In the beginning of DLP 3D-printers, the jargon were quite easy. There were only HD projectors available and in a very rare occasion the manufacturers chose for a 4K DLP projector. In today’s hardware and material landscape, the different techniques and marketing expressions are endless and sometimes confusing. Previously we have published a technical article to explain the resolution in DLP and MSLA printers and how the hardware behind it works, which can be found here. In this shorter article we will explain the DLP printer resolution on an level which is easier to understand.
DLP printer resolution.
The naming of the resolution of the DLP projectors come from the general hardware and imaging industry. It has to do with the amount of lines and pixels available within one screen / projection. Originally there were 2 options, 720P (HD ready) and 1080P (Full HD). These resolutions are mainly used in DLP techniques. For instance the Asiga Max, Atum3D DLP Station 5, Miicraft Hyper series and 3DSystems Figure 4 use a full HD (1080P; 1920*1080 pixel) DLP module. For years (and maybe still today) this was the most used DLP module. Some older model DLP printers, and the newly announced Anycubic Photon Ultra use a lower resolution 720P DLP. In the latest development you will find also 4K DLP projectors and printers.
Image by thinkware.com: difference between 720P, 1080P, 2K 4K and 8K resolution in screen technology.
Within the LCD and MSLA resin 3D-printing machines, some other naming is used, mainly 2K, 4K, 6K and 8K. these values also tell something about the resolution, but the pixel count is sometimes different.
Table 1: Resolution and pixel size of popular resin 3D-printing brands and technologies.
 Not clear from the data if a 4K (3840 * 2160 pixels) chip is used, or a XPR chip with lower resolution and pixel manipulation
 XPR is used to manipulate pixels of a 2960*1660 or 2716 * 1528 chip to 4K (3840 * 2160 pixels)
 Likely two 4K projectors
When a manufacturer tells something about resolution of a DLP printer, it is always important to check the technical background of the printer. Sometimes a 4K projector is not always the same. There are 4K projectors with a higher resolution compared to other 4K projectors.
Why is there a difference in 4K DLP resolution?
This is much more difficult to explain. High resolution true 4K DLP projectors have been around for a while. These true 4K projectors are used in industrial applications like cinema’s. The pricing of a true 4K DLP with 3840 * 2160 pixels has always been very high and often not used in 3D-printing. Since some years, DLP manufacturers have invented a method to make the 4K DLP systems cheaper by pixel shifting HD resolution into a 4K image. There is a controversy ongoing if this can be named 4K, because the pixel amount from the DMD chip is not really 3840 * 2160. If you have the time, an interesting read by Evan Powell from projectorcentral.com can be found here.
Find DLP compatible 3D-printing resin
Most Liqcreate resins are compatible on open DLP resin 3D-printers in the range of 385 – 405nm. A lot of printers and pre-settings are already listed in the link.
Hope this was an educational read and with the purchase of your new printer you can look at the specifications that matter. An in depth analysis of the technology behind DLP and MSLA imaging can be found in the link.
Do you need any help with 3D printing our SLA, DLP or LCD resins? We can help you! Just look for the question you have below. If you can’t find it, let us know by contacting us!