In the last few years, SLA printing has become as common and cost-effective as other types of 3D printing. I've been reviewing different SLA printers for a while now, and I've spent a few months playing with the latest offering from Nova3D. The Bene4 is the logical successor to Nova3D's popular Elfin printer, with some significant upgrades.
Is it perfect, though? Not really, as there are still some issues, but it's a pretty good printer all around. Let's deep dive into the review.
An excellent purchase with subpar software
Bottom line: The sturdy construction, excellent print quality, and flip-top lid, more than make up for the subpar NovaMaker software.
What you'll love about the Bene4 3D Printer
If you have ever used one of these affordable resin 3D printers before, you will know about the lids. Almost all of them are made of the same red or orange acrylic plastic designed to filter out UV light to keep your resin from accidentally being cured in the sun. They all invariably have to be lifted off from the top and stored someplace while you work on your print. That's fine, but Nova3D has come up with a unique way of keeping your lid handy by hinging it at the back.
I know that sounds simple and obvious, but no one else does something like this, and I cannot tell you how much easier life is with it. If you are thinking of creating a print farm using the Bene4, you will use significantly less horizontal space to do so, making it far easier to have a rack of them.
The lid is just one of many quality of life upgrades on the Bene4, all of which may seem like small things, but when added together, make a huge deal. The resin vat has been designed with four feet to keep it off of your workbench. If you've ever had to scrap a failed print off of the bed, only to cut through your FEP sheet because of some dust underneath, you'll praise this addition.
The screws that hold the vat onto the machine are fixed onto the tank but free to move so you can unscrew them but leave them attached to the container, thus keeping them handy instead of rolling off the bench. There is a small unscrewable flap on the side of the printer so you can easily change the LCD screen — the LCDs are considered consumables, so you will need to replace them — instead of having to open the whole back.
All of these little additions make for a compelling product designed to make your life easier every day. Even the onboard storage makes life a little more comfortable as you can transfer files via USB, save them to the storage, then take the USB somewhere else. This is especially helpful in a print farm as you can load all of the printers from a single thumb drive.
Like all SLA printers these days, the print quality on the Bene4 is outstanding. The ultrawide base and T type ball bearing linear guide make for an extremely solid machine that produces very little wobble as it prints. The 2K LCD screen offers high resolution with layer heights as low as 0.01mm — or 10 microns — and that quality shows on the test prints I have done.
The rings I printed from Fotis Mint are some of my favorite models, especially the steampunk ring you see in the pictures. On one of the test prints — a small steampunk ring — you can see how small the cogs are inside the model and how well the Bene4 manages to reproduce them. It feels incredibly delicate and yet incredibly well printed. Even the test print that comes with the machine shows that delicateness and printed each of the lattice-covered globes to perfection.
When printing a larger model like the protester by dutchmogul, it's easy to lose some of the fine details, but each crease in her trousers and even the filters in the gas mask show the small details. I like how that model came out and was very happy with how the Bene4 handled it.
What you'll dislike about the Bene4 3D Printer
It seems that while Nova3D has learned new tricks to improve its hardware, it has failed to upgrade the software sufficiently to make it an enjoyable thing to use. While I understand that printer manufacturers don't want to be reliant on other people's software, there is software out there that is readily available and far better.
While I enjoy the information the Wi-Fi connection gives through NovaMaker; only the most basic models can be printed using the built-in support system. When printing with resin supports are critical and can be the difference between a good print and a mess of resin in the bottom of the vat. In all my attempts on the Bene4 using NovaMaker, the only way I was able to get the prints to work was to either print a model that required no support or add the supports on another app — Chitubox is the best, but Prusaslicer is pretty good too — and import them into NovaMaker. Doing it this way, I was able to get some great prints, but it is a step that wouldn't be needed if Nova3D used a file format that Chitubox or Prusaslicer could read.
The other two issues I've noted on the Bene4 are quite minor. While the power button is in the correct position on the front, the USB slot is right in the back, making it difficult to reach. While that seems trivial, when you are dealing with toxic liquids, it is very easy to spill them when you are jostling the machine to get the USB in blind. The other issue is the size. The base of the Bene4 is about the same size as the Elegoo Saturn, a machine that has a build plate twice the size. While that feels excessive to me, it does make the device feel very sturdy and has the bonus of reducing the noise caused by internal cooling.
Should you buy the Bene4 3D Printer
I have really enjoyed my time with the Bene4 from Nova3D. While the software leaves a lot to be desired, the hardware is fantastic. I didn't realize how much I hated taking the lid off of my other printers until now. All printers of this size should follow Nova3D's example here.
If you are looking for a solid printer that would be excellent to use in a 3D printing farm, then the Bene4 is for you. With the Wi-Fi connection to monitor your print and the reduction in vertical footprint, the Bene4 feels just right for having four or five on a shelf.
What to buy with your Bene4 3D Printer
Resin 3D printers require a lot of accessories to get them to work correctly. While there are multiple tools that you will need as you go through, the Bene4 does come equipped with a set of snips for removing supports and a scraper to clean the FEP of any mishaps.
We also brought together some essentials that will make your 3D printing life a little easier.
A fantastic print every time
Ever since I started using Siraya Tech Fast resin, I have been hard-pressed to recommend anything else. It gives excellent prints every time I take it off the bed. While grey may seem like the most boring color to choose, the grey highlights areas that need sanding very well.
I currently have four liters of Siraya Tech grey in my workshop, ready to be used. You should get some too.
A fair cost for 2K
There are two main parts of a 3D printer that are consumable; the FEP and the LCD. The specific LCD for the Bene4 is available to purchase and is well worth picking up with the printer, so you aren't caught short if it fails.
You can expect several hundred hours out of each LCD and they cost comparatively very little. The Bene4 even has a little hatch in the side to make it easier to change the LCD out.
This pack of five is worth having
Of all the pieces on a resin 3D printer, the FEP film is likely the most delicate. One bad print can pierce a hole through and cause major issues. You should always have some extra FEP sheets on hand, just in case the worst happens.
This pack comes with five extra sheets so one pack should last you several hundred hours if you are careful. Protip: If you aren't going to be using your printer for a few days empty the resin out so the FEP can taste oxygen. It will lengthen its life.