Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer

The Anycubic® Photon Mono 2K High Speed Resin 3D Printer looks like it has possibilities – but unlike my Crealty LD-002R who’s operation was immediately obvious and which works very well, the starting point with the Anycubic suggests I have a faulty unit – as I develop this blog entry and associated videos, it will all hopefully become a lot clearer.

The printer makes use of a built-in 6″ 2K monochrome LCD to selectively set resin, layer by layer. I’ve already put together a short “unboxing and switching on” video and spotted an issue with one of the main menus. See below…

I immediately noted that the 3-page short assembly instructions that come with the printer are just enough to get you started – but the manual and other docs are readily available as PDFs for downloading as you will see below.

Anycubic Photon Mono printer

The basic printer arrives ready to go but with no resin and no spare plastic (FEP) film for the resin vat. Bangood supplied a pack of 4 FEP films which I’m keeping handy in case I need them. I suggest immediately obtaining 500ml resin and at least one spare FEP sheet – I discuss this here.

Banggood, AliExpress, Amazon and others all supply a range of resins – I wish I’d known that when I got my first resin printer – right now I’m not getting into this but you can obtain “Standard” and flexible resins and that’s just the start. I’ve only used the standard resins up to now – handy for models and cases for my gadgets. One trick I have picked up is – hollow out you model if it does not need to be solid – you’ll save a fortune in resin and the end result will be much lighter – that is a subject all by itself.

Pretty much as with the Crealty LD-002R, with the Anycubic Proton Mono you get three sets of gloves, some paper funnels, a mask (in 2020 the company probably figure you already have a house full of masks) and two scrapers along with three Allen keys. The Photon Workshop “slicer” software is easily downloadable for MAC or PC as is the manual for the printer itself – along with an update for Photon Workshop. This link contains links for the lot. I cannot see any working FIRMWARE update link in the manual – just a rather useless [Newest] in the manual – no link.

Right now it probably sounds like you have everything you need included apart from resin – but there is one other item you may wish to consider – protective glasses. No need to worry about the UV light because the yellow cover will take care of that – but this resin – until it is “cured” is somewhat toxic – hence the gloves. I wear prescription glasses and like to live dangerously but I’d seriously recommend safety glasses – that’s all I’m going to say on that subject. Curing can be done with sunlight or (as you’ll see in my Creality blog entry) you can use a LED UV Curing Lamp – or both.

The Photon Workshop manual allows you to save standard .STL files as .PWMO – the file format used by the Photon and the manual gives examples of simple conversion from .STL 3D files as you might find on for example Thingiverse to something the printer can use. Anyone new to all of this will want to start with off-the-shelf model .STL files. An example file is supplied on the included USB memory stick.

When I received my Crealty printer, it, too, came without resin and if you look at the relevant blog entry it tells you what resin I bought off the shelf – I have both cream and clear red resins, neither of which are Crealty or Anycubic products. I have some Anycubic-branded “405nm Resin for Photon 3D Printers” coming but given the current postal situation worldwide I’m not going to predict when it will arrive.

First file being processed in the AnyCube printer

I’e now had two attempts at printing my first model from a .PWMO file using two different resins including the cream resin I’ve used successfully on thr Crealty printer.

The Anycubic Mono comes complete with a memory stick and the free software Photon Workshop which effortlessly generates .PWMO files from standard .STL files – a .PWMO file can be copied to the stick and the latter then plugged into the printer. I know because I tried it including hitting the HOLLOW button in Photon Workshop before saving the slice file which is now in the printer.

For my first test I took a “cable manager” .stl file and an “efreet_sultan” .stl file from Thingiverse and made a single .PWMO file comprising three cable ties and the sultan as a test – that was to take 3 hours to process. I have to say that I have not yet found any firmware update for the printer and there is something wrong with the menus – If I go to TOOLS – I may get to control the platter or may be sent into file selection. The onscreen BACK button does not seem to work properly all the time. I’m sure this is down to firmware and at least pART of that issue seems down to whast FEELS like a resistive (rsther than capacitive) touch screen. Finger nails work a little better than finger ENDS.

I currently have a much greater problem than dodgy menus. I printed the combined set of cable ties and the little guy you see below – leaving all settings at default and ensuring the package was set to produce results for the Photon Mono. As you can see the resin was also by default set to BASIC. (The resin price you see (below right) is arbitrary, ignore it).

Photon Workshop

After 3 hours I returned to the printer to discover the printing was nearly done – all except for the minor problem that there was no print. Instead (and I am cutting a long story short including the smell of resin and a lot of isopropyl and kitchen roll) I found that there was absolutely NOTHING on the metal printing plate and only a fraction of a millimeter of the start of the model sitting solidly on the FEP sheet – which thankfully turned out to be unharmed. For the “efreet Sultan” it is possible the bottom of the model is not flat, this would account for failure, it the model drops off the plate after a fraction of a millimeter, that will stay oin the FEP sheet and not continue to develop. The cable ties however were perfectly flat – and positioned correctly and hence should have worked, instead a super-thin layer of them ended up on the FEP sheet with nothing on the metal plate.

I am SO glad I’ve already done all of this with the very successful Crealty or I’d be feeling suicidal at a failed first attempt.

I have of course checked to see if the Chitubox software supports this printer – while it does support some AnyCubic printers, not yet the Mono.

What you see below is the first 1mm of what should have been 3 cable ties and a model maybe 70-80mm high. What’s there is rock solid so there is no doubt the actual screen turned on – perhaps not fully? I also did a quick check after I’d cleaned everything up – the monochrome screen does illuminate.

1mm thick result - wrong thickness, wrong place.

As you can see below – the FEP sheet emerged unscathed after I carefully removed the failed print (fingernails). At this time I have no explanation as to why 3 hours of motor whining and correct looking movement produced only this. The resin I used was my new “LONGER Standard Rapid PhotoPolymer Resin for LCD Printer (colour: clear red; wavelength 405nm)”

I THEN tried the same again (but a simpler output) with the CREAM Weistek resin that worked so well on the Crealty. Same result – nothing.

I have of course contacted Anycubic and Banggood about this to find out why the menus are an issue and why the prints have failed. AnyCubic have promised to send a replacement LCD and front screen. That’s all I know at this point. it might be some time before parts get here. I’ll update the blog at that time.

FEP film

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