Peopoly Phenom 3D Printer Review (2021)

Among the brightest novelties of this year are the Peopoly Phenom series photopolymer 3D printers . Peopoly revolutionized the industry with high-precision MSLA (LCD + LED) printers with a really large print area and affordable price for such printers.

But first things first …

In 2017, Hong Kong-based startup Peopoly unveiled its first 3D printer, Moai, on Kickstarter, receiving a quarter of a million dollars in funding. This 3D printer is still one of the most affordable SLA printers, followed by the Moai 200 and Moai 130 to print even larger models.

Taking into account their previous experience, at the end of 2019, Peopoly released the Phenom 3D printer , and in March 2020, they expanded the line with the Phenom L and Phenom Noir models , already using MSLA technology.

Size matters

As we said earlier, the most important feature of Peopoly printers that distinguishes them from competitors is a huge construction area, many times higher than other models of desktop printers:

276x155x400 mm for Phenom, 345.6×194.4×400 mm for Phenom L and 293.76×165.25 x 400 mm for Noir.

Thanks to its modular design and ease of use, it is aimed at small and medium businesses as well as professional 3D makers who are interested in printing one-piece large objects or one-time printing of a large number of small models.

Today we will tell you in detail about the foundational model in the series, the Phenom 3D printer, which was chosen as the best printer of the year in 2020 by authoritative independent 3D resources such as all3dp.com, and say a few words about the new Phenom L and Phenom Noir printers.

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Phenom Series 3D Printer Comparison Chart

Peopoly Phenom L  Peopoly Phenom Noir Phenom
Price 299 000 ₽ 329 000 ₽ 195 000 ₽
LCD resolution 3840×2160 (UHD) 4K 3840×2160 (UHD) 4K 3840×2160 (UHD) 4K
Plot area size 345.6х194.4х400 mm 293.76х165.24х400 mm 276.48х155.52х400 mm
XY-axis positioning accuracy 90 microns 77 microns 72 microns
Light source LCD + LED mono LCD + LED LCD + LED
Print speed 15-20 mm / h from 30 mm / h 10-15 mm / h
Display 4.3 “, color, touch 4.3 “, color, touch 4.3 “, color, touch
Connection interface Ethernet / USB Ethernet / USB Ethernet / USB
power usage 24V 6A 24V 6A 24V 6A
Weight (without packaging) 58 kg 43 kg 42 kg
Dimensions (without packaging) 525х395х780 mm 465х370х780 mm 452x364x780 mm

Phenom L

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It is a new addition to the Phenom series, which boasts 50% more print volume than the original Phenom, with a build area of ​​345 x 194 x 400mm. It is also said to print about 20% faster than Phenom. He has a new work platform designed specifically for printing large models, which will simplify the workflow.

Phenom Noir

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The Phenom Noir was designed with speed in mind. By using a monochrome LCD panel, UV loss is significantly reduced, which shortens printing times. Peopoly claims that by using Noir in combination with the company’s resin, an 80% to 100% increase in print speed is possible over the current Phenom.

Also, the life of the Noir LCD panel is 3-4 times longer thanks to the new cooling system. The printer has a print size of 293 x 165 x 400mm, which is about 12% larger than the original Phenom.

Peopoly Phenom

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Printing technology

Why did Peopoly decide to move away from SLA exposure to MSLA?

Both technologies use ultraviolet light to cure the photopolymer resin. The key difference is that where the SLA laser system illuminates each point of the layer in turn, the MSLA displays the entire layer on the LCD through which UV light from the LED array shines.

By effectively curing one layer at a time, MSLA is a faster method for making large (or large numbers) objects.

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12.5-inch 4K Peopoly Phenom LCD Screen

Peopoly Phenom features a 12.5-inch 4K resolution LCD screen with a UV LED panel underneath. Between them is a special lens designed to evenly distribute light over the work surface and, according to Peopoly, block infrared radiation from the lamps.

Combined with an array of fans and a heatsink, great care has been taken to maintain a consistently low operating temperature for the LCD screen, one of the weak points of MSLA technology. Long-term exposure to heat will destroy the liquid crystals of the LCD.

Using such a large LCD panel and requiring a lot of infrared radiation to illuminate the entire area generates a lot of heat. Peopoly took steps to extend the panel’s lifespan and installed large and therefore loud fans. It also helps to prolong the life of the constant filling of the resin bath as it acts as a cooling element for the LCD during operation.

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The lifespan of the LCD-display from Peopoly Phenom is from 200 to 800 hours (400 on average), after the expiration, you can purchase Peopoly branded panels for replacement. Based on discussions on the Peopoly forums and other community portals, panel replacement takes no more than 30 minutes.

Printer appearance

Externally, Phenom looks very simple, its size is, quite a bit, 452 x 364 x 780 mm. When you open the door for the first time, it seems like it is too flimsy for such a solid device, but don’t let that fool you. Peopoly Phenom is reliable where it matters. Take, for example, the robust work platform cantilever arm or the Z-axis drive with its heavy-duty ball screw and linear guide rails.

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The printer weighs 42 kg, which can be difficult to unpack, but it gives excellent stability when working with it.

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The front panel of the Phenom features a 4.3-inch color touchscreen with simple ChiTu firmware. From this screen, you control all the functions of the 3D printer, including moving the print bed up and down, adjusting the UV brightness, and starting and stopping printing. During printing, the user interface provides complete information including printing time, total number of layers, rendering of each layer as it is printed,

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Connection interface

For some reason, Peopoly did not provide their printers with a Wi-Fi module, Phenom connects via USB and Ethernet. This may affect the usability for some users, although it has no effect on the result.

It would also be a good idea to equip the printer with a resin level indicator based on the size of the objects you can print on.

Installing and configuring the printer

The Peopoly Phenom printer is delivered fully assembled and ready for use.

Just insert the resin bath, install the print bed, plug in the power supply and you’re done.

Although the printer is calibrated at the factory, the calibration may have lost during shipping and it is better to do this procedure again. The build platform is pre-calibrated manually using a sheet of paper, as is the case with most of these printers. Place a sheet of paper on the LCD screen, lower the platform down and use the screws to fix the platform at the correct distance from the screen.

Materials

Peopoly does not place restrictions on which resins you can use with Phenom, however different photopolymers require different settings, so you will need to adjust parameters (specifically LED power and exposure time) for different resin types. Peopoly maintains a list of  recommended settings  on  Google,  and  there is an active community of users on the  Peopoly forums who also share their settings.

Printing

Below are photos of the printed models and comments on them from the experts of all3dp.com.

The first printed model is the Peopoly test cube that came with the included USB stick. Printed from the material that also came in the kit – Peopoly Deft Resin.

The test print lasted 13 hours and caused almost no problems. The printer handled fine mesh details very well, but the only drawback is that the edges of the cube were slightly curved. Through trial and error, including leveling the working platform, it was possible to correct the situation.

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After recalibration, the test cube turned out to be flat on the sides (left) versus curved on the first try (right).

The Peopoly Phenom 4K LCD screen has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, which gives it an XY positioning accuracy of 72 microns, which does not seem to be as good a result for printing small model details as compared to other photopolymer printers. But you can see for yourself that even the smallest models printed on the Phenom are detailed and accurate enough.

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But let’s be honest, when printing on a giant like Peopoly Phenom, you are unlikely to be focused on printing small figures only.

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With a build height of 40 cm, Phenom allows you to print impressive designs in one piece.

When printing some models, all3dp.com experts had problems with the adhesion of the first layer to the platform, the models either partially detached from the printed surface, or fell entirely into the bath.

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After lightly sanding the printed surface and adjusting the exposure time of the first layers, the situation improved significantly. It takes some time to select the correct settings so that later the print results will consistently please you.

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Below is a printed mechanism from the Peopoly Phenom review from tomsguide.com

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Gear teeth and screw threads are well aligned with each other

And these are the Peopoly Phenom printed models from the review by James Bricknell at www.windowscentral.com :

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James printed out the Flash helmet you see above. With the help of Phenom, he was able to print a full-size helmet in its entirety, without the need to glue and fit it. Printing lasted 47 hours and there were no problems in the process. He highly recommends the Phenom printer also for cosplayers for making weapons and armor with minimal sanding and glueing.

James also gave an interesting example in his review of how you can build a business with Peopoly Phenom.

3D designer Louise Driggers has created a set of dragon chess pieces. You can take the models from her or buy a ready-made printed set of chess, including a board, which she prints herself. There are a total of 32 models in the set, and to print them on a standard size printer, Louise will need 120 hours of continuous printing to make the entire set. On Peopoly Phenom it only takes 31 hours, which is significantly faster.

For a small business like this, this level of mass production cannot be underestimated.

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Slicer

Peopoly has ditched the Asura slicer designed for the Moai series of printers, opting instead for the well-established and popular ChiTuBox slicer that many 3D printer manufacturers work with. But you can also use any other 3D printing slicer.

ChiTuBox is a slicer specially designed for preparing 3D models for printing on printers with MSLA technology. Although at first glance slicers for FDM and photopolymer 3D printers may look the same, their capabilities differ significantly.

ChiTuBox offers a function that allows one click to create a cavity within the model, leaving a user-defined wall thickness, which is important when printing on photopolymer printers.

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Another beneficial effect of hollow models is the reduction of the UV radiation area, theoretically extending the life of the panel.

It is also possible to create a hole that will allow the liquid resin to drain if it suddenly gets stuck in the hollow model. The ChiTuBox even allows you to print the hole plug separately. This way, you can seal the model with a plug and a UV lamp.

Another prerequisite for successful printing with photopolymers is the ability to create the required number of supports.

The function of creating automatic supports in ChiTuBox is sufficient in most cases. But sometimes it is necessary to add supports manually for certain protruding elements, or if you wish to increase the chances of successful printing for a complex model.

The ability to select the strength of the supports is very useful. Depending on the size of your model, you can have complex or thick supports, which reduces the number of footprints when removing supports.

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Thick and thin supports on the same model

While many useful features make ChiTuBox a well-suited slicer for photopolymer printers, it has some drawbacks.

First, on not powerful computers ChiTuBox encounters difficulties when working with a large number of models at the same time, it can freeze or shut down.

Another drawback, not related to the ChiTuBox slicer itself, but to the specific ChiTu firmware Phenom runs on, is that it uses a somewhat outdated file format (.cbddlp). The file sizes are quite large. Other modern photopolymer printers, such as the Elegoo Mars Pro, which also work with ChiTu firmware, use the newer and lighter .ctb file format. There is a noticeable difference when writing a file of, say, several hundred kilobytes, compared to six hundred megabytes for the Phenom.

Our findings

Peopoly Phenom impresses with its print quality, ease of use, robust construction and, of course, massive print volume surpassing most of its competitors.

Although the print resolution may not be as high as some other photopolymer printers, the difference is barely visible to the naked eye and does not plead for the dignity of the printer.

With a price tag of 195,000 rubles, you can bet the Peopoly Phenom could be considered a starter photopolymer 3D printer. But it will become a beloved and reliable workhorse for professional craftsmen or small and medium-sized businesses needing to produce large-scale finished parts, objects or prototypes in large batches. Just make sure your computer is powerful enough to prepare your files in the slicer, change the LCD panel and bathtub film in time, and get creative!

In fact, this is a unique proposition for the given price – a desktop photopolymer printer that prints in the same sizes and with the same detail as many industrial machines with a price of a million or more.

Yes, it is loud enough and it is better not to put it in the bedroom or living room, but these are such trifles compared to its advantages.

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