Traditionally, resin 3D printers are small-scale printers that have tiny print areas compared to their FDM cousins. We've been blessed with some truly massive 3D resin printers like the Peopoly Phenom, but they tend to cost a lot, too.
We've recently started to see some appealing mid-sized printers that are large enough to make some serious models but small enough to keep the cost hobbyist friendly. Anycubic has slid into this mid-sized space quite nicely with the Mono X, a mid-sized printer that is as capable as it is striking.
Anycubic Photon Mono
Bottom line: The Mono X is a fantastic mid-sized resin 3D printer capable of some beautifully detailed prints. It offers a great balance between size and cost but needs a bit of fine-tuning to get it perfect.
- It's really big
- Works very fast
- It looks great
- 4K means no loss of detail
- Smooth buildplate can create errors
- The Wi-Fi refused to work
Anycubic Photon Mono X: What I like
I'm not normally one to go directly for looks — after all, it's the personality that counts — but the Anycubic Mono X's design is different enough from the competition to stand out nicely. The black case with silver accents looks really clean, and the etched title bar at the bottom of the machine is a nice touch. Even the bright yellow acrylic lid is cut with angled corners that give it an industrial feel. Anycubic is also using this design language in the Wash and Cure Plus, and I like the direction it's heading.
|Category||Anycubic Mono X|
|Build volume||120 x 192 x 245 mm|
|Display||4K mono LCD|
|Layer height||0.01mm - 0.2mm|
It's good that the Mono X looks so sleep because it's big — like, really big. The build area is a respectable 192-by-120-by-245mm, giving you a little more height in the Z-axis than the Elegoo Saturn, the Mono X's biggest competitor, but it's a massive 3.5 times bigger than the Anycubic Mono SE. The Mono SE is a typical size resin printer, so you can see how much more real estate you get with the Mono X.
As you can see from the images above, the Mono X is capable of some fantastic prints. While you can see some banding on the Vision bust from Fotis Mint, that was mainly my fault since I didn't support the model correctly, Even so, it's still a beautifully detailed print, and you can see the detail the Mono X is capable of. The Miles Morales Spider-Man is even more detailed, with each tooth on the zipper visible. There are even strands on the pull strings. Even smaller prints like the Bernie meme from Chaos Core Tech didn't lose definition, and the glasses that are always difficult to print came out really well.
The Mono X allows you to print considerably faster ... which reduces your print time considerably.
Lastly, let's talk about speed. 3D printing has always been a pretty slow way to manufacture anything, and while resin printing is often faster than FDM, it can still be painfully slow. It often takes 7-9 seconds per layer, and with models consisting of thousands of layers, that can mean day-long prints.
The Mono X mono screen allows you to print considerably faster — around 1.5-2 seconds per layer, which considerably reduces your print time. Even against other mono screened printers, 1.5-second layers are impressive. I printed the Vision bust on two different printers; one took 12 hours, while the Mono X only took eight.
Anycubic Photon Mono X: What could be better
There are very few things that I can complain about with the Mono X. The price point is not cheap, but a mid-sized printer priced below $1,000 is a good deal in my book, and the build quality is excellent. I have two main bones of contention: the "Wi-Fi connectivity" and the shiny buildplate.
Anycubic advertizes the Mono X has Wi-Fi connectivity — it even comes with a little ariel for you to attach inside the enclosure, allowing you to monitor the printer from an app it's developed. Still, I'll be damned if I could get it to work even once. The setup is confusing, involving printing .TXT files to the printer then connecting an app, but the app just wouldn't connect with any regularity. Wi-Fi is one of those gimmicks that seems like a great idea but often fails in execution. The only real benefit is knowing when your print is finished, and let's face it, you can do that with a stopwatch just as easily.
The other slight problem I had was with adhesion to the bed. This issue can often be found in 3D printers, and having a level bed is often the most likely cause. This time around, though, I struggled to get any resin to stick to the bed, even with it level and ready to go. In the end, I used a little 220 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface of the buildplate, and that seems to have sold the problem. The bed was just too slick for a lot of the resins I use. Like the Elegoo Saturn, other printers use a sand-blasted bed that has a far more grippy surface, and I would love to see Anycubic adopt that technique in the future.
What you need to know about the Wash and Cure Plus
One of the issues you get when you start printing larger 3D resin models is how to clean and cure them. With the Wash and Cure Plus from Anycubic, you won't need to worry about that at all. Like the Wash and Cure 2, the Plus takes you through the steps to get your model from raw off the printer to fully cured beauty. The, frankly, giant tank can be filled with IPA to clean the prints, while the metal cage stops it from hitting the propeller in the bottom of the vat. The propeller agitates the IPA, so it cleans the model, and you can set your own time as to how long it does that.
After the washing, the vat can be removed (remember to put the lid on first, kids; you don't want to be splashed with it), and the curing wheel can be put on. The curing platform has been improved over older iterations, with a raised bumps all over it. This stops the print from curing to the platform as the lights are shining. The Light array has also been improved with side-by-side UV lights and a cool hinge near the top. This lets you bend the light array down to cure your models' top or have it upright if your model is particularly tall.
Yes, you can make your own curing station, and that works fine, but the Wash and Cure Plus makes your entire 3D printing workflow infinitely easier and saves you the most precious thing you have: time. If you are looking to buy the Mono X, then I highly recommend ordering the Wash and Cure Plus to go with it. They are a match made in heaven.
The Anycubic Wash and Cure Plus will be available to preorder on April 16, 2021, with a special $169 price tag for the first 1,000 units. Then, it goes back down to its normal price of $249.
Anycubic Photon Mono X: Competition
The mid-sized resin printer space is a sparse one. There are very few printers in direct competition with the Mono X, though are a few alternatives out there.
The Elegoo Saturn is certainly a contender when choosing a mid-sized 4K printer since it's almost identical to the Mono X in every way. The Mono X does have about 45mm in extra Z height, which can make all the difference in some models. I've also found in testing that the Mono X is slightly faster than the Saturn, operating at about 1.5 seconds per layer, rather than 2.5 for the Saturn.
That being said, the Elegoo is several hundred dollars cheaper than the Mono X, at least when you can find one. The Mono X is readily available almost every day, whereas the Saturn is almost always out of stock.
Anycubic Photon Mono X: Should you buy?
You should buy this if ...
- You want to print larger models than a standard resin printer.
- You want to print more models per buildplate.
- You want fast, reliable prints.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You have limited space.
- You're on a budget.
These affordable mid-sized resin printers are going to be game-changers for a lot of people. Being able to print a resin model of comparable size to an FDM printer means you can create prints with a far greater level of detail without the added irritation of cutting them up first. The Mono X, especially coupled with the Wash and Cure Plus, is the perfect choice for this mid-size market. It's striking to look at, prints exceptionally detailed models, and does so at speeds I wouldn't have thought possible.
You should buy the Mono X if you are looking to expand on your resin printing empire or if you want to be able to produce larger models than you have seen before. The buildplate size also allows you to print nearly three and a half times more miniatures in one batch, improving your output if you are a small business. In fact, if you are a small business, then picking up a couple of these, as well as the Wash and Cure Plus, is a no-brainer in my eyes.
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