ELEGOO Mars 3 MSLA Resin 3D Printer Review
To help you decide if this printer is for you, I put the new ELEGOO Mars 3 to the test.
ELEGOO is one of the biggest names in consumer resin 3D printers and they just added a new model to their Mars line. To help you decide if this printer is for you, I put the new ELEGOO Mars 3 to the test.
Full disclosure: ELEGOO provided me with the Mars 3 for this review. But, as always, this review is as honest as unbiased as possible.
Like most other consumer resin 3D printers, the Mars 3 utilizes the MSLA (Masked Stereolithography) printing process. That means that it uses a transparent LCD panel to mask UV light, which cures liquid resin in layers. The nature of that light masking means that an MSLA printer's resolution in the XY plane is a factor of the size and resolution of the LCD panel.
The ELEGOO Mars 3 comes equipped with an Ultra 4K LCD panel that has a resolution of 4098 x 2560 pixels. That is the same resolution as the LCD panel on the ELEGOO Saturn S, but the panel is smaller (6.6" compared to 9.1"). The result is an XY resolution of 35 μm — 30% higher than the previous Mars 2 and Mars 2 Pro models. That means finer details and smoother surfaces.
Compared to its predecessors, the ELEGOO Mars 3 also has a completely new look. The cover now has a tapered, rounded shape and the base has graceful curves. That visually sets it apart from the squarer, minimalist design of previous models. The new screen and shape allow for a 37% increase in build volume over the Mars 2.
The full specifications are:
- XY Resolution: 35 μm
- LCD Panel Size: 6.6"
- LCD Panel Resolution: Ultra 4K (4098 x 2560 pixels)
- Layer Thickness: 0.01-0.2 mm
- Exposure Time: 1.5-3 seconds
- Interface: Full color 3.5" LCD touchscreen
Unboxing and First Impressions
The ELEGOO Mars 3 arrived packed securely in a cardboard box with foam protection all around. Inside the box was the printer itself, the power supply, and a toolkit. That toolkit included useful items like a USB thumb drive, scrapers, gloves, and a mask. But if you're new to resin printing, you should buy gloves in bulk because you'll use a lot of them.
My first thought upon unpacking the machine was that the design will be polarizing. I prefer the aesthetic of the previous models, which looked more premium to me. But this is a subjective thing and others may prefer the new curvy design.
On a more tangible level, the ELEGOO Mars 3 feels well-built. The enclosure is plastic, but the important bits are aluminum. That includes the build plate and entire Z axis assembly. It feels trivial to mention, but I especially liked the tactile "clickiness" of the power button. The touchscreen, which is responsive and easy to use, sits under a protective film that protects it from resin drips.
Being an entry-level model with a relatively small build volume, the ELEGOO Mars 3 is quite compact. It should fit on even the most cramped desktops, which is nice when you have limited space. Still, I would have appreciated a hinged UV cover to reduce clutter when pouring resin or removing a print.
ELEGOO includes a one-year subscription to Chitubox Pro slicing software with purchase. That's a nice touch and users can always downgrade to the free Chitubox Basic when the subscription expires. The Pro version offers some nice convenience features, but it is by no means required and the Basic version will work well for most.
If you don't like Chitubox at all, you will be happy to hear that ELEGOO confirmed you will be able to use Lychee Slicer with the Mars 3. That is very welcome news for those of us who have concerns about printers locked into the Chitubox ecosystem. I wasn't able to try that myself, as Lychee Slicer support wasn't available at the time of testing, but my contact at ELEGOO assures me that support is coming soon.
Experienced MSLA printer users won't find any surprises here. Chitubox has a built-in profile for the ELEGOO Mars 3 with settings appropriate for most opaque resins. If you're using translucent resin or an exotic material, you might need to tweak your exposure settings. Otherwise, the standard settings should work well.
Preparing a model for printing is as easy as importing an STL, orienting the part, choosing automatic support settings, and pushing "slice." As always, however, resin printing requires some trial and error to get the support settings and orientation just right.
After slicing a model, just pop it onto the included USB thumb drive. When you turn on the Mars 3 you will see a list of all the files on the drive, complete with thumbnail previews. Select the file you want to print and sit back while the machine takes care of the rest.
I performed my test prints using ELEGOO Standard resin in blue and Siraya Tech Build resin in gray. All were printed with the same settings at 0.05 mm layer height.
Before I could start the first print, I had to level the build plate. That's a quick process thanks to ELEGOO's ball mount. Just loosen the two screws, lower the build plate, tighten the two screws, and you're done.
The first models I printed were the rook models that ELEGOO included on the thumb drive. As expected, these were flawless. Every detail was clean and crisp. The surfaces were smooth and free of any visible layer lines.
From there, I sliced and printed a Pot Boy model from Elden Ring. The digital model itself had some flaws, but the print was good. Some warping and artifacts caused by peeling forces were evident, but they were minor. Issues like these tend to only become visible on models with large, flat surfaces. One can also minimize them by refining exposure settings, reorienting the model, and carefully positioning supports.
The next print really showed the strengths of the ELEGOO Mars 3. The STL file was very refined, which resulted in nice, smooth surfaces. Every detail, down to the eyelids on the woman's face, turned out great. This is the kind of print that demonstrates what MSLA resin 3D printing is all about.
The final print I want to show you is this demonic warrior fella. It is at a scale similar to the last model, but has many more sharp details and overhangs that are difficult for some printers to handle. The Mars 3 had no trouble with this and the print looked fantastic. The smallest, sharpest details were visible and the only flaws were from the support contact points. With a coat of paint, this print would hold a position of honor on any tabletop gamer's display shelf.
The ELEGOO Mars 3 is a very good printer that is perfect for someone looking to get into the resin world. The build volume is modest, but competitive for this segment of the market and more than enough for printing tabletop minis and figurines.
Some, like myself, may prefer the aesthetic design of previous models, but that doesn't affect functionality. From an objective perspective, there is very little not to like here. A hinged UV cover would be a nice touch, but that is a minor gripe. And the one-year subscription to Chitubox Pro is a nice bonus.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the ELEGOO Mars 3 to a friend and you should feel confident buying one for yourself.