Top 8 High Resolution 3D Printer in 2021

When looking for a 3D printer, you look at features like build volume, extruder type, nozzle, build plate to suss out the best. But in the end, if we’re honest, all we want are picture-perfect prints printed quickly.

And that’s what this article highlights: the best FDM and resin 3D printers that produce the highest resolution prints in the shortest amount of time.

What is Resolution in 3D Printing? X, Y, and Z resolution

The technical definition of resolution in 3D Printing is the shortest distance a 3D printer nozzle travels when depositing filament. 

If you’ve ever purchased a phone or a television (or maybe you made your poor girlfriend/boyfriend get them for you), you’d have come across the term resolution frequently. You’ll know that a 1080p screen has better picture quality than that of a 720p screen. 

Likewise, in 3D printing, a high resolution 3D printer is by far the most important factor to consider when buying a printer if you want high-quality prints.

You’ll often hear terms like Z layer resolution and XY resolution in 3D printer reviews. The Z layer resolution is the height of a single layer in a 3D print. The X and Y resolution, on the other hand, is the shortest distance the nozzle travels in the horizontal direction.

Other factors that affect print quality

Material

Not all materials print with the same quality: some materials produce higher quality prints than others. 

Printer Stability

Vibrations during printing can hamper 3D printing accuracy. That’s why a sturdy, stable printer is important. All metal printers are sturdier than plastic printers.

Type of Printing

Resin printing produces a higher resolution of prints than FDM printing. 

Temperature

Different plastics print better at different temperatures. For ABS, extrusion temperatures of up to 240-250°C are ideal for accurate prints. PLA on the other hand benefits from temperatures of 200-220°C.

Slicer settings

Slicer settings play a big role in print quality, so make sure you play with these settings to get the perfect print. The layer height will have a big effect on print quality and print speed.

Nozzle size

The smaller the nozzle size, the more accurate and high resolution the print.

When do high-quality 3D printers make the most difference?

High-quality 3D printers don’t make much of a difference on basic flat surfaces like a cube. A cheaper less accurate printer can even produce the same cube in a shorter period of time (because the nozzle diameter size is larger which means it deposits more filament in less layers). 

But if you love printing intricate miniatures, or prints with curved or diagonal surfaces, or embossings and engravings, then the difference between a high resolution 3D printer vs a low-resolution printer is blatantly obvious.

Advantages vs Disadvantages for High Resolution 3D Printers

High-quality 3D printers don’t make much of a difference on basic flat surfaces like a cube. A cheaper less accurate printer can even produce the same cube in a shorter period of time (because the nozzle diameter size is larger which means it deposits more filament in less layers). 

But if you love printing intricate miniatures, or prints with curved or diagonal surfaces, or embossings and engravings, then the difference between a high resolution 3D printer vs a low-resolution printer is blatantly obvious.

Advantages

Print Quality 

Higher resolution printing naturally leads to smoother surfaces, finer details, and more accurate printing.

Efficient Workflows

High-res printing also leads to efficient workflows while being uncompromising on speed and quality.

More Variability in Creating Objects

These 3D printers can create the most intricate and complex of designs while maintaining quality. 

Picture a model or a sculpture in your head. You can make a real-life version of that with the help of a high res 3D printer.

Disadvantages

Slow Speed

It’s not all sunshine, rainbows, and popcorn with high resolution 3D printers. A piece that may take an hour with a lower res 3D printer will take four hours to print on a high-res one. 

More error-prone

The more the layers in a print, the more time it takes to print, and the greater the chances of a printing error.

Requires Precise Calibration

Your printer setting game needs to be tight to get the highest resolution prints possible. The extrusion and bed temperatures must be just right, and the right nozzle must also be selected.

SLA VS FDM

Like we briefly touched on before, SLA (aka resin) 3D printers produce far more accurate prints than FDM printers. 

SLA printers use UV or laser to cure the resin. These two light sources have different spot sizes. Anycubic Photon Mono X, a popular resin printer, has an XY resolution of 0.05mm and a Z layer resolution of 0.01mm. The resolution of most high-end consumer printers falls in this range.

On the other hand, FDM 3D printers don’t compare to resin printers. For example, one of the best FDM printers, the Prusa MK3S, has a Z layer resolution of only 0.05mm.

Cheap. Capable. Efficient. The Creality Ender 3 series is a 3D printing staple. And the upgraded Ender 3 V2 is one of the best budget printers, capable of churning out high-resolution prints.

This world-class budget machine (yes, I used world-class and budget in the same sentence – the 3D printer is a delightful paradox) is perfect for newcomers. Once you buy this printer, you don’t need to purchase any other printer because this machine handles it all.

Stuck setting up your printer? Printing issues chipping away your happiness? Then Creality’s vast user base would be happy to solve the problem for you. The official community can be found on this site. There are plenty of Facebook groups as well.

Silent stepper motor drivers and a 32-bit mainboard are just some ways the V2 leveled up over its older brother, the original Ender 3 model. 

The Bowden extruder in the V2 performs an admirable job of creating fantastic prints. The print resolution in the XY axis and the Z-axis is 0.1mm.

The Ender 3 v2 comes with rare features at this price point, like a filament runout sensor and resume-printing option during a power cut. Coupled with a large build volume of 220x220x250 mm, it’s hard to find fault with this printer.

But alas, faults it does have. For instance, loading the filament into the Ender V2 was irksome. This was an issue we faced with the Ender 3 as well. And this high accuracy 3D printer requires assembly.

Don’t let the minor nitpick dissuade you, however. The Ender 3 is the best budget high resolution 3D printer.

Pros

Cons

The Prusa i3 MK3S, a 3D printing heavyweight, is expensive. But you get what you pay for – the printer over-delivers in terms of quality.

The printer setup can be challenging, but the gorgeous and detailed handbook shipped with the printer holds you by your hand and guides you meticulously through the whole process. 

Shipped with the 3D printer are premium components like a magnetic PEI coated steel spring heated bed and a custom E3D V6 hot end.

There are two types of software included – one for beginners and the other for professionals. If you’re a beginner then you should use the Prusa Control software; you’ll find all the necessary things needed to build your prints. However, this mode lacks a vase mode. 

For more complex prints, advanced users should use the Prusa3D Slic3r MK3, which has a lot more functionality.

For high-resolution prints, it’s necessary to dampen vibrations during printing. The sturdy aluminum frame of the printer stops any shaking with ease, leading to better prints. 

The machine handles whatever you throw at it without breaking a sweat. The layer resolution is 0.05 mm, and the print quality is better than most other printers in the market. Take a magnifying glass or a microscope, you’d be hard pressed to find flaws in the prints. 

Another impressive characteristic of the Prusa is its incredibly fast printing speed of 200mm/s. Few FDM 3D printers can print so fast. 

The Prusa I3 MK3S is a brand that never disappoints and delivers on all fronts.

Pros

Cons

The Prusa got you excited, and now you want more premium 3D printers to ogle at before you take your pick? Then take a look at the Dremel DigiLab 3D45; it gives Prusa a run for its money. 

Large prints can be printed with ease with its large build volume of 254 x 152 x 170 mm. In addition, The DigiLab Slicer software uses the open-source Cura platform, which is suitable for both beginners and advanced users.

One of DigiLab’s unique features is its ability to handle filaments that most 3D printers can’t, like polycarbonate, Nylon, and EcoABS. 

The 3D printer is perfect for classrooms. In fact, it comes with a curriculum meant for students from elementary to university levels. Students can easily use the printer as the machine was designed for learning.

The DigiLab is safe for students. It is completely enclosed and it has a carbon filter, so you don’t have to worry about anyone inhaling toxic fumes. And there’s one more benefit with enclosed printers, they help regulate temperatures which result in higher resolution prints.

Just like the Prusa i3 MK3S, the 3D45 has an excellent resolution of 0.05 mm. And that reflects in the final prints, which look beautiful. And like the i3 MK3S, the printer excels at making high-quality prints consistently. Both printers are masters at their craft. 

If you want a cheaper but equally effective Dremel printer, go for the Dremel 3D40 flex. 

The 3D40 does lack a couple of features, however – it can handle only PLA while the 3D45 can handle more (like I mentioned above). The 3D40 also lacks a camera for remote monitoring of prints, a heated platform to reduce warping, and a carbon filter to eliminate fumes. 

Even the best 3D printers have issues, and the 3D45 isn’t an exception. In addition to its hefty price, a major downside is its difficulty in handling third-party filaments. The Dremel works best with company made filament. Similar to Apple, the printer is meant to function like a closed ecosystem. 

But also just like the Apple, the Dremel performs flawlessly and is worth the big bucks it asks for.

Pros

Cons

This 3D printer is for the true professionals; for those that don’t play around. With one of the biggest build volumes and a dual-extruder, this is an Olympic grade printer 

Make sure you have a desk dedicated just for S5, it’s humongous. The 3D printer is not meant for newbies, it’s meant for professionals and small business owners. There’s no better printer than this for creating functional prototypes.

The print bed comes with two types: a glass bed for everyday use and a special anodized aluminum bed for advanced materials (like polycarbonate and ABS). Both of these can be swapped easily. 

Ultimaker Tough PLA, is a special PLA for functional prototyping, tooling, and manufacturing aids. This PLA has similar impact strength to ABS and also has a higher stiffness. 

The feature that sets the S5 apart from other FDM 3D printers is its dual extruding feature. It comes with two printheads and two print cores.

The BB print core is meant only for PVA, whereas the AA print core is mainly for all other materials. If you want to print dual colors, use two AA cores. The PVA core is primarily used for supports. 

The user experience of the S5 is a delight. From the touchscreen to the loading filament, every aspect of the printer is intuitive to use.

If you want to squeeze the highest resolution possible out of an FDM 3D printer, then the S5 is the machine to get. It can reach incredibly low XY resolutions of 0.02 mm. The Z-axis resolution is 0.1mm. 

The pricing for the Ultimaker S5 can make people sweat. Luckily, there’s a cheaper version of the S5- the S3 (around $2000 cheaper. But it’s still pricey). 

Here are some of the features that make the S5 more expensive.

The Ultimaker is similar to the Dremel in that it’s preferable to use filaments from the company itself. If not, you could find yourself with poor-quality prints. 

If you want the best high resolution 3D printer in the FDM category, the Ultimaker S5 is a no-brainer.

Pros

Cons

A big advantage of resin printers is the high resolution they produce at a fraction of the price. And the Elegoo Mars 2 is an excellent example of this.

The Mars 2 Pro comes with a 6.08 monochrome LCD with a 2K HD resolution which plays a huge factor in the quality of the prints. 

The build quality is solid, with a CNC machined aluminum body. The 3D printer doesn’t budge, ensuring that the high-resolution prints maintain steady quality. Build size is small, as with most resin 3D printers. 

Another advantage that resin printers have over FDM printers is their printing speed. They take about 1-2 seconds per layer, only. The Elegoo Mars 2 inherits this speed gene from the family of resin printers.

It prints miniatures with amazing precision. The XY resolution is 0.05 mm and the Z-axis resolution is just 0.01 mm. 

You’ll find the 3D printer great for home use. Make sure to keep it in a ventilated space as resin fumes are toxic (luckily some of the fumes are mitigated by the carbon filter in the printer).

The Elegoo Mars 2 is the Creality of the resin world and is always a worthwhile buy.

Pros

Cons

4K is the rage these days. And Phrozen Sonic Mini capitalized on the trend with the best resin 3D printer under $400, the Sonic Mini 4K

On the outside, the Sonic Mini 4K is made of plastic, which can lull you into thinking this 3D printer is cheap stuff. Don’t be fooled though; the printer is a value-packed powerhouse. 

The build volume, like the Mars 2 Pro, is small. So the 3D printer is best suited for small prints. Design-wise, it looks similar to the countless resin printers out there in the market.

Let’s talk about the 4K screen. It’s the printer’s signature feature. It can produce staggeringly detailed prints at incredible speeds. 4K LCDs aren’t common in the 3D printing world, So an affordable 3D printer with this feature is a great boon for newcomers and professionals alike. 

4K prints don’t look vastly different from 2K 3D printers. For some prints, the results aren’t noticeable, for others, the details are only subtly visible. If you’re a 3D printing connoisseur, however, you’d notice a difference. So the Mini 4K is suited for 3D printing veterans.

The XY layer resolution of the Mini 4K is 0.035 mm, and the Z axis resolution is 0.01 mm. The test prints of the Mini 4K were better than the test prints of the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro. 

The printer works best with the company’s resin supply. If you buy third-party resin, you’ll have to play around with the layer settings to get an ideal print.

Get this machine if printing miniatures and jewelry are among your favorite 3D printing pastimes.

Pros

Cons

Most SLA printers are tiny. But Anycubic Photon Mono X breaks the mold. With its large build volume and high-resolution printing capability, it’s a highly desirable precision 3D printer on our list. 

The frustrating thing about most SLA printer’s are small build volumes, so it’s welcome when printers like the Mono X hits the market. 

Sometimes bigger is better (and more beautiful), and that’s exactly the case with this printer. Not to objectify printers, but the printer with its yellow acrylic lid is a looker.

When we compared prints between the Mono X and Mini 4K, we found that the latter is better in terms of print quality – but only by a margin. For 99% of people, the difference would be negligible. The Mono has a similar resolution to the Mini – 0.05 mm XY resolution and 0.01 mm Z axis resolution. 

The addition of the WiFi on this printer was a ridiculous option. With this, you can only connect Anycubic’s mobile app to the printer. You can’t connect the slicer on the computer to the machine. 

For those who have a business to run and who like to print fast, the printer is a speed-demon, with a printer velocity of 60 mm/h. 

Price withstanding,the Mono X checks all the boxes you’d want in a high resolution 3D printer for resin printing.

Pros

Cons

If we had to give this printer a score, we’d give it a 11/10. Or a 20/10. The Formlabs Form 3 blows past all the previous machines we’ve reviewed so far, and words cannot begin to describe it. 

The Form 3 is the resin equivalent of the Ultimaker S5 (though slightly cheaper). The capability of the machine far exceeds standard resin printers on the market.

The build volume is a respectable 145 x 145 x 185 mm. You could always upgrade to the massive Form 3L, a newer release with dimensions of 335 x 200 x 300 mm. 

The Form 3 uses technology few printers have in the market called Low Force Stereolithography. This is just another fancy sounding tech gimmick; we’ve had zero failed prints after days of testing and still counting. Incredible.

Resin for the Form 3 comes in cartridges. You’ll have to purchase these from their site to refill your stock. The advantage of these cartridges is that you save yourself from poisonous resin. 

There are also different types of resin – Clear, Color, Rigid 10K, Model. Each looks and feels different, for example, Rigid 10K has a white, matte finish. On the other hand, Clear prints are translucent. They look really cool.

Printing is oh so easy on this machine, thanks to Formlab’s PreForm software. The software does most of the work for you. All you have to do is press print with minimal tinkering, thanks to its automatic processing capability.

It’s no surprise that printing on such a machine produces the most accurate, clean, precise models possible on a printer. Both the XY and the Z resolutions are around 0.025 microns. 

The only downside to the printer is the expensive printer and cartridges. Hence this printer is best suited for business; they can earn their money back within weeks with the capability of the machine. 

Formlabs Form 3 is the most accurate 3D printer on our list and is the best choice if you like being at the cutting edge of the technology.

Pros

Cons

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