5 Most Common Problems with the Anycubic Photon: Troubleshooting Guide
The Anycubic Photon is a small-but-mighty desktop resin printer that falls within many beginners' budgets, allowing makers to jump into the world of resin 3D printing without breaking the bank. Anycubic has earned a solid place in the hobbyist space as a reliable manufacturer of budget and midrange printers. Despite this printer's ease of use and accessible features, some issues are frequently brought up.
5 most common Anycubic Photon problems
- Inconsistent resin hardening
- Poor bed adhesion
- Build plate shifting
- Flaking or dirty prints
- “Elephant foot” base layers
Inconsistent resin hardening
Resin 3D printers function by layering resin on the build surface and exposing each layer to UV light to harden and cure it. Sometimes, the resulting print is sticky or has a “melted” surface appearance, which indicates that the resin was not properly cured before the print completed.
1. Deep clean the printer
Leftover partially cured resin can coat parts of the print mechanism and impair the resin deposition for subsequent prints, leading to inconsistent layers or resin buildup that does not cure properly.
Before attempting any other troubleshooting, completely clean the machine and the resin vat to remove any potential built up material. Isopropyl alcohol is the most widely used cleaning material for resin printers and parts alike.
To reduce the risk of resin hardening in the printer, ensure that ambient UV light does not fall on your workspace and thoroughly clean the resin vat when changing resins.
2. Adjust hardening settings
Unlike thermoplastic filament, resins can vary significantly in terms of hardening parameters owing to differences in color, opacity, and consistency. Because of this variance, we recommend running a test to calibrate your printer for each new resin type. Depending on the manufacturer and characteristics of the resin, you should also be able to find recommended settings prior to running this test based on user experiences.
Poor bed adhesion
Bed adhesion issues are a major obstacle for users of all printer types, but it can be particularly frustrating when using a resin printer due to the nature of the layer-based hardening required to establish solid parts. Many Photon users have reported prints sliding off the build plate during the print or even seeing the first layer shift before the next layers can be deposited.
1. Calibrate the build plate
To ensure good adhesion as the liquid resin is being deposited, there must be enough space to lay sufficient resin to “grip” the bed before curing.
Level the print bed from scratch, using the paper test to ensure that all corners of the print surface yield a similar amount of resistance.
First, move the nozzle to the left corner of the print bed. Next, place the piece of paper between the nozzle and the print bed. If you cannot get place the paper under the nozzle, slightly adjust the corner of the bed until it meets no resistance. Once the paper is in place, move the bed corner up in small increments. After each movement, gently move the paper. As soon as you feel resistance, stop adjusting the bed.
Repeat this process for the remaining three corners. After each corner has been calibrated, calibrate the bed again to make any necessary fine adjustments.
2. Texture the build surface
If leveling the bed was not enough to fix the adhesion problem, it’s likely that the resin is hardening before it can grip the print bed. Gently texturing the bed using 100 to 80 grit sandpaper is typically enough to promote adhesion.
Build plate shifting
Some users have reported that over time, the Photon’s build plate shifts or loosens, which leads to inconsistent layer deposition or improperly centered printing.
1. Remove and clean the build plate
Although the design of the printer makes it unlikely that use alone will loosen the build plate from its supports, frequent use or adjustments can still lead to slight shifts on the plate that only worsen as more prints are carried out.
Fully remove the build plate from the printer, disassemble it, and clean it thoroughly with isopropyl alcohol. Ensure that any connecting components and sockets are cleaned as well, as resin can get into these small areas and cause it to move over time.
After the deep clean, reinstall the plate and carry out a full bed leveling calibration.
2. Adjust screws securing the build plate and carriage arm
After cleaning and reinstalling the build plate, any shifting that persists should be minimal. To deal with slight inconsistencies in bed movement, try slightly tightening the grub screws securing the build plate and carriage arm.
Make sure that the tools you use fit these screws perfectly—any damage to the screw heads can cause similar problems when cleaning and adjusting these parts later on!
Flaking or dirty prints
One of the features of resin prints that makers love is their polished exteriors that avoid the layer-like look of FDM prints. Resin prints don’t always have this perfect exterior without a bit of post-processing work, however. While some minor blemishes are expected during printing and can be easily cleaned and buffed out, some Photon users have noticed that their prints have a flaky or dirty appearance out of the machine.
1. Clean old resin and resin vat
Partially cured resin left in the machine can impair the hardening process, leading to flaky, dry sections on otherwise normally dried prints.
First, remove all used resin from the last print. Clean the resin according to the manufacturer's instructions and ensure that no debris ended up in the resin.
Next, deep clean the resin vat, scraping off and removing any dried resin. When using alcohol to clean the vat, ensure that it dries fully before adding new resin as leftover alcohol or other cleaning solution can contaminate the resin and damage the print.
2. Calibrate UV hardening settings
Printing with non-optimized exposure settings can lead to certain parts of the print drying properly while others are still sticky, causing unsightly blemishes along the print surface.
First, input the recommended settings for the new resin. Then, run a few small calibration test prints until you find the settings that yield the cleanest surface. Note that depending on the material used, your print will still likely need some cleaning after printing before being ready to show off.
“Elephant foot” or misshapen base layers
Extended or misshapen base layers, sometimes called “elephant foot,” is a common problem with resin printers, particularly for larger or more complex prints. Longer exposure times for these prints can lead to over- or undercuring of some parts of the print, depending on how complicated the design is.
1. Add base supports
The golden rule of printing stable and clean resin models is adding base supports. Even if these impair the design, changes to the silhouette of the model can be addressed with some post-processing effort like sanding and cleaning.
2. Adjust the first layer settings
If the first layers still exhibit distortion after adding supports, it’s likely that the first layer settings are to blame, such as the bottom layers not having sufficient time to cure before the print progresses.
Try slightly increasing the bottom curing times to stabilize the lower layers. If minor distortion still occurs, simply add a few layers to the base or increase the support size.