Anycubic Photon

I randomly saw a Twitter acquaintance posting about how these SLA printers were currently on offer direct from the manufacturer and couldn't resist.

My now incorrect world view includes SLA 3D printers being too expensive for casual hobbyists to buy and I'm glad this has changed.

As of Autumn 2019 you can pick one of these up for ~£275, which is around the same price as an effective FDM printer like a Creality CR-10. The build volume is tiny but if you're buying an SLA printer for the surface detail it can handle you probably aren't making things much bigger than would fit in the palm of your hand anyway.

A good thing about these specific printers is they are a few years old and have built up a strong community around them. This is helped by the fact it's a based around a generic controller board made by CBD Technology meaning it's not 100% locked to support by Anycubic. There is a newer AnyCubic Photon S which isn't markedly improved and suffers from having to use a proprietary slicer from AnyCubic.

The community has a lot of advice, tips and mods and one of the first things I did was to enable the onboard network port which allows you to upload things to the printer over the network. The Duet3D board in my old RepRapPro has spoiled me and messing around with swapping USB sticks or SD cards to provide files for printing seems quaint.

I don't have an immediate clear use for this but there have been times in the past where I want to print something small and detailed that my FDM printer can't manage. The first thing I'll probably try is some custom keycaps for some small handheld devices I would like to make.

These cheap SLA printers work by having a very thin flexible non-stick membrane in the bottom of the vat of resin. As each layer is printed, the plate moves up, the membrane flexes and this peels the print off this membrane. It's quite fragile and both the membrane and screen are considered consumables. So this won't get used for any high volume work.

Once printed the resin is not 100% cured and a strong UV source is needed to finish the job. I've left my test print in the sun for a few days, but I'll need to sort myself out a small curing cabinet.

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