Ever need a custom part but don’t know how to get it?
Resin 3D printing services are websites that make it easy to get custom 3D designs to your door. All you need is a computer, a model, and less than five minutes!
Resin 3D printing services are on-demand manufacturing services that use resin 3D printing technology, like SLS and PolyJet 3D printers, to offer you custom-designed models, for cheap. These services have blown up in popularity over the past few years, and they’re surprisingly low-cost, with orders as low as $5.
While resin 3D printing services might seem more geared toward professionals, they’re actually pretty useful for individual consumers, too, especially if you don’t have a 3D printer and only need a few custom-designed parts made.
Perhaps the best resin 3D printing service today is Sculpteo. Its user interface is super easy to use, and you have tons of options when it comes to printing technology, material, color, and more. Shapeways and HUBS are two other popular options with similarly large offerings.
Want to hear about more of the best resin 3D printing service options? Just keep reading!
Table of Contents
- What is Resin 3D Printing?
- Best Resin 3D Printing Services
- Process of Resin 3D Printing Services
- How Much Does a 3D Printing Service Cost?
- How Fast is Resin 3D Printing?
- Why Use Resin Printing Technology Instead of FDM?
- Do the 3D Printing Services Only Offer SLA 3D Printing?
- Should You Buy a 3D Printer Or Use a 3D Printing Service?
What is Resin 3D Printing?
Resin 3D printing is a type of custom manufacturing that encompasses a wide span of different 3D printing technologies.
The most well-known resin printing technology is SLA. SLA 3D printers are spaceship-looking machines that use targeted UV light through an LCD screen to solidify liquid resin that’s poured into a container (the VAT). The end result is a very detailed 3D model that’s not super strong but looks spectacular.
Then there are also other resin 3D printing technologies, such as PolyJet and CLIP, that also use liquid resin but with different hardware.
However, the bulk of 3D printing services relies on SLS and Multijet Fusion (MJF) 3D printers. These technologies aren’t technically resin because they use powdered materials instead of liquid materials, but, for this article, we’ll call them resin technologies because they’re still used for making plastic parts, and they’re ubiquitous throughout the on-demand 3D printing industry.
Best Resin 3D Printing Services
Below, I’ve reviewed the best resin 3D printing services. For each resin printing service, I personally went on the website and went through the ordering process. And to ensure a fair comparison of prices and options, I used the same test model across all platforms.
For reference, this model measures roughly 60 x 40 x 30 mm, which is pretty small. Here’s a pic of it below:
Also, at the end of each section, I’ve provided a bullet point review of the platform, including the lowest possible price of the example model.
Now, off to the races!
First up, we have Sculpteo, an online service for everything that has to do with additive manufacturing, from design to production. Sculpteo’s on-demand 3D printing service is focused on resin printing technologies, with options covering SLS, PolyJet, SLA, binder jetting, laser melting, and more.
Sculpteo’s expansive list of available resin 3D printing technologies also allows it to offer you a wide variety of material options. The least expensive one will always be Nylon PA12 (using SLS), but other options include PA11, TPU, PA6, Alumide, stainless steel, and hundreds more!
They also offer tons of color options for each material. And depending on what material you go with, Sculpteo offers to finish the part in different ways, such as polishing, dyeing, and painting.
But what we liked most about Sculpteo was how well the printing service was built. Moreover, the entire website makes ordering a part super easy, from the upload step all the way to purchasing step.
- Price of test model: $29
- Maximum part size: 675 x 366 x 545 mm
- Typical lead time: 10-20 days
- SLA/SLS materials: Nylon PA12, PA11, PA11 CF (carbon-filled), PA11 ESD, TPU, PA6, Alumide, PA12 glass-filled
- Finishing options: Raw, polished, dyed, dyed polished, and more
Hubs was one of the biggest on-demand 3D printing services. And then it got acquired by Protolabs, another biz in the 3D printing service space, and Hubs became even bigger and better!
Hubs offers a ton of different manufacturing options, including CNC machining, bead blasting, and also a handful of 3D printing technologies, such as SLA, SLS, Multijet Fusion, and even FDM.
Their service is a bit more affordable than other options on this list, which is amazing, especially considering how much control Hubs gives you over the manufacturing process. You can literally choose the specific brand of resin used to make your part.
Of course, if you don’t know the best options, Hubs will choose all the specifications for free. But having the ability to tell Hubs the specifics is always nice! And it shows you just how many options Hubs has.
On top of the four 3D printing technologies, you can pick from a few different materials, like Formlabs Standard resin and glass-filled PA12. While I wish the material list was a little longer, it’s okay because Hubs tells you the specific names of their resins rather than just the base material (e.g. Formlabs Rigid Resin 4000). And you can also control the layer height used to make your 3D-printed part, which is helpful for controlling the detail and strength of your model.
Similar to Sculpteo, Hubs also has a killer user interface, with a simplistic look and easy-to-follow steps to go from an uploaded 3D model to an in-process order!
- Price of test model: $25
- Maximum part size: 420 x 500 x 420 mm
- Typical lead time: 3-5 days
- SLA/SLS materials: Nylon PA12, PA12 glass-filled, Formlabs Standard Resin, Formlabs Tough Resin 2000, Accura ClearValue, and more
- Finishing options: Raw, Dyed
When it comes to custom manufacturing, Shapeways does it all, from CNC machining to urethane casting and, of course, 3D printing. As one of the largest on-demand 3D printing services, Shapeways offers many choices regarding technology, material, color, and other manufacturing specs.
Unlike the other two services we covered, Shapeways does their ordering system slightly differently. Instead of choosing your 3D printing technology first, you choose the material first and then pick which of the compatible technologies you’d like to use.
And, on this note, there are tens of unique resin 3D printing material options offered by Shapeways, going from simple options like PA12 and polypropylene to materials that make you say, “wait, that’s a thing?”, like sandstone and rhodium plated brass. Once you’ve picked your material, you have a handful of color and post-processing options too!
As for the pricing, Shapeways falls about in the middle, and our test part came out with a (low) price of about $45. Not bad, but also not the best. However, the quality of Shapeways manufacturing is very reputable, so maybe the extra few bucks are worth it for your needs!
- Price of test model: $45
- Maximum part size: 762 x 762 x762 mm
- Typical lead time: 3-10 days
- SLA/SLS materials: Nylon PA12, PA11, TPU, TPE, Polypropylene, Accura Resin,
- Finishing options: Raw, full-color painting, processed, premium processing, smoothing
i.materialise is another one of my favorite resin 3D printing services, and they are definitely one of the best options if you know you need a part 3D printed but don’t want to dabble too much in the specifics of how it’s made.
Moreover, i.materialise makes the whole part ordering process a breeze. Similar to Shapeways, using this service, you pick the material you want first, and the site will show you what technologies can be used, rather than the other way around like with most services.
And on this note, there are a handful of different options when it comes to printing technology, such as SLS, MJF, and SLA. I was also impressed by their offering of high-detail resin, which is perfect for ordering detailed figurines, like miniatures.
The pricing on i.materialise is also very straightforward and relatively low compared to most service options out there.
- Price of test model: $14
- Maximum part size: 650 x 560 x 330 mm
- Typical lead time: 6-20 days
- SLA/SLS materials: Nylon PA12, Priority PA12, Polypropylene, standard resin, transparent resin, and more!
- Finishing options: Raw, dyed, spray painted, polished
MakeXYZ isn’t as big as some of the other resin services on this list, but they’re equally as useful, especially if time is your main concern. The typical time for a part to go to your door is five days after you upload it. But they also offer overnight shipping speeds, which come in handy when you’re moving on a project quickly.
Sadly, MakeXYZ only offers FDM, SLA, SLS, and PolyJet 3D printing, and only in a few materials. While this means you don’t have as many options for your part as other, larger services, there are still most of the basic options (e.g. SLS nylon).
I also want to point out that MakeXYZ’s interface is very simple, which makes ordering a part super simple, especially for users who don’t know a lot about 3D printing. So, if you want a pretty easy part-ordering process and don’t care too much for the specifics of how your model is made, definitely check out MakeXYZ.
- Price of test model: $30
- Maximum part size: Varies (shouldn’t be a problem for most parts)
- Typical lead time: 9-15 days
- SLA/SLS materials: Nylon PA2200, Nylon glass-filled, high-temperature composite, TPU, TPE, standard resin, flexible resin, tough resin, and more!
- Finishing options: Raw, painted
Xometry is easily one of the biggest 3D printing services out there, and their list of manufacturing services is endless. While they’re mainly catered towards more professional clients, Xometry also lends their services to individual users through their online on-demand service.
When you upload a model on Xometry’s service page, they automatically configure the manufacturing specifications to lower the cost and lead time for you. However, you can manually change the technology, material, and other processes used.
Xometry offers a wide variety of 3D printing technologies, including FDM, SLA, SLS, PolyJet, MJF, and more. And each technology has tens of different compatible materials, colors, finishes, etc. So you have a lot of control over the manufacturing process!
What I really like about Xometry is their additional services too! They have a feature for adding tapped holes in your part, which comes in handy when you make functional assemblies. They also offer inspection services to ensure your part comes out right.
So, if the part quality is something you care a lot about, I strongly suggest using Xometry for your resin 3D printing needs! Their interface may seem a bit confusing at first because of how many options you have, but this also means you have a ton of control over how your part turns out!
- Price of test model: $58
- Maximum part size: 610 x 915 x 915 mm
- Typical lead time: 1-7 days
- SLA/SLS materials: Accura ABS-Like resin, Accura Xtreme resin, Somos Taurus resin, Nylon PA12, PA12 glass-filled, PA11, PA11 aluminum-filled, and many more!
- Finishing options: Raw, hole tapping, nickel plating, vapor smoothing, media tumbling, part assembly, and more!
Lastly, Protolabs is an industrially-focused manufacturer that does basically every type of manufacturing known to man. Their 3D printing service is especially broad, with many different printing technologies offered, including SLS, DMLS, PolyJet, and more!
Sadly, the ordering process on Protolabs is a bit difficult because you have to first make an account, then start a “Project”, upload your model, and finally choose the printing technology and material. This is a bit more lengthy a process than with other sites, but it’s definitely worth it given how well Protolabs makes part orders.
As for the materials, Protolabs gives you many options for each of their 3D printing technologies. For example, under SLA, you can choose from resin such as ABS-Like Accura 7820 or Carbon Polypropylene-Like FPU 50. The least expensive option, though, will be PA12 using SLS.
Overall, I love how much customization over the part manufacturing process that Protolabs gives you. It’s perfect for complex orders, like if you know the exact type of resin you need!
- Price of test model: $100
- Maximum part size: 800 x 400 x 540 mm
- Typical lead time: 5-15 days
- SLA/SLS materials: Accura ABS-Like resin, Accura Xtreme resin, Carbon ABS-Like resin, True Silicone resin, Nylon PA12, PA12 glass-filled, PA11, Polypropylene, and many more!
- Finishing options: Raw, standard finishing, natural, custom
Process of Resin 3D Printing Services
Today, ordering a part through a resin 3D printing service couldn’t be easier. It literally takes no more than a few minutes, even when you’re on your phone or tablet. I’ve gone over the general process for how to use a resin 3D printing service in the sections below:
1. Upload 3D File
The first thing you’ll want to do when you’re on a service’s website is to upload your 3D model. Usually, there’s a big button somewhere on the screen labeled “Upload”, “Upload Part”, or something like that indicates where you can do this.
Most resin service websites are compatible with a plethora of different 3D model file formats, including STL, OBJ, STEP, and more! Make sure your 3D model is in a format that works!
Once you upload the model from your computer, the website may take a few seconds to process the model as it has to analyze its dimensions and other elements.
2. Select Material, Color, Finish
After the website has analyzed your model, it’s time to choose the specifications for how you want your part made, finished, and shipped!
Most printing service websites have a few options that allow you to control factors like:
- The printing technology
- The material
- The color
- The infill, layer height, or other settings
- The finish
3. Get Quote
Finally, you can get a quote, which is just a fancy term for the price of your order!
Part ordering services usually like to hide the price at the end of the ordering process. But don’t worry because you can usually get a quote without ever inputting your payment information.
If you got a quote that you like and fits your budget, it’s time to order!
Just add in your payment information and shipping details, and finish that order!
How Much Does a 3D Printing Service Cost?
The cost of a 3D printing service depends on many factors, such as the size and complexity of the 3D model, how you want the part made, and any other additional services required, such as painting or finishing. But, usually, the cost of a single, mid-size resin print is in the $5-50 range.
If you want specifics, though, I’ll give you a detailed example!
Let’s say you want to order a cube measuring 20 x 20 x 20 mm with minimal details made on an SLS 3D printer with standard Nylon PA12 resin. If you opted for no finishes (raw) and went with the least expensive color, this order would cost around $5-10 on most sites.
But note that this example is on the low end of print orders. If you need your part made with a different technology, want a stronger or more flexible resin, or need polishing or another form of post-processing, your order will increase in price.
But nonetheless, it is very surprising how low-cost ordering a resin 3D printed part has become in the past ten years!
How Fast is Resin 3D Printing?
How fast a resin 3D printer depends on the underlying technology. But, in general, every resin 3D printing technology besides SLA is significantly faster than FDM 3D printing.
This is mainly because certain technological differences in the non-SLA resin 3D printing technologies allow for faster speeds. But the reason these technologies, like SLS and PolyJet, aren’t more popular for consumer use is because their technological differences mean big jumps in price. For example, a typical PolyJet 3D printer costs at least $20,000!
While it’s hard to say how long a typical SLS/resin printer would be able to print a 20 x 20 x 20 mm cube, it would definitely be way faster than a typical FDM or SLA 3D printer!
Why Use Resin Printing Technology Instead of FDM?
Resin 3D printing offers a lot of benefits over FDM manufacturing, which is the technology most people associate with the term “3D printing”.
First off, because of the increased efficiency of resin 3D printers, it’s usually cheaper to order a part printed in resin than to order it printed on an FDM machine.
Second, resin 3D printing yields much more accurate and precise models. It’s actually absurd how detailed resin 3D printers are, especially when you compare it to the lackluster capabilities of even a high-end FDM 3D printer.
Third, resin parts have almost invisible layer lines. On the other hand, the layer lines are easily the first thing people notice on an FDM 3D-printed part. These layer lines also make post-processing a 3D print harder, so resin prints are much easier to paint and polish.
Overall, if you’re ordering a part 3D printed, it’s almost always a good idea to select a resin 3D printing technology!
Do the 3D Printing Services Only Offer SLA 3D Printing?
As I’ve mentioned, most 3D printing services offer a handful of different manufacturing technologies. The most popular options across different services are SLS, PolyJet, and SLA. But some services offer other printing technologies too, such as FDM, Multijet Fusion, and CLIP.
Should You Buy a 3D Printer Or Use a 3D Printing Service?
If you need a few custom-made parts and are wondering whether it would be cheaper to buy a 3D printer or order all of the parts from a service, you’ll need to consider a few factors.
First off, think of the timing; how quickly do you need the parts? It’s definitely faster to order parts from an on-demand service than to order a 3D printer and learn how to use it.
But, if you don’t need the parts super fast and want to save money long-term, then buying your own 3D printer and resin (or filament) is the better option. You can check out our article all about the best resin 3D printers, largest resin 3D printers (for big resin prints), 8K resin 3D printers (for the highest resolution and most detailed resin prints), and FDM 3D printers respectively for some good options!
Resin 3D printing services are easily the best way to get a custom-designed part made in a short period of time for little money. And there are tons of different resin printing services out there.
These services vary in what technologies, materials, colors, and finishes they offer. But, if you’re looking for the least expensive part order, going with SLS 3D printing and either PA12 or PA11 for the material is easily the lowest-cost combo.
And, if you’re not sure what resin 3D printing service to use, I highly recommend going with Sculpteo. Sculpteo’s interface is well-built to make the ordering process a breeze and they offer a few different 3D printing technologies, each with tens of different material options. Additionally, you can choose a color and finish for your part.
But, if the lead time is your main concern, then MakeXYZ is probably more your speed. They’re a smaller service with a more limited set of technologies and materials, but their lead times can be as low as a single day.
Finally, if you need a rather complex 3D model made, Xometry would likely be the best choice. They have a wide offering of 3D printing technologies, materials, and finishes, plus they even offer inspection services and the ability to get holes in parts tapped.