A while back I ordered a Mars 2 Pro MSLA 3D printer (with bundled Mercury Plus wash & cure station) to test the waters of resin printing. This past weekend I spent about 12 hours working with the printer to make Christmas tree ornaments for family / friends, and I’d like to share my experience.
The Mars and Mercury both shipped in large, heavily-styrofoamed packages, and arrived about one week after purchase. Right out of the box both caught my attention with their apparent build quality given the cost ($380 shipped). I don’t know enough about MSLA yet to comment on their design elements, such as the single linear rail on the Mars, or UI on the Mercury, but both feel very well assembled if that makes any sense.
The Mars ships with a small toolkit (of surprisingly high-quality hex wrenches and scrapers), one metal resin tank, a tilted adapter to drain resin off a completed print (I recommend replacing this), a very cheap USB stick (I recommend replacing this), two replacement FEP sheets, two pairs of gloves, two face masks, and a handful of straining filters. It did not ship with resin, but I was luckily paying enough attention to order a bottle of my own along with 2L of 99% IPA to fill the Mercury’s wash bucket.
The Mercury ships with a plastic wash bucket with a nice spill-proof seal, an acrylic lazy susan disk for curing parts, a wire basket that I haven’t used, and an adapter for mounting the Mars’ build plate inside the wash bucket.
As soon as everything was out on a desk I set the first layer height and gave the “rook” pre-loaded chess piece file on the USB drive a try with my Elegoo-brand ABS-like Clear Blue resin. To my surprise both printed without issue. But then I broke one of them while removing from the build plate.
I can see why this is the demo file included with the printer. What a stunning result!
Areas to improve on
I have some nit-picky criticism to share as well.
1 – Resin splashing
When a print is finished, the build plate will move to nearly its maximum Z-height to drip dry while it waits for the operator to return. This leaves the resin on smaller prints to splash up and out of the resin vat, coating the lower areas of the enclosure.
2 – My printer arrived with a stripped bolt
One of the two bolts which holds the Z-axis homing flag onto the build plate is stripped out. It’s the only instance of a glitch in the build quality that I see, but I do see it.
3 – Asymmetric housing
The Mercury Plus comes with a yellow cover that has the product name stamped on one side. It is symmetric, and can be placed down with any of the four sides facing the front.
The Mars 2 Pro comes with a red cover that has nothing on it whatsoever. Confusingly, it isn’t square and will only fit onto the base of the printer in two orientations 180-degrees apart. I had to add a sticker to know which way to set it back on the printer.
5 – Air filter is not user serviceable
The Mars 2 Pro claims to come with an activated carbon filter inside, but there’s no convenient method (or instructions, or even replacement parts) to replace this.
6 – The Mercury Plus safety switch has a bug
The Mercury is supposed to stop (either wash or cure) if the lid is removed. But if the lid moves as the timer reaches “00:00” (because you’re impatient like me) it stops the timer but continues running! Not cool.
Accessories to buy
Along with your Mars and Mercury, I recommend picking up these items:
- A bottle of resin.
- 2 liters of isopropyl alcohol (IPA) to fill wash bucket.
- A hairdryer to dry parts after washing.
- A magnetic steel “upgrade” print plate, makes removing and curing prints much easier!
- Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) wipes. These tend to leave less link on the vat and LCD panel than paper towels.
- A pack of strainer funnels. Because you’ll run out quickly.
- A box of nitrile gloves. Because you’ll run out quickly.
- Optional: pack of (1oz) medicine measuring cups, if you plan to mix your resins.
- A set of Elegoo plastic vats. These are handy for quickly recovering from damaged FEP sheets or swapping resins.
- A pack of replacement FEP sheets. Because you’ll run out.
- A mini activated carbon filter to go inside the Mars enclosure. Elegoo sells a pack of two rechargeable ones. They help.
Cost of purchase
Below is the tally of costs to buy and get going with your printer.
|Mars 2 Pro + Mercury Plus||1||$380|
|0.5L bottle of ABS-like resin||1||$20|
|2L of IPA||1||$27|
|Magnetic print plate||2||$20|
|Medicine measuring cups (optional)||200||$10|
|Elegoo plastic vats||2||$35|
|Replacement FEP sheets||5||$20|
|Activated carbon air filter||2||$25|
From here on out the cost of ownership will likely be driven by resin, but at least now you know what the up front prices may be.