The ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X Review: Quality Entry Level Printer

3D PrintersThe ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X Review: Quality Entry Level Printer

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Bottom Line

The ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X is a high-resolution resin printer. Its build volume is 20 x 10 x 9 cm, with the ability to print the STL file at an accuracy of 50-100 microns. It has a larger build volume compared to the ANYCUBIC Photon original. As with all resin printers, it’s designed around the speed and quality of the print. In this case, it claims that they will produce a 70-micron print in less than 10 minutes which is not bad at all!

Check out a He-Man print:

Compared with other resin-based printers we have on the market, an entry-level model like this one is comparable mainly with Formlabs Form 2. Form 2 does not come cheap so let’s see what exactly we get for our money. Read through to the end so that you can learn more about this 3D printer.

Pros

  • Stronger Stability and Higher Accuracy
  • Larg Printing Volume
  • 3X Faster than other Resin 3D Printer
  • UV Cooling System and APP Remote Control
  • More Function compared to others

Cons

  • Runs hot even when inactive and can be very warm during print. We measured almost 70C on the top of the board. This is probably due to bad case design, which should be improved in further versions of the printer and supplied heat sinks and fans.
  • No preloaded filament, so we had to find out that this printer uses 1.75mm PLA by trial and error while printing was already in progress because the spool holder lid opens up when not locked properly.
  • Took a while to tune the printer. PTFE tube should be mounted firmly, and it takes a bit of time to find perfect settings for slicer software.
  • No USB cable included, so you have to buy one yourself or use an old one from previous printers

Who It’s For

An entry model 3d printer like this one is a good starter printer for those that want to try out the 3d printing experience. It is a good 3D printer for beginners.

If you are new to 3d printing, there are a lot of things you have to learn and buy before you start. The entry model 3d printer eliminates all the guesswork and it also makes this hobby more affordable.

It is an easy-to-use device that achieves high quality results, all while having a solid ROI.

This package includes:

  • A Raspberry Pwe3 Model B+ compute module
  • 32GB Micro SD card
  • 4m USB cable
  • Power supply with multicountry adapters
  • Fan cooling system (without the need for screws)
  • Lens mount adapter for M12 lenses (other lens mount adapters can also be used by removing the manufacturer provided adapter and replacing it with one of your own choices)

Design & Features

The ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X 3D printer kit is a desktop device aimed squarely at the prosumer market, offering a mix of speed and print quality that puts it in competition with the likes of Makerbot’s Replicator Z18. The kit comes with a 5.5-inch touchscreen display, has a build volume of 10x8x8 inches (254x203x203mm), and weighs about 40 pounds (nearly 18 kg).

It features an all-metal frame, enclosed printing chamber to minimize warping and print using ABS, PLA, or other filaments. There are two filament ports, so you don’t have to pause your printer and change out spools frequently. The software can be used on Mac and Windows and includes several preinstalled sample models.

Print Bed

ANYCUBIC Photon’s bed stays leveled after multiple prints using floating magnets in the z-axis towers. To level, you turn all four screws on each tower until they are at the bottom (the longest point), then tighten them progressively (1st one more than last) until they stop touching the surface. This leveling method may be suboptimal for some, depending on their print tolerances; if your prints need an exact distance between the nozzle and bed, we recommend getting a borosilicate glass bed.

Print Quality

The prints came out good, except for the first one, which failed because we didn’t wipe off the oil film before starting.

The default nozzle size is 0.4mm and was producing decent-sized layers with very little stringing or drooping in high-speed curves (40-100 mm/s). We feel that these adverse effects could be minimized with some settings adjustments rather than using more proper nozzle sizes; this printer would benefit from having an LCD screen to make it easier to tweak print settings without needing to use OctoPweevery time (it is possible, though).

Head & Nozzle

The nozzle is a brass M6 thread (compatible with E3D), and the hot end contains a thermistor for temperature regulation. The stock nozzle comes installed in an aluminum heat block, but this isn’t meant to be used as the primary cooling; it will only cool what it can reach directly. Out-of-the-box prints leave much to be desired, but we’ve printed multiple mods that allow the print cooling fan to do its job correctly by directing the airflow at critical areas (focal points).

The printer comes with a warranty of one year, and replacement parts are available from the manufacturer’s website. The company also sells a new firmware upgrade that provides “faster printing speed, better quality, and more stable” prints.

Filament & Setup

Filament list: ABS, PLA, Nylon

Setup

This printer is a large, all-metal 3D printer with only 1 Bowden tube extruder and a heated bed. The setup manual was evident and easy to go through the steps. There are video guides and pictures on how to assemble your Photon Mono X (Btw: you can also buy this as a kit). No special tools were needed for the build other than those provided in the box (e.g., no drill/Dremel, etc.).

Everything seemed sturdy and well put together, taking me about 2 hours to complete assembly and calibration. After finding out how much space it took up in our room, we decided not to disassemble it anytime soon after since there’s simply no reason to do so. We also appreciated the little details like side panels and screws were already put together, for example.

How to assemble

We used a web browser (Firefox) to interface with the printer via preinstalled Octoprint software

(+) It comes with a Cura slicer and preconfigured profiles for PLA and ABS out of the box (no tweaking necessary if you don’t want to).

(-) We had to wait quite a long time before getting our first print started after purchasing this 3D printer; it took about 45 days from China! :'( Well, WE guess that’s what we get for buying during Chinese New Year… The lead time was quite ridiculous, though, since the website claimed it should have been shipped within five days after purchase.

(-) The power supply brick was not included in the box other than that; everything else is all there (minus the filament)

(+) Bed leveling was straightforward to do via two thumbscrews; We had no issues at all with this method.

(+) PLA prints come out super clean and glossy; ABS seems fine too, but a part cooling fan has a slight effect… ABS doesn’t stick well to bed, though; tape or hairspray is required for best adhesion (We tried blue painters tape and hairspray, both worked fine). Owning a Dremel/rotary tool would probably help with removing parts since they are pretty hard to get off when they stick to the bed

The only issues we found were that changing filaments took about 10 minutes for each transition because you had to unload the filament and then load a new one into the extruder’s cold side tube before heating up. And then, you also need to tighten up that cold side screw just right so that the PTFE part slides in well and prevents leaks (if you did not do this correctly and did use too much force, there is a high chance of breaking the PTFE part – be careful here).

This printer has an auto-leveling function built-in. Still, we recommend leveling manually with thumb screws since it takes way less time than recalibrating G28 after power loss, etc.

This printer has a heated brick that acts as the enclosure, so printing ABS without a cooling fan may not be possible depending on how well your prints stick to the bed… But this is probably not ideal even with a cooling fan since ABS produces toxic fumes at high temperatures (which could potentially leak from the enclosure)

The filament spool holder was pretty flimsy, and it did break while printing ABS after about one week of usage. Replacing it with a cheap aluminum one solved this issue. Unfortunately, the clumsiness was due to our lack of expertise in dealing with delicate prints, but better safe than sorry, WE guess? 😛 (We found that a relubricated X carriage for easier filament loading/unloading made this issue go away)

PLA prints came out with irregular surfaces due to filament wobble/variation, which causes layers not to be 100% consistent, so slicing became quite a hassle… This can be solved by using different types of filament.

(+) The printer’s heat up time is speedy; it takes about 2 minutes at most to do full heat-up (estimated)

(-) We found that the controller board got hot after 30 minutes of printing when powering only one extruder head (ABS); I’m pretty sure this will shorten its lifespan :/ Not sure how unsafe it is to operate like this, though. That problem was fixed immediately after switching on both the fan and power supply brick.

Software

  • Software: ANYCUBIC Photon workshop 1.0.2 ( Windows 7 )
  • ESC/Motor Drivers: TB6600 Stepper Driver Module – 1A x 4 / Nema 17
  • Stepper Motor: Geko 1M-48P 2B ( 8mm Diameter, 48 mm Length )
  • Extruder Type: Single Nozzle Direct Drive Extruder ( 1.75mm Pitch )

Print Quality & Performance

The ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X is a relatively slow printer, but we rarely needed to print faster than that because the prints came out so well. The factory settings are very reasonable, even for someone new to resin printers, although you can change some other settings if you know how. For example, we found 60mm/s helped with specific overhangs and complex parts of prints, whereas the standard 40mm/s set was better suited for evenly printing simple structures or large flat surfaces.

There is also another helpful feature called ‘Speed Assist,’ which uses several different acceleration speeds when calculating the path of the print head. You can use this feature to suit more complex or slow and straightforward prints, and we found it very useful for overhangs and slim parts of prints, but you can’t use it on all aspects of a print.

The resin tank can be exposed to UV light after around 20 minutes following completion of the print (when the exposed area turns dark blue), making removal and cleaning accessible without getting your hands sticky or smeared with resin. The printer also comes with some extra tools for removing models from the bed, and all you need to do is put your model on the bed, cover it with UV-sensitive resin and expose it for around 20 minutes after printing.

The print quality is outstanding, producing layers as thin as 0.05mm at 300 microns resolution – the layer lines are barely visible! All parts of a multi-material object can be printed together simply by manually adjusting the position of each one, but there are other methods too. You can also change the print bed position using ‘Manual adjust’ rather than during printing by turning two screws with included tools. This is useful if you want to remove supports without destroying your build plate.

Rush Chapman
( Founder )

Hello, my name’s Rush Chapman. I’m a 3D printing enthusiast. I started this site to help people choose 3D printing projects and select the best 3D printer for your needs, whether you’re a hobbyist or a pro!