Anycubic Photon Mono 4k 3D Printer Review
Anycubic’s upgrade to their photon mono brings a 4k resolution display to an already exceptional series of printers, but is there more to this printer than finer print resolution, and is the extra cost worth the quality? Take a closer look at the Photon Mono 4k in our review of this new model.
Anycubic Photon Mono 3D Printer Verdict
The Photon Mono is visibly indistinguishable from its predecessor, sharing the same chassis, UV cover, and even removable components like the vat and build plate. The only way you can differentiate the two, is by the nameplate at the bottom, signifying it sports the higher-end screen under the hood. This means that, again, the USB port is on the right-hand side, sacrificing the compactness of the device on your workspace when you need space to pull out a USB from the side.
This does mean that the components at play are tried and tested, and Anycubic obviously opted to follow the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, making it actually easier to deal with spare parts like FEP sheets, which the vat is built to swap easily. Printing with the Photon Mono 4k is an identical process from the previous model as well, which means those familiar with the Photon Mono and looking to upgrade will have a consistent experience when upgrading.
The Mono 4K’s consistency is unsurprisingly similar to the classic Mono, rarely suffering failed prints when set up properly, although during the testing I found that the print bed required leveling every couple of prints. During printing though, the cure time is incredibly competitive, needing only a fraction of the time per layer that other similar
- Fast layer cure time
- High print quality
- Small build area
- No extra features for price tag
Anycubic Photon Mono Assembly and Setup
Very little setup is required for the Photon Mono 4k out of the box, the machine comes fully assembled bar the build plate and resin vat, which are simply slid on and screwed tight. Before printing, the build plate needs to be leveled, which is a simple process (the same as most other SLA printers), manually moving the loosened plate down to level it, and tightening to fit. There is also optionally a screen protector that can be applied before getting started, which is a nice inclusion.
The printer requires that you use the provided slicer software to prepare models for printing. In some cases, the slicing software for a particular brand’s printers is surprisingly decent, and Photon Workshop just about qualifies for this description. While it’s always a chore to work out how to use a new slicer, Photon Workshop is quite familiar, and while the interesting set of features it does have for modifying the model in slicer are unique, they seem to be quite niche in use.
Anycubic Photon Mono 4K Features
As with the classic Photon Mono, the 4K variant has features that focus more on the quality of the prints rather than what else it can do.
Quick FEP Replacement
Replacing the FEP sheet on the resin vat is designed to be an easy process, replacements can be ordered from the Anycubic store and simply need to be screwed onto the bottom of the vat.
Top Cover Detection
Thanks to a sensor on the back, the machine can detect when the cover is removed and automatically pause the printing. While I can’t think of any practical uses for this, it’s a useful safety measure as it means that you won’t be able to start the print leaving the lid off, and if you desperately need to access the inside mid-way through then you simply need to take off the cover.
Adjustable Parallel Light Matrix
The array of UV lights under the screen allows light to be spread evenly across the build area. The power of the UV light is completely adjustable to support a variety of resin types.
To put this printer to the test, I've printed a selection of models to highlight the superb quality of the 4K screen and powerful light sources under the hood.
Each of the models were post-processed first with a small pickling jar of 99.9% IPA to rinse off the majority of the excess resin, and then using the Wash and Cure pro on clean mode with more IPA before curing the models on the machine’s cure mode.
Pondering Wizard Miniature
From the popular pondering wizard meme, and a model from MyMiniFactory (https://www.myminifactory.com/object/3d-print-orb-pondering-wizard-198441), I printed a miniature pondering wizard and table, so that I can give him objects to ponder. This print really highlights the incredible print resolution the photon mono 4k is capable of, as even at just 4cm tall the incredible detail in the beard, face, chair and even the runes on the rim of the table are sharp and clear as the original model.
For a recent D&D game, I prepared some custom miniatures to play with, as printing custom figures and miniatures are one of the most appealing functions for a printer like this. The quality was incredible, even in spite of some mild shifting during the print causing the bases to be warped. Once again, the detail is impressive, and it’s worth the 4K’s price to get results like these.
To try out a larger print surface and see the results of smooth curves on the resolution, I picked out an octopus model. Unfortunately for the first model, the surfaces were somewhat tarnished by residue and support structures sticking to it. Upon a second print, the finish was much improved, but it seems getting used to the automatically generated support structures from the photon workshop may be a small roadblock.
To try a detailed model at a larger size, I printed this dragon monster statuette, which has lots of sharp details and fragile parts. The photon mono 4k was more than capable of dealing with these, and the print finish is exceptional.
The specifications for this printer are very reasonable, and competitive with many other printers on the market.
- Exposure screen: 6.23’’ monochrome
- Printing dimensions: 6.5 x 5.2 x 3.1 in. / 16.5 x 13.2 x 8 cm (HWD)
- Light transmittance: 7%
- Contrast ratio: 400:1
- Light source: Parallel matrix (LED x 15)
- Power density: 3,500 - 4,000 μw/cm²/23,905 - 27,320 lux
- Printing accuracy: 3,840 x 2,400 px (4K)
- Horizontal resolution: 35 μm
- Printing speed: ≤ 5 cm/hr. / 1.97 in./hr.
- Control panel: 2.8’’ TFT touch-control
- Data input: USB-A 2.0
- Power supply: 45W
- Software: Photon Workshop
- Machine dimensions: 15.1 x 8.9 x 8.7 in./38.3 x 22.7 x 22.2 cm (HWD)
- Machine weight: 9.4 lb./4.3 kg
Should You Buy the Anycubic Photon Mono 4K?
With the roaring success of the previous Photon Mono machines, and their expanded range of more premium sizes and qualities, as well as the wash and cure machines to match, the Photon Mono 4K is the logical next step for the range. With a budget size, and a screen capable of incredible detail, all for just a little more cost than the base mono model, this printer is a no-brainer for miniature enthusiasts of all kinds and anyone looking to start printing detailed models without breaking the bank.
Your turn: which 3D printers do you recommend?