Price of resin vs filament

Hi there,

We have a Form2 and we are happy with it; it is very precise.

On the other hand I find very expensive the resin. 160 or 180 euros per litter. Plus the tanks, plus alcohol, gloves… the work with washing, curing…

I’ve been thinking to get an FFF printer, for simple parts which don’t need the accuracy.

A filament spool of PLA is 40 euros. 750gr. Ultimaker (generic PLA half of the price). I calculate that the liter (1000 cm3) is ca 67 euros. No additional costs (maybe support material, but I understand it uses less)

Let’s say that with 25 liters I justify the purchase of an Ultimaker 3.

What do you think?

I just wanted to share these thoughts


I agree. If your prints are reasonable is size the filament printers are getting pretty good. They have their own maintenance issue as well. My first 3D printer was a filament by Solid Doodle who is now out of business.

My parts can be very small to the point one needs magnifying glasses to see them clearly.

Its interesting to see that on 16th November Carbon 3D announced it was cutting the price of three of its most popular resins from $150 per litre to $50 per litre. With a starting price two years ago of $300 per kg it seems indicative of how the market is moving, and how fast the market is moving forward.

For a manufacturer to remain competitive its going to cause prices to be under increased scrutiny and the days of huge profit margins (Sometimes thousands of percent) from just the resin alone seem to be nearing an end

To quote part of the news:

“The resins, EPX 82 (epoxy), EPU 41 (elastomeric polyurethane), and RPU 70 (rigid polyurethane), are now priced at only US$50 per liter. This is a considerable discount over their initial price of around US$300 per liter in 2016, which had already dropped to half that level; cutting the price again now makes a big statement”

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What’s the quality of this resin? Has anyone used it in the Form 2 printer and if so, how was the quality of the prints?

Were can we buy the cyanate ester and epoxy resins? It’s worth a shot at 50$ a liter. So far I only see it’s on subscription base.

$50 is at a minimum of 50 liters and only sold directly by carbon as far as I can see…

That resin is only available to Carbon 3D customers, but don’t forget that only the formulation is unique to them - the base chemicals are available to others… How long before others bring similar materials to market?

I can use “flour” to bake a cake, Flour is available easily. The base chemicals are a little more difficult to get, but not impossible for a chemist to obtain. Most people graduating now with a chemistry degree can easily formulate a photo polymerised resin. Those people (the ones involved with 3D printing) learn by the day what is necessary to obtain the desired properties and how to improve those properties.

The point is that the market is rapidly evolving and as it does so prices become more competitive. Carbon 3D have demonstrated that.

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Regarding the original question: You could also try out 3rd-party resins (ALW, DigitalForge), which are considerably cheaper than the FormLabs ones.

FDM, however, is still going to be cheaper, because most of the time you don’t need to print your parts solid, but with some solid wall and top/bottom layers plus some percentage of infill (a regular pattern inside your part, see for example

BTW, if you go for a FDM printer, you don’t need an Ultimaker. They are nice, comfortable FDM printers, but their material profiles are, without some tuning, unfortunately less than accurate, the 2.85mm filament diameter sometimes restricts your material selection, and the price is… quite steep. Dual extrusion with water-soluble supports works well, though, provided you keep your materials bone-dry, even while printing.

To be fair that resin is only available if you have a Carbon printer, which is a machine that you can only rent and the cost is about 100k per year including a few accessories. At that rate they could sell the resin without margin …

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An interesting point John, but are we not tied to purchasing Formlabs resins if we want to use the full functionality of the printer?

Whilst the Form2 printers are sold outright, we are tied to using the Formlabs resins to use them with full functionality.

How much do you think it costs to produce a kg of resin if you are making say 1 tonne batches for resale? Even making 20kg batches shows significant profit.

A good benchmark is the cost of UV printing inks per KG when comparing cost to quantity.

Nah, we are not anymore. :wink: But yeah, you are right. However 100k$+50$ resin vs 3.5k$ + 150$ resin and you can still print a lot with the last one before you get break even.

That being said, I tried several 3rd party resins but formlabs is still a step ahead on printing quality for engineering applications. For figurines and big/course parts these 3rd party resins are fine. FDM is a no-go.

A few years back on an open source forum there was a list of chemicals for a basic 3D printing resin. If I remember correctly the cost per liter was about 30 USD. But don’t forget that development of resins is costly. It requires a lot of testing and experienced chemists and they don’t come cheap.

Hi Fantasy

How can we access the full functionality? At present the best is simply using one of the Formlabs resin profiles in a third party cartridge , so no variance in exposure time/power, no variance in temperature. Those are big factors in fully optimising a resin.

The other thing to remember is that the Carbon 3D printer is significantly faster than the Form2 probably 20 - 50x faster for producing a complex part. What price do you place on speed of production?

FDM is far from a “no-go” for many engineering parts. The big advantage is that you can use thermoplastics, enabling you to print parts that are tough and stiff and temperature-resistant. (Or flexible and tear-resistant - TPU vs. the Formlabs flexible is day and night, when considering tear-resistance) With fibre reinforcement, especially continuous fibres like some of the MarkForged printers are capable of, you can reach very impressive strength and stiffness values if the part geometry lends itself to the process.

For details and accuracy, SLA is unmatched currently, there is no discussion about that (that is, unless your parts begin to warp…). However, often you don’t need this level of detail, and instead you want material properties not attainable with SLA.

I agree however that wasn’t the point I wanted to convey. I chose to be bound to a certain brand of resin when buying a Form 2, for me the advantages outweigh the limitations.

What I meant to say is that the resin really only available with a Carbon subscription, you can’t buy the resin any other way, which make the price comparison moot because they obviously factor in the fact that you already pay a absurd amount of money just to have their printer in your shop.

Of course Formlabs could reduce the price of their resins drastically and still make some decent margin, my guess is they still depend a lot on the revenue from the consumables as they are not as established a company as Stratasys or 3DSystems (which by the way sell their resins at a higher price than formlabs, at least the Polyjet ones)