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If you're looking for a 3D printer, then the Elegoo Mars provides outstanding quality for a modest price. There are few reasons not to buy it!
If you’re looking for a resin 3D printer, then you may have heard of the Elegoo Mars. This elegant machine retails for under $300 and is capable of producing stunning 3D prints. It’s surprising how user-friendly this 3D printer is, which isn’t the case with every 3D printer we review. Read on to see our full analysis after the video.
After our review, we’re running a giveaway contest that you can enter to win a brand new Elegoo Mars 3D printer.
Elegoo Mars Features
The Elegoo Mars is a compact desktop 3D printer. This sleek unit works via a color touchscreen and the included USB flash drive. It’s compact enough to fit on your desk or into small spaces, and the UV-blocking cover is easily removed to allow quick access to the machine.
- 1-inch (2.5 cm) per hour maximum print speed
- 100-micron layer height
- 2560×1440 2K, 5.5 inch (13.97 cm) LCD
- 3.5 inch (8.89 cm) color touchscreen
- 4.72 x 2.68 x 6.1 inch (11.98 x 6.80 x 15.49 cm) build volume
- 40W UV LED
- Measures 16.14 x 7.87 x 7.87 inches (41 x 20 x 20 cm)
- Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing technology
In a stylish dual-tone color scheme, the bottom third of the Elegoo Mars is brushed metal. It houses all the electronics, power input, and control panel. The top two-thirds contain the resin vat, Z-axis, and bed. The translucent orange cover lets you see how the print is shaping up but also serves to block ambient UV light from prematurely curing your resin and ruining an in-progress print.
The 2K display provides excellent X/Y resolution and is in theory twice as detailed as printers using a 1080P or lower resolution display. It’s not possible to control this printer from your computer or over the network, but the included flash drive comes with pre-sliced files ready to print. The 40W LED is powerful, but it’s on par with other resin 3D printers. The total build volume is tiny when compared to printers using fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology, but again, it’s equal to most other consumer resin printers.
Almost all the mechanical parts of this machine are metal, except for the resin vat thumbscrews and the bed release. It would be nice to see these in metal as well, but it doesn’t impact the quality of prints in any way. The bed is easily removed without any tools, as is the resin vat, which makes it quick and easy to get up and running.
Inside the box, you’ll find almost everything you need to get started. Alongside the printer, power supply, and flash drive, you get a small tool kit, masks, gloves, a funnel, a plastic scraper, an instruction manual, and a measuring cup. No resin is included, and while this isn’t expensive or difficult to obtain online, a small sample bottle would be been nice to get started right away with.
How the Mars Works
The Elegoo Mars uses Stereolithography (SLA) to produce a solid model. The print bed is submerged into a vat of photosensitive resin. When this resin gets exposed to UV light, it solidifies. A modified LCD display and powerful UV LED work together to produce the shapes required for every layer, and this is what makes prints so accurate. There’s only one moving part in the form of the Z-axis.
The resin vat has a clear film on the bottom, which is stretched out like a drum skin. This prevents the resin from leaking out and ruining your machine, yet allows the light to pass and cure the resin. It can be easy to damage this sheet, and over time they can wear out and go cloudy. The replacement process is easy and cheap, but no spares are included.
As this 3D printer cures resin using an LCD display, you can print massive objects in both the X and Y axis without any impact on the speed. If you want to print one or five models, they all take the same time. This is because the LCD can cure the whole bed at once, so it’s only vertical height which increases the print time.
Set up and First Prints
Running a 3D printer with a vat full of sticky resin plastic can seem daunting, but Elegoo makes this process extremely simple. This setup process far exceeds the standards set by the competition. It’s more work configuring a new mobile phone or games console than using this printer.
Before starting any prints you must level the bed. This doesn’t need doing often, but it needs doing at least once in the printer’s life. This involves undoing a screw, removing the resin VAT, and placing a piece of paper on the LCD. All the tools are provided where required. When you’re ready, you can begin the process through a button on the touchscreen. This machine handles the rest for you. It uses its sensors and motors to position the bed where it needs to be. This takes mere seconds, and when it’s done, you tighten up the screws and remove the paper.
This process is a joy to perform, and far exceeded my expectations of what you need to do before printing. Bed leveling can be the most frustrating aspect of a 3D printer, and having a machine that can handle this itself is a brilliant touch.
Once leveled you can install the resin vat, top up the resin, and place the UV cover in place. Insert the USB flash drive and begin the test print.
This test print takes roughly four hours to complete, which is about average for this printer. High-quality prints are worth waiting for and with a speed of 1 inch per hour, you may wish to leave this printer running overnight.
After four hours, the test print emerges dripping from its resin bath, like some kind of swamp monster. It’s fascinating to watch, and this test print worked the first time.
All 3D printers need 3D models to be converted to machine-specific instructions, and the Mars is no exception. The process is called “slicing”, as it involves cutting the model up into smaller layers. This machine comes bundled with a free slicer called “ChiTuBox”. Boasting over 2,000,000 users, and designed for SLA 3D printing, this slicer is a dream to use. Its friendly interface lets you arrange print jobs, generate supports, adjust settings, and check final print layers. Not only this, but it’s very fast to slice and stable to use. Even with large files it rarely struggles or hangs.
SLA 3D printers don’t support infill to save plastic, as is possible on FDM printers. This means that bigger jobs can use a lot of plastic as they must be solid. Various other 3D tools exist to “hollow out” models to save plastic, but ChituBox provides this feature for zero extra cost. This is another big benefit, and further solidifies this as the tool of choice for resin 3D printers.
If you’re not sure what purpose slicers serve, then take a look at our ultimate beginner’s guide to 3D printing, which covers the basics in great detail.
Print Quality and Cleanup
Prints produced by this machine are mind-blowing, and this is the biggest benefit of an SLA printer. Layer lines are almost invisible, and microscopic details that would be impossible for an FDM printer to produce come out clear and sharp.
Due to the limited bed size, this printer is best suited to smaller models, or those with intricate fine details. Not only does the test model feature intricate castle turrets and fine text, but it also contains miniature stairs produced to a very high level of detail for such a small size.
This 3D printer shines producing wargaming minis. The fine detail reproduction lends itself to the intricate details required by mini-figures and terrain. Tiny details such as rings, mustaches, belts, boots and more are perfectly produced.
As all prints are submerged in a bath of uncured resin they need cleaning up after printing. This isn’t difficult, but you’ll need to buy even more equipment not included in the box. Prints need excess uncured resin washing off with rubbing alcohol, and then they need to finish curing, either in the sun or with a cheap UV curing station such as those found in nail salons. You need to wear gloves and a mask when cleaning your parts.
Should You Buy the Elegoo Mars?
The Elegoo Mars is a stunning resin 3D printer and while the price tag of around $300 seems a little steep when compared to the plethora of affordable FDM 3D printers, it represents an excellent entry point into ultra-high detail 3D printing. Machines such as the Formlabs Form 3 cost several thousand dollars, and so an affordable competitor is a welcome alternative.
Resin 3D printing is not for everyone. It’s slow, and the build volume can be limiting. Uncured resin smells, and every part needs cleaning up afterward. It’s not difficult to do this, but if you lack the space or inclination to do so, you may be best served by a different style of 3D printer.
This Elegoo Mars is a dream to use. It requires little maintenance, has only one moving part, and is almost “plug and play”. You no longer have to worry about printer maintenance, rather, you can focus on designing cool 3D models to solve your problems (or print wicked little figures and trinkets).
Our friends at Elegoo have given us a brand new Mars LCD 3D printer which we are giving away for free. All you have to do for a chance at winning it is enter our contest below.