The Anycubic Photon M3 Max positions itself as the most affordable way to get into large-format resin 3D printing. We believe Anycubic has achieved its goal of allowing consumers and hobbyists to enter this market, which was originally reserved for professionals with $1,500+ budgets. At $1,099 MSRP and often found at $999 or less, it opens up the doors for users looking to resin print huge statues, figurines, and cosplay props.
However, it’s important to note that the M3 Max does have its drawbacks. These include issues like poor software support, slower print speeds, a somewhat cheap acrylic lid, an unusual 7K resolution LCD screen, and a somewhat dated user interface. These limitations were where Anycubic had to cut corners to bring it down to its price.
Despite its quirks, however, the Photon M3 Max consistently delivers high-quality prints, whether you’re working on small or large-scale projects. For prop makers and anyone seeking an affordable entry into large-format resin 3D printing, the Anycubic M3 Max is a game-changing option that provides excellent value for its price.
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Resin 3D printing has really come a long way since Anycubic broke into the affordable printer market with the Anycubic Photon back in 2016. Nowadays, there is a dizzying array of small and medium format resin 3D printers for all budget ranges. However, the large format resin 3D printer category has been somewhat neglected, with only a few options available from companies like Peopoly, Phrozen, and Elegoo. The designs of these machines are a significant departure from the more common small and medium format printers, featuring full metal construction that makes them heavier and more expensive, often exceeding $1,500.
Anycubic decided to take a different approach by expanding their M3 series of resin 3D printers to create the Photon M3 Max. This printer boasts a massive 13-inch 7K LCD screen and an automatic resin refilling system, making it the largest resin 3D printer we’ve tested.
The standout feature, however, is its relatively low price tag. For example, Elegoo’s Jupiter has its MSRP at $1,499, Peopoly’s Phenom retails for $1,999, and Phrozen’s Sonic Mega is a steep $2,899. In contrast, the Photon M3 Max was initially released at $1,099, significantly undercutting its competitors by anywhere from $400 to nearly $2,000. And depending on the sale, you can often find the M3 Max for under $1,000. This price advantage makes large-format resin printing accessible to a wider range of consumers and hobbyists.
Resin 3D printers are typically limited by their build volume, with smaller printers often relegated to tabletop miniatures duty. However, large-format resin 3D printers like the Anycubic Photon M3 Max open up exciting opportunities for creating massive statues, figurines, cosplay props, and more. We are excited about the possibilities that printers like the Anycubic Photon M3 Max bring.
Nonetheless, it’s crucial to address resin print failures, which can be costly and messy. These issues become more significant with the larger volume of the Anycubic M3 Max.
So, can Anycubic create another breakout success in the large format resin 3D printer market with its M3 Max? Or will it be sidelined as a niche product that’s not worth the hassle? We’ve invested hundreds of hours into testing this printer—in this in-depth review, we’ll be showcasing everything good and bad in the Anycubic Photon M3 Max.
When looking for a 3D printer, you should never settle on second best with print quality. After all, that’s one of the main reasons you are pursuing this hobby! To test the print quality of the Anycubic M3 Max, we outputted a wide range of models and figures.
On smaller printers, we would typically need to do several separate prints to finish, however, the M3 Max’s larger build plate allowed us to print several items simultaneously. The overall results were impressive. We scored the printer a 9/10 for this category. The M3 Max even held its ground against the new generation of 3D printers like the Elegoo Saturn 3.
Still, print quality isn’t the only thing you should be looking out for—a hassle-free printing experience matters just as much. Fortunately, the M3 Max has made strides in this regard. Anycubic’s decision to open up compatibility with third-party slicers has greatly improved software support. Moreover, the M3 Max’s user community has grown significantly over the years.
In summary, thanks to recent print cuts, the Anycubic M3 Max offers an outstanding balance between cost and performance. However, it’s worth noting that there are other printers in this price range and generation that are also worth considering, such as the Elegoo Jupiter, Peopoly Phenom, and Phrozen Sonic Mighty.
The Anycubic M3 Max belongs to the large format family of resin MSLA printers. More than just scaled versions of the smaller desktop resin 3D printers, they are known for their enormous spacious print volumes, and the ability to still produce intricate details. The Anycubic M3 Max is the ideal machine to produce large scale figurines, statues, cosplay props and prototypes.
With that in mind, we thoroughly tested the M3 Max with a multitude of test prints, placed it in a number of stressful printing environments, dove deep into the various communities, and more. To get a full view of its performance, we even stacked it against its competitors such as the Elegoo Jupiter, Phrozen Sonic Mega and Peopoly Phenom.
When it was first released, the Anycubic M3 Max undercut its competition with a price tag of $1,099. This makes the M3 Max the most affordable way to get into medium format resin printing in 2023. However, thanks to its constant sales, you can now get your hands on it for a remarkably low $999.
Due to the messy nature of resin 3D printers, choosing the wrong MSLA printer can lead to major headaches from poor setup, print quality, and reliability. It can also lead to wasted time and money trying to troubleshoot and fine-tune the machine. We’ve invested hundreds of hours testing the Anycubic M3 Max so you don’t have to.
Keep reading to discover all the details about the M3 Max and determine if it’s the ideal large format resin MSLA 3D printer for your needs.
The Anycubic Photon M3 Max is such a large printer that unboxing the printer is an experience in itself. The M3 Max comes in an enormous cardboard box that takes at least two people to lift into our office. We recommend placing a soft mat under the printer during unboxing, as it’s surrounded by a metal frame that could scratch the surface it sits on. You can disassemble the frame to reveal the tightly packed printer and its accessories.
Unlike some large resin printers that come in wooden crates, we appreciate the fact that most of the M3 Max’s packaging can be recycled, minimizing waste. Given its size and weight, it’s important to ensure your table or workspace can support the M3 Max—in fact, you might want to check out our recommendations for the best tables for 3D printing to make sure you have the best surface for the M3 Max.
Leveling the bed
The Anycubic Photon M3 Max comes fully assembled right out of the factory. Users are only required to level the build plate before printing. This printer is well-protected during shipping, with foam and protective plastic wrap securing the heavy metal build plate inside the printer.
When unboxing the M3 Max, it’s packed in open-cell white foam. Users should be careful when unpacking the build plate and resin vat, ensuring there are no loose foam particles and removing all protective films. They can cause prints to fail.
Like most consumer-level resin 3D printers, the Anycubic M3 Max’s build plate needs to be manually leveled before its first use. This process involves loosening four screws that secure the build plate, lowering it down to the LCD screen, and then tightening these screws to lock the build plate in the correct position. We found this method the simplest and most accurate for leveling the build plate. Once properly leveled, we didn’t need to reveal the build plate in the hundreds of hours of our tests.
MSLA resin printers are well known for their ability to print extremely fine details, which makes them ideal for crafting tabletop miniatures or intricate jewelry. The M3 Max boasts a 13-inch LCD screen with a 7K resolution, resulting in a pixel size of 46um. Compared to the newest generation of resin 3D printers, which have pixel sizes ranging from 19um-35um, the M3 Max’s pixel size might seem like a drawback in terms of detail resolution.
To assess the real-world impact of this increased pixel density, we’ll be conducting standardized resin print tests, comparing the models printed on the M3 Max with those from the newest generation of 3D printers. This should help us determine if the enhanced pixel density truly results in noticeable improvements in print detail.
In our tests of the Anycubic Photon M3 Max, we used the supplied Anycubic ABS 2.0 resin. You can check out how well the Anycubic ABS 2.0 resin stacks up against the best resins we have tested here.
We tested the Anycubic M3 Max in three major areas: the ability to resolve detailed models, Z height consistency, and UV exposure consistency across the whole build plate.
To evaluate the Anycubic M3 Max’s ability to produce highly detailed models, we conducted a series of print tests, both large and small. These tests included the creation of various organic models like a 28mm tabletop miniature and a dragon bust, an inorganic robot, and a house that featured a mix of organic and inorganic details.
When it came to printing small, intricate details, the printer performed exceptionally well, and the 46um pixel size didn’t leave us wanting finer resolution. One notable advantage of the M3 Max was its enormous print volume, which allowed us to complete all of these test prints in a single print job. With smaller printers, this would have required multiple print runs.
The dragon bust turned out exceptionally well, showcasing all its scales, teeth, and intricate details with flawless reproduction. Similarly, the robot figure displayed impressive print quality, featuring smooth surfaces and a lack of common pixel artifacts seen in printers of this generation. The 28mm scale miniature also printed great, with most of its details printed correctly. However, when compared to the latest generation of 3D printers, the tiny details found on its chest are noticeably softer. Still, we think that situations like these will only manifest on extremely tiny and detailed models.
We later printed a series of detailed tiles across the Anycubic M3 Max to test how evenly the UV light is distributed across the build plate. Anycubic markets its M3 Max with an 84-LED matrix array to ensure that light is evenly distributed across the build area. If the light distribution is uneven, then details on the edge of the build area will look different compared to the details in the middle.
Like the 28mm miniature, the details on our test tiles were noticeably softer than the latest 12K resolution machines. Still, we noticed that the tiles remained consistent across the entire build plate, which validates Anycubic’s claim of even light distribution.
We were not satisfied just printing small miniatures. After all, the Anycubic Photon M3 Max was designed to print enormous items. We decided to challenge it by printing the entire hilt and handle of a sword from the popular mobile game Genshin Impact to see how the M3 Max would handle a large cosplay print—and the results were really amazing!
The M3 Max had all the details reproduced without a single issue. It’s truly remarkable how far resin 3D printers have come in just a few years when the majority were limited to the tiny 100mm build height of the original Anycubic Photon.
The big question here is how well the M3’s 7K resolution compares to the newer 9K or 12K resolution LCDs found in machines like the Anycubic M5 or the Elegoo Mars 4 Ultra. These newer machines boast pixel sizes ranging from 19um to 35um, significantly smaller than the M3 Max’s 46um. On paper, this should mean the newer machines can produce more detailed prints.
Based on our tests, however, there was not a significant difference in most prints when comparing the M3 Max to the latest models from both Anycubic and Elegoo. There were some minute details noticed on the 28mm miniature, and the tiles appeared slightly softer when printed on the M3 Max. But again, we must emphasize that the M3 Max is marketed for larger prints, and differences between the resolutions do not significantly impact the output print quality.
The Anycubic M3 Max produces detailed, high-resolution prints, both large and small. However, there are noticeable quirks with the M3 Max that we need to address.
The M3 Max is extremely slow for a resin 3D printer, and users looking for a high-speed resin printer should be looking at a different machine. As of the time of writing this article, both Anycubic and Chitubox’s software drastically underestimated the M3 Max’s print times. In most cases, the M3 Max needs double the amount of time to complete a print than what is estimated in the slicer software.
Build Size Suction Force Issues
Resin prints experience a great amount of suction force when the build plate is lifted to the next position. This force becomes much stronger with larger build plates, and the Anycubic M3 Max is notably larger than most resin 3D printers on the market. These suction forces can potentially damage support delicate parts or even detach the print from the build plate.
Professional machines like the Formlabs 3 XL address this issue by using their laser units to gently lift the print and increase its print reliability. Anycubic does not have a similar system in place to mitigate suction forces. As a result, users may notice that prints near the center of the build plate are more prone to breaking compared to those closer to the edges.
To counteract this, both Anycubic and Chitubox default to slower build plate lifting speeds and employ thicker supports. While this approach helps reduce the risk of print failure, it also leads to longer print times and increased resin consumption.
Minimum Resin Levels
In order for resin printers to successfully complete a print, their resin vat must contain a minimum amount of resin that does not get consumed. This is particularly crucial for larger resin printers, as resin can be quite expensive, often costing $30 or more per liter.
The M3 Max’s smaller brother (the M3) doesn’t have this issue, as it only requires around 50mL to keep the resin vat at a minimum level. However, with a resin printer as large as the Anycubic Photon M3 Max, users must always keep around 200mL of resin in the vat. This upkeep cost is something users should keep in mind when considering operating the M3 Max.
Automatic Resin Refilling
One of the major selling points of Anycubic’s M3 line of 3D printers is the inclusion of an automatic resin refilling station. This system includes a separate attachment comprising a resin sensor and an air pump. The sensor is equipped with two metal prongs that are placed into the resin vat. When the resin level drops below these prongs, it signals the air pump to pump more resin into the vat, ensuring a continuous supply of resin for the printer.
On paper, this is a great system as the M3 Max can easily consume more resin that its vat can hold and the air pump mechanism sidesteps many other resin pump systems by removing any risks of resin contacting the pump mechanism.
However, we found many flaws with Anycubic’s implementation of the automatic resin refilling system. The first is that it requires the use of an Anycubic branded resin bottle to use as the pump needs to screw on to it.
This isn’t a huge deal as Anycubic’s resins are generally quite good and users can simply fill an Anycubic bottle with their resin of choice. But, we are concerned that the plastic resin bottle may crack due to the pressure from the air pump and we have noticed some issues experienced with broken resin bottles resulting in resin messes.
The second and larger issue we found with the resin refilling system is that the prongs used to detect the resin level is positioned way too high, resulting in the system filling resin way past the maximum capacity line of the vat and almost caused a resin spill our printer which would ruined both the print and the LCD. This is a huge design oversight from Anycubic and as a result we disconnected the automatic resin refilling system from our test unit.
The Anycubic Photon M3 Max maintains the classic black and yellow design seen in most Anycubic resin 3D printers. As such, it’s no surprise to see the M3 Max keep the same theme and general design cues of its smaller brothers, albeit one that’s stretched out to a ludicrous 400mm (L) x 408mm (W) x 596mm (H) dimensions. This larger frame accommodates its massive 298mm (L) x 168mm (W) x 300mm (H) build volume. Users should ensure they have the desk space to sit the machine down.
The only significant departure of the M3 Max compared to its smaller counterparts is that its removable yellow acrylic lid is now split into front and back halves. The back half is securely attached to the printer’s base, while the front half can be taken off by simply pulling it towards the user instead of the conventional method of lifting it upwards and away. This design improvement eliminates the need for extra vertical space when accessing the interior of the resin printer, which is a welcome addition.
However, it is worth noting that each half exhibits a fair amount of flex, which gives us pause about how durable it is in the long term. After all, the thin acrylic feels cheap.
The base of the Anycubic Photon M3 Max is made using a combination of plastic and metal, similar to most resin 3D printers. This construction results in a sturdy and robust feel for the M3 Max. Despite it weighing 20kg, it is significantly lighter than its competitors, which have a full-metal build. For example, the Elegoo Jupiter weighs a colossal 40kg.
Anycubic’s design approach for the Photon M3 Max differs from its competitors, like the Phrozen Sonic Mega, Elegoo Jupiter, and Peopoly Phenom. These competitors showcase a more premium design with a full metal build and hinged metal doors. The doors are a serious advantage for Anycubic’s competitors as it makes getting to the prints significantly easier and doesn’t require users to store a removable acrylic lid to access the build plate.
From a subjective standpoint, we feel that these competitors’ metal doors also provide a more premium feel compared to the lightweight plastic lid offered by Anycubic. However, this is understandable as Anycubic’s goal with the M3 Max is to make large-format resin 3D printing as affordable as possible. Having such a large and heavy build would dramatically increase manufacturing and shipping costs.
While we’re on the topic of shipping costs, did you know that large-format resin printers typically require a significant amount of packaging to safely transport them overseas from their manufacturers? Heavy printers such as the Elegoo Jupiter require the printer to be sealed in a wooden crate, creating additional garbage users need to deal with after unboxing. Since it weighs less, the Anycubic M3 Max can take a smarter route by placing the printer in a metal frame and then packaging it in a thick cardboard box. This makes transportation and disposal of the machine significantly easier compared to its competitors.
In short, Anycubic keeps its design language found in nearly all of its other printers and stretches them out to the huge proportions in the M3 Max. This helps to keep both the cost and weight down compared to the competition at the expense of a much less premium feeling product.
MSLA resin printers, like the Anycubic Photon M3 Max, are mechanically and electrically simpler compared to filament FDM printers. Usually, resin printers comprise a UV light, an LCD screen, and a single stepper motor. This setup is much simpler than the multiple stepper motors, heated bed, and filament heater found in FDM 3D printers.
As a result, MSLA resin printers offer advantages in terms of fire and electrical safety, even in the case of larger machines like the Anycubic Photon M3 Max.
Resin Health Concerns
Unlike most consumer-grade filaments, resins used in MSLA resin 3D printers come with health risks when being handled and, thus, cannot be ignored. These resins typically operate at 405nm UV wavelengths and can be extremely toxic if ingested. Additionally, they can trigger allergic reactions if their fumes are inhaled or if the liquid resin contacts exposed skin. Therefore, precautions need to be taken when handling uncured resin.
Many current-generation resin 3D printers come equipped with activated charcoal filters to reduce the smell of resin fumes. However, it should be noted that while these do reduce the smell, they are not HEPA-rated, and it is unknown whether they actually reduce the VOCs that these resins produce.
Still, what’s disappointing about the Anycubic M3 Max is its lack of any filter. Given its large resin vat, it’s expected to release a substantial amount of resin fumes. Its smaller cousin, the M3 Premium, incorporates a pair of filters, leaving us wondering why Anycubic couldn’t have fitted at least one in the M3 Max’s enormous frame.
When handling resin, nitrile, or rubber, protective gloves should always be worn. Fortunately, Anycubic ships their resin printers, such as the M3 Max, with a few extra pairs of disposable gloves alongside a couple of face masks to help reduce fume exposure.
Another crucial consideration is the powerful UV light source used in resin 3D printers, which has the potential to harm your eyes if you look at it without protective safety glasses. To address this concern, the Photon M3 Max features a yellow acrylic lid. This lid serves a dual purpose: it prevents UV light exposure from the UV light array and reduces the impact of environmental UV light on the resin inside. It should be noted, however, that the Anycubic M3 Max will continue to operate even if the acrylic top is removed, unlike other machines such as the Formlabs Form 3.
Finding Replacement Parts
In resin 3D printing, the LCD and FEP sheets in the resin vat need to be replaced periodically. Fortunately, these are cheap for the M3 Max, with packs of two or three FEP sheets commonly found for around $40 at many 3D print retailers.
The LCD of a resin 3D printer is also considered a consumable and often needs to be replaced in the lifetime of a resin 3D printer. Fortunately, a major advantage the new monochrome LCDs have over older RGB screens is their vastly longer lifespans. Monochrome LCDs are rated for 2,000 hours of use compared to RGB screens, which are rated for only 400 hours. This means that the Anycubic M3 Max will require far less maintenance downtime.
Additionally, since the M3 Max is no longer considered cutting-edge technology, the price of replacement LCDs has dropped dramatically. However, due the huge size of the LCD, it is still very expensive and you can find replacement LCDs for around $200 when purchased directly from Anycubic.
Accessing the Control Board
Since there are very few moving parts on the Anycubic M3 Max, opening up the resin printer is, thankfully, a rare occurrence. However, if you ever need to access the control board or any of its other internal components, it can be done by removing a few screws on the base of the machine. This exposes the control board and other electronics, at the front of the machine and provides users with ample amount of room to navigate around the control board. The only issue we found with this tipping over the M3 Max requires 2 people as it is an extremely large machine.
13.6 Inch Monochrome LCD with 7K Resolution
The Anycubic M3 Max features a 13.6″ monochromatic LCD screen, which is marketed as having a 7K resolution. This translates to an XY pixel size of 46um. It’s worth noting that many contemporary resin 3D printers boast higher resolutions, ranging from 8K to 12K, which might seem like an advantage over the M3 Max’s lower 7K resolution.
However, we will be thoroughly testing the M3 Max’s ability to reproduce fine detail to see whether the resolution difference in newer machines actually results in noticeable differences in real-world printing quality.
Dual Linear Rails
Like nearly all medium and large format resin 3D printers, the M3 Max comes equipped with dual linear rails on the Z axis, which improves Z movement stability and rigidity. This plays an extremely important role in resin 3D prints, where the tiniest movement can negatively affect print quality.
Automatic Resin Refilling
While other companies employ gravity-fed or pump-based solutions, which can sometimes encounter issues like resin clogs in the pump mechanism, Anycubic’s approach is different.
The company equipped the M3 Max with a unique resin refilling attachment. They use an air pump to pressurize a resin bottle, which effectively pushes resin into the vat. This method eliminates the risk of resin clogging the pumping mechanism. The M3 Max is equipped with two prongs that go into the resin vat to automatically detect when the resin level is too low, triggering the resin refilling process. Like other automatic resin refilling solutions, this is completely automated and requires no input from the user or slicer.
Laser Engraved Build Plate
Previous generation resin 3D printers had a smooth build plate that offered decent print adhesion. In comparison, current-generation resin 3D printers have a textured surface that is either laser etched or sandblasted to promote print adhesion. The Anycubic M3 Max is no exception to this, sporting a large build plate with a laser-etched square pattern designed to improve print adhesion.
The Anycubic Photon M3 Max has small but dedicated group of users that share tips, tricks and optimizations for this large format resin printer:
The Anycubic M3 Max is an overall good first attempt at building a large format MSLA resin 3D printer. It’s 7K LCD is more than good enough for both large and small prints and offers the best bang for your buck for large resin prints.
However, it is held back by relatively poor software support, and a frankly bad automatic resin refilling station. Additionally, Anycubic had to cut corners to reach this price point with a cheap lid and dated UI elements compared to the rest of its M3 line up. For resin safety, we are also disappointed there are no options for any filtration as the large amount of resin in its vat can be harmful for anyone working near it.
With that said, there is no cheaper way to get into large format 3D printing with Anycubic’s competitors costing anywhere between $400 to $1,500 more than the M3 Max. Users looking to start printing large statues, figurines, cosplay props or just huge batches of miniatures will be served well with the M3 Max.
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