Prusa Research has been a leader in 3D printing for the last 10 years and recently launched its first resin printer, the SL1. While the SL1 was a decent machine, I wasn’t impressed as it didn’t have a huge selling point compared to other cheaper options on the market. The new SL1S, however, has something that no other resin printer I’ve used has: insane speed.
I like it
- Excellent build quality
- quick impressions
- incredible detail
- Washing and curing is simple and easy.
I do not like it
- The price is very high if you are an amateur
Resin printing is already faster than printing on a standard 3D printer, but the SL1S takes this to the extreme. Resin uses an LCD screen to cure the resin one layer at a time, rather than a standard 3D printer that has to draw each layer onto plastic. This means that whether you print one model or 10, the print time is the same for resin printers.
Generally, on a printer like AnyCubic Photon Mono, the printing time per layer is around 2.5 to 2.8 seconds. While that may sound fast, the SL1S’s 1-second print time puts it to shame. I have printed models the full height of the printer in less time than the Mono can print a model a quarter of the size. It is really an impressive experience. Some of that speed comes from the settings, but most of it is in the design of the printer itself. Each of the moving parts is made with precision and all the removable parts feel great in the hand. It has a premium quality that you don’t find in many resin printers. The Prusa SL1S isn’t cheap, but more importantly, it doesn’t feel cheap.
Before I go any further, I’d like to offer a warning: resin 3D printing is both exciting and daunting. While it’s possible to make exquisitely detailed models using UV light and resin, it’s also much more complicated than its filament-based brethren. Resin 3D printing requires security measures such as, and secure storage to make it an enjoyable pastime. That said, it’s a lot of fun once you get the hang of it.
details are everything
If you’re looking to use your 3D printer for business, or if your goal is to make exquisitely detailed models, then you really need to opt for resin over filament. It can capture details like no other, and the Prusa SL1S delivers on that front. As you can see in this dark dryad from Fotis Mint, every crack in the bark skin is brilliantly captured and the details make it feel like it’s alive.
It helps that Prusa can control the whole stack when it comes to its resin printer. Prusa manufactures all levels of the 3D printing system, from the cutter that prepares the model to the resin that you put in the machine, you can optimize the experience if you use all of the company’s products. That doesn’t mean you have to use them, but it works better if you do.
To give you an idea of the level of detail the SL1S is capable of, these minis (above) are just 2 inches tall, and every strand in the barley has been perfectly printed. I don’t even have a tool to measure how small they are, but I know they are hard to print. Even the little pen in the OSHA goblin’s hand has printed well.
The Prusa SL1S appears to be built with the business user in mind. Rapid prototyping has always been essential in manufacturing, and being able to iterate on 3D printed models in a few hours instead of half a day allows you to get your product to market much sooner. If you’re an Etsy user selling Dungeons & Dragons jewelry or miniatures, the SL1S allows you to print more of your product faster, saving you the most precious commodity: time.
There is a lot of mess associated with resin 3D printing. For a resin print to be safe to handle, you must wash it with isopropyl alcohol and cure it with ultraviolet light. Before the birth of the wash and cure machine, we used to clean our prints in a random container and then let them cure in the sun. This resulted in many prints being over-cured, under-cured, or just plain bad looking in general.
The CW1S washer and dryer solves those problems by being as self-contained as possible. It has a metal tank with a magnetic rotor to clean your prints and powerful UV lights to fully cure them. It works great, although for some reason the wash bin isn’t big enough for a full size model. The top of the dryad, for example, hits the propeller inside, potentially breaking it. That said, there is a basket that allows you to wash multiple minis at the same time, speeding up the whole process.
The only limiting factor in purchasing a Prusa SL1S is cost. At $2,600 for the package, which includes the CW1S and SL1S printer, it may seem like a big investment, but if you’re buying for a small business or looking to quickly prototype a product, that investment is undeniably tempting. The sheer speed at which the SL1S can print detailed models makes the initial outlay seem less of a burden and more of a belief that your business can succeed.
When it comes to my own workshop, I consistently use the SL1S as my small-scale 3D printer of choice. When I can make a model in less than half the time of another printer this size, why use anything else? I would recommend buying the bundle instead of the standalone printer if you have the money to do so. The price difference is an additional $600 for both the wash and cure unit and the 3D printer: $2,000 for the SL1S and $2,600 for the CW1 and SL1S combined, but the extra money is worth the time saved by having a flow efficient work. .