This 4D Filtration resource is user-supported by donations, affiliate links, and/or ads.

3D Printing Resin vs Filament: Quality, Strength, Cost, and Safety

Last Updated: March 3rd, 2023

FDM (fused deposition modeling) printers create objects by heating filament and depositing plastic layer by layer along paths.

FDM printers are ideal for rapid prototyping, large objects, and fun trinkets. They are ideal for first time makers looking to get into 3D printing.

MSLA (masked stereolithography) printers create objects by selectively curing photopolymer resin layer by layer with UV (ultraviolet) light.

Resin printers are ideal for high-detail objects (like miniatures), complex geometry, batch printing, and creating molds. They are straightforward to operate, but the cleaning process and safety concerns demand more attention.

Table of Contents

Should I Use FDM or Resin?

When to use Resin:

  • High-detail
  • Complex geometry 
  • High-temperature parts
  • Batch printing small parts
  • Creating molds for jewelry casting etc.

When to use FDM:

  • Large prints
  • Quick, low-cost prints
  • Ultra-stiff parts
  • Low-density parts
  • Minimize safety concerns

Quality of FDM vs Resin

FDM Quality

FDM 3D prints are best known for their visible layer lines. These layer lines can be minimized by using smaller layer heights, printing at higher temperatures, sanding the print, and using chemicals to smooth the surface (e.g. acetone on ABS or ASA). Stringing can also be a common issue, but it can be minimized by adjusting slicer settings.

Resin Quality

Resin 3D prints are best known for their high-detail and translucency, with no layer lines. However, the supports for a resin print can leave small craters throughout the print. These can be minimized by avoiding heavy supports or fixed in post-processing. When exposed to sunlight, clear resin prints can yellow over time, but this degradation can be prevented with protective coatings.

The FDM miniatures above were printed on a Prusa MK3S with the default quality settings and Hatchbox PLA. This showcases what your smaller filament prints will look like starting off. While the settings can be optimized to reduce issues such as stringing, it is nearly impossible to completely eliminate some quality defects associated with FDM printers.

The resin miniature was printed using Siraya Tech Simple Smoky Black with the resin default of 0.05 mm layer height. Resin printers can use a layer height of 0.01 mm but even the default provides an amazing level of detail. On the resin miniature's hand, you can see webbing between the fingers - this is caused by overexposure and is easily fixed by reducing the exposure time per layer.

Filament vs Resin 3D Printer Cost

FDM Printers

For first time makers, we recommend going with a printer like the Anycubic Kobra. This printer comes mostly assembled, has a direct drive extruder, and uses an induction probe for auto-leveling. These features and acceptable quality control will minimize potential issues and get you printing in minutes. FDM printers with direct drive and auto-leveling typically start at $300.

There are a few reliable models near $200, like the Kingroon KP3S, but you will be sacrificing features or build volume. Direct drive printers can use materials such as PLA, PETG, PP, OBC, and TPU right out of the box. If you want to use ABS, ASA, HIPS, Nylon, and PC then the printer's PTFE-lined hotend will need to be upgraded to an all-metal version.

The Prusa Mini is the cheapest printer that can use higher temperature filaments. Other all-metal extruder FDM printers such as a Qidi X-Plus or Prusa MK3S are $700+ but will let you print most materials under 300°C right out of the box.

The size is a major factor that determines the price of the printer. Most budget FDM printers are near the build volume of 220x220x250 mm. Affordable options for large printers are the Sidewinder, SV03, or X5SA. The Voron is a project printer that will cost ~$1,000, and its pre-assembled version, the Troodon, will run over $1,500. One of the super-sized printers we are looking forward to is the Prusa XL, which will be 360x360x360 mm and packed full of features such as 5 independent tool heads.

Anycubic Kobra

($20 Off)
Assembly: Partial
Extruder: Direct Drive
Auto-Leveling: Yes
Max Nozzle Temp: 230°C (260°C)
Max Bed Temp: 110°C
Print Volume: 220mm (L) 220mm (W) 250mm (H)

Kobra vs Vyper

Anycubic Kobra

Artillery Sidewinder X2


Assembly: Partial
Extruder: Direct Drive
Auto-Leveling: Yes
Max Nozzle Temp: 230°C (240°C)
Max Bed Temp: 130°C
Print Volume: 300mm (L) 300mm (W) 400mm (H)

Sidewinder X1 vs X2

artillery sidewinder x2

Prusa MK3S+


Assembly: Kit or Fully
Extruder: Direct Drive
Auto-Leveling: Yes
Max Nozzle Temp: 300°C
Max Bed Temp: 120°C
Print Volume: 210mm (L) 250mm (W) 210mm (H)

Prusa Mini vs MK3S vs XL

Prusa MK3S+
Prusa - KitPrusa - Assembled

Qidi X-Plus


Assembly: Fully
Extruder: Direct Drive
Auto-Leveling: Yes
Max Nozzle Temp: 300°C
Max Bed Temp: 100°C
Print Volume: 270mm (L) 200mm (W) 200mm (H)

Qidi X-Plus

Resin Printers

Small resin printers are slightly cheaper than FDM printers, but the cost of an entire resin setup will be higher due to the ventilation and cleaning equipment.

For first time makers, we recommend starting with a smaller resin printer like the Photon Mono 4K, Photon M3, Mars 3, or Mini 4K. If you need a larger build volume, then a variant of the Mono X, Saturn, or Mighty 4K for $350+ is ideal. There are large resin printers but they cost over $1,000, and it is recommend to start with a smaller printer to learn the entire process.

Most people purchase cleaning equipment such as a wash & cure machine or an ultrasonic cleaner in order to streamline post-processing. These can add an additional $50-200 to your budget depending on the size you pick. When resin printers are indoors or exposed to cold temperatures, they will need ventilation and heating, which will increase your budget by $100-200. It is recommended to place resin printer outside the residence (ie: garage) to further safety and save money.

Anycubic Photon M3


Resolution: 0.04mm (XY) 0.01mm (Z)

7.6" 4k Screen ($70)
Print Volume: 163mm (L) 102mm (W) 180mm (H)

Photon M3 Series

Anycubic Photon M3

Elegoo Mars 3


Resolution: 0.035mm (XY) 0.01mm (Z)

6.6" 4k Screen ($50)
Print Volume: 143mm (L) 89mm (W) 175mm (H)

Mars 3 vs Mars 2

Elegoo Mars 3

Elegoo Saturn 2


Resolution: 0.028mm (XY) 0.01mm (Z)

10" 8k Screen
Print Volume: 219mm (L) 123mm (W) 250mm (H)

Saturn S vs Saturn 2

Elegoo Saturn 2

Anycubic M3 Max


Resolution: 0.043mm (XY) 0.01mm (Z)

13" 7k Screen ($220)
Print Volume: 298mm (L) 164mm (W) 300mm (H)

Photon M3 Series

Anycubic Photon M3 Max

Filament vs Resin Material Cost

Cost of Filament

Entry-level filaments, such as PLA, PETG, and ABS, typically cost between $15 and $30 per kilogram.

Engineering filament, such as PC, Nylon, and ASA, will be $50-100 per kilogram.

Most consumer filaments max out around $150 for a roll, while industrial filament like PEEK can cost upwards of $500 per kg. You can explore brands, prices, and properties with our filament tables.

Cost of Resin

Budget resin is $20-35 per kilogram, especially with promotions.

Engineering resin starts at $40 per kg. Formlab's SLA resin is $175-300 per kg, and this is the typical price ceiling. The exceptions to this are ceramic and biomedical resin, of which can be $500 per kg. You can explore brands, prices, and properties with our resin tables.

Strength & Properties of Filament vs Resin

It is a widespread belief that FDM prints are stronger than resin prints, but this is not always true. Resins, such as Siraya Tech Sculpt, have a higher tensile strength than PLA and PETG. As for durability, Siraya Tech Blu is very similar to PETG.

For the best results, it is important to select a material that is appropriate for your particular application. As an example, for printing miniatures, it is recommended to use a durable resin to ensure they can withstand handling without breaking. In contrast, budget resins tend to be brittle and may not be suitable for this purpose.

Filament Properties

Basic filaments, such as PLA or PETG, are sufficient for general trinkets and project pieces. However, for specialized applications that require greater strength, stiffness, or temperature resistance, it is common to use filament infused with materials like carbon fiber or glass fiber. 

Carbon fiber infused filament allows FDM printed parts to have a high modulus (stiffness). Filament blends like PP-CF (polypropylene) can create highly sought after lightweight, high-strength parts.

Filaments materials like OBC (Olefin Block Copolymers) and TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) excel at flexibility. Filaments and blends made from PETG, PP, ABS, ASA, Nylon, and PC have high tensile strengths and fracture elongations, so parts printed from these filaments will be more durable than PLA or budget resin.

Resin Properties

Most makers turn to resin for printing highly detailed miniatures. These models often contain thin features that are fragile when brittle budget resin is used. When miniatures are printed with a durable resin, they are able to withstand plenty of punishment. Affordable engineering resins such as SuperPP, Blu, Tenacious, or Anycubic Tough can match or exceed the durability of PETG - these are the type of resins you will want to use for impact resistance.

For Resin, the tensile strength and fracture elongation is commonly listed by manufacturers but the Izod test is not. It is used to determine how much energy a material can absorb under high-impact. The Izod test allows us to see that a resin like SuperPP can absorb 120 J/m whereas Anycubic Tough can only absorb 55 J/m.

When you need to print high-temperature components, resin is required, unless you have a FDM printer that can print towards and above 300°C. With any resin printer, you can use a high-temperature resin like 3D Material's SuperHDT or Siraya Tech Sculpt to create parts that can withstand up to 240°C.

Filament & Resin Printer Safety

FDM Safety

3D Printing with PLA is as safe as it gets. When you start using PETG, ABS, Nylon, and etc. then you should at the very least have an air cleaner near the printer - it should have a MERV/HEPA filter for the nanoplastics and ideally carbon granules for the VOCs. If possible, placing the printer outside the residence (ie: garage) will minimize the need for ventilation or filtration.

Resin Safety

Ideally, resin printers should be placed outside the residence (ie: garage, shed, or balcony) but they can be indoors in a separate and sealed room if they are being vented out a window. Filtration can be used as mitigation and a secondary defense. Using an enclosure like a grow tent will increase the efficiency of ventilation, and it helps keep the heat in for when the temperature drops below 20°C. A small temperature controlled heater is a reliable method to keep the resin up to temp.

When interacting with the resin printer you should wear disposable or reusable nitrile gloves, and it is a best practice to wear eye and clothing protection. If you get any resin on your skin, wash it off with soap and water as soon as possible - do not use IPA. You can visit our FAQ page to find more safety guidelines and tips.

Ultimate Resin Guide - compare resin printers, resin material, and equipment

Preparing for Resin Printing - setting up an enclosure, heating, ventilation, filtration, and cleaning equipment

FDM Printers Guide - comparison table and top picks for filament printers

Resin Properties or Filament Properties - comparison table and top picks for materials

Disclaimer: You assume all responsibility and risk for the use of, but not limited to, the resources, advice, and opinions of 4D Filtration or its employees. 4D Filtration or its employees do not assume any liability or create any warranty for the use of any information. 4D Filtration may receive commissions for referral links. Prices are approximated for simplicity and they may fluctuate due to sales or markdowns. Amazon .com should refer you to your local amazon site if you are not in the United States; there is a chance Amazon's link redirect system will take you to a different product.

Did we miss anything or do you have any information worth an update? Let us know!

Like the resources? Consider supporting us via donation, referral links, or purchases!