We greet you.
We recently made a detailed review of the budget Anycubic i3 Mega S 3D printer. Today we will try to compare it with the equally popular model from the same price segment, Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus.
Apart from the fact that the printers are similar in price and kinematics, they even look very similar. But as they say, the devil is in the details. Therefore, we will go through all the main elements and try to find out which of these printers is better and in what aspects.
The package bundle of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is rather meager.
There is only a spatula, a USB-wire, a metal stick for cleaning the extruder, an 8 GB SD card, hexagons, bolts, rubber feet-spacers, a card for table calibration and Z-axis alignment. But the Anycubic i3 Mega S pleased with the package.
In addition to everything needed for assembly (bolts, hexagons, keys, a small screwdriver), there is a needle for cleaning the nozzle, side cutters, a wide sharpened spatula, tweezers, an SD card with a card reader, a USB cable, a belt tensioner, rubber gloves.
And in addition to all this, a spare limit switch and a whole additional hot-end assembly.
Both printers arrive almost assembled. Moreover, they are assembled to a working condition in almost the same way. Just screw the vertical frame to the control box, connect the wires, install the spool holder, and the printers are ready to go. The only difference is that Wanhao’s vertical frame is fixed with 4 bolts, two on each side.
Because of this, you can accidentally screw it slightly at an angle. During assembly, it is imperative to ensure that the vertical frame is exactly perpendicular to the control unit. At Anycubic, the frame is fixed with 8 bolts.
Thus, it will inevitably be fixed evenly, you still need to try to screw it at an angle. The lower crossbar, which runs under the control unit, is initially screwed into place for Anycubic, for Wanhao it must be screwed on yourself.
The Wanhao vertical frame itself consists of three parts, which are bolted together.
Anycubic has an all-metal frame and is significantly more durable.
Anycubic’s rubber feet are bolted to the bottom of the control box.
Wanhao proposes to use small rubber pads as legs, which are installed under the case, while they are not fixed in any way and with any movement of the printer, they inevitably slide out and fall off. For the structural features of the printer body and assembly features – another plus in the Anycubic piggy bank.
The Anycubic i3 Mega S has a larger print area than the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus in all axes. 210x210x205 versus 200x200x180, respectively. Let’s move on to the axes of the printer. Here, at first glance, too, everything is almost the same.
Both printers use two 8mm linear bearing shafts to move the axes.
The only difference is that Anycubic has two LM8LUU long bearings.
And on Wanhao one long bearing on top and one shorter LM8UU on the bottom.
There are also two shafts for each printer. The Anycubic table moves on three long LM8LUU bearings, the Wanhao table on 4 short LM8UU bearings.
Which of these is better is a moot point. 4 bearings should give better stability, on the other hand, 3 bearings are easier to achieve alignment with the shafts.
The frame of the table at Wanhao is made of a metal plate with a thickness of 1.25mm, its strength at the sight leaves much to be desired.
On the table itself is a printed surface similar to Buildtak. Not bad, PLA sticks to it well, for PETG and ABS we already had to use additional means to improve adhesion.
At Anycubic, the frame is made from a single piece of 3.6mm aluminum. Very strong, not a single hint of possible bending.
On the table is the Anycubic Ultrabase glass. This is a very high quality surface, and many companies try to copy it with varying success. But the original ultrabase really has excellent adhesion. Additional glue may only be needed for ABS printing. The entire Anycubic table is heavier, but oddly enough, the motors and belts can handle this weight without any problems, even when printing at high accelerations.
Both printers have two motors, two shafts, and two screw guides on the Z axis. The guides are not synchronized with each other.
But at the same time, Anycubic has a separate limit switch for each motor. The solution is controversial, but with it, the printer can at least align the axle itself at every parking. At Wanhao, you need to follow the horizontal Z axis yourself. If, during printing or through carelessness, one motor scrolls and the other does not, the axis will skew, the printer will never know about it and will print parts with distorted geometry.
There are already quite strong differences here.
On Wanhao, the extruder is direct, that is, the feeder with the motor is located directly on the carriage. This has both pros and cons. More accurate plastic feed allows the use of short retracts (1-2mm), the uniformity of the plastic feed slightly increases, it is easier to print with elastic filaments. In this case, the moving part turns out to be rather heavy and does not allow the X-axis to be accelerated strongly.
Anycubic has a bowden extruder with a motor on the Z axis. With this configuration, the required retraction length increases to about 5-6mm, which slightly increases the print time. Also feeding through a Teflon tube makes it difficult to print with flex-plastics.
The feeding mechanisms of printers are also different.
Wanhao has a plastic analogue of MK8, its feed gear is located directly on the motor pulley. It works fine, there are no complaints about it.
Anycubic (namely the Mega S version) has a Titan-type feeder, that is, the plastic is fed through an additional gear, thus improving the accuracy of the plastic feeding and increasing the torque. When printing with ordinary plastics (ABS, PLA, PETG), everything works fine, despite the bowden, the plastic is fed clearly, the retracts work well. But when printing with flex-plastics, unfortunately, we had problems with the stability of the feed.
The blowing of the part on both printers is not at the highest level.
But Anycubic is a little bit here, but it wins. It has a “snail” fan, which gives a clearer and stronger air flow than a simple 40x40x10 fan at Wanhao.
But in general, both here and there the airflow leaves much to be desired, requires modifications and improvements.
On the axes, the verdict is as follows.
In most aspects, Anycubic wins again. The pluses of Wanhao include only a direct extruder. But with a strong desire, you can easily convert it to direct and Anycubic, using ready-made models from the Thingiverse website.
Let’s compare the electronic stuffing of these two printers
The control box on both printers is equally easy, you just need to lay the printer on its side, unscrew a few screws and remove the bottom cover.
Anycubic power supply from an unknown manufacturer, 12 volts 25 amperes.
Wanhao has a proprietary block from the Meanwell company, 24 volts 8.8 amperes. These blocks are renowned for their quality and reliability. Plus, with 24 volts, the table and extruder can heat up faster.
Wanhao’s control board is installed by Melzi, which is simple and quite popular. Based on the Atmega2560 chip. The stepper motor drivers on it are not removable and are soldered directly on the board.
Anycubic has a Trigorilla board based on the same Atmega2560 chip, but the drivers are removable. In case of failure of one of them, you can easily change it to a new one. And also you can easily change the drivers for more modern and quiet ones.
The screens on both printers are touch-sensitive. The Wanhao has 4.3 “and is vertically mounted, while the Anycubic is 3.5” and tilted for ease of use. But the main indicator for the screen of a 3D printer is not the diagonal, and not even the responsiveness of the sensor, by the way, it is normal here and there. The main thing is functionality. Wanhao isn’t perfect with that. The start screen does not display any useful information such as table / nozzle temperature.
There are only 4 buttons. File selection menu for printing. Calibration assistant menu.
Utilities menu, which includes PLA / ABS preheating, auto-home, manual axis movement, filament loading / unloading, cooling button, motor off button.
And the settings menu, in which you can change the PID of the extruder, steps / mm of motors, and reset everything to the factory settings. And it’s all. It is not even possible to heat the nozzle or table to the specified temperature. In this case, preheating occurs to too low temperatures (PLA 170/40, ABS 210/70). And to see what the temperature is at the moment, you can also only in this menu.
Things are better at print time.
The screen displays the necessary information and you can change the temperature, print speed, airflow and flow.
As for Anycubic …
The start screen contains information about the temperature at the moment.
It is also possible to heat the extruder and the table to any temperature. There is no PID adjustment of the extruder and steps / mm, although these parameters are not really needed. During printing, you can only change the temperature and speed, there is no control of airflow and flow. The rest of the functionality is about the same.
For both printers, the menu is not very functional. The lack of acceleration and jerk settings was disappointing, but if necessary, they can be changed in the slicer at the stage of model preparation.
It is also worth noting that Wanhao does not have such useful functions as a filament end sensor and print recovery after a power outage.
Anycubic has both. It is difficult to call these functions vital, but sometimes they can save hours of printing.
Let’s move on to comparing print quality
Both printers are in full factory condition, no additional settings have been made, no modifications have been installed. Out-of-the-box printing results from printers completely randomly selected from stock. Most of the printed Anycubic i3 Mega S has already been shown in a recent review on it. We printed the same models with the same plastics on the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus. Considering that printers of the same price segment and in general are very similar, the print settings were set as the same as possible. Only the length and speed of retracts, acceleration with jerks and, in some cases, the location of the model on the table were different.
Plastic: Tiger3D PLA orange
Speed: 50mm / s
Dimensions: 28.5×28.5×35 mm
On the copy on the left, printed on Anycubic, stripes are immediately apparent. Most likely the reason for this was the not very stable temperature retention. The slopes that were on the side of the blower turned out well. On the opposite side, it is worse, the air flow did not reach that area.
At first glance, the surface of the right copy seems to be better. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Not visible on this plastic, but the entire surface is slightly wavy. And on the Y side this is more pronounced. In later examples, this problem will be more noticeable. With blowing, Wanhao is sad. Considering that the model was turned with its tail towards the fan, as with the Anycubic, neither tilt worked well. It seems that the air flow did not reach the model.
Side Release Buckle
Plastic: Tiger3D ABS blue
Speed: 50mm / s
Dimensions: 93.7×70.5×14.9 mm
Both printers did a good job with ABS plastic. Details were printed on rafts with supports. Both rafts and supports separated normally. The buckle snaps in and out as it should.
In this example, the uneven surface of the models printed on Wanhao is already much better visible. Perhaps this is a drawback of a particular specimen that we came across for the test. But we were unable to get rid of this without resorting to modifications. There are almost no such problems along the X-axis, it seems that the table vibrates a little while moving. It can be bad bearings, uneven shafts, a defective motor, there can be many reasons. But the purpose of the experiment was to test printers in stock “right out of the box.”
Plastic: Esun PETG Magenta
Speed: 50mm / s
Both printers printed a fairly complex model made of PETG plastic without problems, the supports broke off normally. Of course, the slight unevenness of the Anycubic layers and the wavy surface of Wanhao appeared again, but on this model with such plastic it is not even particularly striking. The result is similar.
TPU (Ninjaflex) Strap
Plastic: Polymaker Polyflex white
Speed: 20mm / s
And finally, we tried to print a little with Polymaker flex-plastic. As we already wrote in the review on the Anucubic i3 Mega S, despite the declared ability, we did not manage to consistently print on it with flex-plastic. The flow was sometimes even, then suddenly stopped, then resumed and then stopped again. None of the settings helped. As a result, we managed to print a simple small model, but its quality left much to be desired.
The hope remained that Wanhao, thanks to the direct extruder, would be able to solve this problem better. In part, it turned out to be so. The plastic feed was more stable than the Anucubic. The lines ran evenly without any obvious gaps. True, the surface quality of the model was also far from ideal. Wanhao coped better with flex-plastic printing, although not significantly.
Our comparative review shows that the Anycubic i3 Mega S outperforms the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus in the vast majority of its features and capabilities.
Among the advantages of the i3 Plus is a more reliable 24 volt Meanwell power supply, versus 12 volts from an unknown manufacturer at Anycubic. And also a Direct-extruder, which allows better printing with flex-plastic, although not perfect. Slightly more touchscreen capabilities, but lacks an essential element – heating to a manually set temperature.
In all other parameters, Anycubic bypasses Wanhao. And in terms of electronics, and mechanics, and housing, and usability in general.