WORTH Buying? – Anycubic Photon Mono X Review
When choosing a new resin printer, it’s always a good idea to know where any issues or benefits may lie. In this article, we’ll go over some of the great features and what should know before making your purchase.
This machine is similar to the Elegoo Saturn in that it’s an SLA printer with a medium-sized build area of 192x120x245mm. Like most resin printers at the time of writing this article, it comes with a 4K monochrome screen, which allows for faster printing and more detailed prints. This machine came out after the Elegoo Saturn and although it is similar, there are some key differences that make it stand out.
First, this machine uses a proprietary motherboard by Anycubic making it independent of the Chitusystems ecosystem, which can have its pros and cons. This makes it easier to use any slicer which supports the board without being locked into the Chitubox software. Getting replacement parts however could prove difficult if Anycubic discontinued any of these in the future, and seeing as how they’ve significantly reduced the price of this machine it could mean that they’re planning to do so in the next year. If I’m being honest though, I’ve rarely needed to replace my screen since 9/10 times I’ve just had to reseed the screen connector instead. So for most people, this shouldn’t be an issue. Also, in most cases, the price of the replacement screen will often make it more cost-effective to simply purchase a more up-to-date machine.
When unboxing this machine, I always recommend checking for any particles or debris which may be on the FEP sheet or the LCD screen itself. Before any printing can be done, we first need to level the print bed, and for this we’re going to use the sheet of paper that came with the machine. You’re going to loosen the bolts on top of the print bed and place the paper underneath. You’ll then go to “Tools + “Move Z” + “Home”, which will home the print bed. Furthermore, you’ll then apply even pressure on the build plate and re-tighten the screws. Your bed is properly levelled when you can gently tug the paper out with even pressure on both sides. As a side note, if your print isn’t sticking, 90% percent of the time it’s that the build plate that isn’t levelled correctly. You can find issues in the first couple of layers at two key points by listening for the suction sound that’s made when the plate makes contact or lifts away.
I did open this machine to check to make sure that it had proper wire connection instead of the tinned ones. In all the machines I’ve tested so far, only this one and the corresponding washing station had proper terminal connections. This is a great sign, I home to see this from other companies in the future.
One big issue that I have with this machine is the lack of a basic wiring diagram. Although the company does sell a replacement motherboard, I simply couldn’t locate any information on what each of the connection did for this machine. To their credit, they have labelled the wires so if you’re patient, you can follow the lines to their connections. In today’s age, this is potentially a big problem, since it makes doing repairs or troubleshooting more difficult with this machine. I did create a reference page for the different boards and that will be available on my website as a PDF guide.
Although this machine does come with Wi-Fi capabilities, I personally don’t find these to be very secure, so I generally opt out of using them. In this case, if you want to have this capability, you can install the antenna that comes with the machine and sync it up with your other devices. For a production setting, this is generally the preferred workflow, however I still do recommend having proper security protocols in place when doing so.
The UV light that’s used on this machine has some interesting properties to it. Unlike most machines, this one is designed with a built-in option so the user to change its brightness level. When playing around with this setting, I discovered that I could tweak this depending on the level of detail that I wanted. On my machine, I needed it to be set to 50% because it caused light to bleed into the surrounding pixels, which washed out some detail work. Although, this can be a problem on smaller prints, it’s great when doing larger scale production work where speed is a factor. Also, important to note, is that that increasing the UV brightness could cause the Light and LCD to fail faster if it’s set too high, so I would avoid doing this if you need accuracy or if you’re trying to extend the life of your machine.
Now I’m not quite sure how this got past quality control, however the plastic that’s being used for knobs that tighten both the vat and the build plate are sensitive to isopropyl alcohol. Essentially, they become a liquid mess of melted tar like substance when they’re in contact with that product. Considering that isopropyl alcohol is normally used in the cleaning process, this can be a serious issue. Because the material I print with is predominantly white, It often leaves a black residue on the prints unless I scrub them down. Now, There are two methods of dealing with this issue. Prior to using your machine, you can spray a sealant over the plastic after having masked out the threads. Since mine had already been compromised, I designed some replacements and hacked off the original plastic. As always, I’ll have the STL’s available on my website along with the GUIDE for this mod.
The build plate is attached using 4 screws and is what I’ve found to be more stable when dealing with these types of machines. The build plate on mine was flat, however this isn’t always the case, and it should be something that you check. If it isn’t, you can sand it down with some 250 grit sandpaper, making sure to keep the build plate flat when you do so. To make things easier, you can tape down your sandpaper sheet with a strong adhesive to keep it from moving around. To prevent the FEP sheet from getting damaged when it’s sitting on a surface, they’ve added some small alignment feet on the bottom of the vat and is a welcome addition.
I’m not fond of the lid design for this machine, since it requires a much higher storage space in order to properly lift the cover off. I would prefer a two part design where the front can come out and give you quick and easy access to the inside components. A great option would be a lid upgrade for this machine, where you can replace it with something a little more functional. A nice edition would also be to have a carbon filter integrated within the machine itself since even with the lid on, some fumes do escape.
During my testing, I had far less layer shifts in comparison to my other machines, especially when doing larger prints. Although the linear rail system is very similar to that of the Saturn, it seems that they may have done a better job in the alignment, since I can’t seem to pinpoint the reason for this difference. So far, this machine has been my go to for larger prints, while my Saturn has been delegated to the more detailed one’s.
So with all of this in mind, what is my final verdict? Well it’s a great machine but has one flaw that’s pretty big. Those handles are made from an incorrect material choice and should have been replaced with a new material, however the company to this day ships it with that defect. It’s for this reason that it’s an 7.5/10. The upgraded connections and improved print quality are what make this machine rated higher, since it introduces some well needed improvements to the design. The innovation that we see with the UV light gives the user greater control over their print quality and is something that other companies should look at for their machines as well. I’m currently working on some additional mods for this machine, and I will be posting them here if you’re interested in seeing more.
Yasmeen completed both the 2D and 3D animation course at Algonquin College and worked in the animation industry as a freelancer for a number of years before being hired to manage the 3D printing services at ItsYeBoi. While using the Alias of "Jenny" during her services, she was responsible for the testing, maintenance and upgrading of the machine while also filming and developing 3D printable assets for various projects.