Another 3D Printer…

So, I’m still pissed-off about this, but I have to say that so far I’m impressed with the printer…

As I said in a previous post- Anycubic’s store took my order and my money for an Anycubic Photon printer back in mid-August. It was supposed to arrive in mid-September, and didn’t. I sent them emails asking for the shipment status- and got nothing. Finally, I decided to buy a competing product (with overnight delivery) from Amazon. I sent them an email to cancel the order and refund my money. Again- no response.

I contacted the payment processor they use (“Shop”), and was told I had to go through Anycubic. They have no refund process themselves.

Guess what showed up on my doorstep yesterday…

Anycubic Photon (Upgraded Version)
Interior. Already printing.

I decided to keep it. I could drive the unopened box to UPS and tell them I’m refusing it, but the reality is- I have no idea when/if I will ever get a refund from these people. I have not received ANY communication back from them at all, other than automated emails with “no-reply” addresses and no contact information other than the email address I’ve already sent messages to.

So, on to the printer…

I actually like it! It has the same print area as the Creality LD-002R, but has a smaller overall footprint. I also like the way the platform levels and mounts- they use a single grub screw to level it, and the knob that holds it to the Z carriage stays with the platform. This means all the parts that tend to get resin on them are in one assembly. The platform is tall enough that resin won’t get into the top section of it, again making it easier to keep clean. The Creality platform has nooks that collect resin and make it difficult to keep clean.

I also love the flip-up cover, which is much easier to deal with than the Creality’s acrylic dome, which needs to be completely removed and set down somewhere in order to access the platform/vat.

I also like the design of the vat. The screw knobs clamp it down onto the LCD, but when loosened- the vat itself just slides out, without any knobs attached. This makes it much smaller and easier to clean thoroughly. I also found that replacements are easier to find and cheaper. There are even 3rd party options as the vat design is the same for the Photon, Photon S, and similar Elegoo printers. You can buy or print vat lids, and some people keep several vats and just swap them out as-needed with different resin. This just isn’t practical with the Creality vat design.

It is also FAST, at least a lot faster than the Creality. Even with the exact same exposure and motion settings- the Anycubic is at least 50% faster. The Z-axis moves very quickly, which makes all the difference. I don’t think the Creality has the ability to move as fast as the slicer is telling it to, while the Anycubic can. I started them both on similar prints, again with the same layer/exposure and movement settings in Chitubox (slicer). After a little over an hour- the Anycubic is on layer 335, while the Creality is only on layer 216. The Anycubic is working on a taller model, and will be done an hour before the Creality according to their status displays.

I also like the display/UI on the Anycubic more. It is smaller, but much more readable. I have to squint at the Creality to try to make out the ridiculously=tiny time and layer displays, while the Anycubic’s are very easy to read.

Creality LD-002R Display

You can read the time and layers in this image from my camera, which was 2″ away from the display. Trying to read it IRL is a big challenge, especially if you are over 40.

Anycubic Photon (Upgraded) Display

This display is smaller- but very-readable. It only shows layers and time remaining, but clicking on the little arrow next to the time shows more details about the print:

Anycubic Photon Detailed Status Display

(Not sure what is going on with the “Required Resin” display.)

I did find out there is a lot of confusion when it comes to the Anycubic printers. The “Photon” I got is actually the “Photon (Upgraded)”, which has a newer control board and firmware in it. There is nothing to indicate that though until you get into the firmware and try to upgrade it. The “old” board/firmware can only read “.photon” files, while the newer board/firmware as-shipped can only read “.pws” files, which is a newer format Anycubic came up with.

This causes issues with Chitubox, as it does have a “Photon” profile built-in, but only outputs “.photon” files. I really didn’t want to have to use Anycubic’s stripped-down Chitubox clone/branch, called Photon Workshop. There are conversion utilities between the formats, but they add unnecessary complexity to the process. One of the biggest complaints I found about Anycubic was their use of proprietary file formats over .ctb files, which are essentially the “gcode” of resin printing.

Fortunately, Anycubic released new firmware for the “upgraded” version of the printer, which allows it to read .pws, .photon, and .photons files. (The latter was a propriety format for the “Photon S” printer.) There is newer firmware for the “old” Photon, but I don’t know if it allows the other files to be read. Fortunately- Chitubox already writes .photon files, and Photon Workshop can write either file type. The firmware was almost as easy to update as the Creality’s- it comes in two parts that just need to be “printed” in order from the USB stick.

So, aside from firmware confusion and their store’s complete lack of customer service, I’m happy with this printer’s design and functionality. I’ll post updates, I’m sure, once I have gotten some prints off of it. Both printers are available on Amazon and from other sources besides their own company stores- and I recommend buying from a 3rd party that hopefully has better customer service, at least for Anycubic. I don’t have any direct experience with Creality’s store.

Oh, also- while nit-picky, the Anycubic actually came with a mask, several pairs of gloves, and even a little baggie of extra screws, including a replacement grub screw for the platform leveling mount.