[UPDATED 7/27: The replacement printer has the same issues. Don't buy this printer. Ugh.]
[UPDATED 7/26: Received a new one and it also has issues. Light uniformity is horrible and has the grid line issue again, will test print today. Added a picture of my original Mono X to show how it's supposed to look like.]
[UPDATED 7/20: New defect and added video]
Even after having to deal with some hardware defects, my original Photon Mono X has been a great workhorse for over a year, spitting out good quality prints without fail.
I decided to set aside my bad experiences with Anycubic and upgrade to the higher-resolution 6K model.
I've been resin printing in general for over 2 years now and have used dozens of different printers, setting up the PMX6K was as easy as any other resin printer.
This metal machine is built like a tank, I'm just as happy with it as the older PMX in that regard. They share almost all the same parts after all, even the power adapter and upside-down USB port are the same.
While the printer isn't actively printing anything, the fans are all off, so it's completely quiet. As soon as the UVLEDs turn on, the fans roar to life. The fans are a little louder than the PMX's, but the noise is still tolerable.
[SLICER + RESIN SETTINGS]
I used Chitubox 1.9.3 to slice a test file for the PMX6K. The printer is using a "HC" motherboard, if you need to know. (There is another version of the PMX6K using a "H7" motherboard.)
The PMX6K supports TSMC (two stage motor control), but you don't have to use it if you don't want to. I prefer the simpler settings.
And another note for experienced users, there are no longer forced Transition Layers on the PMX6K, like there were on the original PMX. In Chitubox you can set Transition Layers to 0. This lets you print stuff directly on the build plate and use Tolerance Compensation without Transition Layers interfering.
Some important resin settings can be adjusted on the machine while printing, like Layer Exposure Time and Lift Height. Not a huge boon to new users, but this is useful for more experienced users who need to make adjustments on the fly.
[UVLED POWER %]
Anycubic claims the PMX6K shines more light through the screen than the PMX. So to test this, I set the PMX6K's Power Level to 80%, the same as it is on my PMX. This means I should need slightly lower exposure times than what I use on the PMX.
A few test prints confirmed the claim. With both machines set to the same Power Level, the PMX6K cures resin faster. You can probably use DLP and wax casting resins comfortably with this printer.
After the machine was done printing, I quickly discovered the death grip the buildplate's texture can have on a print! I actually had to chop off around 20 seconds from the Bottom Exposure of one of my resins.
It's basically a normal sandblasted plate, like something you'd see in an Elegoo machine, with the addition of rougher little squares, creating a faint checkerboard pattern.
It's still possible to lower the Bottom Exposure further of course, to the point that prints will pop off with minimal effort, like they would from any standard build plate. This is great because only needing like 12s for a bottom layer, versus needing 50s, helps extend the life of the screen. Find the sweet spot for your resin.
The first few prints were great, they looked as good as anything coming off the Mars 3 (35um XY resolution). I was ready to toss out all my other printers, but then...
Then I took a closer look at the machine and the problems started manifesting.
[DEFECT #1: BUZZING/RATTLING SOUND WHEN FANS ARE ON]
The fan volume is tolerable, the problem is that when the fans are spinning there's also an annoying mechanical buzz, almost a rattling. [Update: The replacement printer didn't have this problem.]
[DEFECT #2: TOUCHSCREEN CAN BE UNRESPONSIVE]
Sometimes the touchscreen and printer won't respond until a few seconds after you tap a button. [Update: This happens with the replacement printer too.]
[DEFECT #3: BUILDPLATE PRESSES INTO SCREEN AT START OF EVERY PRINT]
At the start of every print, the buildplate presses into the screen and makes a horrible sound as the motor grinds. [Update: This happens with the replacement printer too.]
[DEFECT #4: GRID PATTERN APPEARS ON PRINTS DUE TO MATRIX-STYLE LIGHTING]
The UVLEDs in the machine are aligned in a grid pattern, they shine light beams upward through the screen to cure resin. The edges of the light beams overlap slightly, these overlapping areas are brighter, causing overexposure, producing a grid pattern on the prints matching the overlapping areas.
The only thing that fixed this issue on 2 of my other printers was to replace the lens inside.
[Update: This happens with the replacement printer too.]
[DEFECT #5: BUGGY SOFTWARE AND CORRUPTED SLICED FILES]
I was getting completely random failures, like massively shifted layers across the whole plate, random sharp jagged holes in prints, and supports that were morphed into solid rectangles. (See the images.) I've been printing and selling for over 2 years, I can troubleshoot most things, but these problems are all the signs of a defective screen or corrupted sliced files.
I normally use Chitubox, but as a last resort I used only Photon Workshop to see if that would slice the files properly, but it's even worse; It creates a bunch of floating junk layers in the preview when slicing, and transforms supports into thick solid rectangles or hair-thin flimsy ribbons.
[Update: This happens with the replacement printer too. ]
After a few days of troubleshooting and $50 of wasted resin I finally gave up. I can't fix this.
[DEFECT #6: CANTILEVER IS STUCK AND WON'T RISE.]
Good grief. I tried troubleshooting it one last time but now the cantilever won't rise, and the motor makes a horrible sound. All I did was try to print something I had already successfully printed on this machine and now this happened. Obviously there's something wrong with this unit.
Amazon won't exchange it for a working printer, they will only take a return.
Anycubic says they'll refund me the difference if I return it and buy another of the same printer, so we'll see. I'll update the review as needed.
Received a new printer and it already left a bad impression.
The light uniformity on this second unit is terrible. Picture added so you can see how bad it is compared to my original Mono X.
It has the same grid line issue too. Will test print today. [Update: It has the same MFing corrupted file problem as the previous unit.]
This one also needed grease on the rails, they were making a horrible screeching sound when moving near the top, so be sure to check for that if you get one.
It's very obvious there's something very wrong with all the Mono X 6K series printers, possibly software/firmware related.
Photon Workshop also needs to be brought up to the same level as Lychee/Chitubox or it should be retired entirely.
I can't believe anyone would sell this printer when there's no way to reliably print with it! What a scam.