Recently we purchased the Elagoo Mars 2 Pro to try resin printing for our TTRPG miniatures. With the recent improvement in resin printing and the extreme affordability that exists now, we decided it was finally time to test it out.
We’ve been big fans of the extrusion printing in the past using our Prusa MK2, but cleaning up build layers and painting these models that were not perfectly smooth was a bit more of a hassle that we liked. With a resin printer there are some pros and cons we knew about and will discuss further, but we were excited to try resin printing out, as it doesn’t really have any build layers and produces a fully smooth print.
Resin Printing Minis
We purchased our Elagoo Mars 2 Pro specifically to print minis for our Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. Previously we had been using a Prusa MK2, which did a good job at printing, but we had issues with finer details, regulating the temperature around the printer, and reducing build lines.
We had seen some other reviews of people doing resin prints for TTRPG work and were a bit skeptical at first. The minis other people were showing off looked great, but we didn’t know if resin printing would be affordable.
Fast forward a bit, we saw the Elagoo Mars 2 on Amazon for $300. That was a 1/6th of the cost of our Prusa printer when we first bought it. Additionally, resin for the Elagoo printers typically only run about $30 a bottle. At this price we figured it would be worth it to try it out. I mean, we’ve spent far more money on minis over the years (thanks, Kickstarter…) and if this worked out, it would be a solid win for us.
Trying the Elagoo Mars 2 Pro
We got our printer safely in the mail. The first thing we were impressed by was the packaging. Not only was the printer well padded, it was packaged in a way that would have made it difficult to get damaged with even the most careless of deliveries. Taking it out of the box and setting it up took all of 30 minutes. Then we were ready to get started.
I will note two things here. First, the Elagoo Printers do not come with resin, so you have to make sure to buy some with the printer. Second, while the setup instructions are good, they are very brief and offer no clarity on finer details. What’s this film for? Why two scrapers? These were questions we had to go online to figure out. We’ll discuss those details below, so don’t worry, you won’t have to hunt around like we did.
We filled the reservoir with resin and plugged in the USB stick provided to run the obligatory test print. The resin had little to no odor, but we still followed the safety guidelines and wore both masks and gloves. Safety is important.
The print took a touch over two hours. Resin printers work by using a high intensity light screen to cure UV resin in layers as the build plate slowly rises. This gives your print the appearance of being pulled up out of the resin and also looks super cool. The test prints, a pair of fancy rooks, came out looking great!
Once the print is done, the build plate sits at the top and you detach it from the device before removing the prints. This is the tricky part. The next step is to wash all the remaining resin of your prints and build plate.
We were not adequately prepared for this. We had to acquire some 95% Ethyl Alcohol to clean with, and we needed a storage container for the runoff as it cannot go down the drain! We managed, but it should have been the first thing the printer told us to prepare.
Once the prints were washed, we saved the remaining resin. The printer came with a good set of filters and we use very little resin in each print, so there will always be some resin left over in the reservoir.
After all the clean up we needed to remove the prints from the build plate. Holy moly did we have a hard time doing this. There was NO advice on this in the instructions. The prints were so firmly attached to the build plate that we actually ended up bending the metal scraper that came with the set trying to get them off!
The secret to releasing the prints from the build plate ended up being hot water. This was well after the prints were cleaned and left to finish curing. Heating them up with hot water made them easier to release with a little pressure and the plastic scraper. We would highly recommend only using the plastic scraper included, as we ended up scratching our build plate with the metal one that didn’t even get the pieces off.
All told, the process was fairly simple. Although we had some issues getting the builds to release, we would rather them stick too well than not well enough.
The test prints came out awesome and we were ready to move onto making some minis!
ChiTuBox Software and Using Our Own 3D Files
Next up for us was trying some prints we downloaded from Hero Forge. One was a human character from one of our home games. The other two were more generic figures of a Tortle and a Grung.
We downloaded and installed the ChiTuBox Software that came preloaded on the flashdrive that came with the printer. The installation was quick and painless and the settings were very easy to copy over. The instruction book claimed that the setting would be prebuilt into the software for our printer, but that was not the case for us. In any event, the settings took us all of a minute to input and the configuration auto saved for all future prints.
We dropped in our 3d object files and they just worked. Each one plunked into place and we were able to put all three minis on the same build plate with adequate spacing. For the human and the Grung we tested the auto supports feature by selecting the model and clicking the auto button. It added the supports that would be needed to keep the print from failing in a single click.
From there you can edit these or even place them manually if you want, but we found no need for any adjustments. For the Tortle we left the mini without supports for a control test.
At this point we sliced the files and saved them to the flash drive. The print said it would take 2 hours and 31 minutes to complete. This ended up being extremely accurate, which is great when you want to print a lot of minis in one go. We found the time calculation to be far more accurate than with traditional printers we’ve used.
We did have one misfire here where we saved the wrong file type. This was not a big issue; the printer told us right away and we simply saved the sliced prints again in the correct type. We set the printer up and let it run, and it made some absolutely amazing prints for us.
Elagoo Mars 2 Pro Print Quality
The print quality for the Elagoo Mars 2 Pro was amazing on both the test print and our ttrpg minis that we loaded up ourselves. The prints we did with supports were flawless and highly detailed. The print we ran without supports had two defects, but they were far less severe than we had expected and all three prints ended up being phenomenal.
The supports on our two prints snapped right off and left almost no residual connection points. This was by far the most surprising part of the print process. They required no razor work to clean up, had absolutely no visible build lines, were smooth to the touch, and kept even the finest of details in the prints.
We couldn’t be more pleased with how everything turned out!
When comparing the resin models to prints we ran on our Prusa, there was no contest. The resin prints completed faster, at higher quality, and were easier to clean up even with complicated high detail models.
Elagoo Mars 2 Pros and Cons
- Affordable – At $300 for the printer and $30 dollars for the resin, this is easily one of the least expensive printers of this quality on the market.
- High Quality Prints – The prints came out flawless even when produced by novices. No build lines, easy to remove supports, and perfect details.
- Decent Software – The preloaded software works well and gets the job done.
- Fast Prints – Even a crowded build plate is extremely fast to print and the height is the biggest time sink, so printing 5 minis takes just as long as printing 1.
- Style – The printer itself looks clean and professional.
- Build Plate Release – This was hard, and is really only a con because the manual had no advice on how to achieve this easily.
- Cleanup – Resin is a chemical that has safety hazard considerations and needs to be cleaned up appropriately. In the future we will be trying the Water Washable Resin from Elagoo to see if it makes the clean up process better.
- Manual is okay, but could be better – The manual could use additional information to make it easier for absolute novices to get started. No product should require Googling to get perfect use on the first go and we had questions on finer details.
Bottom Line on the Elagoo Mars 2 Pro
We highly recommend this resin printer. We can’t say enough good things about it. Not only is it relatively affordable, it’s easy to set up and use, which is a lot more than we can say for a lot of the other printers we’ve tried. Resin used to be much more expensive, but with advances in technology and the opening of a wider market Elagoo has made huge strides towards making a truly consumer friendly price point.
Beyond just the reasonable price point of the printer, we were also able to calculate the price out for each mini we print on the device. In resin cost alone, each print runs us about $0.10. If you only bought 1 bottle of resin you can get about 300 standard 1 inch minis out of a bottle.
Factoring the cost of the printer, that’s about $1.10 per mini where each one can be exactly what you want. For us this makes a ton of sense, especially with all the amazing free to download minis you can find on Thingiverse.
Should I Buy an Elagoo Mars 2 Pro?
If you buy minis regularly, absolutely. This a huge upgrade in both savings on cost per mini and customization options available with your own prints.
On the other hand, if you’re not comfortable working with chemicals and don’t feel you can clean up resin waste appropriately, you might not want to use a resin printer. We found the resin easy to work with and didn’t feel at risk, but we’re both confident about our handling of chemicals and understand how to respect safety guidelines.
Where Can I Buy The Elagoo Mars 2 Pro?
If you’re interested in getting this printer you can purchase the Elagoo Mars 2 Pro here on Amazon and you can get Resin for it here on Amazon as well. Buying it from either one of these links helps support Master the Dungeon. We appreciate any of your support!
Where Can I get 3d Files to Print for My TTRPG?
You can find minis to print over on Thingiverse, along with a million other amazing open source 3d printables that you can make. There’s no end to the minis you can find and print from there, but it can take a bit of searching. We’ve started collecting a bunch of things we would like to print in this list here. It’s a good idea to tip the artists if you use their designs.
If you want something even more custom, we recommend you check out Hero Forge. We’ve bought customized models to print from them for as cheap as $7, and if you really want a better custom model, there’s no better place to look than Hero Forge.
If you still want to go even more custom, we can happily recommend an open source 3d modeling program called Blender. We love Blender, even though the program is a bear to learn how to use properly. The power that Blender provides cannot be rivaled though, and it is perhaps one of the best pieces of free software we’ve ever used for design work.
Wrapping Up on Resin Printing
If you’ve never given 3d printing a chance before, now’s the perfect time to get started. The barrier to entry is lower than it’s ever been and it’s an amazing way to build on the Dungeons and Dragons hobby. We absolutely love printing on the Elagoo Mars 2 Pro and we’ve never been as impressed with a home 3d printer as we have been with this one. If you’ve been waiting to jump into the 3d printing hobby, now’s the time!