Second impressions of the Elegoo Mars 2 3D resin printer

About six weeks ago, I posted my first (positive) impressions of the Elegoo Mars 2 3D resin printer.

What do I think about it six weeks later?

I was initially concerned about reliability, but it has been fine after the first one was replaced

The first one failed after a day. Not a great start. I don’t know what happened, but the screen ceased to function properly, only exposing the lower half. Obviously, that’s enough to ruin the printer and, since it was so new, I had no qualms sending it back to Amazon as faulty. I did, however, want to perserve, so I ordered another one. The downside was that I lost the benefit of the discounted price. Oh well.

The second one didn’t die, but the build plate has a slight defect, in that the screws do not go into it properly. If I had to guess, I’d say that it was threaded when it was initially put together. It doesn’t affect performance, but it is noticeably not correct.

I’ve replaced the film five times

Perhaps I’m just not gentle enough when dealing with models which have fallen from the build plate and ended up stuck to the film in the resin vat, but I’ve had the replace the film at the bottom of the vat far more times than I had expected.

Each film is not expensive, but they add up, and I’d definitely factor a box of replacement films in as a consumable part of the printer.

Even using the supplied yellow spatchela gently does not seem to be enough, as it’s incredibly easy to poke a hole in it. And a hole in the film means that resin seeps — or pours — out, and, if that happens over the screen, then that’s a really bad thing.

That happened once, before I had noticed it, and I had to — very, very gently — scrape cured resin off the screen itself. The printer survived, but that wasn’t much fun.

Replacing the screen is not difficult, but it is time consuming, thanks to the sheer number of screens holding it in place. I’ve only using a manual set of allen keys so far, but I’m tempted to see if an electric screwdriver helps next time I have to do it.

Resin pricing fluctuates a lot

Keep an eye on Amazon, and buy resin when it’s at a good price. I’m still using the water-soluble resin, and it has varied between about £33 and £44 for 1 litre. That’s a massive variation, and so has a material impact on the price of the models I print.

Because of the price of the resin, I’m still not keen to print chunkier models, so some of the larger tanks and the like have been off limits to me so far.

Perhaps that will change but, for now, I can pick up a “good enough” tank from eBay for about £8 if I’m lucky, and then supplement it with 3D printed add-ons, so spending >£10 on a 3D print of something which is just going to end up as terrain doesn’t make much sense to me.

There are loads of good models for Necromunda

Not really a function of the printer itself, but there are plenty of models to print which fit in well with Necromunda.

I tend to use thingiverse, and the bits I’ve enjoyed the most are the models which I can use to supplement scratch-built terrain. Caps for cans to turn them into vents / fans, doors which are more believable than rectangles of cardboard, and so on.

I also still like the enforcer dogs.

I subscribed to a Patreon for some models, but I found that, while they are great for a space / sci-fi campaign, most didn’t fit quite well enough with how I view the Necromunda underhive for me to continue.

Print quality is amazing

I was impressed initially with the print quality. I still am. It’s really good. And while I’ve printed mostly bits and pieces for Necromunda, I also printed some keyring holders for AirTags, and they are superb. (And, unsurprisingly, a fraction of the price of “official” ones from Apple.)

I got my (very basic) FDM printer up and running over the weekend, and there’s just no comparison in terms of print quality. But I have a couple of spools of FDM to use up, so I expect I’ll try printing something larger and just see how it works out.