less brittle print resins- if you have seen any of my projects here on the RPF, you'll see that I've used them. There are flexible rubber-resins (such as Formlab's "Flexible") that, once cured, you can bend in half or throw across the room without them breaking. However, I have found them generally impractical to use for most prop and armor projects for several reasons- among them warping issues and too-low heat deflection temperatures.

Siraya’s blue seems, looking at the MDS, to be very close to Formlab’s ’Tough’ resin, which I found to be rather worthless for props and armor- at least on the quality and level of precision I aim for. They even share the same color, not that it has to be relevant. It does have a higher heat deflection temp, which seems to be a major difference, but other factors actually seem weaker- and the Tough resin wasn't all that strong in the end, when I tried it.) Softer/durable resins tend to have issues with stability over time, warping while printing or other issues. More durable resins also tend to be more flexible, which means theres a risk of paint cracking unless you use softeners, something that's much harder to do when you want a chrome-like surface, as would be the case in the Beskar version of the Mando armor. Oh, and since we're evaluating truthfulness, claiming UV-cured resin offers better UV-resistance than PLA is a whopper of a statement, considering print resins grow more brittle the more you subject them to UV light! Some makes of PLA, on the other hand, have been known to be able to withstand year-long exposure to the elements. Anyway, we can generally assume that armor pieces will be painted and sealed, thereby making the UV-resistance point fairly moot, color fastness notwithstanding.

There's always a tradeoff. If someone could make a UV-print resin with the precision and detail of, say, Formlabs' Grey or Grey Pro, and have the overall durability of something like Tough, it would be the Holy Grail of resins. So far, I've yet to see one. (Formlabs actually just released a new variant, called "Tough 1500", that seem extremely strong, but I very much doubt it's stability over time. There has to be a compromise somewhere.) Granted, I've mostly worked with Formlabs' resins, but the others I've come into contact with, have not given me cause to think they are better.

As for the "$1800" cost, I'm guessing you're referring to the Phenom (whereas I was referring to material cost, not machine cost). The Phenom looks interesting, but even that machine can't print a full helmet, and I wonder how well it would handle larger armor pieces.


That's still not enough information to make an informed recommendation. $250 for a full resin printed Mando armor set seems too good to be true. (It wouldn't even come close to covering the materials on my machine, let alone other costs.) For cast-resin armor.... it seems a bit more on-par in terms of cost, but I wouldn't expect fantastic quality at that price, in any material.

Either way, if printed thick enough in resin to be somewhat durable, it's probably going to weigh a lot and risks making the flight suit sag. Hard to judge without more info. I've printed helmets in resin myself, not armor. Though I'm almost tempted to try it now, just for the hell of it.

Then you should have specified earlier instead of making a general post... [emoji2375]
 

zapwizard

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I agree with what JOATRASH FX posted. Most low-cost resins (The type use most on low-cost SLA machines) are quite brittle. If you get the right SLA machine, you can use the more expensive resins that can have all sorts of special properties. The exact same can be said for other FDM materials such as Nylon, Carbon Fiber filled, etc... PLA is the default cheap material for FDM machines.

Really which machine you choose depends on what you want to make. SLA machines can create finer details, but is typically limited to smaller parts. Great for model makers, less useful for say cosplay or making large props.
 

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