ANYCUBIC Photon S Review – Worth Buying or Not?


When it comes to resin-based 3D printers, there had been a growing stigma about pricing being much higher than filament-based 3D printers. Well, times are definitely changing and we are getting some really affordable, but still high quality SLA printers.

One of these described 3D printers is the ANYCUBIC Photon S, an LCD-based machine which gained serious popularity straight after launch and for good reason. It’s arguably the most popular LCD SLA 3D printer on the market.

This is an LCD based SLA 3D printer that uses liquid resin and UV light to print. The Photon S is a slightly modified version of the original 2018 released ANYCUBIC Photon. The main improvement is the Z axis design and how it now has a much more stable printing foundation for improved quality.

It has a whole host of features, benefits and upgrades from the last version of the printer, making it a serious contender in the 3D printing field. Tons of people are making the ‘switch’ or adding resin 3D printers to their arsenal.

The same way people never got into FDM or filament 3D printers because of the difficulty and price, now the difficulty and price of SLA printing is getting easier and cheaper.

This article will help you decide whether you really want to add the ANYCUBIC Photon S to your 3D printing journey, with a whole host of detail on what value you’re really getting.

Quick Summary

ANYCUBIC Photon S – Used to make high quality resin prints

400+ Amazon ratings currently at 4.6/5 with 81% giving 5 stars. The best ratings are for print quality, ease of use & value for money.

Pros – stable high quality printing, faster printing, great touch screen and extra film screens for resin.

Cons – resin fumes, hard to remove prints sometimes, messy process, basic slicing software, plastic casing.

All things considered, this is the most popular LCD resin printer for a reason. Over 91% of people rate it 4 stars or above. The print quality is insanely good and it makes sense to purchase the ANYCUBIC Photon S today.

Other options don’t have so many amazing features packed into one machine, at such a competitive price. The value for money is hard to argue with, so I would definitely recommend getting one yourself. Wow yourself, friends, and family with the excellent print models you can create.

Check the most recent price for the ANYCUBIC Photon S from Amazon (sometimes has a $60 coupon for extra savings!)


Features

Let’s get started with the features!

Z-axis Dual Linear Rail

One of the major improvements from the older versions of the Photon 3D printer is the new Z axis. In the new Photon S, the Z axis comes with a dual rail system that prevents wobbles and improves its precision along the Z axis. This also makes the print surface more stable.

It has a much better ability to help with movements, while making sure the bed doesn’t shift in the middle of the printing process. When you have those large objects along the X & Y axis, this makes a big difference with those precise and fine details.

Z-wobble is a problem in some SLA 3D printers, but not the ANYCUBIC Photon S.

Not only is it now a dual-guide system, but they implemented much stronger components in this machine.

Air Filtration System

When it comes to SLA printing, we need a good ventiation system of some sort. With this 3D printer you’re getting an excellent dual-fan based filtration system, which is an upgrade from the single fan on the previous model.

The air filtration system comes with activated carbon which reduces the divergence of odor. Another advantage of the air filtration system is the ability to avoid dust and other foreign particles getting stuck in the print layers.

Upgraded UV Module

The Photon S printer uses LCD projection-based UV printing and comes with a high resolution 2560×1440 screen of 2K serving as its mask screen. This can produce fine prints at high resolution.

It also comes with matrix UV lighting to uniformly distribute light energy which enhances the precision of the print. The previous generation Photon printer used diffusion to spread the UV light along the mask plate, which wasn’t as effective and had weaker power along the edges.

In the case of matrix based UV lighting, it is uniformly luminous at every part of the LCD mask plate.

Not only are you getting all the above, but you’re also getting a more powerful UV LCD which means shorter exposures and fast printing times (up to 30% speed improvements).

Instead of the original 25w LCD system that was in the ANYCUBIC Photon, you’re getting a 38w LCD system. This makes an even bigger difference with larger prints.

In 3D printing, speed is one of the biggest factors that people look at, so I think this is a huge benefit and I can only imagine how much faster we can get!

Slicing Software

The slicing and printing software used in this printer is the Photons Workshop bundled software. This software is one of the highly modified features in the new Photon S and it uses a new GUI (Graphical User Interface).

Users get a new slicing experience which is what the software engineers sought out to do. It’s specialized and slices documents in a .photon or .photons format which is perfectly compatible with your ANYCUBIC Photon & Photon S.

It takes inputs in STL format, then outputs those .photon files.

Works with both windows and macs.

Power Consumption

You’ll be happy to know this printer does not consume a lot of power. The printer works at a minimal power consumption around 50W. One of the main reasons for the low power consumption is because of a lack of heating elements in SLA printers.

Creative Steel Ball Leveling Structure

The leveling process is a lot easier with this 3D printer, you just have to do the following:

  • Lower the platform down to the screen
  • Feel the resistance when pulling the paper in-between
  • Tighten one screw
  • Leveling done

Redesigned for Quiet Printing

Environmental noise level tests were conducted with this 3D printer and they found it prints quieter. It came out with a 39 decibel noise level which is about the same as the average refrigerator or computer.

Unlike the other models were you need to adjust all the corner screws to get the proper level; here it only requires the tightening of only one screw that keeps the entire print surface in level. The print surface to screw level is calibrated in the factory itself.

Sanded Aluminum Platform

Gives amazing adhesion so your prints don’t accidentally fall off during the printing process.

Responsive Touchscreen

A good touchscreen isn’t usually looked at as much as other features, but when operating the 3D printer it’s lovely to have a nice user-friendly user interface with a quick, responsive system to get printing underweay.

Good Sized Resin Vat

The printer comes with a resin vat that can hold a good amount of resin around 75 to 100 ml without spillage.

Benefits

  • High quality finely detailed prints
  • Easy assembly with just 10 screws, mostly pre-assembled
  • Dual fans and upgraded matrix UV lighting makes printing much faster
  • Amazing user experience with a solid user interface
  • Easy troubleshooting resources and customer service
  • Active Facebook community (30,000+) with about 70 posts daily on average and 35 users joining daily on average
  • Easy leveling with single grub screw design
  • Print surface screw level calibrated in factory on each printer
  • The printer does most of the work, so you don’t have so many parameters to tweak
  • Safety and clean-up tools come with the printer
  • Very responsive touch screen with great accuracy
  • Comes with extra film screens for the resin vat
  • CE certified power supply

Downsides

The ANYCUBIC Photon S 3D printer is priced at $420 (in the official website) which is a big difference compared to the Photon which is priced around $240.

Even though the price is a huge difference, the printer’s functionality does not change a lot. The major modifications that can be seen are the printing software modification, GUI, ventilation and slightly improved print quality.

The printing material used in an SLA printer is resin whereas the material used in FDM printers are plastics. These printing materials are commonly available plastics in the market like PLA, ABS, PET, etc.

Hence it is cheap and easy to get compared to resin. In the case of the Photon S the resin requirement is specific and should be photosensitive to a particular frequency like 405 nm.

Resin can get pretty pricey compared to normal filament, but as time goes on resin has been getting a lot cheaper. You can get 1KG of high quality resin for around $30. ANYCUBIC’s 405nm SLA UV-Curing Resin is high precision resin which prints strong and isn’t brittle.

One of the main disadvantages that come with the printer is the lack of colours to choose from while printing. This is applicable to most of the resin based printers out there as resin has a limited colour range compared to filament.

Resin printing in general is a pretty messy process so I’ll add that to the downsides. You should try to use a plastic cover on the surface you are working on and try to use 90% isopropyl alcohol for cleaning.

It’s a good idea to clean models away from the printer because resin is hard to remove after it touches the exterior of the printer.

You may already know, but resin usually lets off quite a strong smell so it’s a good idea to put your printer in a well ventilated area. Headaches can arise if you’re around the fumes for too long.

The printer weighs around 9.5kg, which is a lot compared to other popular SLA printers and FDM printers out in the market.

Even though the printer is a premium level affordable product, the printing bed levelling is still set manually.

Check for problems with the USB drive as you might have to reformat it in a program like FAT32 Format on Windows or Disk Utility on a Mac. Once you’ve done that, you should be able to get any USB drive to work.

A few people have had trouble getting their printers to consistently print but once they troubleshoot, prints come out flawless and consistently.

Mixed reviews about customer service, but for the most part they get the job done. I would recommend using multiple channels to get into contact with them if you need to. Facebook is always a good option since it is usually active and regularly checked.

Plastic housing which isn’t too much of an issue. As long as you treat it with care, then it should be perfectly fine and last you throughout the lifetime of the 3D printer. This was done to keep costs lower, as there are tons of other costly upgrades in the Photon S compared to the original Photon.

Most people don’t care about the case, more on the print quality which the case doesn’t affect.

When it comes to adhesion, prints can sometimes stick quite strongly to the aluminum sanded build plate.

The slicing software is actually pretty basic, so I would advise to use a different slicer.

The provided warranty is fairly short so take care of your printer from the get-go. Be careful when removing the resin vat by sliding it so you don’t spill resin on the LCD window.

A lot of these downsides can be overcome so don’t be alarmed by this section! Once you understand how to operate your Photon S adequately, you can expect some smooth 3D printing for years to come.

Specifications

  • Printing technology: LCD-based SLA 3D Printer
  • Light-source: UV integrated light wavelength 405nm
  • XY DPI: 47um (2560*1440)
  • Y axis resolution: 1.25um
  • Layer resolution: 0.025m – 0.1mm 25 – 100um
  • Printing speed: 20mm/h
  • Rated Power: 50W​
  • Printer size: 230 x 200 x 400mm
  • Printing volume: 115 x 65 x 165mm (4.52″ x 2.56″ x 6.1″)
  • Printing material: 405nm photosensitive resin
  • Connectivity: USB Port
  • Input format: STL
  • Package Weight: 9.5kg

What Comes in the Box?

  • ANYCUBIC Photon S printer
  • Resin vat & resin
  • Funnel
  • Power cord
  • USB cable
  • 10x M5 screws
  • Scraper
  • Tool set
  • USB Drive
  • Gloves
  • User manual

ANYCUBIC Photon Vs ANYCUBIC Photon S Differences

I think I should start of by saying these are two amazing resin 3D printers which produce some really great quality prints. The ANYCUBIC Photon is the original version and the ANYCUBIC Photon S is the upgraded, premium version.

Many people debate back and forth between choosing which Photon is better to purchase, there are a few things to consider so let’s take a quick look into it.

After looking at both machines, I think we can safely say the Photon S is more of a new build rather than an upgrade from the previos printer. We have some common parts of course, such as the LCD and such, but there are many differences like the casing, firmware, control board and even the file format.

Most will point out that the Photon S has a plastic case rather than the all-metal design on the Photon. It won’t make a difference on the print quality but it does have a visual impact difference for the user.

The dual Z axis upgrade is one of the most significant upgrades between these printers. The stability that it produces results in higher quality prints and a lot less unsuccessful prints overall.

We also have the UV LCD which, with the Photon S is a matrix based lighting, making it more powerful and requiring less exposure time. There’s also a 38w light rather than a 25w light with the original Photon.We’re getting almost a 30% shorter printing time because of it, which is significant.

The firmware changes are a difficult comparison because they have many differences and not necessarily an upgrade on the previous. I’ve heard of a few bugs that arise here and there, but these slowly get patched over time.

Customer Reviews on the Photon S

ANYCUBIC Photon S is one of the bestselling printers in amazon. In fact it is ranked at 19 for amazon best seller among 3D printers. The product also comes under amazon’s choice.

With over 400 customer reviews giving it an average rating of 4.6, it clearly solidifies the fact that it is one of the bestselling SLA printers in the market. Almost all the reviews on the product are positive and the customers are greatly satisfied by the print quality of the Photon S.

One of the most praised aspects of the printer was its simple and highly functional design. For many customers the Z axis was easy to install and the design does not require them to calibrate the level of the build plate.

Many users found the air filtration feature to be quite useful and gave out no smell of the reacting resin while printing. Many users recommends to use the Chitubox slicer software instead of the one that comes with the printer as it is found to work better with Photon S.

Almost all the customers found it easy to set up with the help of the manual. The printer is very compact compared to many other competitors out in the market. Many customers loved the customer service provide by the company and the helping community it has.

For users who found the cleaning of the resin vat a tricky process after printing; the cleaning tools provided by the company came very handy.

Verdict

If you want to buy an SLA 3D printer then ANYCUBIC is one of the best manufacturers out in the market. The cost of the Photon S model is a little bit high considering its predecessor Photon, which also provide good quality prints, but we all pay extra for better quality.

A fairly decent improvement in printing quality makes a massive difference over many years.

If are willing to pay that extra for slightly improved printing quality then this is the best price in the market to get that amount of fineness. Personally, I think it’s a worthy price to pay for that quality difference.

Some owners of the Photon S have described that they never actually had one print fail, and if it did, it was down to user error. Since there isn’t a lot to tweak, it’s mostly down to the printer to work for us and produce some serious quality.

The printer comes in large parts to assemble and it consumes a lot of space in packaging. It is very easy to assemble with the help of the manual provided with the package.

The printer can produce amazing details for printing miniature models or sculptures. Unlike other FDM printers, it does not produce any visible layer separation when the print is finished. The surface of the prints is very smooth and shiny.

You’ll rarely hear anyone saying they regretted their purchase of the ANYCUBIC Photon S, so get yours today from Amazon.

Overall, this is one of the best resin printers available in the market to purchase.

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