The world of desktop MSLA 3D printers has been quite active in recent years, with companies continually adding new features, increasing print quality & reliability while maintaining great price points. Anycubic is definitely in this category, especially with these two new devices.
Both new printers use the MSLA process, where an LCD panel underneath the resin tank illuminates and solidifies pixels for each successive layer. While many desktop MSLA devices use standard RGB LCD panels, these two new 3D printers use monochrome LCD panels, which is a significant advantage.
Monochrome LCD panels lack the color filters used to produce the R, G, and B color channels for visual use. This means that the light energy remains at full strength and is not diminished by passing through a filter. In other words, more energy reaches the resin on each layer flash. This leads to much higher print speeds, because the additional energy can polymerize the resin faster.
Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K Build Volume
The Photon Mono X 6K is a larger device, while the Photon Mono 4K is designed for budget-minded 3D printer operators.
While there are many similarities between the Photon Mono X 6K and the Photon Mono 4K, one big difference is the LCD panel.
The Photon Mono X 6K uses a 9.25 inch (235mm) diagonal monochrome LCD panel. It’s a “6K” panel, meaning it has approximately 6,000 pixels on one axis. The specifications indicate exactly 5,760 x 3,600 pixels. Anycubic said the device can solidify voxels with 34 microns (0.034mm) resolution.
This implies a rather large build volume of 197 x 122 x 245 mm. This allows for the production of larger parts and especially taller models. This should be ideal for both prototyping and hobby use.
The Photon Mono 4K has a similar LCD panel, but it has a somewhat smaller build volume of 165 x 132 x 80 mm, more than adequate for most 3D print jobs.
Another highly useful feature of the LCD panel is an advanced contrast mechanism. Anycubic describes the panel has having a 350:1 contrast ratio from black to white. This suggests that the print resolutions should be crisper, because less polymerization will occur in non-illuminated adjacent pixels.
You can see how accurate the 3D prints are from this machine in this image:
Anycubic Mono Light Engine
The 3D printer also includes a light engine, which in this case is an array of 15 LED lights and a high light transmittance screen.
The amount of energy transmitted by the LED lights through the monochrome LCD panel means print speed can be increased. Anycubic explained:
“It needs only 1.5 hours to print a 12mm garage kit at the maximal printing speed, saving 4.5 hours compared to the Anycubic Photon, and 1.5 hours over other run-of-the-mill 6.8-inch 3D printers.”
An interesting feature included by Anycubic is a special anti-scratch film that lies between the resin tank and the LCD panel. This helps maintaining a longer service life for the LCD panel, which might be scratched during operations, particularly when removing the resin tank for cleaning. I don’t think I’ve seen this on other devices, but it’s a welcome addition.
Universal Resin Compatibility
Perhaps the most interesting feature on these devices is an ability to handle different 3D printer resins.
Each photopolymer resin is designed to react to a certain wavelength of light, most typically 405nm. Many resin stores offer 405nm resin, but there are some exotic resins that require different wavelengths, such as 350nm or even visible light.
Other 3D printers are designed with a light engine that supplies only a single wavelength, meaning the device MUST use compatible resins. I’ve heard stories of 3D printer operators purchasing the “wrong” resin for their device and being stuck with unusable material.
That situation cannot happen on the new Photon Mono X 6K and 4K machines, because they are equipped with a unique adjustable light feature. This permits the device to support other types of resins beyond the standard 405nm wavelength. I don’t think I’ve heard of this feature being available on any other MSLA device.
This should make these machines highly flexible in their ability to handle many different materials and remove the risk of incorrect resin purchases.
The Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K and Photon Mono 4K will be available for pre-order right away. Anycubic explained their pricing strategy:
“The Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K will be available on November 15th from the Anycubic official store with a pre-order offer of US$599 for a limited number of units, before ultimately retailing for US$659. (Considering the short arrival time, it will be released in the US first and two months in the EU later.) The Photon Mono 4K will debut on November 15th on the Anycubic official store, the Anycubic Aliexpress store, the Anycubic eBay store, and the Anycubic Amazon store starting at a price of only US$269 for the first 1000 units. Then the retail price will rise to US$289 in some areas. So buyers need to move fast!”
Those are great prices for what looks like very interesting 3D printers.