Peopoly Phenom Review: Phenomenally Large, Stunning Prints
Since releasing the Maoi, Peopoly has learned from its wins and losses as well as community feedback, giving us the Peopoly Phenom.
In typical Peopoly fashion, the new Phenom is an affordable and modular piece, appealing to both well-versed makers and businesses.
- Massive build volume
- Easy bed leveling
- Responsive UI
- Adhesion problems
- Loud fans
- Fill indicator missing
The Peopoly Phenom offers a print volume that rivals even the best desktop resin printers. The build plate is around five times the size of the average resin printer. It is capable of producing prints up to 40 cm in height, resulting in an overall print volume about 14 times larger than the Elegoo Mars and similar budget resin printers. The result? Huge, unified prints.
In a departure from the well-loved SLA systems produced by Peopoly in the past, the Phenom is outfitted with Masked Stereolithography Apparatus (MSLA) technology.
Both technologies utilize UV light to solidify photosensitive liquid resin. The key difference is that where a laser SLA system traces every element of a layer in sequence to harden the resin, MSLA instead exposes the entire layer on its LCD through which UV light from an array of LEDs shines.
By curing a single layer at a time, MSLA 3D printing can be used to rapidly produce high-quality, large prints.
The Peopoly Phenom is equipped with a 12.5-inch 4K resolution LCD screen and a UV-LED panel underneath it. A custom lens sits between them, designed to distribute light evenly across the build plate and block infrared heat from the lamps.
Paired with a fan array and heat sink, significant attention has been paid toward maintaining low operating temperatures for the LCD screen, addressing a known issue in MSLA technology. When exposed to heat over long periods, the liquid crystals in LCD systems are prone to deterioration.
With an LCD panel of this size that requires a significant amount of light edge-to-edge, printing generates a lot of heat. Peopoly addressed this issue with huge and very loud fans. The company also formulated a special DEFT resin for use with the Phenom, which is characterized by a low curing-per-layer time, thus reducing the overall printing time and allowing for reduced heat exposure.
While lifespan-improving measures have been included in this design, certain components of 3D printer models will simply degrade over time. Peopoly offers replacement panels for $99 that should require only 30 minutes to install.
The printer’s exterior ends up at 452 x 364 x 780 mm. For the size, the Phenom’s door is underwhelming in sturdiness. However, the Peopoly Phenom is robust where it matters. The cantilever build plate arm and the Z-axis drive, with its heavy-duty ball screw and linear rails, both exhibit the overall structural integrity of the machine, which should alleviate any worries.
The 4.3-inch color touchscreen and the ChiTu firmware is responsive and easy to use. While printing, the UI provides a lot of information including the print time, total number of layers, and live visualization of each layer as it is printed.
The Phenom’s connectivity is somewhat limited for this tier of printers. While it includes USB and Ethernet ports, it lacks WiFi capabilities.
Another design drawback is the printer’s lack of a fill level indicator. While it may not be the most reasonable to expect a built-in resin sensor to indicate low resin levels, a manual fill level indicator would be useful for large prints.
The Phenom is sold ready to use. Upon unboxing, the user only needs to attach the resin vat, mount the printing bed, manually calibrate the printing plate, and plug in the machine before printing.
Although the Phenom 3D printer is leveled prior to shipping, releveling is recommended to ensure precision and consistency in prints.
The Phenom moved away from the old slicer used for the Moai, instead being outfitted the well-loved ChiTuBox slicer.
ChiTuBox is specifically designed to slice 3D models in MSLA resin systems. The most critical factor in resin 3D printing is ‘hollowing’. ChiTuBox offers a function to one-click hollow a model with user-defined wall thickness.
On an MSLA system, hollowing doesn’t reduce printing time, but it does reduce the amount of material required for a print and increase the likelihood of print success by mitigating common issues that occur while layer shifting. Another beneficial effect of hollow printing is the reduced UV-exposed area, which can prolong a panel’s lifetime.
This printer is also equipped with a ‘dig hole’ function, which allows the liquid resin to drain. ChiTuBox also allows the user to fill the holes separately.
Another important feature for successful resin prints is the ability to configure sufficient support structures. ChiTuBox’s automatic support function is usually sufficient for this, but it also allows the easy addition of additional supports to cover overhanging features not picked up by the software. Users can also choose the support strength. Depending on the print size, you can either have intricate or thick support strands, reducing the number of dimples that tend to affect resin prints.
While this slicer is equipped with great features that improve the overall resin printing process, there are some notable downsides.
On the average computer, ChiTuBox struggles when handling several models, which is critical in batch printing. At more than a dozen miniature figurines, ChiTuBox is prone to crashing. For a printer of this scale, this seems like a central flaw.
Moreover, the ChiTu firmware on which the Phenom runs has a somewhat outdated file format (.cbddlp). The 3d printer files are quite large. This printer’s contemporaries, such as Elegoo’s Mars Pro, which also runs the ChiTu firmware, use the newer and more compact .ctb file format. This difference is noticeable when producing massive files that can add to the processing issues.
Is it Worth it?
The Peopoly Phenom yields high-quality prints while being easy to use and solidly built with an obvious print volume advantage over many of its competitors.
While the printing resolution may not be as high as on other resin printers, the difference is barely perceptible.
For around $1,800, the Peopoly Phenom doesn’t stand as a starter 3D resin printer. This Peopoly machine is geared toward professionals and expert makers. For SMEs looking to manufacture on a medium scale, the Phenom is a solid option thanks to the large build area it offers.
The Phenom also offers the possibility of large resin prints for an attainable price. There are few machines that achieve this ability–price balance, which makes it an attractive option for hobbyists looking for this level of detail and scale.
You may want to put it somewhere that won’t drive you crazy when those fans get loud, though.
- Technology: Masked Stereolithography (MSLA)
- Year: 2019
- Assembly: Assembled
- Max. Build Size: 276 x 155 x 400 mm
- Max. Build Volume: 11.7 l
- Panel: 12.5 in 4K LCD
- Pixel Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels
- XY Resolution: 72 microns
- Bed leveling: Manual
- Resin Vat Volume: 1.8 kg
- Touchscreen: 4.3 in color touchscreen
- Connectivity: USB, Ethernet
- Resin sensor: No
- Camera: No
- Materials: 405 nm UV resin
- Third-party Resin: Yes
- Recommended slicer: ChituBox
- Operating system: Windows / Mac OSX /Linux
- File types: OBJ, AMF, & 3D STL files
Dimensions and Weight
- Frame dimensions: 452 x 364 x 780 mm
- Weight: 42 kg