Anycubic has an extensive lineup of resin 3D printers and today they added the Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K to their lineup. This printer has Anycubic's highest resolution LCD panel to date. Anycubic was kind enough to send us a unit to review and I put the new Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K to the test.
Full disclosure: Anycubic provided me with the Photon Mono X 6K for this review. But, as always, this review is as honest and unbiased as possible.
The new Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K is an upgraded version of the Anycubic Photon Mono X, which I reviewed recently. I will do my best to describe the benefits of the Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K compared to the Anycubic Photon Mono X.
As the name suggests, the Mono X 6K has a 6K (5760 x 3600) resolution monochrome LCD panel. That results in an XY pixel size of 34.4 μm. Compare that to the Mono X's 4K (3840 x 2400) monochrome LCD panel with an XY pixel size of 50 μm. So each pixel is 31.2% smaller, resulting in finer details in the XY plane.
The 6K LCD panel is also a tiny bit larger than the 4K LCD panel. That means you get a very slightly bigger build volume: 197 x 122.8 x 245 mm compared to 192 x 120 x 245 mm. That isn't enough to make a practical difference to many people, but it is worth noting.
Aside from the LCD panels, the two machines are almost identical. They're the same size and weight. If you removed the placards from the fronts of the machines, you wouldn't be able to distinguish between them. They also have the same touchscreen interface.
The exception is the build platform. The Mono X had a simple brushed aluminum build surface. That worked well, but Anycubic upgraded the Mono X 6K with a new laser-engraved build surface. It has a texturized checkerboard pattern that dramatically improves adhesion.
Parts now have a strong grip on the surface and that surface will impart a subtle checkboard pattern onto your part. But if you lift your parts up on supports, as is often recommended, it won't matter because that pattern will only show up on your raft.
What you're here to find out, of course, is if the Mono X 6K produces better quality prints than the Mono X. The Mono X already created stellar prints, with invisible layer lines, smooth surfaces, and fine details. The Mono X 6K should be better, right?
I started by printing the provided test model, which is the same Anycubic lattice cube that came with the Mono X. But they scaled the model down and the quality looked identical between the two.
I then printed a whole army of 28mm miniature roleplaying figurines on one plate. They all looked fantastic, as expected. All of the models were flawless and all the designed details were present. But that would have been the case with the Mono X 4K, as well.
To compare the two printers 1:1, I printed the AmeraLabs Town torture test model on both machines. Both prints were the same size and used the default slicing settings provided in Photon Workshop. I set the UV power on both machines to 80% and used brand new resin from the same bottle, starting both prints at the same time.
The first thing I noticed was that the new Mono X 6K was printing far slower than the Mono X. The AmeraLabs town took 1 hour and 26 minutes on the Mono X 6K, but only 1 hour and 4 minutes on the Mono X.
After examining the settings, I came to the conclusion that this is likely because Anycubic slowed down lift acceleration speeds. I assume that they did so in order to reduce peeling forces between the part and the FEP vat film. Lift speeds and distance settings were identical between the machines. While I think reducing the acceleration was a good choice, users should know that the time increase adds up for long prints.
Upon inspecting the completed prints, I found that I couldn't spot many differences. In a couple of areas, I could pick out some very subtle improvements on the model from the Mono X 6K, but they were quite hard to see. In a couple of areas, the print from the Mono X actually looked a bit better — likely a quirk of the anti-aliasing or just the way the features lined up with pixels.
I then decided to try to push the Mono X 6K to its limits with a large sculpture — the kind of model that takes advantage of the printer's generous build volume and its fidelity. For that test, I printed this fantastic model of Oh Il-nam from Squid Game (created by 3DOFSAN).
For this print, I created a custom 25 μm slicing profile that I tuned as much as possible. As you can see, the results were phenomenal. Every wrinkle of Oh Il-nam's face is visible and you can even see the texture of his shirt. It was perfect.
But I still hadn't answered the question of whether the Mono X 6K can print noticeably better than the Mono X. So for my final test, I again printed a pair of models at the same size and with default settings. I used this model of the Eiffel Tower scaled down to 75%. The trusses in the tower are very fine at this size, so they put the printers to the test.
Right off the bat, you'll notice that the Mono X's print had problems. One leg of the tower pulled off of the build surface during printing. The other snapped off when I was removing it. The Mono X 6K's print was great, with only a minor break from my removal.
Side-by-side, these prints do a great job of illustrating the benefits of the Mono X 6K's higher resolution. For example, the trusses at the top of the tower are very small and become muddled on the print from the Mono X, but they're clear and distinct on the print from the Mono X 6K. The railing supports, a mere hair's thickness, failed in several places on the Mono X, but came through on the Mono X 6K. The tip of the tower also turned out visibly better on the Mono X 6K.
That leads us to the question: should you buy the Anycubic Photon Mono X or the Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K? If you already own the former, should you upgrade to the latter?
My advice, if you already own the Photon Mono X, would be to stick with that. The Photon Mono X 6K provides a minor fidelity improvement, but not enough to justify the upgrade for most people.
But if you're already in the market for a new MSLA resin 3D printer, the new Anycubic Photon Mono X 6K is worth the purchase. It is only a little more expensive than the Mono X, but gives you a noticeable resolution increase.