The new UNIZ IBEE resin 3D printer recently had a successful Kickstarter launch, with nearly $275,000 in backer funding raised. The IBEE is now on sale to the wider public and the folks at UNIZ were kind enough to send me a unit to review. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks putting the UNIZ IBEE through the ringer, so get comfy and read on to find out if this is a printer you should consider purchasing.
Resin 3D printers aren’t nearly as common as their FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) counterparts and there is good reason for that; the resin itself is messy and inconvenient to work with, the resin is more expensive that most conventional thermoplastic filament, and resin printers generally have smaller print volumes than similarly-priced FFF 3D printers. But resin 3D printers almost always offer far better print quality than FFF 3D printers, particularly when it comes to reproducing fine details in models. At the highest detail settings, resin 3D prints also have virtually invisible layer lines. Those factors make resin 3D printers ideal for figurines and professional-looking mechanical parts.
Until a few years ago, resin 3D printers were also far more expensive than most consumer FFF 3D printers. Fortunately, prices have dropped dramatically in recent years. Budget resin 3D printers can now be bought for as little as $200. But those cheap models leave a lot to be desired. The UNIZ IBEE is a midrange model that costs $899.00 on the Uniz store. That may seem a bit pricey, but the IBEE is providing a lot for that money.
My UNIZ IBEE review unit arrived on my doorstep in a very sturdy box, with the machine packed well in strong foam. My first thought upon unboxing the IBEE was that the machine is both big and heavy. Those aren’t bad things. The IBEE is big because it has a very generous build volume for a resin 3D printer: 192 x 120 x 220 mm (7.5 x 4.7 x 8.7 inches). That is large enough to make the IBEE useful for general 3D printing and not just tiny D&D figurines — though it is great for those, too. The machine is heavy because it is very well-built. There is no cheap injection-molded plastic here. It is constructed from sheet metal and machined aluminum. Frankly, I don’t think there is anything UNIZ could have done to make the IBEE feel more solid.
Still, a solid machine is pointless if it doesn’t print well. Thankfully, the IBEE prints extremely well. It has an 8.9” 4K monochrome LCD with a resolution of 3840 x 2400, which provides a stated XY resolution of 49.8µm. Speaking in practical terms, that is a high enough resolution that you will never need to think about it. The minimum layer thickness is 25µm, so layer lines are nearly invisible. UNIZ claims that the IBEE can print up to 80/mm an hour thanks to its powerful UV light engine, though that is at the thickest layer setting. At the 25µm minimum and the default exposure settings, a single layer requires 1.8 seconds of exposure and 2 seconds of cool down time.
Setting up the machine and getting a print started is easy, but it does require that you use the UNIZ Maker software. Third party slicers don’t currently support the IBEE, though they may in the future. Luckily, UNIZ Maker is straightforward and capable. You can easily position your models, generate supports, and slice the print. Then you can simply save the sliced file to the provided USB flash drive and insert it into the machine. The machine has a handy 4.3” color touchscreen to select files. You’ll even get a nice preview of your model while printing and accurate information about the print’s status.
I started my tests with the UNIZ zMUD resin that comes with the IBEE. This resin is currently only available in a beige, flesh-like color. For my first test, I printed a small Vault Boy figurine at the maximum 100µm default settings. That looked very nice — better than all but the best FFF 3D printers can achieve. Layer lines were nearly undetectable and small details looked great — the bumps you see are from the supports. My second test was a large triceratops dinosaur figure, which I ran at the minimum 25µm settings. To my eyes, that print was flawless. Aside from the points where the supports touched, I couldn’t find a single imperfection in the model.
You probably won’t want to be confined to using UNIZ resin, so I also tested resins from Anycubic and ELEGOO. The UNIZ IBEE operates at the standard 405nm UV wavelength, so it is compatible with most resins on the market today. That said, not all resins are equal. You will need to find the correct exposure times for the resin you are using. In my case, I ran out of the Anycubic Basic Grey resin before I was able to find reliable settings. None of prints with that resin were completely successful. Though my final test print, a Portal companion cube, was looking pretty good until it failed near the end. That print failed because the resin was sticking to the vat film.
I want to stress that I don’t believe that those failures were the fault of the printer and I am confident that I could have eventually found settings that worked well. My tests with with ELEGOO Standard resin in translucent red were much better. I printed a number of models with this resin, including a D20 die and a Raspberry Pi Zero W case, which turned out pretty well. My final test print after fine-tuning the settings, an iPhone X case, came out perfectly.
As I’m sure you can tell by now, I have been very pleased with the UNIZ IBEE and I plan on keeping this printer for my own projects. But that doesn’t mean it is perfect and I have two complaints about the IBEE. The first is hassle of changing the vat film. When you eventually need to change that film, doing so will require that you remove 34 individual screws on the vat and then put them back in after placing the new film. While those numerous screws do ensure that the film is held firmly, they are a pain to deal with.
My second complaint is the wireless printing functionality. The IBEE has a built-in WiFi adapter and can connect to your home network. But actually controlling it remotely is rather pointless. I wasn’t able to figure out how to send sliced files to the printer wirelessly (it can’t be done through the UNIZ Maker software) and so I just used the flash drive. UNIZ does provide a cloud service where you can check the status of your printer after it is registered, but that never seemed to update properly.
As far as I’m concerned, however, those are relatively minor issues and they aren’t enough to affect my recommendation here. If you are in the market for a high-quality resin 3D printer, the UNIZ IBEE is a fantastic choice. It is priced similarly to competing resin 3D printers on the market and is capable of producing some very high-quality parts. As long as you keep the realities of resin 3D printing in mind, I can’t imagine that you will be disappointed with the new UNIZ IBEE.