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Anycubic Photon S Review

The Photon S made some amazing prints when it worked properly but could be a quite a headache when it wasn't
Anycubic Photon S
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Price:   $419 List | $380 at Amazon
Pros:  Very detailed prints, dual rails for low Z wobble
Cons:  Harder to use, small build area
Manufacturer:   Anycubic
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Mar 18, 2020
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 12
  • Print Quality - 40% 10
  • Ease of Use - 30% 2
  • Print Capabilities - 20% 5
  • Support - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Anycubic Photon S is a solid resin printer that made some phenomenal printed models in our tests but you definitely have to work for them. Like most resin printers, there is a lot more effort involved for the actual printing process but the prints are leaps and bounds more detailed and higher quality when it comes to appearance than FFF machines.

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Pros Very detailed prints, dual rails for low Z wobbleCompact form factor, excellent prints for FFF, easy to useGreat value, large build areaEasy to use, intuitive interfaceGreat value, braces minimize Z-axis wobble, Large build envelope
Cons Harder to use, small build areaSupport could be better, a bit more assembly than other printersNonexistent support, little harder to useNot the best prints, limited capabilitiesPrint quality could be better, limited customer support
Bottom Line The Photon S can be a pain to operate but did produce some exceptional prints when it wasn’t misbehavingThis printer is a highly capable machine that offers excellent print quality at much more affordable price than the top-tier modelsOffering solid print quality and a large build area at a great price, this is a great choice if you are shopping on a budgetThis printer is relatively compact and easy to use but didn’t impress us all that much when it came to print qualityWhen you look at performance per dollar, the Creality 3D CR-10 V2 is a good option
Rating Categories Anycubic Photon S Creality 3D CR-10S... Creality 3D CR-10S Dremel Digilab 3D20 Creality 3D CR-10 V2
Print Quality (40%)
10
7
7
6
6
Ease Of Use (30%)
2
7
6
7
6
Print Capabilities (20%)
5
8
8
6
8
Support (10%)
5
5
2
7
5
Specs Anycubic Photon S Creality 3D CR-10S... Creality 3D CR-10S Dremel Digilab 3D20 Creality 3D CR-10 V2
Build Volume (XxYxZ) 115x65x165mm 300x300x400mm 300x300x400mm 230x150x140mm 300x300x400mm
Maximum Extruder Temperature N/A 260°C 260ºC 230°C 260°C
Layer Cooling Fan? N/A 1 2 1 1
Heated Bed N/A Yes Yes No Yes
Build Plate Material Aluminum Aluminium build plate with an adhesive printing sheet Glass Plastic with adhesive printing surface Tempered Glass with mesh covering
Maximum Bed Temperature N/A 110°C 135ºC N/A 110°C
Compatible with Third-Party Materials? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Included Nozzle sizes Not applicable 0.4mm 0.4mm 0.4mm 0.4mm
Print layer Height range .025mm - 0.1mm 0.1 - 0.4mm 0.1 - 0.4mm 0.1-0.3mm 0.1 - 0.4mm
Filament Size 405 nm resin 1.75mm 1.75mm 1.75mm 1.75mm
PLA? N/A Yes Yes Yes Yes
ABS? N/A Yes Yes No Yes
Network Printing No No No No No
Standalone (SD card or USB drive) Printing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Unfortunately, the Anycubic Photon S hasn't been our favorite resin printer to date. We had a hard time distinguishing the majority of its prints from some of its less expensive counterparts and they gave us fewer failures of the print sticking to the FEP sheet instead of the build platform.

Performance Comparison


The Photon S can create very high-quality prints when it's...
The Photon S can create very high-quality prints when it's functioning properly.
Credit: Jason Peters

Print Quality


The Anycubic Photon S, like most resin printers, blew us away in terms of print quality. We used a different set of prints to compare print quality than with the FFF/FDM printers, but this metric still counts for 40% of the final score. The Anycubic Photon S did extremely well, meriting a 10 out of 10.


It can produce miniatures and fine details that would be almost impossible to create on a fused filament 3D printer. You can make extremely tiny and detailed models, though it can be a bit of a steep learning curve to figure out how to properly support and orient them for printing in resin.

This machine made very detailed and high-quality miniature figurines.
This machine made very detailed and high-quality miniature figurines.
Credit: Jason Peters

You also need to spend a bit more time determining your exposure settings than calibrating the correct settings for melting plastic filament. Get used to printing plenty of exposure tests!.

Exposure tests are very helpful to calibrate the settings for...
Exposure tests are very helpful to calibrate the settings for different resins.
Credit: Jason Peters

However, it's hard to beat the Anycubic Photon S when it comes to creating high-quality, detailed parts once the settings are dialed in.

The Photon S can be a bit more of a hassle to use, like most resin...
The Photon S can be a bit more of a hassle to use, like most resin printers.
Credit: Jason Peters

Ease of Use


Next, we moved on to looking at the overall difficulty to actually print with each 3D printer, which is responsible for 30% of the final score for each product. Unfortunately, the Anycubic Photon S fared quite poorly in this metric, meriting a 2 out of 10.


Resin printers are generally much messier and take considerably more effort both in getting ready and post-processing prints. This printer is essentially ready to go right out of the box, all you need to do is unpack it and then place the resin vat in the correct location.

The resin vat is easy enough to install or remove when empty but it...
The resin vat is easy enough to install or remove when empty but it can be a bit more harrowing to do so when it's full.
Credit: Jason Peters

However, you do need to set the correct Z height and level the bed before you do this or anytime that you drop the build plate or disturb it when removing a print. This is a fairly easy process overall, where you home the machine and then lower the plate with a loosened ball joint until it's evenly holding a piece of paper in place, then tighten the ball joint back up and set Z=0.

You need to relevel the build plate if it gets bumped or misaligned...
You need to relevel the build plate if it gets bumped or misaligned when removing a print.
Credit: Jason Peters

Files are sent to the Anycubic Photon S by a USB drive and the screen shows you the current layer number and image of the layer, as well as the print time and resin required.

The resin in the vat should be filtered back into its bottle after a...
The resin in the vat should be filtered back into its bottle after a failed print or if you have any reason to suspect there are cured chunks of resin floating around.
Credit: Jason Peters

Cleaning up or changing resin can get a bit messy, especially after a failed print. You need to strain the resin from the vat back into the bottle to catch any cured chunks floating around and clean up all the inevitably spilled resin. You also need to wash and cure your finished print once it's been removed from the plate, using isopropyl alcohol or similar cleaner and a UV light. You end up going through plenty of disposable gloves and paper towels in this process, as well as paper filters.

Removing supports can be a time-consuming process.
Removing supports can be a time-consuming process.
Credit: Jason Peters

Learning how to place and remove supports from your print can also take some time and practice to get right.

Some of the various tools that are needed to make resin printing...
Some of the various tools that are needed to make resin printing more efficient, including an ultrasonic cleaner and a UV light source for post-curing.
Credit: Jason Peters

Print Capabilities


Our next metric rated and ranked the Anycubic Photon S and the other printers on their overall capabilities, looking at things like the available materials, printable area, and software compatibility. The Anycubic Photon S did much better in this metric, which is worth 20% of its final score, earning a 5 out of 10.


The Anycubic Photon S is a little less versatile than some of the other products. It has a small build area of 115mm x 65mm x 165mm but we did like that it is compatible with any 405nm UV curing resin, regardless if it is manufactured by Anycubic or not.

The screen is consumable on these machines, so running a screen test...
The screen is consumable on these machines, so running a screen test can be the first step in diagnosing why your prints might be failing.
Credit: Jason Peters

Most traditional slicers won't work with resin printers but you do have a few options. You can either use the proprietary Anycubic Studio Slicer or go with a third-party model known as ChiTu Box — we thought they both were very similar.

The hinged lid makes it easy to access the vat and print bed.
The hinged lid makes it easy to access the vat and print bed.
Credit: Jason Peters

Support


Our final metric looked at the level and quality of customer support we received from Anycubic. This accounts for the remaining 10% of the total score, with the Anycubic Photon S meriting a 5 out of 10.


It's not the easiest to get in touch with Anycubic, since they only have a contact form and no phone number, but they do have a handful of helpful videos on their website and official YouTube channel. This printer also includes a 12-month warranty for everything besides the UV LED/2K LCD screen, which is limited to 3-months.

Value


We don't think the Anycubic Photon S is the best value, as we got similar results for the most part from other resin models that cost a bit less.

Conclusion


While the Anycubic Photon S does have some improvements over the original, we think the accompanying increase in price is a bit hard to justify. We found less expensive models did just about the same or better and generally would prefer those over the Anycubic Photon S.

David Wise and Austin Palmer