Elegoo Mars 2 Mono 3D printer review: Affordable resin printing with terrible safety instructions
Quick verdict: The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono makes 3D printing in very fine detail entirely affordable, but it falls over badly with its instructions – especially relating to product safety.
- Very fine print detail
- Affordable 3D printing
- Green colour is downright cool
- No Wi-Fi connectivity
- Doesn't come with any resin
- Instructions are astonishingly bad
In just a few short years, 3D printing has come a very long way indeed. Elegoo's Mars 2 Mono is just one of the company's offerings, focused on the affordable side of the 3D resin printing market.
The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono is a decent 3D printer for its price point, and while the lack of Wi-Fi is understandable given its cost, the woeful instructions really ought to be better. If you can work past that, there's a whole world of creative 3D printing to enjoy as a result.
Design: Attractive green hood
When you open up the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono, you'll be struck by how many bits of printer and accessories there are in the box. Aside from the printer itself, you also get some paper masks, gloves, a plastic and metal scraper, paper funnels, a tiny measuring cup and an array of build tools to help you put the printer together.
Actual assembly really isn't that difficult, with the instructions taking you through attaching the build platform, levelling the printer and screwing the resin tank into place. That part is easy enough for anyone to manage, with just a few minor annoyances.
The bright green hood and resin tank look very cool in a Matrix-style way, but for the hood you're also supplied with a rubber seal to fit around its lip. This helps keep potentially toxic fumes within while printing, but it does not fit all that well. It took some struggle to get it to stay in place, and I have concerns about its long-term durability. The hood will still contain fumes once – or if – it expires or breaks, but I wish it was a fixed and more durable part.
The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono is a resin-based printer, and that brings with it some very specific complications. If you're an old hand at resin printing, you can skip this bit of the review. But if your worldview of 3D printing is that it's all about melting spools of filament, read on.
That's because the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono uses a UV curing process to work up layers of liquid resin. Annoyingly, there's none supplied with the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono, although Elegoo does make its own branded resin available for sale.
However, much more problematic is that the instructions that come with the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono are utterly inadequate in terms of resin safety. You do get masks and gloves with the printer, but they're of mediocre quality and you're given single sentences relating mostly to washing finished 3D prints down, and nowhere near enough detail around the safe handling and disposal of resin and resin wash materials.
To put it simply, while resin printing is a great and interesting hobby, the chemicals used are downright toxic. You don't want any of them on your skin, or anywhere near your eyes or nose, and that's why you get gloves and a simple mask in the box.
However, these are (and should be) disposable items, and the instructions don't cover that off at all. Moreover, resin and resin washes are also toxic once you're done with them – cured models are 100% safe but the wet stuff isn't, in essence, and shouldn't be simply disposed of down a drain. It's quite vital that you dispose of the waste byproducts safely, in the same way you might other toxic chemicals such as paint.
Elegoo might argue that by not supplying resin with the printer, this is left up to the individual, but that's not good enough in my view.
Thankfully, there are quite a few resources around 3D resin safety online, and if you're in any way keen on the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono, you must do some research and know what you're getting into before purchase. Elegoo certainly isn't going to make it obvious in any way.
Performance: Chitubox is simple to use, hard to master
The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono uses a process called Stereolithography (sometimes also referred to as digital light processing), which is why you'll sometimes see this class of 3D printer referred to as an SLA or DLP printer respectively.
The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono uses a 6.08 inch monochrome LCD at its base to fire light up to the resin tank. If you've ever done screen printing on fabric, it's a similar process with the areas you want "printed" lit up by the screen below. Because the resin is UV sensitive, it hardens due to the light, and then the build plate lifts the hardened layer up a little. You then "print" the next layer sequentially, building up to whatever it is you're choosing to 3D print.
This is very cool technology, and the benefit of using a mono LCD is that it's somewhat faster than the earlier generation 3D SLA/DLP printers that worked from RGB screens.
Fast is still relative, of course. You're still talking a print speed of between 30-50mm per hour with a total maximum print volume of 129mm*80mm*150mm. Or in other words, that massive 3D print you've always dreamed of making will take some hours to complete, but it would be considerably slower on an RGB-based 3D printer.
Elegoo supplies Chitubox for compiling your print files, or "slicing" in the parlance, because you're arranging your 3D model into distinct slices for the printer to then expose your resin to.
It's an easy enough application to wrap your head around for working with standard 3D print file formats, although getting used to when and where you might need to flip, angle and, especially, support your own models is a science unto itself. Beginners can expect a few failed prints along the way, which can be frustrating.
The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono differs from the more expensive Elegoo Mars 2 Pro in that it doesn't include any kind of fume filter within the printer itself. That's important because the fumes from standard resin – I tested with some of Elegoo's standard grey – are pretty noxious in themselves, and they're going to spread throughout the area you're working in.
Again, the instructions are woeful in this respect, only noting that you should preferentially place the printer indoors, but making little reference to ventilation.
It is vital that you do so, even though different resin makes may have differing levels of odour. I ended up mostly printing in my carport, away from direct sunlight but in an area where fumes could much more easily disperse, because indoor prints (even with fans blowing towards open windows) were too much to bear.
The huge benefit of 3D resin printing over filament-based approaches is that by working in a liquid medium, you can achieve significantly finer levels of print detail. The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono can manage layers as small as 0.01mm, which means that you can print items with incredibly fine detail or smooth finishes. Again, there's a pretty big learning curve here in terms of learning about supporting model parts, and cleaning and sanding them down safely, but it's a big part of the appeal of this particular printing style.
One of the limitations of the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono is that it doesn't feature any Wi-Fi connectivity, which means getting print files to it involves a bit of good old sneakernet action with a USB drive shifting between your computer and the printer. Given the slow speed of 3D printing generally, this doesn't feel like a dealbreaker. But if you do want Wi-Fi, you'll need to step up the price scales to get it.
The Elegoo Mars 2 Mono control panel is a remarkably simple affair with slightly confusing UI for levelling the printer. That's because the instructions don't match the UI symbols, probably due to some level of firmware change. Thankfully, it's a lot easier to actually print, with the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono reading files from the USB drive and giving you a small visual representation of your print so you can be sure you're picking the right file.
From there, you just tap the play button and go off to amuse yourself for however long the printer is going to take. Its time estimates can sometimes be a little lower than the actual print time ends up being, and again you can (and probably will) have a few failures along the way. That's not a criticism of the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono, however, because it's somewhat par for the course for 3D resin printing as a whole.
Should you buy the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono 3D Printer?
- Buy it if you want an affordable 3D resin printer.
- Don't buy it if you don't have a well-ventilated space to put it in.
The 3D resin printing space has quite an array of lower-cost 3D printers available right now, and in many respects the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono is just another one of them. 3D resin printing can be a massive amount of fun and a great way to flex your creative muscles, and in that respect, the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono could fit the bill nicely.
However, its instructions are beyond woeful. So if you're a beginner, while the price is attractive, it's worth doing your research and knowing the risks and careful management of the resin itself, as well as what you'll need to do to cure and finish models off safely. None of this is impossible, but if you're not in a situation where you can safely place and work with the Elegoo Mars 2 Mono, it's not going to work well for you.
Pricing and availability
Where to buy
Images: Alex Kidman
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