Peopoly Phenom resin 3D printer review: Phenomenal in every sense

Resin printers may be the future, but the Phenom is the future of the future.

Dragon Chess Phenom Hero
(Image: © Windows Central)

For the last few months, I have been playing around with a printer that feels both very similar and very different. The Peopoly Phenom feels like a standard MSLA resin printer, like several I have recently reviewed, except it has one huge difference — it's enormous.

The size of the printer is not only impressive, but it's also made me rethink what it means to have a resin printer, and who it could benefit by having one of these fantastic machines in their lives.

What you'll love about Phenom by Peopoly

Flash Helmet (Image credit: Windows Central)

Flash Helmet (Image credit: Windows Central)

Flash Helmet (Image credit: Windows Central)

Source: Windows Central

I printed the Flash model you see above for an editor here, Russell Holly. His first helmet was produced on a small FDM printer by some friends, and the model from CAMACHOISBOSS had to be split in half to fit on the print bed. We've all been there, needing to cut a model up and make it fit the machine you have, and making it look whole again isn't easy. With the Phenom, I was able to print this full-size helmet in smooth Siraya Tech fast resin, in one single piece. Without the line down the center and some pretty excellent painting by me, the helmet looks as it should for a Flash cosplay.

The resin vat in the Phenom is massive, and can easily take one liter of resin

The Phenom handled this large print, taking 47 hours to print, and spat it out like it was nothing. It's easily the longest print I've done on a machine, and, astonishingly, it could do it in my garage with temperature changes from the low 40 degrees Fahrenheit to the high 70 degrees.

If you're a cosplayer, looking to create weapons and armor pieces with minimal sanding or gluing, then you should seriously consider investing in a Phenom.

Phenom Leonidas

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You may be worried, as I was, that a screen the size of the Phenoms couldn't possibly give you the level of detail required from an MSLA printer. However, the Phenom produces print quality as good as any printer I've used in the past year. With a screen resolution of 3840 x 2160 and the ability to use 8x antialiasing, the Phenom was capable of reproducing the details in every print I threw at it. From the very large, to the very small, the Phenom felt like it could handle the job, and still had more to give.

When you look at this Leonidas sculpture from Fotis Mint, you can see each hair in the plume of his helm, with the tiny cuts and scratches across his chest. The Phenom is even easy to print with, using Chitubox, the almost universal resin slicer, as its slicer and firmware. Hence, it's incredibly simple to load a model, hollow it, slice it, then print it. I love simplicity, especially when dealing with potentially hazardous materials.

What you'll dislike about Phenom by Peopoly

Phenom Waste

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

I don't have a ton of problems with the Peopoly Phenom, beyond some minor gripes. For example, to keep the weight down on the gigantic build plate, they opted for a flat top and flat bottom. Unfortunately, it's perfectly flat, and a fair amount of resin accumulates over time. If the printer were smaller, this wouldn't be a huge deal. But if you forget about it and take your print out before your scrape it off, you're going to be pouring uncured, toxic resin all over your shoes.

As soon as you turn the printer on, it sounds like a jetliner has just taken off and is flying directly through your skull

The other problem is the noise. This is not a machine you want anywhere that isn't a workshop. As soon as you turn the printer on, it sounds like a jetliner has just taken off, flying directly through your skull, and it never gets quieter. Peopoly has said it is looking at ways to reduce the sound, but if the massive fans weren't running, your LCD matrix would burn out, and the motherboard would fry on the first print. You get used to the noise — sort of.

The only other issue for some will be the cost of materials. The resin vat in the Phenom is massive, and can easily take one liter of resin. It's great if you want to print lots of pieces or one big creation, but not ideal if you're going to print a smaller model. Because of the surface area of the vat, you need to put at least 250ml of resin in to cover the bottom. In short, make sure you top up on resin.

Why the Phenom by Peopoly is a game-changer

Dragon Chess Phenom (Image credit: Windows Central)

Dragon Chess Phenom (Image credit: Windows Central)

Dragon Chess Phenom (Image credit: Windows Central)

Source: Windows Central

If you haven't seen Louise Driggers' work, you really should. She has made some fantastic pieces like Sir Pigglesby that she gives away for free on her My Mini Factory page, and recently made a set of models that shows how the Phenom can change the game for small businesses.

Louise made a set of 3d printable dragon chess pieces, purchasable so you can print them at home. She also sells the full chess set, including a board, that she has printed herself. The chess set is big though — 16 pieces for each side, 32 models in all — and to print them all takes a lot of time on a regular printer. Louise uses a standard size MSLA printer and can produce about two models at a time. With some quick math, it would take 120 hours of continuous printing for Louise to print an entire set of 32 chess pieces on her current machine.

On the Peopoly Phenom, it would take just 31 hours.

Because MSLA prints using the largest model as the time scale, you can print the entire chess set on just two build plates from the Phenom, with all tall pieces on one, and all the pawns on the other. That's 20 hours for the king plate and just 11 hours for the pawn plate.

Having a Phenom would mean Louise could produce four times more chess pieces per hour than she can currently. For a small business that makes models, that level of mass production cannot be understated. Having your own small-scale in your garage, one that can rapidly prototype new models as well as print them in bulk, could change the way we think about the manufacturing of art.

Should you buy Phenom by Peopoly 3D printer?

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Now, of course, $2,000 is a lot of money, but it isn't an unreasonable sum for a printer of this size and caliber. The Phenom prints extraordinarily well, and can print large models or lots of models with equal ease. But my issues with it are barely notable, and the positives far outweigh the downsides.

I would recommend the Phenom for anyone looking to take their MSLA resin printing to the next level. If you are a cosplayer and you want to make molds of your prints, this is an excellent printer to do so. And if you're going to mass-produce at a comfortable scale, one or two Phenoms would be ideal. And for me, I've enjoyed my time with the Phenom and will continue to use it to make awesome prints for my friends.

James Bricknell

James built his first PC when he was 13 and has never looked back. He can be found on Windows Central, usually in the corner where all the 3D printers are, or huddled around the Xbox playing the latest games.