Creality HALOT-ONE resin printer is a great pick for ultra precise hobby 3D printing (in-depth review)
We’ll readily admit that 3D printing is not our primary field on interest here at GSMArena. That being said, we are all passionate tech nerds and with plenty of varied interests. Ask around the office and you can get solid, in-depth information on anything from cars and fridges to drones and single-board computers and everything in-between, both size and complexity-wise. You get the point.
When CREALITY reached out asking if we wanted to check out their HALOT-ONE (CL-60) Resin 3D printer (for a fair and unsponsored review), we just couldn’t pass up on the opportunity as 3D printing has been an area of interest of mine for quite some time.
I have been doing Fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing for over a year now as a hobby on and off and have owned a total of three 3D printers – my current Monoprice Select Mini V2, which is the only one I could reasonably keep with limited home space and before that Prusa i3, which replaced my original Ender 3. So, my baby steps into 3D printing as a whole were done on one of Creality’s 3D printers from the ever-popular Ender line and in a poetic turn on events, I am about to venture into Resin 3D printing on another Creality product.
So, tl;dr – I am well-versed in 3D printing tech and have what I would call above-average practical experience with traditional FDM printing.
I had plenty of theoretical knowledge on resin printing, but zero experience so I approached reviewing the Creality HALOT-ONE from the point of view of a novice and someone who’s more accustomed to FDM 3D printing. And this might just be the perfect profile of most first-time resin 3D printer afficionados.
Resin 3D printing? What is it and is it better than FDM?
If you are already in the know, feel free to skip to the next part, but many of you might still appreciate a crash course.
What most people associate 3D printing with is Fused deposition modeling (FDM). This is the type of printing where you typically have a printer head that heats up and extrudes filament, like PLA on onto a base layer by layer and line by line. This is facilitated by 3-dimensional motion from a combination of the printer head and the printer base. Simply put – you add three-dimensional lines one by one, starting from the bottom and then layering everything to the top.
Resin 3D printing is a totally different process. Instead of hard filament that gets melted down, it uses resin as its raw material, which comes in liquid form. This liquid is basically composed of a mixture of different monomers and oligomers – short chains made mostly of carbon atoms and a few functional groups. Left in this state, they will remain in liquid form. The goal is to create longer chains using these monomers and oligomers which will eventually form the hard-plastic material for our 3D prints. This hardening or curing is achieved by precisely introducing UV light into areas of the liquid resin, hardening it and then moving on to the next layer. On a purely mechanical level, the process typically involves a base plate that is upside down and submerged in a pool of resin and as the printing progresses, gets pulled up layer by layer.
Before we go over the different sub-types of resin 3D printing, a major note to make is that resin can be harmful to you and the environment. Working with resin (even the increasing number of eco-friendly options) requires taking precautions.
You should not allow direct skin and especially eye contact with resin in its liquid state. Once cured, it becomes a lot safer and even benign to handle, but should still not be ingested or used to store food and drink. The curing process itself also involves some fumes so you better ensure proper air extraction.
The printers, themselves typically take great care to contain said fumes, like the plexiglass dome covering the Creality HALOT-ONE. Still, you should only use a resin 3D printer in a well-ventilated area and not breathe in the fumes. Don’t go outside though, since the resin is UV-reactive and does not play well with sunlight. So, to sum up – gloves, goggles, good airflow or even a mask and don’t skip the user manual.
If you have used or researched traditional FDM 3D printing, this is about the time that this whole resin thing starts to sound a bit too much with all the extra precautions.
What do you stand to gain over FDM? Well, the biggest potential benefit of resin 3D printing is likely going to be resolution and quality. Even with a cheaper, non-pro grade LCD printer, like the HALOT-ONE, you can get significantly better and finer details than with a similarly-priced FDM printer.
Another quick tl;dr then – if you are looking to print things like miniatures for board games, highly detailed models, or production-quality parts, then an SLA/DLP/LCD resin printer is the best choice for its better resolution. For larger-scale models and things like rapid prototyping – a traditional FDM extrusion printer is typically better. They also tend to offer larger building areas on average than resin units.
Finally, we can’t just toss in a trio of abbreviations like SLA/DLP/LCD without offering at least some basic explanation. Stereolithography (SLA) is kind of the original and oldest resin-based 3D printing technology, which is why SLA is sometimes used to denote resin 3D printing as a whole. It uses an actual laser beam, directed by mirrors called galvanometers to cure the resin.
The laser cures a spot by spot and then area by area, which can be a bit slow. Relatively speaking, of course, to tech like Digital Light Processing (DLP). You might have heard this exact abbreviation In relation to video projectors. It is, in fact, the same tech, just tweaked for better and more controlled UV exposure. Instead of a guided laser, a DLP projector generates the UV light by flashing onto an entire layer of resin at a time, selectively solidifying the part using thousands of minuscule mirrors called DMDs (digital micromirror devices) that direct the projection of light.
The latest and trendy tech is Liquid Crystal Display (LCD). It is quite similar to DLP in that it cures resin one layer at a time, but does not use mirrors. This is part of the reason why it is typically cheaper to manufacture, which has allowed for resin 3D printer prices to drop down to FDM levels in the non-professional space.
Creality HALOT-ONE is based exactly on LCD tech and part of the reason why it even exists and at such a price that it is even relevant for us to be testing it as a hobbyist/non-professional tool, rivaling FDM printers in the first place.
The topic of underlying tech goes way beyond this brief introduction and is quite fascinating. We won’t be delving any deeper, since we really should get to some actual bits about the HALOT-ONE in particular. However, as one final note – the HALOT-ONE uses a monochrome LCD module, as opposed to a color one. You can google the particular benefits if you like and delve into LCD sub-pixel aperture ratios, degree of polarization and UV transmission percentages. The important things about the use of monochrome tech, however, boil down to decreased layer exposure times and faster prints, as well as a longer lifespan for the LCD panel itself.
HALOT-ONE specs and features overview
The Creality HALOT-ONE (CL-60) is actually the smaller and slightly toned-down version of the HALOT-SKY (LC89) flagship. It carries over a lot of its features, which, admittedly, Creality could have done a better job describing or at least translating in English.
Creality HALOT-ONE (CL-60) specs at a glance:
- Dimensions: 221x221x404mm, 7.1kg (Package: 295*295*545mm, 8.8kg); fully-assembled out of the box.
- Z-axis type: single slide rail, with T-type screws and coupling
- Light source: 120W, self-developed integral light source system with over 80% illumination uniformity. 6 light sources, 3800uw/cm2 output.
- Technology: 5.96-inch, 2K (2560 x 1620 pixel) monochrome LCD display.
- Bed leveling: manual.
- Print size: 127x80x160mm.
- Performance: 0.01-0.05mm axis precision; 0.01-0.2mm layer size; 1-10s/layer curing speed; 60mm/h curing speed; 1-4s layer printing speed.
- I/O: Wi-Fi, full-sized USB Type-A x1 and USB Type-B x1.
- Printing material: 405nm wavelength UV resin.
- CPU: 64-bit 4-core CPU/GPU, based on ARM Cortex-M4 cores.
- UI: 5-inch touch screen with simple visual interface, with OTA firmware update support; Linux kernel.
- Other features: Activated carbon air filtration and cooling system; Creality Box slices software provided from manufacturer, mobile app support; 110-240v power support.
We’ll go over some of Creality’s highlights, but from a purely practical standpoint, we have to say that the HALOT-ONE is surprisingly compact.
Measuring 221x221x404mm, it technically takes up less desk space than my current, daily-driver Monoprice Select Mini v2 FDM printer. Though, not particularly light at 7.1kg.
One of my biggest and very few issues with the Select Mini is its build volume of 120x120x120mm. That is just too small and I have had to cut and join many of my prints. The HALOT-ONE advertises a maximum print size of 127x80x160mm, which is not too much of an adjustment for me, personally, but is objectively small. Resin 3D printing is a whole other ballgame, meant for higher detail in smaller models so you may not need the bigger size but it’s still an important consideration.
Performance, resolution, accuracy and uniformity on an LCD resin 3D printer like the HALOT-ONE mostly come down to the quality and precision of the UV light source. We already mentioned this particular model uses a monochrome LCD panel, which has its benefits over standard color ones. Plus, the 5.96-inch panel has a resolution of 2560*1620 pixels, which is quite respectable. This gives a print granularity of about 50 microns, which is par for the course for the popular budget resin 3D printers on the market.
As far as the actual light source, passing through said LCD, the HALOT-ONE has a 120W, self-developed integral light source system, which promises an impressive above 80% illumination uniformity. There are a total of six light sources in the HALOT-ONE (half of what the HALOT-SKY has at 12), capable of outputting 3800uw/cm2.
Creality is also proud of its z-axis control system. The linear guide tail is widened and thickened compared to previous designs and uses t-type screws, which combined promises micron-grade precision. Layer thickness can be as little as 0.01mm up to 0.2mm, which is quite precise, indeed, and just as precise as on the higher-end HALOT-SKY model.
The thermal management system of the HALOT-ONE is also a highlighted selling point, which includes a custom-made heat-sink, a cooling fan and an activated carbon air filtration system, which should help in safeguarding the user from the resin fumes.
Finally, Creality is also proud of its integrated 5-inch touchscreen for controlling the operation of the HALOT-ONE, alongside what it calls a simple interface with “strong control sense”. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Like most 3D printers, you can either load up ready printing files to a storage medium and just plug it into the HALOT-ONE via the full-size USB Type-A port. Or you can hook it up to a computer and control it that way, using Creality’s slicer/controller software.
The HALOT-ONE also has a mobile app for convenience and Wi-Fi to go along with that. The latter can also be used to receive OTA firmware updates straight on the machine. We appreciate the nifty little convenience features.
Packaging, build quality
Resin 3D printing has a bit of a learning curve to it, no way around it. There are certain things Creality and the HALOT-ONE do great in respect to easing the user into the process, but also some glaring omissions.
Let’s start with the better aspects, like the packaging and provided accessories. The HALOT-ONE ships pretty much fully assembled and in a very sturdy package. There is plenty of dense foam both on the outside of the machine, as well as on the inside, keeping the sensitive bits, like the vertical rail safe. Nothing can move around, which is great to see.
The only “assembly” that needs to be done is to screw the building plate into its place, which is done with a big and convenient wheel for tightening and untightening.
The resin vat is also held in place securely by two screws with the same style of bid and is easy to turn with gloves on plastic bits. This is very much appreciated for the sheer convenience it provides once everything starts getting covered in resin.
Most of the parts on the HALOT-ONE, especially those you interact with, are incredibly solid and made of thick heavy metal. That includes the vat and the building plate.
The only real complaint we have with the otherwise stellar build quality of the unit is the fact that the lip on which the transparent top cover is meant to rest on top of is quite slim and does not provide a secure fit. It doesn’t slide off or anything, but we would have still appreciated a tighter fit. Even so, once on, the top lid does its primary job of keeping the nauseous printing fumes well contained.
We guess the activated carbon air filtration system is also helping in this regard. The small fan, actually moving the air around is a bit loud. Then again, the other moving parts on the HALOT-ONE are virtually silent and overall, it makes less noise than most traditional FDM 3D printers.
Initial setup and learning curve, accessories, other things necessary for printing
There are plenty of additional goodies packaged in with the HALOT-ONE. Naturally, you get a power cord (standard PC PSU plug) and a user manual.
Beyond that, Creality also provide a nice and thick brush, mostly for keeping things like the glass surface of the printing area clean. Then there is a metal spatula, meant for scraping ready prints off of the build plate. You also get a few paper funnel/filters, which can come in handy when handling slightly older or contaminated resin.
That’s a good example of Creality making the extra effort for convenience. The same can be said about the set of Allen wrenches included in the box. You technically just need the one to level your build plate, but Creality has been nice enough to also supply the ones necessary for some basic disassembly of the HALOT-ONE. There is even a detailed schematic of the main control board on the machine inside the manual, which is admirable in terms of repairability potential.
The bottom of the resin vat is made of a clear plastic material, which is susceptible to eventual damage, so it’s great that there is a spare on in the box.
Last, but not least, there is a 16GB USB flash drive in the box, which contains software and the user manual and can also be used to load up ready print files and take them from a PC to the printer. Again, we appreciate the added convenience.
One of the promo videos for the HALOT-ONE does show a couple of other in-box goodies, like a plastic spatula and some gloves, as well as a cover for the resin vat, which would be particularly nifty. We aren’t sure which set of accessories is final, though.
As far as initial setup goes, technically, you just need to remove the packaging, screw in the build plate, which did come well pre-leveled from the factory on our unit, pour some resin in the vat and start your first print. Our unit even had one print file pre-loaded in its internal memory. It was a massive 16-hour print, but still, technically, you are just a few easy steps away from printing.
Even so, we can’t say Creality offered enough and adequate beginner information overall. This seems to often be the case with Creality products in my personal experience. One of the reasons I replaced my Ender FDM printer was the sheer amount of extra research and tinkering it required. It is a truly powerful piece of kit that offers great value for its price, but falls a bit short in terms of ease of usability.
The same tradeoff seems to be present on the HALOT-ONE, as well. Granted, this is not going to be an issue for an experienced user, but does make the HALOT-ONE quite difficult to tackle as a beginner. Let us elaborate.
First and foremost, we feel like there needs to be more information on proper resin handling in the manual. As things currently stand, these are the only two particular pieces of guidance featured in the manual.
Resin is a skin irritant, definitely use gloves, but also, most guides and sources agree that you should not breathe in the fumes, which the manual fails to mention.
It is also a good idea to use some eye-protective gear since getting resin in your eyes would be really bad.
Then there is the question of storing and cleaning the resin. There is practically no info on that in the manual. Most sources seem to agree that you can leave the resin in the printer, without direct exposure to UV for a few hours to a couple of days safely and continue printing.
Beyond that, you can return the unused resin in the specialized metal container it comes in, but sifting it through is definitely recommended.
The funny thing is that the guys at Creality clearly know all this and even provide nifty filtering funnels in the box, it’s just the manual that falls short of providing instruction about it.
Same goes for cleaning. There is only one mention of isopropyl alcohol in the manual and it’s inside the footnotes.
In reality, you need to get plenty of the stuff to clean any resin from surfaces, especially the plastic bottom of the resin vat. Plus, you need to ideally rinse the prints themselves. You ideally need high-percentage (90%) isopropyl alcohol, which reinforces the need for protective gear even more.
Beyond criticizing Creality for not including enough info in the HALOT-ONE manual, it should also be noted that resin 3D printing requires a lot more in the way of preparation, consideration and materials to do properly and safely. By the time you gear-up, you will, definitely be spending a lot more than the sticker price of the printer, which is not necessarily the case with traditional FDM printing. This should be taken into consideration by prospective buyers.
You also need a proper space to install and use the HALOT-ONE. Ideally, a well-ventilated room, without any direct sunlight. Also, you probably don’t want to move the machine around too much after the initial setup, since it is pretty much guaranteed to be dirty with uncured resin in some way after its very first use. No matter how hard you scrub with the isopropyl alcohol, resin will remain and you should always be careful around it while it is in liquid form.
By the way, you should also not dispose of liquid resin by dumping it down the drain. At least cure it first. Once cured with UV for an adequate amount of time, resin prints are perfectly safe to handle without gloves.
Clearly, once you actually start printing with resin, all sorts of hidden considerations and specifics start creeping up. We maintain that Creality could be doing a better job of explaining and communicating all of these in the manual.
Then again, as far as the actual HALOT-ONE hardware and design is concerned, it does a great job of minimizing the dangers and hassles of dealing with resin.
There is also a potential argument to be made that Creality also offers separate washing/curing machines, like the UW-01 and UW-02, which are sort of complementary pieces of equipment that you can do without, but do make for a more complete and streamlined experience for more in-depth users.
Operating the HALOT-ONE: app and software, on-board UI
Despite having plenty of functional differences, most 3D printers tend to require the same basic set of steps to operate. First, you need to make or obtain a 3D model. These usually come in an STL file format and can be obtained fairly easily nowadays, even if you aren’t particularly versed in CAD. Thingiverse is a great resource and Creality also have their own repository, named Creality Cloud.
That 3D model then goes into a program called a slicer, which is responsible for “slicing” the model and offering a few other preparation steps and ultimately generates a file of instructions, layer by layer, for what the printer is supposed to do.
The HALOT-ONE, in particular, takes cxdlp files with instructions. These can either be delivered via a USB stick and the Type-A port on the printer, a USB connection to a CP, with a cable or wirelessly.
Creality actually offers its own slicer for the HALOT ONE, called the HALOT BOX. You can also use a different, compatible software of your choice, but should be prepared for plenty of tweaking to get it properly working. We personally stuck with the default settings for the purposes of this review. HALOT BOX is actually quite easy and straightforward to use and is very user-friendly.
It already comes pre-loaded with all the settings needed to communicate with HALOT devices and generate compatible cxdlp files.
HALOT BOX slicer
We won’t dig too much into the available options, but all the basics seem to be covered. You can scale, reposition and rotate freely. Also, clone models. HALOT BOX can also automatically generate supports for your prints. These are a whole topic in themselves and do have resin printing specifics to consider, like printing things at a higher angle to get better results. But, that’s beyond the scope of this article.
We will, however, note that HALOT BOX exhibited some bugs specifically with support generation. Creality did send us a newer version of the software, with mostly all of these cleared up, though, which we count as an overall positive, since the company seems serious about its software support.
HALOT BOX slicer
Beyond that, HALOT BOX can automatically hollow-out parts, to save on some material. Unlike FDM printing, there is no infill percentage with resin printing. You can also use a drill tool to manually punch some holes.
There is a Creality mobile app available as well, called Creality Cloud, which looks truly impressive. However, we never actually managed to connect our HALOT-ONE to it. Our best guess is that there is some sort of support update in the pipeline, since all signs seem to hint that the HALOT-ONE should ultimately be supported by the app.
Creality Cloud mobile app
On the surface, Creality Cloud looks more like a social network than anything else, with user posts and comments, a profile and messaging. However, it is so much more. You can browse through a massive collection of models and not just download them. The app actually allows access to a cloud-based version of the popular Cure 3D slicer, so you can edit the model, just like you would on a PC and ultimately slice it up and even send it to your printer and monitor the printing progress.
That is already amazingly powerful, but the repository actually goes one step beyond, not just offering 3D models and the slicer, but also pre-sliced gcode files from other users, organized by the type of printer they use.
Creality Cloud mobile app
Finally, the HALOT-ONE itself has a nifty, clean and straightforward UI of its own that you can use on the built-in 5-inch touchscreen. We won’t be going through all of the options, but some highlights include the cleaning feature, which attempts to melt any resin you might have stuck to the bottom of your vat, as well as the leveling feature, which is not fully-automatic and does require you to adjust the bolts on the print head, but is still easy to do.
There is also the Device binding menu, which requires you to have the HALOT-ONE connected to the same Wi-Fi first and then generates a QR code you need to scan inside the app. The HALOT-ONE also supports over-the-air updates, which are done from the settings menu.
As far as actual printing goes, the UI is admittedly a bit light on options. You can just browse files from both the internal storage (sent over from the PC or app) and a connected flash drive, select a file and then start the print. After that, you can only pause or cancel the print. No other options are available and there is no notification for when the printing ends. To be fair, this is usually the case of most 3D printers.
Plus, it does give you a nice preview of the 3D model from two vantage points, which is convenient. And its estimate for printing time is much more accurate than the one provided by the HALOT BOX slicer software.
Results, quality, ease of use and other considerations
The primary reason to delve into resin 3D printing is undoubtedly the fine detail, resolution and quality you can get out of them, compared to the more popular FDM printers.
Most people seem to pick up resin printing to print intricate things, most notably figurines. We can confirm that despite its lower price tag, in relative terms, of course, the Creality HALOT-ONE produces prints with amazing quality and fine detail.
We printed some test models, many of which with sub-mm details and the HALOT-ONE basically breezed through them all. Mind you, there is the occasional defect you will probably notice in our prints, but most of these were due to errors on our end.
While on the subject, you should be particularly careful when scraping off a ready print from the print bed, since it is susceptible to chips and damage. The entire surface of the print can also easily chip before it is cured.
If you want quality results, a dedicated UV light for curing is great to have.
Anyone familiar with FDM 3D printers and their limitations will also be very impressed by how clean and uniform all of the surfaces are. Particularly torturous things, like overhands and aggressive angles, as well as pointy bits also look amazing coming out of the HALOT-ONE.
Look at the incredibly fine mesh on the skull figure and how consistent it is all around. My FDM Monoprice Select Mini V2 printer straight up cannot do these details, no matter how much I tune the settings.
The benefits are pretty clear then. But the real question is, do they outweigh the negatives, or rather, the hustle of resin 3D printing? Mind you, these are not specific to the Creality HALOT-ONE, but simply come par for the course with resin printing in general.
Still, in no particular order, you can’t just “set and forget” a print on the HALOT-ONE. Well, technically, you can, but the fumes it outputs alone are something to take precautions against if you are not around.
Plus, it is a lot harder to keep an eye on the quality of the success of the print as it is printing, since most of the time the model is dunked inside the vat. This is particularly annoying when you have a 10-hour print of a figurine going and you have to wait the full 10 hours to discover that you only got the tip of the guy’s weapon printed, due to some error during the preparation stages. Speaking from experience here.
And even when a print is absolutely 100% successful, finishing it properly is another job in itself. Sure, you might have to take some extra steps to make FDM prints look their best as well. But with a resin 3D printer, at the minimum, you need to gear up with gloves, protective glasses and all, separate the print and then clean it off in isopropyl alcohol. This already takes a few minutes and then you still need to cure it before you can safely handle it.
My point being that with my FDM printer, I can plop a streaming camera next to it, start a print before I go to bed, check on it once or twice to see the first layer adhered to the print bed properly and then check the camera again literally when I wake up. I know it is not best practice, but the process is a lot less involved overall.
That also goes for having the printer set up and ready to go all of the time. With an FDM printer, you can literally have the spool of filament there all of the time and you are basically a preheating process away from printing all of the time.
Leaving resin in the vat beyond say a couple of days will easily ruin it. In fact, after opening a bottle of resin, you can’t keep it for too long either. And if you have kids or pets around, you almost always have to clean up after a print, which often means tossing perfectly good resin and always involves heaps of time with wasted materials and unpleasant odors. But, we’re going on an unnecessary tangent here.
The Creality HALOT-ONE is a great machine that comes from Creality – a reputable name in the 3D printing space. It is a great example of the slightly newer breed of significantly cheaper resin printer, based on LCD technology. It manages to be affordable and delivers on most of what it promises, especially in practical terms.
It is definitely not the most refined or user-friendly machine out there. The manual can use a lot of work, some of the features are cryptic and the companion software, while solid in its core, still needs some extra care and attention to get just right and make really, properly functional.
To be fair, however, most of the serious hurdles we faced with the HALOT-ONE were mostly related to resin 3D printing as a whole. All Creality can do to address those is to provide more information to accommodate beginners right off the gate. Their actual product is already excellently crafted from premium materials and works very well out of the box.
Bottom line – you really need to know what you are getting yourself into with resin 3D printing and have a good reason to get on board instead of just settling with the massively easier, traditional FDM printing.
If you are aware of all the special aspects and precautions and don’t mind a bit of tinkering to get the most out of your tools, the Creality HALOT-ONE is a splendid and affordable machine you should consider.