After 3D printers with fusion layering have now found their way into many hobby workshops, 3D printers based on stereolithography have increasingly come onto the market in recent years. Since 2019, corresponding models have also been available from Elegoo, and one of the company’s latest variants goes by the name Mars 3 Ultra 4K.
Looking at the spec sheet, the Elegoo Mars 3 Ultra offers a slightly larger build space for a price of $350 (current: € 319.99 *) and, with 35 µm, also a higher resolution than the predecessor Mars 2. Here, this is achieved by the 4K display mentioned in the name: The exposure in the Mars 3 is done by a 6.6″ display with 4,098 by 2,560 pixels.
Apart from the mentioned differences, many key specs have remained identical: The layer height remains at 10 to 20 µm, once again the 3D printer is operated via a 3.5″ touchscreen and files are again transferred via USB. Apart from the technical data, Elegoo advertises the Mars 3 Ultra 4K with further revisions. For example, there are supposed to be improvements to the illumination with UV LEDs, the separator plate and the cooling system, where the company relies on heat pipes for the first time.
Whether the Mars 3 Ultra 4K is worth its price, where the strengths and weaknesses of the device lie, and whether the device is also suitable for beginners, we will clarify in the following review. Our focus is on the printer itself, and not on the software supplied by Elegoo: For the first time, the Mars 3 comes with a one-year limited license for the slicer Chitubox Pro – but the 3D printer can also be used without this paid tool.
|Dimensions:||227 x 227 x 438.5 mm|
|Printer Technology:||SLA (Monocolor LCD)|
|Dimensions installation space (L x W x H):||143 x 89.6 x 175 mm|
|Leveling:||Manual (Automatic Pre-Levelling)|
|XY resolution:||4098 x 2560 pixels (4K+)|
|Material:||405 nm UV Resin|
|Slicing Software:||Chitubox (Pro)|
|Price:||€ 319.99 *|
Scope of delivery
The Mars 3 Ultra 4K comes in a partially color printed cardboard box. The 3D printer inside is protected by foam pieces from all sides and also from the inside, so there is unlikely to be any damage during transport.
In addition to the 3D printer itself, the box also contains setup instructions and another cardboard box containing the accessories. Elegoo uses a standard package for SLA printers: in addition to a 72 W power supply, there is a side cutter, a metal scraper, a plastic scraper and a USB stick with 4 GB of memory. Elegoo also includes a manual, the Chitubox Pro activation card, ten varnish filters, two medical masks and two sets of latex gloves with the Mars 3. Finally, there are some Allen keys and spare screws for repairs and maintenance.
You are well equipped for the first prints thanks to the scope of delivery, only suitable resin is still needed. Masks, varnish filters and gloves are of course consumables and must therefore be purchased, but this is no different with other SLA printers.
Design & Workmanship
Elegoo has significantly adapted the design of the Mars 3 compared to the previous generation. Particularly noticeable: instead of the cuboid UV cover of the Mars 2, the Mars 3 now relies on a curved shape here. This does not have an impact on the practical use: It is purely an optical change.
The curvature of the cover is continued on the Mars 3’s case, which is made of matte black plastic. The DC socket is on the back, whereas the power button is now on the front in contrast to the predecessor. There it is located under the touch display and next to the USB port, so that all operating options of the 3D printer are now close to each other. In contrast to the rest of the casing, the control panel has been moved slightly inwards – again, this is probably just an optical issue. However, the openings on the sides and underside are different: These are used for cooling, where Mars 3 wants to rely on heat pipes for the first time. We can confirm that: The heatpipes can be seen well through the vents.
The Mars 3 gets exciting at the printing area: the plastic housing is closed off at the top by a red metal plate, which houses the display, the Z-axis and a recess for the resin tray. The latter two components are also made of metal, which gives the Mars 3 a very stable and high-quality look. This impression is also complemented by the build quality, because the SLA printer is well done in this respect. Surfaces, coatings and edges are clean and without visual or tangible flaws. Only under the display of our printer – at an unfavorable angle – can inclusions be seen in one spot. With active backlighting, however, these are not visible, which means that this point of criticism does not carry any weight in practice.
Setup & commissioning
The manual provided by Elegoo guides you through the setup step by step, whereby even beginners should be able to cope with the instructions. The setup is not complicated: The Mars 3 is delivered already completely assembled, the only real setup work is the leveling of the Z-axis. This requires removing the resin tank, which in turn is held in place by two thumbscrews. These are easily removed and the tank is then removed from its mount.
Next, the 3D printer can then be started and leveling can begin. To do this, loosen the two Allen screws on the buildplate and place a sheet of paper on the display. The process can then be started in the menu. Here, one is confronted with the only minor stumbling block during setup: The menu navigation is explained well in the manual, but the symbols of the respective control panels did not match those in the picture. However, the buttons are still in the same position, so following the instructions is not really a challenge here either.
Once the Mars 3 is set up so that the buidplate holds the paper with moderate pressure on the display, it can be screwed on and moved up, and the resin tank can be screwed in. Afterwards, only the respective printing resin has to be filled in and the first 3D print can be started. For our tests, we used the ABS-Like resin offered by Elegoo in the colors mint green and gray.
Connection & Software
As mentioned earlier, the Mars 3 can be operated via the touch display on the front. The available functions include, for example, the aforementioned leveling, a manual control of the Z-axis and, of course, starting 3D prints. The USB port underneath the display is intended for providing the print files: The files are simply played onto a USB stick. As with the predecessors, a connection via WLAN is not provided.
Once you have connected the 3D printer to a USB stick, you can navigate through folders and files in the menu. The menu navigation is quite clear overall. The most important functions can be recognized quickly, so that you can get along with the 3D printer without any difficulties.
Directly from the factory, there is an already prepared print file for the well-known shaft tower on the supplied data carrier. Other 3D models, on the other hand, have to be converted into a printable file with a slicer, whereby most users will probably rely on the Chitubox software for the Mars 3.
In contrast to the predecessors of the Mars 3, the 3D printer comes with an activation code for a one-year license for Chitubox Pro. This tool, which has been offered since 2021, expands the previously available, free version of Chitubox with a revised layout and more advanced functions – for example, for connecting models or repairing mesh errors.
If you want to use Chitubox Pro anyway, you can get away with it quite cheaply with the Mars 3, because the one-year license currently costs $170 even without the 3D printer. If the software is interesting for you, the Mars 3 becomes much more attractive.
For all other customers, nothing has changed with the introduction of Chitubox Pro: The free version of the software will continue to be offered with no slicing restrictions, so you can still use the important core features without another subscription. For the more advanced mesh features, there are also enough free alternatives – keyword Blender.
In Chitubox Free, for example, models can be scaled, rotated and arranged appropriately. In addition, the important functions for hollowing out the model and generating supporting support structures are also available. Alternatively, these can also be set intuitively by hand. In some places, the UI of the software is a bit clumsy, but many other slicers also have their little quirks here. Overall, Chitubox (Free) is perfectly adequate for the usual hobbyist requirements, and after a short training period you can easily get along with the tool.
Printing Results & Practice
Points such as build quality, setup, and software are important, but in most cases, practice and print quality are likely to be the deciding factors. In other words: how time-consuming is printing, and how beautiful is the result?
The steps for each print are very straightforward on the Mars 3: The print runs completely automatically and does not need to be supervised. As soon as it is completed, the printing plate can be unscrewed in one easy step and the model separated from the metal surface with the metal spatula provided. This provides an excellent hold: In our tests, not once did anything come off the buildplate by itself. On the contrary, models that did not rest on a support structure were so tight that they could hardly be removed. If necessary, you can counteract this with a lower exposure time on the base layer, or with a targeted, slight miscalibration during leveling, if you want to print a model that rests on a large area. However, this is usually not necessary, especially since many models are printed with support anyway and can then be easily removed.
Once the 3D print is detached, the model still needs to be cleaned and cured – as with all SLA printing. As usual, there are no other functions on the 3D printer itself for this, instead simply isopropanol and a UV source such as an inexpensive nail polish dryer (wavelength: ~405 nm) are used.
To start the next print, simply screw the buildplate back in place and load the next print file. We did not notice any signs of fatigue, such as an increasing deterioration in leveling, during our print tests (approx. 1.6l of resin). However, if you still want to level the printer, that’s no problem either. However, you need a little more skill to replace the resin: Actually, this can simply be poured from the resin tank back into the bottle, for which Elegoo provides some paint filters so that residues are separated out. For the resin bottles offered by Elegoo, however, the opening of the varnish filter is a bit too large, so ideally you should use a funnel. Other SLA printers and bottles have similar problems, so there are countless offers for suitable, inexpensive silicone funnels on the web. With such a funnel, pouring is no longer a problem: In our case, the resin flowed out of the tank without any problems, and there was never any significant mess. Any residue can simply be removed with a tissue, after which the tank is clean again.
In terms of print quality, the 3D printer does just as well. Of course, you have to keep to the limitations of the process and place supports at sensible positions and with not too large a gap. As long as you keep this in mind, the Mars 3 prints in an excellent quality. Due to the high resolution and the low standard layer height, printed 3D models have smooth surfaces. In addition, fine details are also implemented so that the prints end up looking as if they had been industrially produced.
Along with the overall print quality, we were also impressed with the support structures. They were easy to remove and always left only small, clean dents in the model. The Mars 3 is therefore also well suited for models with overhangs.
Finally, the removal of misprints was also no problem. Prints with insufficient support can, as with other SLA printers, stick to the bottom of the resin tank. This is simply where the plastic scraper comes in, and in our case, it was able to remove stuck prints without much effort.
With the Mars 3, Elegoo has a 3D printer on offer that is supposed to offer significant improvements over its predecessor for its price of $350 (current: € 319.99 *). Among other things, the company advertises a higher resolution and a larger print volume – both points that are probably never out of place in a 3D printer.
The Mars 3 was able to convince us in both points: The build space is also suitable for larger miniatures, although it naturally depends on the individual requirements here. The resolution is also so high that the finest details can be seen well in the model. So everything fits here.
The Mars 3 is also convincing in terms of operation and build quality. With its predominantly metallic build, the 3D printer looks very high-quality, and the control via the touch display works well. Some users might only wish for a WLAN function, which is missing, as it was in the predecessor models. However, unlike FDM printers, you cannot leave SLA printers ready to print for weeks anyway: You would have to stir the resin tank before printing again. In most cases, therefore, the WLAN function would not save any additional travel, but at most the work of playing the files onto the USB stick. The lack of the wireless connectivity feature is thus at least quite understandable.
Lastly, the Mars 3 is also convincing in terms of maintenance and print quality: The components are easy to remove and the printer consistently produces models in high quality. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but in our eyes, Elegoo’s new 3D printer does very well here.
Whether you should buy the Mars 3 in the end depends, as so often, on your own requirements. The 3D printer prints reliably, nicely and without too much maintenance, while the price remains within reason. If the available space is sufficient for your needs, then the Mars 3 is a good choice in our eyes. If, in addition, Chitubox Pro is used anyway, then Elegoo’s newcomer becomes a probably unrivaled bargain – because the included annual license alone already costs 170 US dollars.
Elegoo Mars 3 Ultra 4K price comparison
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