The Anycubic Photon Ultra is the latest offering from Anycubic. The brand's reputation for 3D printers has steadily grown to make them one of the most recognisable and trusted brands in the 3D printing arena, with its Photon series being particularly well thought of due to excellent build quality, good support and great print results.
The Photon Ultra has been co-engineered with Texas Instruments to introduce Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology into the desktop 3D printer industry. You can find the perfect 3D printing method for your needs in our rundown of the best 3D printers (opens in new tab). But for now, let's see if Anycubic has knocked it out of the park once again with the Photon Ultra.
Photon Ultra 3D printer: DLP system
Anycubic's Photon Ultra breaks from the tradition of using LCD screens to mask a light that cures the resin, instead opting for a DLP system, co-developed with Texas Instruments. The benefits of this method of exposure are clear. The maintenance of such devices is minimal, as the DLP is far longer lasting than the screen. More importantly the resolution, while sounding low, as 720p, actually produces detail with greater precision than a 4k screen type printer.
The DLP system is housed in a familiar Anycubic style housing, which is solidly built and suitable for desktop use. A touch screen control panel is used for controlling the printer, with a USB port on the side for transferring files. No wifi here but that’s a small price to pay for the prints it delivers.
Photon Ultra 3D printer: printing
A small resin tank is placed and tightened down to the glass panel, filled with one of the many resins on the market, then the cover is replaced, which is a separate item here, unlike the hinged doors of some other Photons, then the print bed is lowered into the resin, lifting as each layer is exposed and cured. There is very little in the way of mechanical noise from the Ultra, as it runs cool enough to not require fans, meaning long prints can be left running overnight, even in a quiet house.
The prints themselves are phenomenal. The detail is clear and crisp, with no visible layer lines, so clean up is a doddle, especially if you use Anycubic’s all in one wash and cure machine, reducing the need for moving tanks of alcohol. The DLP method of exposing means that not only does each layer cure in under 2 seconds but also that there is no bleed so often found with LCD screens, which is what helps this printer excel at even the finest details.
Photon Ultra 3D printer: volume
The print volume isn’t massive but it is more than enough for tabletop miniatures, collectables and jewellers and there are many types of resin that it is compatible with too. If you need massive volumes, Anycubic's Mono X printer is also excellent.
Anycubic offers its own slicing software, which is simple to use but does a good job, with previews and the usual tools for adding supports and for placing the project on the print bed.
Photon Ultra 3D printer: should you buy it?
All in all, the Photon Ultra is one of the best 3D printers on the market and bar far the best win this price bracket. It was launched as a Kickstarter with a required funding level of £72k but saw a very successful first few days reaching over a million, which speaks for itself.
Anycubic's Photon Ultra 3D printer is currently available to pre-order from Kickstarter. There are several early bird deals available starting with pledges of $499 (about £365).