This post is also available in: Français (French)
I’m going to talk to you today about the Elegoo Mars printer, a UV LCD printer, this printer is starting to become very popular in recent weeks, because it is currently offered at a very attractive price, at 249€/249$ via Amazon !
It is true that until now, I hadn’t really been interested in resin printing, because the prices remained quite high, especially consumables with 500mL bottles of resin at over 40€, and printers at 400-500€ for a very small printing area.
Several players on the market are starting to offer resin printers at attractive prices, at less than 300€, and you can also find more and more resin at attractive prices, it is common to see flash sales around 20-25€ on Amazon (Germany), or resin at less than 15€ on ebay, enough to start getting interested in this technology!
LCD, DLP, SLA, there are several resin technologies, I will not go into detail, but the Mars I am talking about today is an LCD printer, i.e. it uses an LCD screen like that of a smartphone, the resin used is a resin that cures to ultraviolet light, and it is therefore this LCD screen that will diffuse this UV light as a layer-by-layer image.
I’m not going to say that my experience with Mars is my very first resin experience, since I received 2 weeks before the Anycubic Photon S, so I’m testing both machines at the same time, but I found it more interesting to talk to you about Mars first!
Before we continue, Elegoo? Who are they? Who are they? This is a Chinese manufacturer which is mainly specialized in Arduino electronic equipment, they have already marketed other printers, but of the FDM type, which were mainly machines of other manufacturers but re-branded, they were for example reseller of the Ender3 manufactured by Creality but with their brand Elegoo.
The Mars is their first original printer, which is not a re-branded machine, initially announced in 2017, so it took them 2 years to develop this machine.
Is Mars better than a Photon (S)?
I have been asked this question several times on social networks, on paper the characteristics are very similar, moreover they both use the same motherboard from the manufacturer ChiTu. For an almost identical printing surface, and the same LCD resolution (which determines the accuracy/quality of printing) the price of March is really very attractive, 249€ for March, against 300/350€ for Photon or 500€ for Photon S (depending on promotions).
The printing quality will therefore be the same, the Photon S incorporates a carbon filter to reduce the odor level of the resin and it is slightly quieter but it is twice as expensive as the Mars, you can judge!
Features of Mars:
– Printing technology: LED Display Photocuring
– UV Source: UV Integrated Light (wavelength 405nm)
– XY resolution: 0.047mm(2560*1440)
– Z axis accuracy: 0.00125mm
– Height of layer: 0.01-0.2mm
– Printing speed: 22.5mm/h
– Power: 110-220V, 12V5A 60W
– Build size area: 11.98cm (W) x 6.8cm (D) x 15.5cm (H)
Maybe it’s time to see what this machine is capable of now!
Let’s start with the famous “unboxing” and its assembly, already the first positive point is that the machine is already fully assembled, unlike most FDM, so the machine is ready to use when unpacking, provided that you have not forgotten to buy resin! Because yes unfortunately there is no resin sample supplied with the machine, first negative point therefore…. Remember to check when you buy from Amazon if a bottle of resin is not available at a reduced rate or offered with the machine!
Several accessories are provided, including gloves, mask, plastic spatula, filters….. it should be taken into account that all these accessories are consumables that must be purchased in addition to the resin!
Indeed, resin being a toxic product, it is strongly recommended to use gloves when handling it, and also to put on a mask, glasses also would not be luxury!
Other consumables to plan, alcohol (IPA, to burn, household…) to clean your prints, and remove the remaining resin on your parts.
Finally, the last optional accessory this one, a UV lamp, which will allow you to harden your part more after printing, this is optional because you can also simply put it in the sun and let the sun’s UV rays act!
Yes that’s a lot of accessories to plan, you will always have to clean your parts well, a post treatment that can be scary or seem painful, but in the end when you see the quality of your impressions you will quickly forget these small inconveniences!
Let’s move on to the first commissioning, I made you a short video, this is my very first use, so I’m looking at the manual at the same time!
The procedure is quite simple, first of all after removing the different protective films, you will have to adjust the level of the tray (as on an FDM), this procedure is quite simple, it consists in unscrewing the screws present at the level of the head of the tray so that it can orient itself freely, then to launch via the menu of the screen the function “auto home”, a sensor will automatically detect the correct positioning of the tray, it will then be necessary to maintain the tray well and tighten the screws of the head.
CAUTION, do not autohome if you have not loosened the screws, you could break the LCD panel if the tray is not straight!
You can do this first manipulation either by leaving the resin tray empty, or by putting a sheet of paper in.
Once this operation is completed, you can start the first impression! After shaking the resin bottle, you can fill the tray with about 1/3, and I advise you to print the “Rock” example file provided with the printer first!
So much for my first impression, the result is just impressive, and this without having to make complex adjustments, 10min after unpacking!
Regarding the printing time, it will take about 5 hours for this example part, moreover in general you can consider 1 hour of printing per centimeter of height, whatever the level of filling of the tray, if you print with a layer height of 0.05mm.
So that’s it for the very first use of Mars, for a complete beginner! Finally simpler than I imagined.
And now to print other models?
The operation is similar to FDM printing, you will need a slicer software and an STL file, the same files as those that can be used on an FDM printer are fully compatible! To slic it, we will not use Cura, nor S3D, but we will have to use a software dedicated to resin printing, the one provided by Elegoo is called ChiTubox, we can also use this software for Photon or other printers of the same type.
The ChiTubox software is quite well done, available in French and easy to use, I’m not going to make you a complete tutorial on ChiTubox now, you will just have to keep in mind that generally you will have to tilt your parts by 30-45° with holders, you can also hollow out your parts (make them hollow) directly in the software to consume less resin during your printing.
Here are some examples of impressions I was able to make with the Elegoo Mars.
Printing made with Red resin from Elegoo, about 2 hours of printing with a layer height of 0.05mm.
Impressions made with Yellow Elegoo Resin Mars, less than 1h30 for these 2 prints, always in 0.05mm.
Approximately 2.5mL of resin to print this part.
Printing of an articulated actopus, reduced to 70% so that it can fit on the platform, the joints are perfectly functional!
A bigger impression this time, an Eiffel tower, about 10 hours of printing, still in 0.05mm, I had never managed to make this type of printing in FDM.
Finally, my biggest print, 15 hours of printing, a millennium falcon!
In 0.05mm, this printing will have consumed about 80mL of resin, which gives you an idea of the consumption!
To conclude, I would say that I was pleasantly surprised by this machine, I don’t have enough hindsight or experience to compare it with other models, except with the Photon S, but in any case for 250€ and the printing quality and level of detail obtained, you can buy it with your eyes closed!
The only downside is the size of the tray, indeed we won’t be able to make very large prints, but nothing will prevent you from cutting your parts into several parts, in addition many models (figurine for example) are already available pre-cut especially for resin printing.
Another point to take into account, the fragility of the prints, the resin is quite fragile, in any case the standard resin first price, for decoration it will not pose a problem, but if you have specific needs and need a strong mechanical resistance, you will have to turn to special resins.
Do I recommend this machine?
YES, for its price above all, but also for its printing quality, this machine is of interest to more and more people and is selling like hotcakes, at the moment I am writing to you it is out of stock (return to Amazon planned on July 20)