Resin & FDM Printing for Miniature Wargaming: A Comparison of Costs and Material Usage
Resin & FDM Printing for Miniature Wargaming: A Comparison of Costs and Material Usage

Recently I’ve been asked what it costs to print a model in FDM vs Printing it in Resin, as well as printing a hollowed vs solid model. Lots of prices get thrown around, but I haven’t really dug into how much it costs me in raw materials. So I thought I’d take a look at it and break down some of the costs. Please note that this doesn’t take into account power usage, wear and tear etc, as that will depend on printer, and the cost of power where you are locally, but it should at least give you a rough comparison.

I’ve also been considering whether it’s worth hollowing models a lot of the time, I’t often suggested to hollow models to save resin, but I do prefer the weight of a solid model, so I decided to crunch some numbers to see if it was actually worth the time and effort hollowing, as I’ve noticed that the side effect can include seepage of uncured resin in a hollowed model, as for some it seems impossible to clean and cure them properly. Here’s the (unscientific() results I cam up with and they might surprise you! Please note that these are all based on the estimates given by the slicer, so I cannot voice for their accuracy, i’ve disregarded any of their own price calculations and done them myself based on the following assumptions:

  • 1 x Bottle of 500ml Anycubic Resin on Amazon: $29.99 USD (0.05998c per ml)
  • 1 x Bottle of 1000ml Anycubic Resin on Amazon: $58.99 USD (0.5999c per mil)

As you can see, it’s technically 1c more expensive to purchase it by the 1L bottle!

  • 1 x Spool of 1kg Hatchbox PLA on Amazon: $19.99 USD (0.01999c per gram)

I decided to compare between different models by m_bergman and TigerAce1945 using the latest versions of Chitubox for resin printing calculations and Cura for FDM calculations.

 

m_bergman Bren Carrier – 1/56 and 1/100

  • 1/56 Bren Carrier – FDM, Fine (0.1mm) 10% Infill, 2mm Raft, Supports Touching Build Plate: 7.17m/21g (Cost: $0.41)
  • 1/56 Bren Carrier – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%,Solid: ~32.8ml Resin, 36.1g (Cost: approximately $1.97)
  • 1/56 Bren Carrier – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%, Hollow (2mm thickness): ~32ml Resin, 36g (Cost: approximately $1.91)
  • 1/100 Bren Carrier – FDM, Fine (0.1mm) 10% Infill, 2mm Raft, Supports Touching Build Plate: 1.78m/5g (Cost: approximately $0.10)
  • 1/100 Bren Carrier – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%. Solid: ~7ml Resin, 7.7g (Cost: approximately $0.42)
  • 1/100 Bren Carrier – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%, Hollow (2mm thickness): ~7ml Resin, 7.7g (Cost: approximately $0.42)

When it comes to hollowing vs not hollowing, it’s a very interesting result.  At 1.56 scale, at least according to the resin usage calculations from Chitubox it saves less than a ml of resin, which at my calculations is only around 5c. At 1/100 it’s not even noticeable.  Is it really worth hollowing out this model at these scales? Not really.

But, this is just one model, and not the type that would benefit from hollowing, so I decided to go big, and look for one of the largest, commonly used models – the German Tiger.  Now this model is far too big to compare at 1/56, so I’ve only shown comparisons for 1/100, but we start to see some differences between the options here:

m_bergman – Tiger

  • 1/100 Tiger – FDM, 2mm Raft,Fine (0.1mm) 10% Infill, Supports Touching Build Plate: 7.44m/22g (Cost: approximately $0.43)
  • 1/100 Tiger Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%. Solid: ~37.7ml/41.5g (Cost: approximately $2.26)
  • 1/100 Tiger – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%, Hollow (2mm thickness): 28.2ml/31.0g (Cost: approximately $1.69)
  • 1/100 Tiger – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%, Hollow (1.5mmmm thickness): 24.1ml/26.5g (Cost: approximately $1.46)

I decided to compare a couple of different wall thicknesses, namely 1.5mm and 2mm thickness. There is a definitely difference here, but you do run the risk of cracking the hull of the tank with the turret, so bear this in mind as the walls are considerably thinner and may not stand up the rigors of game play depending on the resin used.  You’ll save up to around 80c per model if you hollow them out, reducing your costs by around 35%, scaled our across a lot of printing, this starts to show more of a saving. Is it worth it?  That really depends on your budget and how much you are printing.

But, I wanted to see a real comparison, so lets look at what it’s like for a German e-100, in this case, TigerAce1945’s e-100 scale StuG.

TigerAce1945 – E-100 StuG

  • 1/100 Stug e100 – FDM, 2mm Raft, Fine (0.1mm) 10% Infill, Supports Touching Build Plate: 9.56m/29g (Cost: approximately $0.57)
  • 1/100 Stug e100 – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%. Solid: 54.1ml/59.5g (Cost: approximately $3.24)
  • 1/100 Stug e100 – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%, Hollow (2mm thickness): ~32.2ml/35.4g (Cost: approximately $1.93)
  • 1/100 Stug e100 – Resin (Green Anycubic), Supports, Angle 10%, Hollow (1.5mmmm thickness): ~28.5ml/31.3g (Cost: approximately: $1.70)

Conclusion:

The first thing I noticed, is that the slicer’s calculation for cost of resin is completely incorrect. Which makes sense as they are based in China, but they are grossly understating the cost in the current version of Chitubox.  I also noticed that previous versions were grossly overstating the costs, so hopefully they add an option for you to manually enter the size of the resin bottle and the cost, to create a more accurate estimate.

When it comes to hollowing, it really depends on how many models you are printing, what scale, and how big they are.  Honestly for 15mm tanks, and 1/300 MTB’s it’s really not worth it.  The amount you save from hollowing is barely anything, but the trade offs are worse (harder to clean pre curing, risk of cracking etc) and it’s probably better to print solid.  Where you get the benefits from hollowing is from larger prints that take up much more of the build surface, such as super heavy tanks, or things in 1/56 scale. This surprised me as up until recently I was hollowing everything, and only stopped as the latest version of chitubox was giving me issues when I was placing drainage holes on my cruel seas ships.

When it comes to the cost differences between FDM and Resin the cost of FDM printing anywhere from around 17% to 33% of the cost of Resin printing, not taking into account the cost of electricity, post curing or wear and tear. Hopefully these figures give people a rough benchmark to compare when making a decision as to whether FDM or Resin is most appropriate for their particular use and scale.

1 Comment
  • by Robert Posted February 9, 2019 2:46 pm

    Resin is a lot cheaper than this article says. The best resin I have tested is $55 a liter, and cheap resin is $25 a liter. And Anycubic or Elegoo resin is in the $45 a liter range.

    https://bucktownpolymers.com/ep200-v420.html

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