Nipped, tucked, and upgraded for a little more money, the Elegoo Mars Pro outclasses the original Elegoo Mars in many ways. But should you upgrade? Read our review to find out.
When you’re looking for flawless surface quality and intricate details in your 3D printed models, an FDM 3D printer just isn’t going to cut it – what you need is a resin 3D printer. Up until a few years ago, resin-based processes like stereolithography (SLA) were largely reserved for professionals and small businesses with a few thousand dollars to burn, leaving the average maker without access to this high-resolution 3D printing technology.
But this all changed when several 3D printer manufacturers started rolling out affordable and surprisingly adept LCD 3D printers. In a newly formed budget-friendly market segment kickstarted by the Anycubic Photon, the Elegoo Mars was one of the top challengers to emerge shortly thereafter.
Unveiled back in 2017, the Elegoo Mars remains one of the most popular desktop 3D printers for consumers on a strict budget – its price hovers around $250. We reviewed the Elegoo Mars and found it to offer exceptional print quality, not to mention it was a cinch to assemble, level, and get printing.
Now, Elegoo has gone back to the drawing board, refining and improving upon its flagship LCD 3D printer – resulting in the Elegoo Mars Pro. More than a rebranding with a few simple tweaks, the Elegoo Mars Pro actually has an impressive number of design and performance enhancements, ultimately improving upon the great experience of its predecessor.
Launching at $299, the Pro version is just slightly more expensive than its predecessor, but still quite affordable considering what it offers.
The Elegoo Mars Pro makes incremental improvements on what was already a very good 3D printer. There’s no reinvention of the wheel here, just considered iteration based on feedback from users of the original. Not all of the changes quite stick the landing, but there’s just enough to justify the small bump in price. That being said, we’d think twice before dropping the original Mars – the print quality appears to be the same.
While the price ticks up over the original Mars, another similarity between the two appears to be limited availability. Within 24 hours of being available to buy, we’ve already seen it bounce in and out of stock. Early adopters should expect to have to be vigilant to snag one.
The Elegoo Mars Pro is one of a growing number of printers to resort to appending ‘Pro’ to its name. How much this reflects the reality of a machine that makes marginal improvements to an already excellent but nevertheless non-“professional” printer is debatable. Really, the Mars Pro is the original Mars as it could, or perhaps should, have first launched.
Sensibly, the design of the Elegoo Mars Pro remains in step with that of the original, making it easier for us to pick out the differences and weigh them up side by side. Distancing ourselves from the machines, it’s clear that the Mars Pro is all about ease of use, benefitting from a raft of marginal changes that as a whole add up to better usability.
And, by and large, we’d say the Elegoo Mars Pro is a success.
Like its predecessor, the Elegoo Mars Pro features a compact 120 x 68 x 155 mm build volume, a 2560 x 1440 pixels screen resolution, along with a 3.5-inch color touchscreen. Furthermore, this machine essentially has the same black and red-skirted design, with a UV-blocking lid, and base along with resin vat and print plate the four main components.
Using the Mars Pro is – in the most flattering way possible – a largely forgettable process, in that there’s so little to it and everything works as it should. It stays current with the latest version of ChiTu Box and uses the new and light CTB file extension, which combines with moderate improvements to the design and the inclusion of useful extras, to sum up to a superior budget resin printing experience.
The repositioning of the USB port results in less handling of the printer to set up prints. And the inclusion of a rejigged and more powerful LED system allows the Mars Pro to print a regular layer in six seconds (resin dependent), keeping it in line with expensive competition such as the Original Prusa SL1.
Smaller details see improvement, too. For ease of use when bed leveling Elegoo has embiggened the bolts you must tighten to level the print plate.
Also new for the Mars Pro is the addition of a carbon filter in the printer’s base unit. Placed to strip VOCs from the air inside the print chamber, it should go some way to alleviate any concerns about air quality when using the Mars Pro. We don’t have the equipment on hand to test air quality and whether the filter is doing its job, but other testers have posted their impressions online, suggesting that it does indeed help.
Elegoo includes a handful of PPE supplies in the box, including (uniquely, as best we can remember from current and past resin printers we’ve tested) masks with some kind of integrated filter. As always, the Mars Pro should still be operated in a well-ventilated space.
The inclusion of a length of rubber to use as a gasket around the edge of the printer’s protective cover assists the filter in keeping the environment around the Mars Pro less noxious. With that said, were this gasket to form an airtight seal, the filter wouldn’t be able to exchange the air and be rendered pretty useless. Handily it doesn’t – in fact, the fit of the gasket isn’t the best.
Really, we found it pretty clumsy in use, with frequent removals of the lid jostling it and resulting in the protective cover awkwardly resting on top of the base unit. It ruins the clean lines of the printer and seems very much like an improvised solution, rather than one by design.
Elsewhere, quality-of-life improvements can be found in myriad other places, from the new-texture print plate, which it is claimed will reduce the chance of non-adhesion. We didn’t experience this problem with the original Mars, so any kind of improvement there is impossible to verify. But, we are fans of the nifty radial pattern – close to the diffraction effect given off by compact disks, printing directly on the plate imparts this diffraction effect to the first layer of your prints.
You could reason it as an aesthetic upgrade, rather than a functional one.
The last big change of note is the upgrade to a linear guide for the Z-axis movement. Paired with a silent-running stepper motor, the two bring silent motion and – in theory – more consistency to print quality throughout the Z-axis. Certainly, the Mars Pro when in operation is whisper quiet (with the exception of the base unit’s fan, which negates this feature somewhat.)
Given the stresses MSLA printing imparts on the LCD screen, this component is considered a consumable – albeit an infrequent one. Prolonged use over hundreds of hours of printing will eventually degrade its performance to the point of being unusable, which means you’ll need to replace it. Like the Elegoo Mars before it, replacing the screen on the Mars requires you to remove the printer’s outer shell to access connectors, and take a knife to the screen to dislodge it. Not the most hassle-free experience for a part that will require replacement throughout the printer’s lifetime, but it’s livable.
Much like the Mars before it, printing with the Elegoo Mars Pro is straightforward. ChiTu’s highly capable ChiTu Box slicing software makes light work of preparing 3D models, with the requisite tools all upfront and accessible with the necessary parameters adjustable on the fly. Best of all, you can undo and redo changes, and drag models around after adding support structures, without destructively undoing your work.
Being a relatively new piece of software used by an increasing number of resin printer manufacturers, ChiTu Box receives pretty frequent updates. This means the Mars Pro will be on the cutting edge of new and improved features and functionality.
The Mars Pro’s masking LCD screen packs 2560 x 1440 pixels across a 5.5-inch screen diagonal, equating to a pixel size of 47 microns. In line with a vast number of current desktop MSLA printers, this indicator of print resolution keeps the Mars Pro competitive with smooth print surfaces that capture fine details well. Only by holding it up to the light and getting close can you see the staircase effect of the print being comprised of voxels.
We’re fans of the new style resin vat, which appears to have gone unheralded by Elegoo. Borrowing in looks from the company’s recent affordable 4-in-1 spare vat kit – this solid metal vat has a stepped wall that means more resin can fit in virtually the same footprint as the previous, thick-walled version. We likey.
Print plate adhesion is invariably excellent – not one print came unstuck throughout our time with the Mars Pro. Printing directly on the print plate is absolutely an option for models with an appropriate flat plane to use as a first layer. Be mindful of the effects the longer first-layer cure times will have though, with the cure extending marginally beyond the boundary of the model. Effectively a rough edge of your model’s outline will appear for the first layers – this can be sanded away with little effort. We’re big fans of this where possible, given the reduction in supports needed to sufficiently suspend a print.
Repeated prints on the Mars Pro demonstrated uniformity and a degree of consistency, with the dimensions of repeated prints varying by mere tens of microns (note that this is between prints – not between model and print). Achieving dimensional accuracy is possible – we’re on the way to repairing broken headphones with snap-fit replacement parts – but is highly dependent on how well your model is set up for printing.
Having used the Mars Pro alongside a number of MSLA printers, we can say that the print performance of these machines stands at around the same level. The advantages of one over another won’t be found in the quality of the prints themselves, but the usability, life cycle, and experience each offers.
As a starter resin 3D printer, the Elegoo Mars Pro is a fine choice. It’s obvious that user feedback has shaped what Elegoo started with last year’s Mars, into something better. And all while retaining an aggressively affordable price tag to boot.
There’s no appreciable jump in print quality over the two though, so for those that care about print quality and print quality alone, the original Mars at some dozens of dollars cheaper is the smarter money. The bells and whistles, in addition to better software integration with ChiTu Box and its CTB file format, unquestionably make the Mars Pro the better printer. Those on the fence will be better served by the Mars Pro, but this doesn’t diminish how good the original Mars (which remains our budget pick of resin 3D printers) was and continues to be.
Here are the technical specifications for the Elegoo Mars Pro:
License: The text of "Elegoo Mars Pro Review: The Better Mars" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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