The confusingly namedis a rebadge of the DLP 3D printer. Can it battle with the likes of the Anycubic Photon? Review the Facts of the Monoprice Mini SLA 3D printer.
Waaay back in January at CES, Monoprice lifted the lid on its lineup of new 3D printers for 2018. It’s been three long months since then, and nary a word of a release has come forth from the company.
However, in amongst our daily trawl of the wide world of 3D printing and the internet, we have stumbled upon what appears to the be the very first of Monoprice’s wave of new printers: the Monoprice Mini SLA.
When we reported on the announcement back in January, we posited that the Delta Pro would be the first of the new batch to be release. It was certainly the printer that Monoprice placed greatest emphasis on at the show, sending early spec sheets to us and holding interviews with the wider tech media about the machine. But this seems not to be the case and the Monoprice Mini SLA is the first past the post.
Utilizing a UV light projecting screen in its base unit, the Monoprice Mini SLA solidifies a UV sensitive resin. A print plate rises through the printer’s vat of resin, building a model layer by layer from the bottom up.
Once again Monoprice has turned to Chinese manufacturer Wanhao as an OEM. Save for the Monoprice branding some may recognize the Monoprice Mini SLA as the Wanaho D7 — which is exactly what it is.
This leads us to something of a sticking point with Monoprice and its choice of naming for this machine. The Wanhao D7 is a DLP (digital light processing) 3D printer. SLA (stereolithography apparatus), while sharing the similarity of working by setting a polymer resin with UV light, is not DLP.
To use SLA as a catchall for resin 3D printing would be a misnomer, and a particularly irksome one considering Monoprice’s Mini range of 3D printers is an attractive option for people new to 3D printing looking to dip their toes. It’ll only serve to confuse things for a great number of people in a world of tech already overpopulated with terminological hoops.
Putting this puzzling decision on Monoprice’s part aside, the Monoprice Mini SLA (it feels wrong to keep using that name now) is listed at $499.99 on the company’s webstore and Amazon.com. This is in line with the price of the current Wanhao Duplicator 7, so no surprises there.
For an entry level printer, that’s a little steep. But for resin-based 3D printers, which typically produce prints of far greater detail than FDM printers, the Monoprice Mini SLA is almost as cheap as they come.
Indeed, only three other resin-based 3D printers come to mind that even come close. The OG Wanhao D7 (obviously), the Anycubic Photon at $500-ish and the Sparkmaker at the $200 mark. Of these, the Anycubic Photon is the printer currently setting the internet alight with stellar prints for little effort. So it would seem that the Monoprice Mini SLA is the one to watch to dethrone the Photon for affordable DLP printing this spring/summer.
As stated in the specificatons, the Monoprice Mini SLA is capable of layer heights at 20 microns — a feat beyond many of the ordinary FDM 3D printers at and well above the Mini SLA’s price point.
That’s one of the great things about the resin-based printers, is the remarkable level of detail that’s possible to impart on a print. Understandably, such fine detail and accuracy makes them the ideal printer for jewelry, minifigure makers and all manner of professions and hobbies that highly detailed and small parts.
Monoprice provides the Creation Workshop software for print preparation. As the software Wanhao pushes nidges D7 users towards, we expect there to be little issue for Monoprice Mini SLA users getting to grips with the quirks of preparing models for printing in resin.
Printing an object partially submerged in a liquid that is subjected to push-pull forces with every layer change presents some unique problems not found with FDM 3D printing. Such issues are remedied with careful print placement and robust supports.
The one downside we will say, from experience, is that the resin itself — the material you will exclusively be printing with with DLP (and SLA) 3D printers stinks. Literally, and metaphorically. The smell is strong and will affect some people more than others.
Not only that, handling it is troublesome. Think of the consistency of runny honey, and how that stickiness gets everywhere when handled. Except this time it can only be removed with +95% alcohol, which itself also stinks.
If you can deal with that, there is then also the tedium of post processing the prints, which is necessary every single time. There’s no popping a print of the bed when its cooled — resin 3D prints require thorough washing and rinsing in substances like Isopropanol (and then water to remove the Isopropanol) before curing under UV light. For anyone as yet unacquainted with printing with resin, it’s quite the step change from printing with filament.
With that said, the prints you can output from a resin-based machine blow FDM out of the water for fine detail, so maybe the effort is worth it. It all depends on what you’re after in a printer — perhaps the Monoprice Mini SLA fits your needs.
You can pick the Monoprice Mini SLA up for yourself from the retailers below.
Also check the price of the Wanhao D7 which is identical to the Monoprice Mini SLA.
License: The text of "Monoprice Mini SLA: Review the Facts of this Resin 3D Printer" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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