Anycubic Photon M3 resin printer. How good/bad is it?

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lee webster

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I have shortlisted my choice of afordable resin 3D printers to this one, the Photon M3. The build volume is good, and the resolution is bound to be a lot better than my Ender3. I am also hoping that the print time will be shorter than the same file printed on the Ender. Have any of you got one? or know someone who has? Comments please!
 

ddmckee54

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Lee:

I don't think the build time will be shorter, if anything it might be longer.

Your Ender3 will get down to a layer thickness of around 0.1mm correct? That's a layer with a minimum thickness of around 100 microns. An SLA printer has a maximum layer thickness of a few microns, that's why the detail is so great - the layers are so bloody thin. The sliced layer count for the Photon will probably be 25-50 times the sliced layer count for the Ender3. While it only takes the Photon a fraction of the time that it takes the Ender3 to print a layer, the difference in the layer counts will probably offset the time saving per layer.

Don
 

bruedney

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Not to mention setup time (slicer orientation and support structure placement), restart time when you find the print has failed after quite some time of printing (you can't see the print until it lifts clear of the vat), the clean up time, the curing time.

You will also need good PPE and a very well ventilated workspace.
 

stanstocker

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I have shortlisted my choice of afordable resin 3D printers to this one, the Photon M3. The build volume is good, and the resolution is bound to be a lot better than my Ender3. I am also hoping that the print time will be shorter than the same file printed on the Ender. Have any of you got one? or know someone who has? Comments please!
Hi Lee,

quick answer: I have one. It works well. Prints are better than on my Ender 3 V2 with mods.

The print time itself may be less than the print time of your FDM printer if your FDM is printing at it's finest settings with a lower print speed to avoid the surface issues that often appear when seeking high resolution with FDM.

The time for cleanup, cleaning of the print, waiting for the print to fully dry, and then curing the print will likely more than offset any gains from faster print speed.

If you ever did photo work in a darkroom, resin printing is similar. The print itself is a fraction of the time to set up and tear down / clean up all the ancillary equipment.

You can reduce some of the odor from resin issues and need for dual alcohol rinses if you use water washable resins, but in thick sections these tend to crack. It also takes longer for water washable resin to fully dry before you can do the final curing in the UV box. I mention dual alcohol rinses as many folks use a pre wash of alcohol that just is allowed to get as gross as possible before curing out the crud and filtering. A pre cleaned print then goes to the wash station for a nice final clean. This greatly prolongs the life and quality of the alcohol in the wash station.

So... I have an M3, it's a good little printer. I haven't had it for long, maybe two weeks. Watch out though, the gcode from the slicer has to be put on a FAT formatted USB stick, and it seems the printer doesn't like 64GB sticks. It likes 4 GB sticks just fine. When I can get my hands on some cheap 8 and 16 GB sticks I'll try to find out just where the M3 pukes. The frustrating thing is that the printer sees the larger sticks just fine, but simply stops partway through the print. Put the same file on the OEM software 4GB stick and it printed just fine.

Bonus points, the Anycubic software works nicely under Wine on linux, makes me happy.

Take care,
Stan
 

lee webster

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Sorry about the delay in repling to you all, but when I tried to log on this morning it was reporting a server error.
I printed the two halves of a small cylinder head (two halves so I can sand cast it), 56mm dia by 30mm tall on my Ender3 at .16 layer height. The print took just over 8 hours. It took two evenings of sanding and filling and then two coats of primer to get it looking right, it could still do with some final sanding. The one thing I was expecting to happen, happened. The locating holes in each half were a little undersize. I drew them at 4mm dia, but with the way the layer lines squish they were under that. It's worse at the opening of the hole, where it was against the bed. I think most first layers can suffer from elephants foot. Mine did, but it might be my fault. Like most other FDM printers I used a piece of paper to level the bed. I have now discovered that the paper is supposed to be between .1 and .2mm. My paper was .04. I have now found a thicker piece of paper that is .1, and a piece of plastic at .16. It will be interesting to try them. The Ender3 is not immune from failed prints!
My expectations with a resin printer are, quicker printing, especially if I can get multiple prints on the bed at the same time. Better quality prints with better accuracy and less time spent finishing them. I have another 10 or so parts to print out to make the core moulds for this head. Water passage, exhaust and inlet tracts and spark plug will all need a core. And each part might need anything upto 5 parts to make each mould. The print time would be about 15 hours, and the time to finnish them is anyones guess. Even a core print should have a fairly smooth surface.
Stan, with your M3 do you have to connect the printer to the internet to use it? When I watched a youtube video about the M3 the tester seemed to imply that the internet connection left it open to hacking. The people at 3D Jake found that hard to believe. I think I must have misheard the tester!
 

stanstocker

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I think it's the M3 plus that has wireless, the M3 uses just the USB stick. No internet activity required to use the printer here, although I did download the latest slicer from Anycubic before using the printer.

Cheers,
Stan
 

stanstocker

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Hi Lee,

You're most welcome. Rummaged around and found an old 32GB USB2 thumbdrive. Formatted it FAT and successfully printed the model that failed when saved on a 64GB stick. It was reported on several forums that the M3 did not work with USB sticks > 32GB. While a single print is hardly a comprehensive test, the results do support what others had reported. I've got a larger print running overnight, at near the height capacity of the printer. If something odd occurs I'll update this info.

Take care,
Stan
 

lee webster

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I had the same problem with a 64gb card not working with my camera. 32gb works just fine. Looking forward to reading about the test print.
 

stanstocker

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Greetings,

The larger print worked fine using the 32GB USB2.0 stick. I'm printing another larger print using a 32GB USB3 stick to make sure it's a size and not interface problem. There's around 3 hours to go on this print. We were having storms the day the printer went to sleep, perhaps it got just enough of a power sag to get lost, but not enough to reset. I'll probably try another test print from a 64GB stick tomorrow just to satisfy my curiosity, although there are enough posts reporting a 32GB limit for these printers that it's more of a scratch an itch than an expectation of better results.

32GB sticks are easy enough to find, Amazon has Microcenter branded 32GB USB3 sticks 5 for 24 bucks and free shipping. USB2 sticks are around 3 bucks each in 10 packs. Even HellMart has sticks in stock starting at around $7 for name brand ones. If the USB3 32GB stick works fine and the 64GB stick hangs again I'll probably just add a 5 pack to my next Amazon order or snag a couple at HellMart next time I'm over in the next county. My county has NO traffic lights, so stores with anything the least tech related are nonexistent :) The outcome shall be reported in the fullness of time (as a quite proper upper crust English customer of mine used to say)!

Happy Wednesday folks!
Stan
 

stanstocker

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One may remove the bait :)

The USB3.0 32GB stick worked fine. Print failed, but only in one section and that looks like I may need to increase exposure time just a wee bit for this resin and add more support to the failed section. The important thing is that it did not hang, halt, or fail to complete the print. I was printing some figures for use with model boats and was using Anycubic skin color resin for this print, while my other prints were with the usual default grey.

For any folks who may want to be politically correct, the bottle is in fact labeled "Skin", not beige, pink, Caucasian, Old School Band Aid, Oppressor of the masses, or any more "acceptable" term. If you object, please share your feelings with Anycubic, don't take it out on me. Figured I'd try to avoid the hassle of running into the noise with the easily triggered club, although that seems rare here thank goodness.

Cheers,
Stan
 

ddmckee54

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I'm not sure, but I don't think that the controllers used in most 3D printers can handle memory locations of over 32GB. I know for sure that mine can't, but they are all Arduinos or Arduino clones. I don't have an SLA printer - just FDM printers. So I've got not clue what's typically under the SLA printer's hood, how big do SLA print files get anyway?

Don
 

lee webster

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Thanks Stan! I am still undecided about whether to for an M3 or Saturn S. The Saturn has the capacity to print what I want in One go. I would have to slice the part in two to fit on the bed of the M3. To glue or not to glue, that is the question.
Lee
 

dnalot

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I have the Elegoo Saturn and have been using it for several months now. I like it. I also Have the smaller Anycubic Mono. The larger print volume is great to have. Being able to print larger parts or just a lot more smaller parts at once is well worth the extra cost. The printer is made mostly from metal and I think the extra weight of the printer adds to the stability of the printer. At best you can say its an entry level printer but its a good one for the hobbiest.

The one thing I really hate about these printers is the safety hood. Its a pain in the ass to take on and off if you don't have someplace to put it. Best to build a cabinet for the printer(s) to live in. Much easer to just swing open a door than to mess with the hood. Your probably going to need to heat the cabinet as many if not most resins require temperatures that are higher than normal room temperature. My shop is 60 f degrees year around and the resines i use require 85 f degrees. I would guess if your shop is to warm it would not be as much of a problem as being to cold.

Interesting note: I heat my resin bottle in a microwave for a few seconds before using. A few weeks ago I accidently heated my Siraya Tech Cast resin to almost 200 degrees F. I figured it was probably ruined but I decided to let it cool and then give it a try. Worked just fine. Have used the full bottle without any problems.

Mark T
 

lee webster

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I can't find a Saturn anywhere, it seems to have been discontinued. I didn'tknow they needed heat to work properly. I was thinking of putting it in my unheated garage. I will have to think again. Thanks for the info Mark T.
 

dnalot

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I can't find a Saturn anywhere
Here in the US they are available on Amazon. $499 get it in couple of days. The new upgraded Saturn S is now out so maybe it's just a temporary supply issue.

The need for heat is dependent on the resins requirements. A lot of resins are very viscous and need heat to help them flow better when the build plate drops down into the vat. I use a tiny little space heater (4" square) and have a thermostat hooked up to it. I turn on the heater about an hour before I start the print.

Mark T
 

stanstocker

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Hi Folks,

Don offered a probable explanation of the 64GB stick issue and asked a question about slicer file sizes. My smallest sliced file is around 1.7 MB. It is the Ameralabs calibration town print at 0.05mm resolution. The file size increases to around 8 MB in a 0.020 resolution. My largest print - a dragon at close to the size limit of the M3 is just shy of 100MB when sliced for 0.05mm resolution. I guess a 32 GB stick is silly over sized for anything that will fit the machine, with most of the stick still empty. I just happened to grab one of the sticks I had at hand, most of my microSD and USB sticks are 64GB or larger these days. Had to root around to find some 32GB sticks.

Resin temperature was mentioned, I believe the anycubic resin recommends a working temp of 22 to maybe 35C. Being in the US, that's 72 to 95F. The water wash resin temp range is 18 to 35C (about 65 to 95F). They do mention increasing exposure by 30% and decreasing lift speed by 30% for temps below 68F with the conventional resin. As my shop is around 74 to 80 this time of year I can't say how good these numbers are, though I'll find out next winter.

Best to all,
Stan
 

lee webster

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It sounds as though a resin printer would benifit from having a sealed enclosure to live in. Something that had a small built in heater, but also an extractor either to the outside world or a filter system. Such an enclosure would mean the printer could live in a part of the house/workshop/garage or shed that suited best.It wouldn't be hard or expensive to build an enclosure, and I have seen heaters as low as 60 watt that would be very cheap to run. I used to have a 60w heater strapped to the front of my car during the winter to help keep the radiator water from freezing.
 
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