Perhaps when you heard the words “3D printer”, you think of machines that are either expensive or extremely complicated to build and configure. Well, this should get out of your mind.
Over the time that we have been tinkering with 3D printers, things have changed quite a bit. Today, there are dozens of 3D printers for beginners that are easy to assemble and configure.
The Anet A8 3D printer is one of the printers.
In this Anet A8 3D printer review, we’ll report our findings on what you should expect with the printer.
Let’s get started.
Anet A8 3D Printer Review
The Anet A8 3D printer is solidly constructed for the price. In this review, we cover everything: from ordering, through assembly, using the right software, to the first Yoda Buddha figure we printed.
|Connections||microSD card, USB|
|Print speed||100mm / s|
|Printing material||ABS / PLA / Nylon / PP 1.75mm|
|Maximum print size||220 x 220 x 240mm|
The Anet A8 is DIY 3D printer kit. This means that it arrives in individual parts and you have to assemble the parts to build the printer.
The Anet A8 looks like the Prusa i3. We took about four hours to assemble it by following the instructions that it came with. The instructions are comprehensive and will allow you to learn how the printer operates even if you have not used a 3D printer before.
You don’t need any prior knowledge with 3D printers to assemble the Anet 8. All the tools you need are available. Moreover, there is an active vibrant community online to help you if you get stuck.
Anet A8 Order List
Before you order the printer, read this section carefully. Nothing is more annoying than having to wait 10-30 days for new, much-needed parts!
Here are the items you will need
- Filament at Amazon. The filament is the “ink” of your 3D printer. Most DIY kits do not come with a filament! You need 1.75mm PLA filament (for learning). The color doesn’t really matter. Small (4 x 4 x 4cm) objects need about 10m of filament, depending on the filling. Therefore, get about 200m or more of filament in the shopping cart.
- Vernier caliper / caliper. When it comes to 3D printing, it’s about millimeters – even fractions of millimeters. Get the vernier caliper to help you with the measurements.
- Auto Leveling Sensor (optional): At the beginning you can adjust your heating bed manually. However, this can get annoying over time. To save yourself from the frustration, get an auto leveling sensor.
- Masking tape. You’ll need this for the hotbed, i.e., the area where the prints will be printed. You can get cheap masking tape or painter’s tape from Amazon. Later on, you can also use a (borosilicate) glass pen or glass tile. We recommend you get the Scotch Blue masking tape .
Tutorial: Assembling the Anet A8 3D Printer
So, your package has arrived, You open it and are overwhelmed by the amount of parts? Don’t panic.
We’ll show you how to easily assemble all the parts.
But first, some few things to keep in mind:
Anet A8 (assembly) instructions
First, clear the table, unpack all the individual parts and place them sensibly around you.
The package includes a microSD card with a USB card reader. The card has the assembly instructions in the folder named “Installation Instruction”.
Here are the files, for easy reading:
- PDF: Installation Instruction Anet A8 (46 pages: Parts list & assembly)
- PDF: Operation Instruction Anet A8 (72 pages: Parts site & operation (software / settings)
- PDF: Troubleshooting Anet A8 (55 pages: print image blurred, no function, etc)
First, open the Installation Instruction PDF and, ideally, the corresponding YouTube tutorials. Here are the videos:
- Step 1: To the video tutorial part 1 (37min) >>
- Step 2: To the video tutorial part 2 (18min) >>
- Step 3: Trouble-Shooting / Debugging Tips / Final Setup after Setup (13min) >>
The videos helped us a lot with the assembly because the PDF instructions were rather vague in some places (20 steps in one picture).
In the videos, you will see all the components you will need to be working with during the assembly.
We recommend that you go through the PDF and press Play/Pause the videos.
Depending on how quickly you go, you should be finished with the assembly in 3 to 5 hours. After assembly, you will also need to adjust and configure the printer.
During assembly we learned a lot about the structure and the individual built-in parts of the printer.
What We Like
The quality of the components is surprisingly good. Almost everything fits perfectly (except for the 3D-printed parts, see below) and you really have everything you need for the first print.
The software, test prints (in gcode format), even the tools (screwdriver, pliers, open-end wrench, etc.) are included.
Of course, these are not a high-end tools. If you have a toolbox, just use the tools of your choice.
Nevertheless, you should have the following items during the assembly:
- A ruler. This is very important, especially when measuring the hotbed or extruder
- A spanner for the M3 nuts. This allows you to tighten the screws even better
- Another open-end wrench to be able to tighten the nuts in the opposite direction
Small Assembly Issues
We did not experience very serious issues during the assembly. However, there were a few small difficulties:
- A spacer for the LCD board was missing (we used a cut dowel as a replacement)
- The main board has a different layout than in the video (Attention! +/- are now swapped! See picture below)
- The two 3D-printed brackets for the X-axis are not made solid. Therefore, you might first want to connect the guide rods to the parts. As shown in the video tutorial, you don’t have to push the rods through the brackets with a hammer. (Update January 2017: injection molded holders are currently being sent – the “little problem” seems to be known!)
- The “ventilation shaft” to the extruder (also 3D printing) is a bit too thick. Stop arrows.
- The screws for the X-motor are ~ 2mm too long. Apparently new engines are being sent. Instead of 30mm screws you can use ~ 28mm screws or washers or nuts (like us).
I show you more subtleties in this video. I’ll go into preparation, stumbling blocks and other steps:
The first prints
After assembling the printer, it’s time to do your test prints.
Make sure that only one sheet of paper can fit between the nozzle and the hotbed on all sides, as shown in the YouTube video. This is important!
Also, go a step further and calibrate the height (the so-called leveling ) with a piece of thermal paper (receipt).
Otherwise, for example, the filament may cool down too quickly, lose its grip and the object may tip over in the middle of the print.
Your first print object should be the Calibration Cube (check it here at Thingiverse ). These are STL files that are still sliced with Cura.
Do not use the version included on the microSD card, but download the latest version from Ultimaker.com. There are now hundreds of improvements on the software – more on that later :-).
Print the Calibration Cube.
Once the Calibration Cube has been printed, check the following:
- Are the dimensions correct? The cube should be 20mm x 20mm x 20mm in size
- Are the edges sharp? Pay particular attention to the letters
- Can you see a lot of thin threads?
- Are the individual layers well made?
Do you think everything fits? If things don’t seem perfect, check the troubleshoot guide with pictures and possible solutions at Simplify3D.
Then it’s the turn of the so-called “Benchy” ( download it here at Thingiverse ). Benchy is a small 3D boat, which demands a lot more from your printer.
What to Check When Printing
The first prints worked well. The printer is (almost) perfectly calibrated.
Before you print other objects or read the next sections, check the following points – they will save you a lot of frustration:
- Is the footprint relatively small? If so, you need a “printing plate adhesion” (wording from Cura) and possibly even support structures prints. Otherwise, your print object may tip over in the middle of the print after hours.
- Is your pressure very small? If so, don’t use any support structures! You can no longer get these out of small holes (etc.) or else, you’ll damage the printed object.
- Which print quality should I choose? You can choose between high quality (0.06mm), medium quality (0.1mm) and low quality (0.15mm). If you are printing a tool holder, the low quality is enough for that. If you are printing a very small, detailed figure, go with the high quality. Depending on the quality, the printing time (and the filament consumption) will of course also change.
- Which filling should I choose? 20% is usually sufficient! The denser the filling, the longer it will take to print..
Software: Everything for Gcode, STL and Designs
There are various free software that you can use. Check our article on the best 3D software for beginners and experts.
Here are our favorites:
- Thingiverse : Thousands of 3D printer templates (STL files) (or Yeggi, an STL search engine)
- Blender : For opening OBJ files, editing 3D objects or for exporting to STL format
- ThinkerCAD : edit STL files online (create new objects, edit existing ones)
- Selva3D : Convert images to STL files
- Cura : Slicing and scaling STL files on the PC
With a combination of these tools, you can “conjure up” really great objects.
You can browse Thingiverse and then customize the STL files on ThinkerCAD according to your wishes.
The software is also suitable for beginners.
Anet A8 Driver: CH340 or CH341
If the printer asks for drivers for Windows or Mac, here they are:
Simply unzip the ZIP and, as a Windows user, open CH341SER.EXE and install the driver.
After that, the driver will most likely occupy the COM3 port (if it has not yet been assigned) and you have to select 115200 as the baud rate.
Help! My print is Canceled
There are various reasons why your print may cancel. These include:
- The filament is empty or broken (do you already have a better holder?)
- The STL file was broken or contains invalid information (possibly an OBJ file used as a template?)
- The host or printer had no power for a short time ( think about using a UPS ?)
- Hardware damage, loose contact, etc.
The most important rule: keep calm! There’s no need to scrape off and throw away your print item if you follow these tips:
- Find the most prominent point or the floor on your print and try to count the layers . Yes, that is damn difficult depending on the layer height. Use a needle or something similar, if necessary, to make counting easier. Alternatively, try to find a prominent place in the last printed layer. If nothing helps, measure the previously printed height from the bed height. Example: 5.1cm is 51mm, with a layer height of 0.1mm the printer has probably stopped at layer ~ 510.
- Open your STL file that you wanted to print and try to set your settings (especially scaling!) again. Now switch to the layers view. Can you find your last layer again? Does your measurement coincide with the Cura view?
- Peel off a layer if you printed with Brim/Raft. Cura also counts this.
- Important: count again! If the number of layers is too low, the nozzle will scratch your object (in the worst case it will outline). If it is too high you will first print a few layers in the air. When in doubt, it’s better to take 1-2 layer heights too little.
- Open your GCODE file with a text editor and search for that layer. The layer is introduced with ” ; LAYER: 123 ” (here layer 123). Larger GCODE files (over 50MB) should be opened with a more powerful editor (e.g. Notepad ++).
- Remove everything up to the ” Place M117 Printing “.
- Change the line ” G1 Z15.0 F13200; move the platform down 15mm ” at the Z parameter accordingly. If we take the above 5.1 cm, you should accordingly “ G1 Z55.0 F13200; move the platform down 55mm “. You don’t have to hit the layer exactly, just move the nozzle above the layer to be printed. Otherwise the nozzle will hit the 3D object and tear it off the plate!
- Depending on the Cura version or configuration, your fan may stay off because it may only come on from the second layer (which you have just deleted). Therefore, after the line “ Position M117 Printing ”, add the line “ M106 S123; turn on fan ”. Alternatively, you can issue this command during printing, e.g. via Octoprint in the terminal. By the way: everything after the semicolon introduces a comment. (Bonus: GCODE Cheat Sheet : learn to understand what GCODE does and write your own, additional, commands)
- Save the edited .GCODE file and print it – e.g. via Octoprint.
- If you run out of filament, move to the home position, preheat and refill the filament before you start printing.
- Start printing.
Congratulations! Wasn’t that difficult, was it?
Sometimes, your object may have a “scar”. If this is the case, can you work on excess filament with pliers, arrows and acetone, or … maybe you wanted to paint or spray it anyway? 🙂
Anet A8 Upgrades
If you are looking for upgrades, check the discussions at the official Anet Support Facebook group. For German speakers, check the German A8 self-help group on Facebook . There is also further reading material in the 3DPrint.Wiki.
Here are some tips that will help you with the Anet A8 3D printer:
Have you printed your first test print? Then you must have noticed:setting the right height is annoying and takes up time. To save time, get the Auto Leveling Upgrade.
Get the small module for about $20 on Aliexpress.
There are various reasons why you may want to get a housing case for the Anet A8:
- A 3D printer is not silent. Depending on the place of installation, hours of pressure can be a problem. A housing can reduce the noise and prevent the printer from vibrating.
- Dust! Your printing surface and filament will become “dusty” over time. This is not good for the printed image. A housing can prevent dust from settling on the printer.
- Easier holding of temperatures . The hotbed eats up quite a bit of electricity and naturally heats the room without a housing. If you want to save electricity and take some of the load off your 3D printer, a closed system will of course help. This is of course worthwhile with ABS prints (100 ° C + hotbed temperature even more).
- It just looks tidier or nicer to have all 3D printing tools are in one place.
- A housing increases security :
- The flying soccer ball does not land on the extruder head and curious little fingers cannot easily reach 200 ° C hot parts.
- Despite the best possible precautions, the risk of fire can never be completely ruled out. A metal housing contains the source of the fire.
Many points are certainly a matter of taste, but if you want to pack the Anet A8, the following options are possible:
- Are you skilled in your craft? Go to the nearest hardware store and get chipboard and a few nails – let’s go.
- IKEA: a relatively popular housing in the community is the IKEA LACK table . Put it three times on top of each other and provide spacers ( for printing of course ) and you are done!
- IKEA 2: IKEA STUVA body and a matching glass door (eg ” Sindvik “). A hole is drilled in the top for the filament ( + 3D printed guide ) and for about $50, you will have a 3D printer housing.
Nicer surfaces? Acetone steam bath for ABS prints
No matter how good your printed image gets – it will always look like 3D printing. Most of the time, the individual layers are easily recognizable.
Acetone steam baths can help. Here the solutions range from a plastic box + rags soaked in acetone + time to automatic heaters with metal cages and ventilation.
Mini server for print management
If you don’t necessarily want to print from a microSD card, the computer or laptop usually has to be running for the print job. Of course, you can also use single-board computers. The usual candidates should be mentioned here, such as:
- Raspberry Pi / Banana Pi / Cubietruck
- or the geek box
- A cheap (China) tablet (you can save a webcam) – We use the Jumper EZpad 5SE.
Once the server has been set up, the next thing you can do is install Octoprint and finally set up a Telegram bot that accepts a print job and sends status messages – with a live webcam image , of course. It doesn’t get any nerdy (and of course more comfortable).
A big advantage of this solution is that you no longer have to be on site and still have everything in “view”. We can now send our bot a print job via Telegram at any time, no matter where we are.
That sounds playful, but when you can start the print job on the way to work … that’s damn handy.
Anet A8 upgrades (small to large)
For me, I don’t need to buy any spare parts or better components. I just print them out! :). Thingiverse comes with some great upgrade prints:
- Improved filament guidance (other versions are also available)
- Mainboard cover (rather decoration and protection)
- Tip: Large filament holder . Otherwise the filament can tear under tension with large rolls on the normal holder! In addition, the print image is slightly better and the stepper no longer has to torment itself so extremely when it is fed.
- Tip: Better nozzle ring ventilation
- Tip: Belt brackets (replaces the screws) . So you can easily tension / loosen the toothed belt without having to fiddle with cable ties and screws every time.
- Tip: extruder button (attachment for the screw on the extruder – actually saves your thumb in the long run :-))
Anet A8 spare parts
- Anet V 1.0 mainboard or controller board
- 240W power supply (12V / 20A) for Anet A8 (alternative: old PC power supply)
- Stepper motor
- MOSFET for the heatbed ( installation instructions )
- 2 meter GT2 toothed belt and 2 pulleys
- Deflection rollers / gears at Banggood
Anet A8 conversion to Bowden extruder
To save weight, you can convert to a Bowden extruder. We recommend the E3D V6, which is available in Amazon, and the matching Bowden brackets from Thingiverse . Here you will find an introduction to the differences between the extruder types .
Lithophany, or light screen images, are images that can only be recognized in backlight.
Layers of different heights are printed and in the light there are contrasts of entire images.
Now you are probably thinking: “Wow – this is complicated!”. No. Simply open a .JPG with Cura, export as GCODE and print. Give it a try – the result will blow your mind!
You can see the best PLA filaments for lithophanes here.
By the way, if you are into crafts, check the 3D pen for three-dimensional painting. They follow the same principles as 3D printers but are much cheaper.