today is Dec 03, 2022

Resin 3D printers are the pinnacle in terms of quality and detail; however the build plate can sometimes be a casualty in the trade off between quality and providing a large platform. That’s not an issue for the Photon M3. The build plate is large, the printer is very simple to use, and the prints it makes are of an exceptional quality, especially for the price. It's also super quiet, which is a massive plus.

For

  • Brilliant build quality
  • Super easy to set up and use
  • Decent sized build plate
  • Low noise levels

Against

  • Photon Workshop is very prone to crashes
  • FEP film potentially could be prone to breaking

Anycubic is back again, this time with the Anycubic M3. This is the entry-level model in the new M3 lineup from the 3D printing veterans, and it offers a lot of bang for your buck.

Given the size of this printer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it might in some way be limited with its ability to produce brilliant quality 3D models, but that isn’t the case. 

Anycubic started out with FDM printers back in the now ancient year of 2015, and have slowly, over the years, built up their offering to an incredibly wide range of printers for the beginner all the way to the expert enthusiast level. 

Now we have a new addition to the ever-growing family of Anycubic resin printers, Despite being a relatively entry-level printer, the Anycubic M3 comes with a 4K+ screen enabling you to print out models with a theoretically sharper quality than the closest comparable printer the Mono.  But how does it stack up against the best 3D printers on the market?

Anycubic Photon M3: Set up

Previous Anycubic printers have been an absolute breeze to assemble, and the Anycubic Photon M3 is no different. Apart from having to attach a couple of screws to the build plate of the printer to attach it to the vertical moving arm of the printer, it was then simply a case of turning on the printer.

The screen protector was a bit of a nightmare, however after a bit of effort with the included plastic scraper to push the air bubbles out we eventually managed to get it installed. There were definitely still some air bubbles, however there didn’t seem to be a noticeable effect to the print quality by having these underneath the screen protector. 

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Anycubic Photon M3 touch screen

Anycubic Photon M3 touch screen (Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3

Anycubic Photon M3 resin tank (Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3

Anycubic Photon M3 USB (Image credit: Future)

The rest of the printer is simple and easy to use, the menus well laid out and we had no issues following the included instructions to ensure the final setup of the resin reservoir. The whole process took us about 20 minutes from unpacking of the printer through to the final installation of the reservoir.

If you are somewhat new to the hobby of 3D printing, please make sure you take all necessary precautions when handling resin as it’s not the nicest of stuff should you get it on your skin. You should always wear gloves, eye protection, and use a face mask when using it, and always keep it out of reach of children and pets. Another safety notice here is to be extremely careful when cleaning prints with Isopropyl Alcohol. The fumes from IPA are incredibly potent, and Resin printing is certainly not something you should be attempting in your home office and without sufficient ventilation.

Anycubic Photon M3: Specs Features

  • Adequately sized print bed
  • Resolution is excellent
  • Included software could be better

Given that this is the entry level printer in the M3 series from Anycubic, you’d think that it would be the bare minimum of features, but that’s not the case. With a 4K+ resolution, any models you print are more than adequately detailed, and in addition to this the print bed is a good bit larger than Anycubic’s Photon Mono 4K, with dimensions of 6.5 x 5.2 x 3.1 in. / 18 x 16.3 x 10.2 cm (HWD), so there is more than enough space and capacity to make a whole range of models from miniatures all the way to much larger models.

Anycubic Photon M3

(Image credit: Future)

The touchscreen is also nicely sized and features a simple to use User Interface, with a minimum of fiddly menus. Everything is clear, and simple to navigate which makes levelling the print bed and also moving the print bed up and down manually an absolute breeze.

There is one major flaw to the FEPs on these printers however. After a single use, when removing some very loosely attached partially cured resin from the film, the resin brought up quite a large chunk of film with it. There was no heavy force used, and the tear came from the joint between the FEP film and the Resin vat, so a conclusion that can be taken here is that there was some sort of weakness with the film itself. It certainly wasn’t ideal, and it’s always worth checking the condition of your FEP film before and after each print to ensure there’s no tears or holes that could cause a resin leak.

Anycubic did send us a replacement FEP and we've had no issues since then, so it's possible we just got unlucky with a faulty model, but it's worth watching out for regardless.

Anycubic Photon M3: Print quality speed

One of the biggest reasons to grab a 3D printer is for printing your own models for board and miniature games like Warhammer 40K or Dungeons Dragons. The detail that resin printers offers can often mean that they're indistinguishable from official plastic miniatures unless you look very closely.

That's the main reason we picked up got into 3D printing, so we figured it would be a great way to put the Anycubic M3 to the test. To start with, we printed off these Monster Hounds, designed by Bestiarum Miniatures and found on MyMiniFactory. As you can see, the details on these relatively small minis came out beautifully - those are 25mm bases that they're attached too. The details are exceptionally crisp and defined - look at the individual quills on the neck, and the saddles and straps of the gear on them.

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Anycubic Photon M3

(Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3 prints

(Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3 prints

(Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3 prints

(Image credit: Future)

We also decided to print off some basing details to go with our alien hounds, in the form of these trees and ivy plants from epicbasing.com. The prints came out fantastically, with crisp defined details and basically no visible layer lines. The cracks in the bark look excellent, and the individual leaves on the ivy came out perfectly.

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Anycubic Photon M3

(Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3

(Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3

(Image credit: Future)

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Anycubic Photon M3

(Image credit: Future)

Finally, to really spice up our next DD session, we printed off this horrifying monster for our intrepid heroes to face off against. We know it's super gross to look at, but this print highlights the level of intricate hanging details that you can print on a 3D printer like the M3. just look at all the connections between the hands. Disgusting, but very impressive.

If you want to pick up this beasty, you can find the Afflicted Celestial by Mini Monster Mayhem over at MyMiniFactory.

Anycubic Photon M3

(Image credit: Future)

Anycubic Photon M3: Price warranty

The Anycubic M3 has a recommended retail price of $299 in the US from the Anycubic store or Amazon.  You can also pick it up in the UK on Amazon UK for £299. That’s a great price for a printer of this size and quality, even if UK buyers are getting stiffed on the exchange rate. The Elegoo Mars Pro 2 is a little cheap for a similar sized print bed, but the screen resolution of the M3 is leagues better.

Anycubic’s standard warranty for 3D printers is 12 months on all main components, apart from the LCD screen which only has a short 3 month warranty. Given that the screen is the main component of the printer, that does come across as a little disappointing.

Should you buy the Anycubic Photon M3?

We're going to tentatively say yes. The Anycubic Photon M3 is an excellent entry level printer, with more features than you can shake a stick at and very fast print times. As well as that, the noise level is sufficiently low that if your printer is in a room near the bedroom or living room, you should have no trouble with sound. If you’ve already got a good 4K printer, then there’s not too much of a reason to upgrade as the print quality most likely won’t give you too much of a return, however if short print times are what you’re looking for then this printer certainly does deliver. 

The Anycubic software is excellent when it doesn’t crash trying to export sliced files to the USB and given that other software does exist for this exact use, that is a bit of a disappointment. Finally, the biggest issue is the apparently weak FEP films. Anycubic has said it is looking into it and we’ve had no issues with our replacement so it seems to have been an isolated issue, and it's covered by the warranty if you need peace of mind.

If this 3D printer isn't right for you?

If you're looking for something a bit more advanced than the M3, then you should also check out our review of its big brother, the Anycubic M3 Plus. This beast comes with a 6K screen and auto-refilling resin system. You can pick up the Anycubic Photon M3 Plus for $699 from the Anycubic store

If you want something even cheaper than the M3 and don't mind a slight drop in print resolution, you can also check out the Elegoo Mars Pro 2. While it also has an SSRP of $300, you can grab on of these for around $260 on Amazon, and we've seen them cheaper than that in regular sales and discounts. 

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Stewart is a freelancer writer for Space.com, though you'll also find him serving as video producer for Gfinity, a gaming website focused on Esports. He has a degree in Film and Television Production from University of Hertfordshire and his expertise lies in cameras, video editing, drones, and to be honest, all things tech.