Anycubic Photon Zero Review

Thinking of buying the Anycubic Photon Zero 3D printer? Read our review to find out the specs, features, quality of print, and more.

Anycubic has been in business since 2015 and is known for its decent quality 3D printers that are quite affordable.  Models such as the Anycubic i3 Mega and Photon series of 3D printers are among the most popular in the 3D printing industry.

Anycubic has a variety of 3D printer models that address different user needs. For example, we have the simple and affordable i3 Mega and Mega-S, the huge Predator Delta , the closed and print-ready 4Max Pro, and the large build area 3D printer Chiron.

Of course, there is also the Photon and Photon S SLA 3D printers, which, despite the competition, are still in great demand.

But Anycubic decided not to stop there and fill in the gaps in its product range. The company produced one of most affordable resin printers on the market; the Anycubic Photon Zero.

Let’s look at this printer in detail.

Anycubic Photon Zero Review

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Specifications

General Specifications

Technology LCD
Type Resin
Year 2020
Assembly Fully assembled
Manufacturer Anycubic
Country China

3D Printing Specifications

Build Volume 97 x 54 x 150 mm (3.81 x 2.12 x 5.9 in)
Layer Height 10+ microns
XY Resolution 0.115 mm (480 x 854 pixels)
Z-axis positioning accuracy 0.01 mm
Printing Speed 30 mm/h
Bed-Leveling n/a
Display Touchscreen
Third-Party Materials Yes
Materials 405 nm UV resin

Software Requirements

Recommended Slicer Photon Workshop (2.1.20)
Operating system Windows / Mac OSX
File types STL
Connectivity USB

Dimensions & Weight

Frame dimensions 180 x 195 x 367 mm (7.08 x 7.76 x 14.44 in)
Weight ~4.7 kg (10.36 lbs)
Boxed size n/a
Weight (packed) n/a

Printing Technology

The Anycubic Photon Zero works using LCD-SLA or MSLA technology.

We have already discussed this technology in the past. In short, the resin is illuminated by an ultraviolet source located below, and above it is a screen on which the pictures of the layers are displayed. A resin bath is installed on the screen, and the platform plunges into it, rising from layer to layer to the required height.

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What’s in the Box?

The printer comes fully assembled. The package bundle is not very large but has almost everything you need. Here’s what you’ll get in your package:

  • Illustrated instructions
  • A pair of rubber gloves
  • One medical mask
  • A small metal spatula for removing models from the platform
  • Several filters for filtering the resin
  • A set of hexagons
  • An external power supply for 12 volts 3 amperes
  • A USB stick with software and test models
  • Printing platform
  • Resin bath.

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A silicone or, at least, a plastic spatula is missing. You don’t want to use a metal spatula to stir the resin in the bathroom or remove unsuccessful seals from the film as you can damage the FEP film.

Also, no resin is included in the package.

Design

Let’s look at the design of the printer.

The printer is quite typical for its class. The lower part is made of steel and there is a small touch screen in front. The response of the screen is good and its interface is exactly the same as that of Photon S.

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By the way, you can also look at an overview of it on our youtube channel.

On the right is a USB port for a flash drive and an air inlet.

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At the bottom are some vent. There are also adjustable rubber feet that allow you to set the printer even on a not very flat surface.

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At the back is the power supply socket.

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There is a small LCD screen at the top of the main unit.

Build Volume

The printer’s build volume is 97 x 54 millimeters.

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The screen resolution is 854 x 480 pixels, i.e.,  the accuracy in the XY axes is  115 micrometers, which is more than two times worse than that of the Photon and Photon S.

In our tests, we will check how critical this is and how strongly it affects the final quality of the models.

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The power of the ultraviolet spotlight located under the screen is 30W. The light wave is standard for MSLA printers – 405 nanometers. You can use any resin with this exposure wave.

The Z axis is implemented without any special frills. The carriage travels on one MGN12 rail with a trapezoidal 8mm single thread screw.

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The stated minimum layer height is 0.01mm, maximum 0.2mm. However, this depends on the resin.

At the bottom there is an optical limit switch, which helps with accurate positioning of the platform at the beginning of printing.

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The platform is made of anodized aluminum.

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The underside of the aluminum is clean and has a rough surface for better adhesion.

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On top of the platform, the edges are beveled on both sides so that the resin can drain freely from it.

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Calibration

Fixing and calibrating the Photon Zero platform is different from how it’s done on older models. The platform consists of two parts that are fastened together with four screws. The platform is then fixed to the carriage with one wing screw on top.

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The resin bath is made of plastic. This is not bad or good. Generally, you won’t experience any problems with plastic baths if you are careful.

Moreover, the design of the bathroom is very well thought out.

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There is a flowing resin drainage cutout in one of the corners that works very well.

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On the walls inside, there are dimensional divisions, which make it easy to determine how much resin is poured into the bath and whether it will overflow over the edges when the platform is immersed

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The top of the printer is covered with a one-piece hood made of yellow transparent plastic that does not transmit ultraviolet light, protecting the resin in the bathroom from polymerization by external light sources.

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On the one hand, this is not very convenient since there should always be a place near the printer where this hood could be placed. But at the same time, such a structure allows you to very conveniently monitor the print from all sides without having to open the cover.

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The printer is also calibrated quite normally. Simply remove the bath and slide a piece of paper on the screen.

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Loosen the 4 screws of the platform.

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Lower the Z-axis to zero position.

Gently and evenly press the platform against the sheet and fix the platform’s position by tightening 4 screws.

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After that, in the printer menu, press the Z = 0 and Enter button.

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This is not the only way to calibrate the Phrozen Zero 3D printer. For example, you can lower the platform directly onto the bathtub film. But the method of calibrating with a sheet of paper is recommended and consistently gives a good results.

Slicer Software

Anycubic suggests using the Photon Workshop slicer to prepare models for printing. The software interface is similar to that of  Chitubox.

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Unfortunately, Photon Workshop is less powerful and some features don’t work very well.

In general, everything you need is there. Rotate, rotate, resize, mirror, copy, cut models into pieces. You can make parts hollow, create fillings in them, add holes and so on. Supports, of course, can be placed automatically and manually. It is possible to create and save profiles for different resins.

However, during operation, you periodically have to deal with unpleasant flaws.

For example, when creating a cavity in the model, the inner area is very rough, from a bunch of cubes.

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The supports have a lot of settings. However, they are automatically not placed very well.

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And you can’t edit automatic support. You can only delete it. On the same note, you can only move supports that have been manually set.

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The files for Photon Zero are exported in the pw0 format. And the aforementioned Chitubox slicer, at the moment, does not know how to work with this printer.

However, you probably won’t be preparing models in Chitubox, place support in it, and then export them in STL format and cut them in Photon Workshop.

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Print Quality

Let’s move on to printing tests.

We started our experiments with Phrozen Gray resin. Typically, a gray, opaque resin allows you to get a very good look at the quality of the resulting models and immediately determine if there are any problems during printing.

Since the printer is relatively new, there are no settings for the exposure time of different resins for it. Fortunately, Anycubic has made a special file for Photon Zero to check exposure time; the RERF test. It works similarly to the RERF test for Photon and Photon S.

On the platform, 8 moderately complex models are printed at once. They have holes, thin protrusions, slopes, text, and so on. The models are numbered and each of them is illuminated for a second longer than the previous one.

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The RERF test prepared for printing is on the USB stick that comes with the printer.

The printing it is designed for a range from 6 to 13 seconds. If you need a different range, you can start printing the file and during the exposure of the first layers, change the exposure time directly through the printer menu. The set parameter will be responsible for the first model, the time for the remaining 7 models will be calculated automatically.

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For Phrozen Gray resin, we set the range from 10 to 17 seconds. All models were printed with approximately the same quality. For subsequent prints, 12 seconds were chosen at a layer of 0.05mm.

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Since the printer is obviously not suitable for serious tasks, such as dentistry or jewelry, due to the low screen resolution, the main direction for it is printing miniatures, board game figures, small technical models that do not require high precision, and the like.

We started with a small model of a knight with two swords. The model was printed separately from the stand. Both the stand and the knight with supports fit together on the platform.

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The model printed without problems.

The layer was 0.05mm, exposure time of the first layers 60 seconds, the rest 12.

Anti-aliasing was turned on at 4X.

Overall, the knight turned out well. There is an obvious lack of screen resolution. But the detailing is still very good and all layers are stacked evenly.

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The second model is the Snake Merchant, which can be printed without any supports at all. The model has a huge number of small elements, patterns and details. This is a good model to print to see the kind of detail that the printer can handle.

The model was printed almost to the full height of the printer, 145 mm.

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On closer inspection, pixelation is visible. But if you don’t look closely, the model turned out to be very worthy. Almost all details are in place. All small elements are printed.

The printing took some time; about 10 hours. But this is quite normal for a model of this height.

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The next model was printed with Phrozen Black resin. We also performed a RERF test with it and stopped at an exposure time of 10 seconds with a layer of 50 micrometers.

Here is the Minotaur that was printed.

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The model was printed with a lot of support. We removed most of them by hand immediately after washing. The rest were removed with a knife and tweezers. Support marks remain, but this is not a printer or resin problem.

On the Minotaur itself, small stains are also visible due to the low resolution of the printer screen. But again, they are visible only under certain lighting conditions and are not felt to the touch.

Overall, the minotaur turned out pretty well too. Small items and parts that started to print in the air were printed perfectly. Layers are stacked evenly throughout the entire height.

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The same resin was used to print the Adeptus Mechanicus emblem from the Warhammer 4000 universe. There were no problems with it either.

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Above, you can see that a small air bubble got in during printing. However, this is not the printer’s fault. We can say that this is just an accident.

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And finally, we used the Esun Standart Skin resin  to print a rather popular model – the pi tower.

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The model took about 7 and a half hours to print. The exposure time of the first layers is 60 seconds, all the rest 13 seconds. The layer height is 50 micrometers.

As you can see, the model consists of a huge number of small numbers. All of them printed perfectly and evenly. There was no fault with the model.

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The last model is the Nine-Tailed Demon, which was also printed without support. The model has complex, almost critical slopes.

There was no problem with printing the model. Despite the rather large stand area, the Z-axis did a good job. In certain lighting, streaks are still visible due to the low resolution.

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Conclusion

Anycubic Photon Zero is a cheap resin 3D printer and, as expected, does not print models of phenomenal quality. However, even with its modest performance, the Photon Zero delivers decent quality, which will be enough for many users.

During the entire testing period, there was not a single failure. Every model uploaded was printed on the first try. The mechanics of the printer, or rather the Z axis, works out perfectly from time to time. We would recommend this printer to those who want to try resin printing without large investments and risks.

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