Anycubic’s new Photon Ultra resin 3D printer is collecting orders at a rapid rate.
The company hinted at the introduction of this new desktop 3D printer last month, and indeed it was launched on Kickstarter only a few days ago, and it’s already gained over 3,000 backers in a very short time.
The inexpensive unit sports a 102.4 x 57.6 x 165 mm build volume, ideal for a resin 3D printer, but it’s most interesting feature is its light engine. Rather than using the LCD panel approach so often used by competing machines in this category, the Photon Ultra uses a DLP approach.
The DLP technique involves using a chip covered with a dense array of tiny moveable mirrors. These are controlled by software, and can either reflect light or not, per pixel.
The Photon Ultra uses the chip by blasting UV light rays at the chip. The mirrors control which pixels are “hot” during a layer exposure by orienting themselves to reflect or deflect incoming light.
This light beam is then spread via a precision lens system to land accurately on the print surface at the bottom of the resin tank.
The result of this system is 3D prints with higher resolution than can typically be found with LCD approaches. The reason is straightforward: LCD panels tend to “bleed” a little bit of light, even though the pixel is “off”. This small amount of light does cause some solidification of resin, and thus decreases resolution.
Meanwhile, in the DLP approach, light is either reflected, or it is not. In other words, the “cold” pixels are truly dark and do not solidify at all. This results in a much crisper 3D print.
Ironically, the prints that emerge from the Photon Ultra can be more precise than from other systems touting “more pixels”. The Photon Ultra has “only” a 2560 pixel array, less than competing 4K LCD arrays, but can match or beat the print quality. Buyers should always be careful when comparing specifications.
I should say there is another compelling feature of the Photon Ultra: its price.
Virtually all the lower-cost desktop resin 3D printers use the LCD process, and you have to spend much more money to obtain a DLP-based system. But Anycubic’s low price for the Photon Ultra breaks that barrier.
The pricing for their Kickstarter launch was as follows:
- Super Early Bird/33% discount US$399 (300 units available)
- Early Bird/23% discount US$459 (500 units)
- Kickstarter Special 1/16% discount US$499 (2000 units)
- Kickstarter Special 2 US$549 (unlimited)
Those are incredibly low prices for a DLP 3D printer. However, you’re already too late to score the lowest price, as the campaign has already gained 3,000 backers as of this writing. Nevertheless, US$499 is still a great price.
Evidently the DLP process has proved popular among the community, as Anycubic has raised over US$1.6M, and there’s almost a month of time yet to order units.
I suspect Anycubic will sell a great deal of these machines.