Review of the AnyCubic Photon M3 3D printer
One minute review
If you’re looking for an entry-level resin printer to get started in the world of 3D printing, you can’t do better than the AnyCubic Photon M3.
This easy-to-use machine can be assembled and calibrated in no time, even if you’re a complete novice. The instruction booklet will take you step by step, but when you get to the part where you are asked to print the provided test model, we recommend that you do not (more on this in the Performance section) .
With your AnyCubic Photon M3, you will receive a mask, latex gloves and some printing accessories like scrapers and resin funnels. The only thing missing is UV resin, but once you have it you’ll be good to go.
Place this machine in a well-ventilated workspace and you’ll be able to print incredibly detailed models with its 7.6-inch 4K+ LCD screen. The only downside when it comes to printing is that the maximum volume is a bit small at just 180 x 163.9 x 102.4 mm / 7 x 6.5 x 4 inches.
That said, given that the AnyCubic Photon M3 is priced at just $299 (about £275 / AU$480), this is a relatively minor limitation if you’re looking for a budget 3D printer – especially since the M3 makes relatively few compromises in other departments. .
- Easy to configure
- Compact machine, but poorly placed USB port
- Touchscreen control panel
The Photon M3 from AnyCubic is a single screw resin printer, with a yellow colored cover to prevent your liquid resin from prematurely curing due to external UV light.
The device arrives in a well-packaged box, with foam and plastic protecting it from bumps and scratches during shipping. Once opened, putting everything together only takes a few minutes.
There’s almost nothing to assemble – just attach the build plate and tray to the printer, and the screws are a breeze to install without any help. The calibration process is also simple if you follow the instructions.
On the front of the printer is the touchscreen control panel, and on the right side is the USB port, where you can plug a key containing the various designs you want to create.
This port is the source of our only major design issue, as we would prefer it to be at the front, to prevent the stick from sticking out in an awkward direction. If you have measured your workspace and you barely have enough space for this machine (it measures 425 x 269 x 256 mm / 16.7 x 10.6 x 10.1 inches), you may need rethink your choice of 3D printer, because you will need a few inches on the side to make room for the USB key.
Along with the printer, you get a few accessories in the box to help with your first builds. There are latex gloves to keep the resin off your hands, paper filters to help clean up the release, a face mask to provide some vapor protection, and a USB loaded with the software you need. for slicing STLs.
For the uninitiated, this software slices (or cuts) your 3D model (which is usually saved as an STL) into several hundred layers and bundles them into a separate file that the Photon M3 can read. When you then print this new file, the M3 will go layer by layer steadily forming the resin object.
In addition to the items above, you will also find two scrapers, one metal and one plastic. We recommend opting for the plastic scraper to remove your printed models from the build plate unless absolutely necessary, as the metal one can cause damage if you’re not careful. If you are trying to remove failed prints from the FEP sheet in the resin tank, completely ignore the metal scraper.
- 7.6-inch 4K+ LCD screen
- Includes Photon Workshop slicing software on USB drive
- No air filter or rubber seal
The Photon M3 uses a 7.6-inch LCD screen with 4K+ resolution (4096 x 2560 pixels). You’ll get an XY resolution of 0.04mm, or 40 microns – here the smaller the number the better, as this leads to finer detail in your prints.
Unlike more high-end resin printers, the AnyCubic Photon M3 does not have any type of air filter or rubber seal, so in addition to wearing gloves and a mask, you will need to make sure to use it in a well-ventilated room. You also won’t want to spend a lot of time in the same space without a mask – so if your workshop doubles as a home office, you might want to rethink your layout a bit (or opt for a printer with its own filter ).
Before you start printing the build plate will need to be leveled and helpfully the Photon M3 has a feature that can do this automatically. If you’ve followed the instructions, you’ll calibrate it as part of the setup process, but if you haven’t, you’ll only need one tool: a plain sheet of paper (one is included in the box).
Simply remove the resin tank, place the paper directly on top of the screen, open the Z axis settings and press the home button. The build plate will gently lower until it is lightly pressed against the paper; you then hit the Z=0 option and you’re done – raise the bed, remove the paper and reinstall the tray.
Last but not least, AnyCubic’s Photon Workshop slicing software (which is loaded onto the built-in USB key). This digital tool offers everything you need to prepare prints, including basic model manipulation to scale them up/down and move them around the build plate. You can also add supports to reduce the chances of a print failing, but be careful with the automatic support option.
This feature is useful, but can be a bit hit or miss – you may need to move supports around or add/remove to get the best quality prints possible. You’ll also need to make sure the settings are calibrated to your printer model and the resin you’re using, but this is fairly easy to change within the app.
- Highly detailed and excellent quality prints
- Perfect for Dungeons and Dragons figures and small statuettes
- Smaller resin tray limits maximum model size
Using AnyCubic’s own white colored resin, we put the Photon M3 through its paces by printing standard ‘torture tests’ or benchmarks if you prefer. In each instance, the printer performed admirably; our larger structures (like this castle and this bridge) were created without noticeable distortion, and the finer details of the AmeraLabs city were rendered perfectly.
We got the same excellent print quality when we tried to print standard mini roleplays of characters from our Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The details on our bard’s mustachioed face and intricate clothing have been expertly translated from the digital file into real life, and our winged paladin looks like it wants to take off.
Our only issue is that the Photon M3’s resin top is a bit smaller than some might like. If you’re hoping to create an epic scale model to adorn your desk or want to create life-size costume props in one piece, you can opt for one of the larger printers from AnyCubic.
You’ll also want to be careful when printing AnyCubic’s test model. Because the model is built directly on the build plate, removing it without damaging anything can be a nightmare.
The structure is neat, but we recommend loading the STL file into Photon Workshop first. Once loaded, lift the digital bed model approximately 5mm, then use the auto-platform function to have it held aloft by easy-to-remove supports.
If you end up with the model cemented to your build plate, don’t panic. You can either grab a razor window scraper that might just slide underneath, or you can pour boiling water over the plate to try and dislodge the pattern.