Welcome to the Colored World!
Today we will tell you about two interesting new products from Anycubic .
Anycubic has existed since 2015, but over these 5 years it has already established itself as a manufacturer of 3D printers with very decent quality and quite reasonable prices. Models such as the Anycubic i3 Mega and Photon photopolymer have long been considered practically popular 3D printers. At the moment, Anycubic has many models that satisfy almost all user needs. There are the simple and affordable i3 Mega and Mega-S , the huge Predator delta , the closed and print-ready 4Max Pro (which sadly is no longer in production), and the large Chiron build area . And of course, Photon and Photon S photopolymers, 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. We present to your attention one of the most budgetary photopolymer printers on the market – Anycubic Photon Zero .
And a universal station for washing and re-illuminating photopolymer models – Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine .
Let’s start with the printer. It works, of course, using LCD-SLA or MSLA technology. We have already talked more than once about the principle of operation of this technology, but in short: the photopolymer resin is illuminated by an ultraviolet source located below, 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.
The printer is expected to be delivered fully assembled. The package bundle is not very large, but there is almost everything you need. Illustrated instructions, a pair of rubber gloves, one medical mask, a small metal spatula for removing models from the platform (surprisingly, not sharpened at all), 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 and resin bath.
Perhaps only a silicone or at least a plastic spatula is missing. Since using a metal spatula to stir the resin in the bathroom or remove unsuccessful seals from the film, in no case – you can damage the FEP film. Also, no resin is included.
Let’s take a closer look at the technical characteristics and design of the printer. Although, to be honest, there isn’t much to tell. The printer is quite typical for its class. The lower part is made of steel. There is a small touch screen in front. The response of the screen is good, no problems were noticed when using it. The interface is exactly the same as that of Photon S.
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.
Bottom vents. There are also adjustable rubber feet that allow you to set the printer even on a not very flat surface.
At the back is the power supply socket.
There is an LCD screen at the top of the main unit. And what immediately catches the eye is that it is small. The stated printable area in width and length is only 97 by 54 millimeters.
And the screen resolution is 854 by 480 pixels. That is, the accuracy in the XY axes is as much as 115 micrometers, more than two times worse than that of 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.
The power of the ultraviolet spotlight located under the screen is 30W. The light wave is standard for MSLA printers – 405 nanometers. That is, you can use any resin with this exposure wave.
The Z axis is also implemented without any special frills. The carriage travels on one MGN12 rail with a trapezoidal 8mm single thread screw.
The stated minimum layer height is 0.01mm, maximum 0.2mm, although this of course depends on the resin. At the bottom there is an optical limit switch, which, perhaps, is necessary for accurate positioning of the platform at the beginning of printing.
The platform itself is made of anodized aluminum.
The underside of the aluminum is clean and has a rough surface for better adhesion.
On top of the platform, the edges are beveled on both sides so that the resin can drain freely from it.
The method of fixing and calibrating the platform is different from older models. It consists of two parts, fastened together with four screws. And it is fixed to the carriage with one wing screw on top.
The bath for photopolymer is made of plastic, this is not bad or good, problems with plastic baths, as a rule, do not arise with careful use. But the design of the bathroom itself is very well thought out.
There is a flowing resin drainage cutout in one of the corners that works very well.
And on the walls inside there are dimensional divisions, which make it very easy to determine how much resin is poured into the bath and whether it turns out that when the platform is immersed, the resin will overflow over the edges.
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.
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 the need to open the cover, as is implemented on the Photon and Photon S
printers. The printer is also calibrated quite typical. We remove the bath. Put a piece of paper on the screen.
Loosen the 4 screws of the platform.
We lower the Z-axis to zero position. Not very hard, but evenly press the platform against the sheet and fix the position of the platform by tightening 4 screws.
After that, in the printer menu, press the Z = 0 and Enter button.
This is not the only way to calibrate, you can, for example, lower the platform directly onto the bathtub film. But the method with a sheet of paper is recommended by the manufacturer himself and consistently gives a good result, without the risk of damaging anything.
Anycubic suggests using the Photon Workshop slicer to prepare models for printing. Its structure resembles the very popular free slicer Chitubox.
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. Supports, of course, can be placed automatically and manually. It is possible to create and save profiles for different resins.
But during operation, you periodically have to deal with unpleasant flaws.
When creating a cavity in the model, the inner area is very rough, from a bunch of cubes.
The supports have a lot of settings, but at the same time they are automatically placed not very well.
And you can’t edit automatic support, you can only delete it. You can only move supports that have been manually set.
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, no one bothers to prepare models in Chitubox, place support in it, and then export them in STL format and cut them in Photon Workshop.
Before moving on to printing tests on Photon Zero, I would like to tell you about the second novelty in the Anycubic assortment. It is called Wash & Cure Machine . As the name suggests, it is designed for washing and re-illuminating models printed on photopolymer printers. It would seem that there is nothing special about it. But the first impression is deceiving. As you know, after printing, photopolymer models require post-processing. More precisely, rinsing from uncured resin in isopropyl alcohol and re-illuminating the model under ultraviolet light. This device greatly simplifies these procedures, and allows virtually no contact with resins during operation.
Wash & Cure Machine looks like a printer.
Below is a control unit with minimal controls.
In the center of this block is the motor.
Above the main unit is a rack on which UV LEDs are installed.
And from above it is all covered with a cap made of transparent yellow plastic that does not transmit ultraviolet light.
The first function of this device is flushing. For this, a large polypropylene container is included.
At the bottom of this container is an anodized aluminum impeller. In this case, it is attached to the ledge directly inside the container.
This impeller is driven by magnets by a motor located in the control unit, so to speak, remotely, without direct connection.
The flushing procedure is very simple. Pour isopropyl alcohol into the container. By the way, you need a lot of it, at least one and a half two liters. The maximum fits into the container about 4 liters. The container is installed on the control unit.
There are tabs on the top of the stand for different mounts of the printing platform, as well as for the metal mesh that comes with the kit.
There are two types of mounts. Short – can be useful if the container is filled to the top with alcohol and you need to rinse a tall model.
The second mount is height adjustable and allows the platform to be lowered down into the container.
These mounts work well with the Photon and Photon S printer platforms as they have a thumbscrew on top right on the platform. However, the Photon Zero platform can also be hung on them without fastening, it does not fall during the flushing process.
So, we remove the platform from the printer, install it on the mount, lower it to the desired height, if necessary.
On the control unit, select the Wash mode. We set the flushing time, 2, 4 or 6 minutes, and start by pressing the Start button.
The motor inside the block will spin up, spin the impeller in the container with magnets, and the alcohol will start to rotate, thereby washing the model.
When the procedure is completed, the device will notify you with a sound signal. You can then remove the washed model from the already clean platform.
If the platform of your printer does not fit the mount, or does not fit into the container, you can first remove the models from the platform and rinse them in a metal mesh.
However, it should be borne in mind that the model inside the mesh may start to rotate with the alcohol. As a result, small elements can be damaged on the mesh.
After rinsing, the container can be closed with a special sealed lid. This allows you not to pour the alcohol back into the bottle, but store it directly in the container.
The second operating mode is additional illumination. For this, a platform is included in the kit. It is installed on the same motor in the center of the control unit, only it is set in motion mechanically, without the use of magnets.
We install the platform, select the operating mode – Cure, and set the time. Do not forget to cover everything with a plastic cap. And click on Start. Rotating in front of the LEDs on the platform, the model is evenly illuminated and solidified.
Exposure and flushing times vary with each specific model and resin used. But in general, the total post-processing time of models is greatly reduced, and the process itself is greatly simplified.
Let’s move on to printing tests. We started our experiments with HarzLabs Model 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. But, fortunately, Anycubic has made a special file for Photon Zero to check exposure time, RERF is a 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. Models are numbered. And each of them is illuminated for a second longer than the previous one.
The RERF test prepared for printing is on the USB stick that comes with the printer. And it is designed for a range from 6 to 13 seconds. If you need a different range, you can start the file for printing and during the exposure of the first layers, directly through the printer menu, change the exposure time. The set parameter will be responsible for the first model, the time for the remaining 7 models will be calculated automatically.
For HarzLabs gray resi 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.
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, figures for board games, small technical models that do not require high precision, and the like. So we started with a small model of a knight with two swords. It is printed separately from the stand. Both the stand and the knight himself with supports fit together on the platform.
Printed without problems. Layer 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, all layers are stacked evenly.
The second model is the Snake Merchant. It is made so that you can print it without support at all, right on the platform. Moreover, the model has a huge number of small elements, patterns and details. A very good copy to understand what detail the printer can handle. It was printed almost to the full height of the printer, 145 mm.
On closer inspection, again, 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. Printing took, of course, quite a lot of time, about 10 hours. But this is quite normal for a model of this height.
The next one was filled with a similar resin HarzLabs Model Black , we also performed a RERF test with it and stopped at an exposure time of 10 seconds with a layer of 50 micrometers. The Minotaur was printed.
It was published with a lot of support. Most of them were removed 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 they 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.
The same resin was used to print the Adeptus Mechanicus emblem from the Warhammer 4000 universe. There were no problems with it either.
Above, you can see that a small air bubble got in during printing, but this is not the printer’s fault. We can say that this is just an accident.
And finally, Esun Standart Skin resin was poured . And they tried to print a rather popular model – the pi tower. She climbed onto the platform on a 50% scale.
It 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, as before, 50 micrometers. As you can see, the model consists of a huge number of small numbers. And they all printed perfectly and evenly. There is nothing to find fault with at all.
The latest model is the Nine-Tailed Demon. It is also printed without support. At the same time, it has complex, almost critical slopes. There were no problems with him either. 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, even though 8X anti-aliasing is.
Let’s summarize. Anycubic Photon Zero lacks stars from the sky. This is a printer of the cheapest segment and it would be simply stupid to expect it of phenomenal quality. However, even with its modest performance, the Photon Zero is capable of delivering a very 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. Anycubic Photon Zero can be recommended for those who want to try photopolymer printing without large investments and risks.
About Anycubic Wash & Cure Machine…. Of course, both of its functions can be performed manually, without too many problems. But with this device, working with a photopolymer printer becomes as comfortable and convenient as possible. There is almost no need to cover yourself with a huge amount of paper towels. You can practically not use rubber gloves, since you do not have to come into contact with the resin during operation. You have to breathe much less vapors of both alcohol and resins. Roughly speaking, if you print a lot and often, this device will simplify your tasks and allow you to fully enjoy photopolymer printing. And the best part is that Wash & Cure is a two-in-one device, at a very low cost you get both “flushing” and “additional lighting”. Yes, maybe the volume of the device is not that big,
Now the kit – Photon Zero printer and Wash & Cure device – you can get with a 5% discount in our online store. Moreover, after purchasing any printer, you will have a personal discount – you can always buy any resins with a 10% discount. And don’t forget about free shipping!
Watch the video version of the review on our Youtube channel
Checkout the Anycubic Photon Zero 3D Printer
Checkout for 2in1 Anycubic Wash & Cure Devices
Photopolymers used in the review:
Photopolymer HARZ Labs Model Black
Photopolymer HARZ Labs Model Gray
Photopolymer ESUN Standard Skin