Anycubic Photon Mono Review

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Phrozen Sonic Mini

If you are shopping for a resin printer on a slimmer budget, this can be a great option. Pros: Detailed prints, inexpensive. OVERALLSCORERANKED#10 of 14. Ease of Use - 30%2.0. Print Capabilities - 20%5.0. Support - 10%4.0.

Our Verdict

RELATED:Best 3D Printers. If you are shopping on a more restricted budget for a resin printer that can create highly-detailed models on a smaller scale, then the Anycubic Mono is a solid option. This printer delivered incredibly detailed prints compared to an FDM printer and is compatible with a wide variety of resins. However, it is a much more labor intensive process to clean and post-process resin prints, so there can be a bit of a steep learning curve for beginners.

Alternatives to the Anycubic Photon Mono

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One thing to consider when looking at a resin printer is that the procedures for layout, orientation, and supports differ wildly from a filament printers, so you should also be prepared for some trial and error when you are just starting out — even if you have a decent amount of filament-based 3D printer experience already.

Some petite prints made by the Mono. Credit: Jason Peters. Our most important series of tests focused on the print quality of each 3D printer. For the resin printers, we made a different set of test prints than the FDM printers to get a better assessment of their performance head-to-head with each other, since the printing mechanisms differ by so much.

Electroscore: 4.5/5

The Mono did exceptionally well, earning one of the top scores of the entire group. For these printers, we did a few benchmark tests designed just for resin printers, a model of the Eiffel Tower, a spiral tower with stairs, a hollow statue, some small figurines, a skull, and an icebreaker ship, as well as a few other models to compare performance.

This printer managed exceptionally detailed models. Credit: Jason Peters. The Mono did decently well in the first benchmark print but some of the thinnest features warped just a bit more than with some of the other ones.

Printing the Included Test Print on the Anycubic Photon Mono

However, just about all of the other small features are very well-defined, even with the bridges and overhangs. The Eiffel Tower looks almost flawless, though it seems some of the smallest gaps got overexposed as they were filled — even after being thoroughly cleaned before post-curing. The surface finish was impeccable. Credit: Jason Peters. The tower and the rook both came out great, with smoothly curving sections and small details that are defined very well.

Creality LD-002H

The words at the top were readable as well. Even very fine details came through with this printer. Credit: Jason Peters. The icebreaker ship and the trio of smaller figurines also came out great, though the skull model did have some smaller gaps that got filled in.

Side-by-Side Comparison of Currently Available Photon Mono Products

This printer can be a pain to use though. Credit: Jason Peters. OUr next metric focused on the ease of printing with each 3D printer. The Anycubic Mono — like most resin printers — didn't fare the best in this category, earning a score well below average. Luckily, it is an easier process to level the build plate on the Mono than many of the resin printers, as you just loosen the retaining screws, lower it down until it holds a piece of paper against the screen, re-zero it, and tighten the retaining screws.

Specifications

We generally found this to be much quicker and easier than a filament printer, where you are dealing with three or four different adjustment screws.

It also is very easy to load resin, as you simply pour it into the vat — being careful not to overfill — and you are ready to go. You should be prepared to spend a lot of your time cleaning up resin. Credit: Jason Peters. However, this is all assuming that your printer is clean. One of the reasons that makes resin printers more difficult to use is the need to clean them, which usually involves proper PPE and isopropyl alcohol. You'll also need to fully clean and wash your finished prints to remove uncured resin, then post-cure them under a UV light source for the resin to fully react and reach its peak mechanical properties.

Other Anycubic Photon Versions

All of this cleaning and curing leads to considerably more consumable materials that you need to have on hand to safely and effectively use your Mono, like paper towels, disposable gloves, isopropyl alcohol, filters for resin. On top of all that, it can also be a bit of an art form when it comes to placing the supports in the slicing software for your models with resin printing.

This isn't an insurmountable amount of work by any means but it is an order of magnitude more effort than most of the filament printers in our experience. The build plate usually provided plenty of adhesion when set to the proper height. Credit: Jason Peters. For our print capabilities metric, we looked at the build volume, build plate, compatible materials, and the different slicers that could be used to prepare files for each printer.

Printing Safety with Anycubic Photon Mono

The Anycubic Mono did decently well, earning a middle-of-the-road score. The build volume on this printer is a little on the smaller side, topping out at 130mm x 80mm x 165mm. The build plate is anodized aluminum and we didn't struggle too much with any bed adhesion issues. This machine has a decently small footprint. Credit: Jason Peters.

Wash and cure

We do like that this printer is compatible with any 405 nm curing resin, regardless if it's made by Anycubic or a third-party.

The Anycubic customer support didn't impress us too much. Credit: Jason Peters. We looked at the available customer support for each of these printers for final metric, basing scores on how helpful the setup and troubleshooting information is and how responsive the manufacturer was to our questions.

The Mono didn't do the best, earning a below-average score with its lackluster showing. We found a few videos on the website that walk you through some maintenance and component replacement but not too much that actually deals with the slicing/printing/cleaning process. They have a contact form to fill out but limited other ways to get in touch with customer service. We also found it to be quite difficult to elicit a response from them in our experience, so you might want to choose a different printer if you were planning on having a responsive manufacturer to regularly rely on.

Final Thoughts Should You Buy the Anycubic Photon Mono?

Fortunately, the Mono is one of the more budget-friendly options out there. However, you do need to consider the cost of all the consumables when you are looking at its value. You Might Also Like. We check over 250 million products every day for the best prices.

Anycubic Photon Mono Resin 3D Printer: What You Need to Know

Based on its specs alone, the Anycubic Photon Mono is an impressive MSLA resin printer that becomes a knock-out when you factor in the retail price of around $230. With a per-layer cure time of about two seconds, the Photon Mono is capable of printing tall, highly-detailed parts quickly while offering a seamless print preparation experience with the included Photon Workshop software.

Quality-of-life features such as the angled build platform to prevent resin from pooling and the pour spout on the resin vat make this a machine that’s as easy to use as it is to look at and one of the best 3D printers on the market. The resin storage vat and the build platform are included in the packaging but not assembled on the printer. In addition to the components you need to assemble the printer, Anycubic has also included many of the common consumables used in resin 3D printing in the box: several paper filters for filtering unused resin, a surgical-style facemask for wearing while handling the resin, a bag full of blue nitrile gloves (you’ll go through a lot of these) and a pair of scrapers for removing parts from the build platform and the resin vat.

The Photon Mono uses an LCD with a resolution of 2560 x 1620 to selectively mask the 405nm UV light source which cures the liquid resin in the vat. The LCD is precisely taped to the upward facing surface of the base to keep it level with the top as well as to prevent any resin from leaking into the machine. The base of the Photon Mono is made from injection-molded plastic, which felt a little less sturdy than the solid metal base found on the Elegoo Mars 2 Pro.

Features

The resin vat is held in place with a pair of easy-to-tighten thumbscrews that clamp down into a recessed circular feature, holding it rigid while the build platform drops down on the FEP film.

The Z motion is controlled with a threaded rod that is kept rigid with a linear bearing that travels along the Z axis. The build platform is suspended from an arm that appears to be a solid piece of aluminum which feels sturdy and doesn’t have much flex during the printing process. This means the build platform makes a clean separation from the FEP film on the vat after each layer is exposed, which leads to a more reliable printer.

The resin vat itself had a few surprises that caught me off guard, but were welcome changes from the typical featureless rectangular vat that I was expecting. For one, the vat has a graduated volume legend embossed directly onto the walls which lets you determine the rough amount of resin in the container with just a glance. It also has a pour spout (and a lip) on one corner, which means that the process of pouring resin out is a much cleaner operation than with a hard edge which liquid will spill over and get onto the bottom of the FEP film.

Should You Buy the Anycubic Photon Mono?

Unlike other resin 3D printers such as the Elegoo Mars Pro, the FEP film cannot be swapped out with a generic replacement, and requires a proprietary FEP film that is sold by Anycubic as a pair for $11.99. This is a reasonable price for the replacement, but it’s worth noting you may want to keep a few extras on hand if you’re using the machine regularly.

And if Anycubic stops making them, your printer could become useless. The setup process for the Photon Mono is fast, simple and beginner-friendly. The included power supply plugs into the rear of the unit, the build platform and vat took me well under an hour to calibrate and fill respectively, and the transparent yellow UV-resistant cover sits flush on top of the base.

The included user manual is well-written and easy to follow and I had no problem setting up the machine while following along. The Anycubic Photon Mono requires you to level the build platform with the masked LCD to make sure the layers are exposed evenly as they are cured. The build platform also requires a very slight offset to compensate for the FEP film at the bottom of the vat which is present during printing.

To accomplish both tasks in one step, Anycubic has included a piece of paper with the Photon Mono that can be used to protect the LCD while also creating a slight offset during leveling.

Printing with the Photon Mono

“This paper can be used for leveling” is what the included 210mm x 150mm piece of paper has written on it in two languages, so that’s exactly how I used it. After loosening the four bolts holding the build platform against the bracket, I lowered the Z to 0, tightened the screws, and reset the home.

This entire process took me about three minutes, and the calibration was spot-on. I had some issues with the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K, which uses a similar leveling process but had parts that weren’t quite flush, making the calibration of the Photon Mono a breeze in comparison.

The Photon Mono uses 405nm UV resin, a material that you need to handle safely when in an uncured state to avoid injury. The resin can be harmful when making contact with skin, so make sure to wear gloves when pouring, cleaning up, or handling uncured resin. I also make sure I’m wearing gloves when removing the build platform after a print, as the resin tends to pool on top of the platform and can drip off while the platform is being removed.

Performance

The build platform on the Photon Mono has a triangular profile, which lets any resin on top slowly drip down during printing. Make sure you use the Photon Mono in a well-ventilated room to minimize the danger from inhaling fumes. Any spills or uncured resin stuck to a surface should be cleaned using 99% Isopropyl Alcohol and the container for the resin should be kept closed and secured when not actively pouring material.

The included USB stick contains a sample test print that has already been prepared for printing on the Photon Mono, and I was impressed with both how ambitious the part was as well as how well the printer performed. I used Elegoo Ceramic Gray Water Washable Resin for all the prints in this review. The sample test print (descriptively named TEST.pwmo) is a lattice structure in the shape of a cube with two floating bars that read ANYCUBIC PHOTON.

This cube highlights the ability of the Photon Mono to print complex parts due to the rigidity of the machine. The build platform is suspended from a gantry that is made from a solid piece of aluminum, and the linear rail it travels on offers highly precise and repeatable motion. I didn’t see any bowing, bending or other defects on the test part, and the overall accuracy of the print was impressive.

Leveling the Build Platform on Anycubic Photon Mono

As indicated by the text printed on the base, the average diameter of the circular feature measured right around 35mm, with most measurements being slightly over by about .02mm to .04mm. Anycubic doesn’t have a published XY tolerance for the Photon Mono, but the XY accuracy of the machine is stated as .051mm, which seems reasonable for the measurements taken.

Anycubic includes its Photon Workshop software for preparing .STL files for resin printing with the Photon Mono, Photon Mono X, and other Anycubic MSLA 3D printers. Having the print workflow organized sequentially at the top of the software (import model, hollow, add drain holes) made the file preparation a quick and easy process.

When you select a printer configuration in Photon Workshop, the exposure time and other related settings are automatically adjusted to the defaults for the machine.
Not only does this 3D printer work with ordinary 405nm UV resins, but it can also be used with any of the special resins on the market. This allows you to use whatever type of resin you like, including clear, tough, or flexible resins, depending on the model you’re building.

Who Should Buy It?

One of the best things about a resin 3D printer like the Anycubic Photon Mono is that it can be used by almost anybody to create the models that they need.

For instance, architects can use one to create 3D designs of their buildings, engineers can create models to help solve water and airflow challenges, and companies can create prototypes of consumer products. Even those in the medical field can use 3D printer models for various uses.

The Photon Mono can also be used by those interested in building miniatures for themselves, their friends, or even customers. Game makers can create markers, tokens, or other additions to their games, like all of the pieces needed for a game of chess. Even cosplayers can use a resin 3D printer for partial or full costume pieces to match their favorite television, movie, or comic book character.

PROSCONS
  • These settings worked well with the Elegoo Ceramic Gray Water Washable resin, and I didn’t need to make any adjustments to the exposure time.
  • Once a model has been prepared and sliced for printing, Photon Workshop exports a .pwmo file which is readable by both the Photon Mono as well as Photon Workshop.
  • Opening the file presents a preview of the print in a layer-by-layer fashion allowing you to see which pixels will be exposed on the LCD screen.
  • The layer parameters (exposure, Z lift, etc.) are also listed, and can be directly edited in case you want to switch the settings for a different resin.
  • The total amount of resin used is listed at the bottom, so you know how much resin to add if your vat is starting to get low.
  • I’ve used the slicer Chitubox in the past with the Phrozen Sonic Mini 4K, so this is the stage in the process where I would normally check for islands in the print; small individual or isolated exposures that don’t connect to the main body.

Conclusion

The Anycubic Photon Mono is a compact, lightweight 3D resin printer that gives you the ability to create small models for almost anything you have in mind. It has great features, like amazing resolution, decent printing speed, and a variety of safety features, plus it has a budget-friendly price that can fit into any budget.