No resin 3D printer seems to fuse quality and affordability quite like the Mars. It is the Ender 3 of the resin world but it’s ready to print right out of the box. And unlike the Ender 3 you don’t need to upgrade or tinker to get great prints.
You can’t go wrong with the Photon S. It has everything you want in a resin 3D printer. Between the Mars and Photon, it’s a matter of personal choice as both printers are great entry-level machines to resin 3D printing.
In a nutshell, you can’t go wrong with either machine. Both the Elegoo Mars and Anycubic Photon are the two best value resin 3D printers in our tests. Currently, you can get both 3D printers for less than $300 and sometimes less with specials form the manufacturers.
Bottom Line: Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with both printers. We prefer the Mars as it has shown to be more consistent and reliable. That said, the Photon is a great alternative if you want to print miniatures and jewelry.
Main Differences Between Elegoo Mars Vs Anycubic Photon
The main differences between the Elegoo Mars vs the Anycubic Photon are:
- The Mars build volume is 5mm larger on the X-axis and 3mm on the Y-axis compared to the Photon. 120 x 68 x 155mm vs. 115 vs 65 x 155mm.
- The Mars and Photon are relatively the same price
When you’re a hobbyist looking at 3D printers, there are quite a few options in the market. The fact is, resin printing technology has advanced a lot in the past few years.
… there are quite a few low price choices to pick from. Without a doubt, the Elegoo Mars and the Anycubic Photon are the two hotly discussed resin 3D printers at present.
Even though they are different in some ways, both the printers fall in the same category – sub $400 printers.
So, are you looking for a high-quality resin 3D printer?
Then, you might like to know how these two high-quality products compare against each other. And also about the pros and cons that they offer? That’s why we decided to set up a duel of these two popular resin printers.
To tell you the truth…
… both printers have earned rave reviews in multiple forums. Most users are highly satisfied with the quality and reliability they get – at an affordable price.
Both beginners and experienced users have appreciated their performance.
Sounds impressive, right?
At the same time, choosing between the two ain’t easy.
However, some differences pop up when you take a closer look.
And we are going to tell you all about that in this article.
Time to wear our reviewing hats and dig a little deeper.
Elegoo Mars vs. Anycubic Photon – let the battle begin.
How Do The Elegoo Mars and Anycubic Photon 3D Printers Compare?
|ELEGOO Mars UV Photocuring LCD 3D Printer
|ANYCUBIC Photon UV LCD 3D Printer
|Price (purchased directly from the company)
|2560 x 1440 2K
|2560 x 1440 2K HD
|Build Volume (mm)
|120 x 60 x 155
|115 x 65 x 155
|Layer Resolution (XY) (microns)
|Layer Resolution (Z-Layer) (microns)
|12 V DC
|12 V DC
|Minimum Layer Height (mm)
|ChiTu firmware and ChiTu Box print preparation
|Printing Speed (mm/hr)
Main Differences Between Elegoo Mars vs. Anycubic Photon
Both these printers are superb performers when it comes to resin printing. On the whole, they are easy to use and a safe choice for beginners.
But when it comes to the differences, there still are quite a few. So here are some of the main ones.
- With a 120 x 68 x 155mm build volume, the Elegoo Mars, goes slightly ahead of the Anycubic Photon. In reality, the difference isn’t much.
- One big difference is in terms of printing speed. The Elegoo Mars will deliver a print faster than the Photon in most cases.
- The Anycubic Photon uses proprietary slicing software. The Elegoo Mars uses the ChiTu DLP Slicer. The point is, both the software are very easy to use.
- The Elegoo Mars is larger in overall volume than the Anycubic Photon. That makes it slightly heavier too. If you don’t have the luxury of space, this is a point you need to keep in mind.
- The Elegoo Mars has a larger 3.5-inch full-color touch screen. The Photon has a smaller touch screen at 2.8 inches.
- Another difference is the way you open these resin 3d printers. The Elegoo Mars opens from the top. But the Photon comes with a lift-up lid at the front side.
- The Anycubic Photon comes pre-packaged with resin. You need to buy resin separately for the Elegoo Mars.
- The USB port for the Elegoo Mars is at the backside of the machine. Some users found that inconvenient. Especially when the printer is placed against the wall.
Let’s start by taking a look at the Elegoo Mars.
Now, one thing is for sure.
This is a 3d printer that gives excellent performance at the price point. It has a good design, a simple user interface, and solid performance.
Time to take a look at the details.
The printer works on the DLP (stereolithography) printer technology. This is a form of vat polymerization technique in which the (liquid) photopolymer resin is solidified under a UV light source.
Compared with the (FDM) technology, this is a much cleaner experience.
In terms of build quality, the Elegoo Mars feels solid with a metal body.
Once you open the top lid, you can access the resin vat with ease. The blood-red UV-blocking lid covers the entire printer. It allows you to observe the process with ease.
Not to forget, it looks cool.
There’s a threaded rail that is connected with stepper motors. The smooth operation controls the height of the Z-axis.
Next, the Elegoo Mars has a 0.01 mm layer height.
While that’s great for fine printing, the process will take longer. We feel it’s best to use a larger layer height and reduce the printing time.
The other thing is, there’s the anti-aliasing technique used in post-processing. That balances the printing speed with the overall detailing.
What happens is this…
The photopolymer resin is cured and hardened by the UV light for creating the model.
The printer comes in an assembled form and once the bed is leveled, it’s ready to go. Do keep in mind that you’ll be needing some photopolymer resin and a bottle of 95%+ isopropyl alcohol.
Now, the print bed provides a sturdy platform and can be removed by a convenient knob screw.
The alcohol is essential for cleaning excess resin from the print.
Once the ChiTuBox is installed, the required 3d model can be uploaded. The user-friendly interface is a big plus.
The print-time estimates given by ChiTu Box are quite accurate.
Keep in mind that a cleaned and dried print needs to be cured under UV light or sunlight for at least 10 minutes.
The printing process ensures precise shapes and tight tolerances. Mechanical objects are recreated with minimum deviation from source objects.
The Elegoo Mars can also handle sharp angles that can be as high as 60 degrees.
The bends and grooves of standard models were sharply created. The good thing is, the layer lines were almost invisible.
On the whole, the overall print quality was impressive at all levels.
Also, you can filter the excess resin and store for reuse.
As with all other resin printers, the odor of the resin can be an issue. Make sure that the printing is not done in an enclosed space. You can also use a mask if required.
The combination of the ChiTu firmware and ChiTu software works well with the Elegoo Mars.
The software can easily slice STLs and other 3D files. So importing image files isn’t an issue.
… the overall performance is smooth. Also, the interface is super-easy for first-timers to start operating the Elegoo Mars.
The software comes with the main interface and various editing tools.
There are rotating, mirroring, and hollowing functions that can be used to save time and resin volume. Also, there are very good options for support generation.
These include plenty of intuitive support functions along with an auto-support function.
The best part is, you can easily reposition a model without deleting the supports.
Once the settings are configured, the software also delivers you a print preview. This includes the printing time, along with the volume and weight of resin required.
Another great feature is the auto-layout tool. It optimizes the build table surface area.
The ChiTuBox slicer is resourceful enough to allow the creation of multiple printing profiles. These can be easily shared or exported.
It’s not without reason that ChiTuBox is one of the most popular 3d printer software out there. It really makes using the Elegoo Mars a great experience.
Pros and cons
Here are a few pros and cons of the Elegoo Mars.
- The Elegoo Mars delivers an excellent price to performance ratio.
- Very easy to use with a simple user interface
- It hardly requires any time for set up
- The printing speed is relatively fast
- It allows offline printing
- A great touch screen interface
- The location of the USB port makes it hard to reach
- It does not come with WiFi connectivity or SD card support
- The printing process is noisy
- Batch printing can lead to heating issues in some cases
There’s no doubt that the Elegoo Mars is an excellent product that offers great value at a low price. It looks well, delivers excellent prints and a refined user interface.
What’s more, the print quality can be easily compared with printers that come at a higher price point. Quite simply, as a consumer-grade product, it checks all the right boxes.
If you’re looking to try UV resin printing, this is a great choice to start with.
Time to take a look at the Anycubic Photon.
Even if you mark it as a cheap 3D printer, the Photon simply hits it out of the park with its print quality.
There are quite a few things that make it stand out from the other offerings in the market.
And with its low price, it’s definitely a great pick for hobbyists and beginners.
Let’s explore some of the main features.
In terms of technology, the Photon stands as a DLP (Digital Light Projector) 3D printer.
In case you aren’t familiar with the technology, no worries.
The user manual provides clear documentation. In addition, there are plenty of online resources available.
In terms of build volume, it isn’t the largest. But the space is sufficient for home use. The entire build area is protected by a hinged door that feels sturdy.
The design files are transferred by a direct USB or an 8GB USB stick that comes with some preloaded files.
The 2560 x 1440 resolution LCD screen is small but the clarity is impressive.
Basically, the 3d model is sliced by the software and the resin is cured layer by layer.
The curing process works well. But for fully curing the models, additional sunlight exposure is a must.
The best part is…
… even for novice users, operating this printer isn’t an issue. The smooth interface and the detailed instructions are good enough to ensure that.
You’ll find the filter fully assembled on arrival.
However, you need to level the bed before starting. The grub screw attached to the platform can be loosened for calibration.
With the provided instructions, the calibration process is pretty simple.
The printer comes with a bottle of resin. Once the calibration is complete, reinsert the resin tank and you’re good to go.
If you aren’t familiar with the printing process, it’s best to run a test print first. The process is entirely seamless.
One thing is, if the model is moved, the supports need to be regenerated.
The Anycubic Photon captures intricate details perfectly. Once the print is cleaned, you get a smooth surface that’s mostly free from layering.
Imperfections are hard to find in most of the prints. However, we did notice minor issues with a few sharp edges.
But that would be nitpicking. Quite simply, at this price point, the overall performance is top-notch.
Keep in mind that the product requires a fair amount of cleaning once the print is completed. So make sure that you don’t scratch the FEP film at the bottom of the resin vat while cleaning.
Wear gloves and safety glasses before handling the uncured resin.
The proprietary slicing software that comes with the Photon is simple. It wouldn’t take you much time to familiarise yourself with the settings.
And even with the default settings, the print quality is impressive.
Now, the supports can be auto-generated. We found the system doing a good job on its own.
Also, you can insert them manually when required. You will find plenty of options for viewing, scaling, and rotating the model.
You’re also given a spatial representation of the baseplate to ensure that the model fits on it.
… we felt that handling the support was slightly easier with ChituBox.
The slicing files created by the software can only be stored as a .stl file or a .photon file.
To sum up, the software is user-friendly and delivers a high success rate with printing.
Pros and Cons
Let’s summarize the pros and cons of the Anycubic Photon
- A value-for-money choice
- The set-up is quick and easy
- Excellent print quality
- Multiple resin types to choose from
- Print-time is less than an FDM printer of the same resolution
- The process is smelly.
- Printing can be messy for beginners
- The resin is expensive
- No WiFi connectivity
- The post-print processing is cumbersome
While the Photon is a basic printer, it does a great job at its price point. The small footprint makes it ideal for home use and the overall reliability is excellent.
While the cleaning and curing are not the easiest with resin printers, the great print quality makes up for that.
Even if you’re not a pro, the Anycubic Photon makes things simple for you.
We recommend it without a second thought.
Bonus: Epax X1
Let’s admit it.
We all love those extra bits.
So here’s the bonus review from our end.
The Epax 11 is another low price 3d printer that offers a wide range of features. In addition, the print quality is impressive.
No wonder it’s attracting a lot of attention in the 3d printing circle.
Let’s check out the features and find out how they stand.
To start with, the printer uses LCD masking technology at a high-definition resolution of 2k, 1440p.
The LCD lights in the printer are rated at 40W. They are powerful enough to deliver a fast curing time of 6 seconds per layer. The 5×10 LED array delivers longer life than average printers.
If you’re looking for a compact 3d printer, this is a good option.
… the 3.5-inch color touch screen makes it easy to control the printing process. The overall resolution is great at this price point.
The printer uses a non-FEP film in the resin vat. That helps in delivering prints of higher quality.
Coming to the build quality, the use of steel rods and steel bearings make it sufficiently durable. Another thing is the well-designed Z-axis carriage rail that doesn’t require any calibration.
On top of that, there’s anti-aliasing support for better print quality.
The good news is, you can use a wide variety of resins on this printer. These include general resin, PLA Bio-resin, and resin for dental.
What we liked is this printer can start printing right out of the box. You don’t even need to calibrate the building platform. That’s done at the factory itself.
That really boosts the speed of operation.
The configuration files are provided via the USB stick. Loading them up is a breeze.
… the print quality was very good. If you compare the prints from the Epax and the Photon, you’ll hardly find any differences.
What about the intricate details?
The rock-solid platform and the well-engineered z-axis mechanism does a great job in preserving the details.
Even then, this is an entry-level printer. If you‘re looking for industry-level precision, look elsewhere.
Just like the Elegoo mars, the Epax X1 uses the ChiTu Box software for operation. As you have already seen, the user interface is simple and intuitive.
In a nutshell, the software experience is the same as in Elegoo Mars.
If you are looking for a small DLP 3D printer at a budget price, the Epax X1 won’t disappoint.
Keep in mind it isn’t perfect.
The operation is pretty noisy and it comes without any resin.
Then again, it’s packed with some very good features.
And as many users pointed out, the customer service is pretty reliable.
On the whole, it ticks the right boxes as an entry-level 3d printer.
Best 3D Printer For Miniatures
So it all adds up to this.
You have all that you need to know about the Elegoo Mars vs the Anycubic Photon 3d resin printers.
Here is a quick recap of the printers.
The Elegoo Mars is a good choice when you‘re looking for high-quality prints. And considering that it’s often available at a discount, it’s a real steal for any beginner.
On the other hand, the Anycubic Photon doesn’t offer much in terms of customization. But it has a simpler set-up and comes pre-assembled. If you are looking for a compact machine with solid printing technology it’s a superb choice.
To be honest, you can’t go wrong with any of these two 3d machine printers.
Now it’s over to you – and your turn to make your choice.