Elegoo Mars vs Anycubic Photon

Spend any amount of time in the 3D printing community and it won’t be long before you find yourself drawn into a detailed debate about the Elegoo Mars vs. Anycubic Photon and the relative pros and cons of each model.

On the face of it, such a debate is hardly surprising.

After all, both are affordable, high-quality DLP printers that prove popular options for those looking to print in resin without spending over the odds, so of course, it’s natural to want to compare them in the same way that you might compare the Creality CR 10 vs. Ender 3.

Still, while debating the merits of each model with friends may be fun, it doesn’t always help settle anything if you’re trying to determine which model actually to purchase.

Hopefully, this guide will.

Below, we’ll put the Elegoo Mars and Anycubic Photon through their paces in a head-to-head battle, examining how each one holds up in terms of all the things that are important when choosing the right 3D printer for you.

What is the Elegoo Mars?

ELEGOO Resin 3D Printer Mars 2 Pro Mono MSLA 3D Printer UV Photocuring LCD Resin 3D Printer with 6.08 inch 2K Monochrome LCD, Printing Size 129x80x160mm/5.1x3.1x6.3inch.

The Elegoo Mars is a 3D printer that has only been around for a few short years but has already garnered strong reviews and a loyal user base thanks to its budget-friendly pricing and the fact that it’s practically effortless to use.

The Elegoo offers resin printing rather than the usual filament printing that you’ll often find with most best-selling 3D printers.

If you read our recent guide to Resin vs. Filament printing, you may recall that while resin printing takes longer than filament, it’s also much better suited for printing small, highly detailed items.

Elegoo Mars Technical Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 401 x 419 x 200 mm
  • Build Volume: 120 x 68 x 155mm
  • Layer Resolution: XY resolution: 47 micron/Z-layer resolution: 10+ microns
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
  • Touchscreen: 3.5-inch color touchscreen
  • Input rating: 110V/220V AC
  • Working Voltage: 12V DC

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What is the Anycubic Photon?

ANYCUBIC Photon Mono 3D Printer, UV LCD SLA Resin 3D Printer with 2.5X Fast Printing and 6.08'' 2K Monochrome Screen, Printing Size 5.11"(L) x 3.14"(W) x 6.49"(H)

The Anycubic Photon’s entry into the 3D printer market precedes the Elegoo Mars model by a good number of years and is often touted as one of the first printers to offer high-quality resin 3D printing for just a few hundred dollars.

Like the Elegoo, it also offers resin printing. However, its somewhat smaller stature may mean that there are some practical restrictions on the type of objects you can make.

Anycubic Photon Technical Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 220 x 220 x 400 mm
  • Build Volume: 115 x 65 x 155mm
  • Layer Resolution: XY resolution: 47 micron/Z-layer resolution: 10+ microns
  • Connectivity: USB, SD Card
  • Touchscreen: 2.8-inch color touchscreen
  • Input rating: 110V/220V AC
  • Working Voltage: 12V DC.

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Elegoo Mars vs. Anycubic Photon: Key Similarities and Differences

For many years, the Anycubic Photon appeared to have the market for cost-effective resin printers pretty well covered.

Sure, other models tried to give it a serious run for its money, but most failed. The model looked to continue its reign of dominance unchallenged until the Elegoo Mars first arrived on the scene back in 2017.

Since then, the two have proven to be fierce competition for one another, thanks to several key similarities.

These include:

  • Both are solid, entry-level printers that come in under $500
  • Both offer resin printing
  • Both are relatively small, which may limit the kind of objects you can make on them.

Of course, if we’re going to mention the key similarities between these two printers, then it only seems fair to highlight the major differences too.

  • The Anycubic Photon comes fully pre-assembled, whereas the Elegoo Mars needs some work to put together.
  • The Elegoo Mars runs on ChiTu Box software, whereas the Anycubic Photon runs its own brand software.
  • The Anycubic Photon comes with a bottle of resin included, whereas the Elegoo Mars does not.

Elegoo Mars vs. Anycubic Photon: Head-to-Head Comparison

Set up and Assembly

Truly setting its stall as the ideal 3D printer for first-timers, the Anycubic Photon comes 99% pre-assembled, meaning no long and complicated set-up process.

All you have to do is screw in one small knob using a standard screwdriver, and you’re practically good to go.

ANYCUBIC Photon Mono 3D Printer, UV LCD SLA Resin 3D Printer with 2.5X Fast Printing and 6.08'' 2K Monochrome Screen, Printing Size 5.11"(L) x 3.14"(W) x 6.49"(H)

From there, you need to remove the cover to check that everything is free from dust, then use the included power cable to plug it in.

That really is all there is to it. Add the resin to the tanker, return it, and you’re good to go.

However, with the Elegoo Mars, things are a little bit trickier as the build plate needs to be attached before use.

To be fair, this isn’t exactly a major issue as the process involves little more than untightening a few screws, lowering the plate into position, and tightening the screws back up again.

Again, you’ll need to check that there’s no dust, then simply plug the whole thing in.

Out of the two printers, the Anycubic Photon takes the least amount of time to set up. Still, as we’ll discuss in a moment, the leveling process pretty much evens things out.

Levelling Process

The leveling process for both printers couldn’t be easier either.

After taking out the resin tank, the handy touchscreen on both models provides a menu option that allows you to fine-tune the level to the way you want it in much the same way that a typical FDM printer works.

If you’re not sure how to operate this process, all the details are included in each model’s instruction manual, or you can simply read our beginner’s guide to leveling a 3D printer bed.

Having said that, we found that the leveling process on the Elegoo Mars was much quicker and easier to deal with, ultimately meaning that the setup process for both printers ends up taking roughly the same amount of time.

Software

Software is another issue where the Elegoo Mars really seems to take the advantage.

ELEGOO Resin 3D Printer Mars 2 Pro Mono MSLA 3D Printer UV Photocuring LCD Resin 3D Printer with 6.08 inch 2K Monochrome LCD, Printing Size 129x80x160mm/5.1x3.1x6.3inch.

Rather than using proprietary software like the Anycubic Photon dose, the Mars runs on the popular ChiTu firmware, and ChiTu Box print preparation software.

This software comes with all of the settings for your printer already configured, which means you’ll be good to go right away with your whole process streamlined.

The software includes both model hollowing and robust support generation, two essential components that most makers return to time and time again.

The software also allows for model repositioning in a way that doesn’t erase your files, plus a number of other very useful features, all of which are incredibly beginner-friendly to utilize.

Conversely, the Anycubic Photon uses its own proprietary slicing software. While it’s not exactly difficult to use, it does mean that you won’t be able to use your Anycubic designs on other printers and vice versa.

The good news is that the software comes pre-configured for your printer. So again, you’ll be good to go in no time.

Though the ChiTux Box software is generally better than the Anycubic Photon’s own program, both are intuitive, easy-to-follow, and come backed by robust technical support.

Hardware

Both the Elegoo Mars and Anycubic Photon have plenty going on under the hood and feature much of the same technology.

For example, both models use a process called Digital Light Printing (DLP) which projects light into the resin vat to cure the whole print job with light.

Rather than using the standard filament employed by FDM printers, these two use a light process in which one layer is cured with light before the build plate raises to the next layer.

ELEGOO Mars 2 Pro 3D Printer, MSLA UV Resin 3D Printer with 6.08 inch 2K Mono LCD, Speedy Printing and High Precision, 5.1x3.1x6.3 inch Build Volume

That layer is then printed and cured in the same process and onwards until the project is done.

The main benefit of this is that it allows to print very intricate details, even on small projects.

On a similar note, both employ an HD masking LCD of the same resolution: 2560×1440 2k, though there are some noticeable differences, especially in terms of size.

For one thing, the touchscreen on the Elegoo Mars is larger than on the Anycubic Photon. That’s not to say that the Photon’s touchscreen is by any means small or difficult to use because it isn’t. It’s simply that the larger interface of the Mars model may make it a better option for users who find touchscreens difficult to operate.

For another, the Elegoo Mars’ build volume is greater too.

The Anycubic Photon offers a build volume of 115mm x 65mm x 155mm compared to the Elegoo’s 120 x 68 x 155mm. Those few extra millimeters may not seem like a lot, but as any experienced maker will tell you, they can sometimes make a big difference.

Printing

Before we get into the print quality of these two models, it’s worth mentioning that resin printing is never a neat and tidy process.

Before we get into the print quality of these two models, it’s worth noting that resin printing can be quite a messy process, especially compared to filament printing.

If you’re new to doing 3D prints in resin, the first thing you’ll notice is the rather strong odor given by the resin itself.

As such, you’ll be better suited working in a well-ventilated space and perhaps even wearing a mask to protect against the strong fumes.

Likewise, other protective gear such as safety glasses and especially gloves are well worth it to keep yourself safe and protected while working.

Furthermore, once the design has finished printing, you’ll need to wash the end product in ethanol and allow it to cure before using or displaying it properly.

While this can be a bit of a nuisance, it may be a small sacrifice to make when you consider that the single axis, layer-by-layer approach to printing makes both of these models much quieter and easier to use than others out there.

Two things we love about the Photon are that it comes with some resin included and pre-made designs that come on a handy USB stick.

This not only allows you to get started right away but also allows you to run a test print while you familiarise yourself with the machine, all of which is another tick in the box for beginner-friendliness.

As for the print quality itself, it’s of a very high standard.

The finished product comes out consistently smooth with all those small details as prominent as you’d hope, resulting in an all-around great-looking product.

Meanwhile, the Elegoo sadly doesn’t come pre-packaged with its own resin, so you’ll have to stock up first. However, as long as you opt for a 405nm UV-sensitive resin, you’ll have no problem using it with this machine.

There are no pre-packaged test designs to print either, though since this model doesn’t rely on proprietary software, you’ll have no problem downloading something from the web or using something you already used on another 3D printer.

Again, the print quality here is superb.

Exactly like the Photon, the Mars boasts a 47 micron XY resolution and a 10-micron z-layer resolution, creating the kind of excellent, high-quality results you don’t normally get at this price range.

Printing Success Rate

On a related note, it’s important to point out that while the overall quality of a successful print is pretty much the same with both printers, the Elegoo Musk has a much higher success rate at printing perfect projects.

Virtually every print attempt produces a flawless design, whereas the Photon does tend to skew the occasional design before finally getting it right.

Frequently Asked Questions About Elegoo Mars vs. Anycubic Photon

Can you use Anycubic Resin in an Elegoo Mars?

Yes. Both brands’ resin will work in other printers, just as other brands’ resin will work in them.

Is the Elegoo mars open source?

Though it wasn’t previously, in August 2021, Elegoo announced that they were in the process of making their Mars 3 model open source.

Is the Anycubic Photon worth it?

For those new to 3D printing, the Anycubic Photon is certainly worth it offers a good combination of beginner-friendly operation, high-grade printing, and affordable pricing.

Elegoo Mars vs. Anycubic Photon: Which One Should You Buy?

ANYCUBIC Photon Mono X Resin 3D Printer, Large LCD UV Photocuring Fast Printing with 8.9" 4K Monochrome Screen, Matrix UV LED Light Source and WIFI Control, 192(L)x120(W)x245(H)mm / 7.55"x4.72"x9.84"

We started writing this guide, convinced that we were going to determine once and for all which of these two printers is the best one to spend your hard-earned money on.

Yet after putting both the Elegoo Mars and the Anycubic Photon through their paces, we simply have to admit that this is one battle that’s just too close to call.

Indeed, both are excellent printers, especially for the price. As such, if you’re looking to buy just one, the ultimate deciding factor is what you prioritize the most.

The Photon is a model that we would absolutely recommend to anyone brand new to 3D printing. Not only does its relatively low price tag make it a smart investment, but the fact that it’s 99% fully assembled, works right on the box, and is designed to make it as easy as possible for first-time makers all have great appeal.

However, the Photon isn’t perfect. The software doesn’t allow for as many customization options as the Elegoo Musk, meaning more experienced makers may find it a much better option.

Likewise, the Photon is also somewhat on the small side compared to Mars, making the letter a better option for those looking to make taller designs.

Finally, in terms of print quality, Mars has a better success rate for printing properly the first time while both are excellent.

To sum up then, if you’re new to 3D printing, opt for the Photon. On the other hand, if you’ve been at this for a while, you may find Mars a much better option.