Resin Review: 3D Resin Solutions ‘HERO’ Resin

This is how 3D Resin Solutions positions their HERO 3D Printing resin:

“Offering a wide range of use, HERO Resin features very low odor, fine detail, high weather ability and EXCELLENT Shock + Impact Resistance. HERO handles tiny supports with fine detail as well as large and bulky prints without tearing or falling off the build plate.”

That’s some promising product literature. Low odor, good detail, and durable? That’s a lot of claims that need to hold up. Let’s see if they do.

First of all, a reminder that we’re comparing all of this to Elegoo ABS-like grey resin as our sort of benchmark comparison.

Cost

HERO resin is definitely on the pricier side of resins for the average consumer, clocking in at $59.95 for a 1kg bottle, or about $0.06 per gram. That’s a good 50% more expensive than our Elegoo ABS-like baseline. If you buy a lot of resin, like “Production-scale” lot of resin, the price goes down, though it’s only when you hit the “5 gallon bucket” scale where you get to a comparable cost.

Shipping is also expensive – it’s only free for orders over $100. For me, in the U.S., which is also where they are based, it was about $10 for reasonably speedy ground delivery.

Score: 2/5

Smell

The promise is very low odor, and honestly, this resin delivers on that promise. There’s a detectable smell of chemistry, but it’s both minor and pretty fleeting.

Score: 4.5/5

Durability

Here’s where things genuinely get interesting – 3D Resin Solutions is expressly marketing this resin as impact resistant and tough, and when you work with it, it’s ever so slightly flexible. Marshal Wilhem’s sword did not survive a ~6 foot drop onto concrete, though it did fine on a somewhat more reasonable “kitchen countertop to laminate floor” version of the test. But the model is much more flexible. In that the sword was able to be bent well over 90 degrees without breaking, and afterward could be bent to something at least resembling true.

So while it’s definitely not invincible, and the shock that comes from being dropped on bare concrete is asking a little much of probably any resin, there is a lot of durability in terms of thin, flexible pieces. If you’re not one who takes a lot of care for their models (a lot of Ork players, I’m looking at you), or you have a lot of spindly little bits that stick out and are apt to break (Eldar and Elf players represent…), this might be worth the cost if it helps protect a well painted model. Though note that paint won’t necessarily like extreme flexing like this.

Score: 4.5/5

Ease of Use

HERO resin is a little bit harder to use than our comparator standard, but not much. It’s viscous, so needs a lot of shaking before pouring, but the bottle seals well, and thus far, I’ve had no leakage. I have noticed however it takes a little longer to get my build plate clean using the Anycubic Wash & Cure station – occasionally, I’ve detached the model and then put just the build plate in for another 2 or 3 minute cycle. This is, admittedly, because I usually somewhat overfill my vat, so the flat part of the build plate is submerged, so it’s an easy thing to avoid.

The other factor is that it takes longer to cure. 3D Resin Solutions suggests “For best results, post cure your print for 15-30 minutes or until the surface tack is removed.” For me, for most figures that’s meant at least three six-minute cycles in the curing station, which is a good bit longer than our comparison standard. A curing station with a longer run-time would again make this slightly less annoying, but it’s definitely a factor.

Another factor in this is the softness as compared to other resins, and how this impacts supports. After the first draft of the review, I tried printing a model that’s been my white whale for a bit – the prow of an Emperor-class battleship. While the details are outstanding and the little spiky features are reassuringly flexible, I was getting some bad warping and bending of parts that should be straight but are attached to supports. After some playing around with settings, I could get it better but not perfect.

Reaching out to 3DRS (again, getting both a great and fast response), I was advised that because of the flex and softness of the resin, supports are a little weaker than one might expect them to be. Which means that pre-supported models meant for harder resins might fail. I suspect this was what was going on, and they suggested redoing the supports. For a lot of models I have in mind to print with this resin, that’s not a big deal, but if you’re printing primarily or exclusively with pre-supported models, this might be something to keep in mind. So far, I’ve had a lot of success with just Lychee’s “High” level of support density for auto-supporting, and even for pre-supported models I’ve had a lot of luck as long as they’re not both fairly large (as far as 3d printed bits goes) and have planar features. And in fairness, for a model like this…grimdark windmill…where the blades of the fan are actually thinner than the supports needed to build them, the ease of removing supports and the flexibility are essential, and I don’t know that I’d attempt printing them with “easier” and more rigid resins.

The resin also softens at a pretty low temperature (hot tap water) which means support removal on things that aren’t spindly little fan blades is really, really straightforward. Most of the time, a quick dip in hot water meant even fairly sense light or medium supports could be pulled off with no ill-effect, and rare was the need to go get clippers.

In essence, this feels like a resin where you’ll get out of it what you put into it, and there are some very compelling applications for it, but it’s not point-and-click. But the flexibility and ease of support removal might make it worth putting that time in.

Score: 3/5

Detail

So it’s durable and it doesn’t stink, but the major factor in my mind for a 3D printing resin for wargaming is detail. If you don’t have that, what’s the point?

I’m pleased to say the detail is solid. I think the Marshal looks strong – the braiding is there once more, the medals are easy to pick out and you can tell what they are. The folds on the gas mask are there, and generally speaking, I think the detail is solid. It’s probably not 150% of the price of our baseline solid, but we’re in a good place.

What actually impressed me more was the Battlefleet Gothic ship.

Here, a bunch of little details – flying buttresses on the bridge, etc. got captured well. The crisp details are crisp, the dorsal weapons batteries don’t have droopy barrels,  and the smaller detail elements are there. I think this partially has to do with that flexibility – stress and pressure on detailed pieces or support intersections don’t necessary result in breakage when printing with this resin. For this application, I’m pretty thrilled with it. Having hopped between this resin and some others to print ships, where this resin works (which has so far been everywhere by the biggest capital ship prints), it’s been outstanding.

Score: 4/5

Speed

Even discounting the increased post-processing curing time, HERO is not a fast resin, nor is it intended to be. That’s often one of the costs of high detail resins – if you want crisp detail, you don’t want errant bits of UV light to cause curing (aka “light leakage”) and that means you need to cure a little slowly. In this case, after doing some calibration tests, I’ve settled into about 6 seconds/layer at 0.02mm layers for this resin. That’s again 50%+ slower than the comparison Elegoo ABS-like. It definitely requires patience.

Score: 2/5

Overall Impressions

You’ll note I’m not going to give an “Overall Score” that’s the average of the different scores, because I view these things more as dials than equally weighted components. Of course a perfect-5’s resin would be amazing, but absent that – maybe smell doesn’t bother you, or you’re running your printer in a specialized, heavily ventilated workshop. Maybe you’ve got a monochrome printer, so speed is less of an issue because everything’s faster – or like me, you’re simply not overly fussed with churning out huge numbers of minis. Maybe durability doesn’t matter to you – or maybe it matters a lot.

Those will vary based on user, model, context, etc.

For me, HERO resin is a really great, high performance resin whose cost is a little dear. I like buying from a small business, and an American one, and there’s definitely a premium to both of those things, as well as just the expected cost of better resins being more expensive. The other factor in this is that I’ve found their customer service to be phenomenal. I originally ordered a 500g bottle of resin, because if I didn’t end up liking it well…out less money and have to figure out how to dispose of less resin at the end of the day. That was apparently out of stock, so they bumped me up to a 1kg bottle. Similarly, when I was having trouble getting the resin calibrated correctly (hint: Use the Ameralabs Town, not the little square resin exposure tests), their customer service email was both extremely helpful and responded overnight. As anyone who has ever had to rely on Facebook community support to sort out their 3D printing problems will tell you, that has value.

If your use case is printing out a ton of goblins or skeletons for the next skirmish game, and one of the appeals of 3D printing minis is that they’re fast to make and easily disposable, you’re probably going to want to look elsewhere. But for a lot of my use cases – custom parts, 8mm scale terrain, etc. the combination of detail and durability is really rather appealing. But they do have two other resins, “Standard” and “FAST+” that I’m also eyeing curiously.

HERO Resin can be purchased from 3D Resin Solutions here. Readers can get 20% off a 1kg bottle of grey HERO resin using the code ‘variance20’.

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