What can I say, if you’ve seen my YouTube video or read any of my blog posts about this printer you’ll quickly notice that I absolutely love this printer! The quality is amazing and the ease of use is perfect, it works 99% of the time and the times that it doesn’t work or has a failed print is almost always due to my own mistake.
In comparison to regular FDM printers that many of us are more used to, they use a hot nozzle to extrude a line of plastic, this printer was actually easier to use.
What turns people away from these printers is they can be messy due to the viscous resin however once you have a system set up that works for you the messiness is easily controlled.
Post Processing – If all you want to do is send a file to print to the printer and remove it off the print bed with little to no extra work then this is not a printer for you! Once the prints are finished there is still some extra cleaning of the parts that need to be done to remove excess resin.
The last resin I used was the Wanhao grey, it was ok however and it was the cheapest resin I could find however the curing times were significantly higher to get well printed parts (up to 17 seconds per layer) and possibly more for thin walls.
Resinis reusable as well, once you’re finished simply pour the resin back into itsbottle after you have filtered it to remove any small bits of debris. The resinalso has a shelf life of about 12 months, this is the recommended shelf life asindicated by Monocure however it probably will last longer. Just be sure tostore resin bottles in dark locations like in a draw or cupboard where it won’tsee any direct sunlight as UV light will cause the resin to harden.
Once the file has been printed and you’re ready to clean the excess resin simple remove the model from the build plate. Using the supplied plastic spatula will work for a while however after repeated use it will quickly become unusable so I suggest getting a better spatula.
The recommended cleaning solution is isopropyl alcohol, if the alcohol wasn’t so expensive in Australia I would use it however because it costs so much I’m using cheaper methylated spirits. It does a similar job however it’s a little more volatile so don’t leave it in the solution for too long, just long enough to remove the resin then wash the residual methylated spirits away with water.
It’s important to ensure you wear gloves during this process. The resin is toxic (lots of things you might find around the house are harmful, you don’t have to worry as long as you take precautions), I always make sure I wear gloves and have the windows open to allow air to flow through because the resin smells quite strong and the alcohol and the methylated spirits are very fumy!
Here are some problems you may encounter
After I levelled the bed and tightened the screw to fix the levelled bed in position I began printing. When a layer gets cured (especially the first few support layers) there is a very strong suction force as the layer gets pulled away from the bottom of the vat. Believe it or not but this suction force actually caused the bed to tilt as it pulled away and thus I was left with a bed that wasn’t level shortly followed by a failed print.
Lesson– ensure that the bed is not only level but also the screw that holds the bed is very tight!
The rest of the failures are all due to inadequate supports, supports certainly help the print succeed however they can also be a pain if you trying to make a high quality print with minimal work because areas where we have supports need sanding.
One way around this is to orientate the model in such a way that the amount of required supports is minimized.
Print detached – Here there was insufficient support and the print at some point pulled away from the bed, using light supports could be the problem so you may want to use medium or heavy supports if this is happening or you might simple need more supports to hold the model.
Here you can see we need more supports on the edges, a light support on each corner would be sufficient to fix this problem.
Here you can see we need more supports in the middle, wecould add a couple of light supports to fix this or we can even tilt the modelat an angle which would also help reduce this problem.
Here you can see the circle is not completely round, this is due to layer curing bleed through. The printer endeavours to create 0.05mm layer heights however when there is a new layer being printed and no layer behind it the UV light extends past that 0.05mm layer and cures a small amount of resin behind it.
Ways to fix this are by reducing the UV light exposure time or orientating the model to reduce these areas if possible. This circle is very small (the largest hole has a 2.35mm diameter), it’s much less noticeable for larger circles.
Sometimes you may notice the parts warping, by increasingthe UV exposure time per layer this can be reduced and by evenly curing themodel under the UV lamp will also help. Regularly rotating the model whilstunder the UV lamp may be necessary hence the reason I’ve been using a rotatingdisplay while the models are being post cured.
You may run into some other problems that I am yet toexperience but so far these are the problems I’ve had and been able to correct.
Clean up is relatively easy, I use paper towels to wipe down the build plate and the vat when I’m not using the printer.
The methylated spirits lives in a jar on the shelf and I use it numerous times but when it does get too dirty I pour it into a disposable container and leave it out in the sun. The methylated spirits or alcohol evaporates and the residual resin cures to the bottom of the container. I do this over and over until the disposable container is unusable and I throw it into the rubbish. You don’t want to pour the contaminated mixture into the garden as it will kill whatever plant life is there!
It says that the vat can be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol however I did that a couple of times and discovered the FEP film in the bottom of the vat began to become very cloudy which has the potential to ruin future prints so I now simply wipe the vat with the paper towel only.
You’ll definitely want to get some extra FEP films, the printer comes with one spare however I accidently put a hole in the first one using metal tweezers! Note to self…. Don’t use metal pinpoint tweezers to remove floating bits of resin from the vat! I now have two extra FEP films just in case.
The resin that comes with the printer is 250ml which will get used very quickly! Consider ordering an extra bottle along with the printer so you don’t get disappointed when it runs out.
The build platform on the Anycubic Photon is quite small, the total build area is 115mm Long, 65mm Wide and 155mm tall. If we were to convert those numbers to HO scale that would be a scale Length of 10m, a width of 5.5m and a height of 13.4m, so space and size is limited, you won’t be able to print entire buildings in one go however if you have a design you’ll often be able to position each of the walls parallel and side by side, then once printed you could assemble them like a kit.
Build time is constant, it doesn’t matter if you have 20 individual copies of an item or just one, the build time will remain constant, compared to an FDM 3D printer, the more items on the build plate the longer it will take to build. So it makes sense to load up the build platform with as many items as possible per print, that way you’ll be capitalizing on time.
Printing is slow however compared to equivalent models on FDM the build time is comparable and is even improved when building numerous items in one print.
Printing large models with big surface areas – The way the printer works is it cures a thin layer of resin on the bottom of the vat, which cures and sticks to the previous layer and is lifted away after the allotted time allowing the next layer to be applied.
The lifting action creates a small suction effect between the bottom of the vat and the layer just applied and if there are not enough supports holding the model to the build platform then the model could possibly pull away from the rest of the model resulting in a failed print. I don’t consider this to be a con however it’s good to know that you’ll need to adequately support the model to have good successful prints.
Using different color resins – Believe it or not but using different resins of different colors will make a large difference as to whether the print succeeds or fails. Clear translucent resins require a shorter exposure time when compared to darker more opaque resins. This makes a huge difference in especially for supports, if the resin isn’t being cured for an appropriate amount of time the supports will likely be the first thing to let go. Supports are only held to the model with a small surface area so you will need to ensure you have a suitable exposure time set depending on the color of the resin used.
On a side note, if you want your prints to finish faster then you’re better off using a clear resin, the UV light can penetrate further and cure faster in clear resin compared to dark opaque resin.
I’ve been printing mostly with clear green resin and have started trying a grey resin however once I finish the grey resin I’ll be purchasing clear resin as the success rate seems to be a little better not to mention faster prints due the lower UV exposure time required. I’ve been successfully printing using the clear green resin with the following settings.
I’ve also been using the grey resin from Monocure with great results however due to the opaqueness of the grey resin I’ve found I need slightly longer exposure times to cure the resin.
The Wanhao grey resin works reasonably well with the Anycubic Photon however the results are definitely not as defined compared to both the Monocure Grey and the Anycubic clear Green. Exposure times are also a fair bit longer.
The main reason I started printing in ABS on my regular FDM printer was simply so I could sand my models easier, resin is just a dream to sand and small burs are very easily removed with a sharp hobby knife.
Large flat surfaces & curved bottom layers – I’ve noticed a slightly annoying (Fixable) problem that occurs when printing large flat pieces as a first layer, basically the first layer goes down and because this layer is a very thin membrane as the print platform lifts and then lowers again it creates a ballooning effect and traps some resin between the layers resulting in a slightly curved first layer.
It’s easy to work around this by having the flat surfaces at an angle of say 45° or by adding more supports to the flat surface layer (More cleanup is required in this scenario).
Well that just about covers all the extra details you might want to know about the Anycubic Photon, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave a comment and if you have any photos you’d like to share of 3D prints you can attach them to your comment.
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