Anycubic i3 Mega vs Wanhao i3 Plus

Not sure which to buy between the Anycubic i3 Mega and the Wanhao i3 Plus? Read our comparison guide to get an idea how the two printers compare to each other.

We recently reviewed the budget Anycubic i3 Mega S 3D printer. Today, we’ll compare it with the equally popular model in the same price segment; the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus.

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Wanhao i3 Plus 1

The two 3D printers are similar in price and kinematics, and even look similar. However, as they say, the devil is in the details. We will go through all the main elements and try to find out which of these printers is better and in what aspects.

Anycubic i3 Mega vs Wanhao i3 Plus

What’s in the Box?

The package bundle of the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus is rather small.

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There is only a spatula, a USB-wire, a metal stick for cleaning the extruder, an  GB SD card, hexagons, bolts, rubber feet-spacers, a card for table calibration and Z-axis alignment.

The Anycubic i3 Mega S packages comes with many accessories

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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, and rubber gloves.

There is also a spare limit switch and an extra 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.

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Because of this, you can accidentally screw it slightly at an angle. During assembly, ensure that the vertical frame is exactly perpendicular to the control unit.

With the Anycubic printer, the frame is fixed with 8 bolts.

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Thus, it will inevitably be fixed evenly. However, 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, you must screw it by yourself.

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The Wanhao vertical frame consists of three parts that are bolted together.

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Anycubic has an all-metal frame and is significantly more durable.

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Anycubic’s rubber feet are bolted to the bottom of the control box.

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For Wanhao, you’ll have to use small rubber pads as legs. These pads are installed under the case and are not fixed in any way. With any movement of the printer, the pads slide out and fall off.

Finally, the Anycubic i3 Mega S has a larger print area than the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus in all axes. The build volume of the i3 Mega S is 210 x 210 x 205 mm while that of the Wanhao i3 Plus is 200 x 200 x 180 mm.

Let’s move on to the axes of the printer.

X Axis

At first glance, everything is almost the same. Both printers use two 8mm linear bearing shafts to move the axes.

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However, Anycubic has two LM8LUU long bearings.

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On Wanhao, there is one long bearing on top and one shorter LM8UU on the bottom.

Y Axis

There are also two shafts for each printer. The Anycubic printbed moves on three long LM8LUU bearings, while the Wanhao printbed moves on 4 short LM8UU bearings.

Which of these is better is subjective. 4 bearings provide better stability. On the other hand, 3 bearings are easier to achieve alignment with the shafts.

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The frame of the Wanhao printbed is made of a metal plate with a thickness of 1.25mm. Its strength leaves much to be desired.

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On the printbed is a printed surface similar to Buildtak. PLA filament sticks to the surface well. However, for PETG and ABS, we had to use glue to improve adhesion.

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On the Anycubic i3 Mega, the frame is made from a single piece of 3.6mm aluminum. You already know that the frame is strong just by its thickness. There is no hint of possible bending.

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On the printbed is the Anycubic Ultrabase glass. This is a very high quality surface that some companies have tried to copy with varying success. The Ultrabase glass has excellent adhesion. Additional glue may only be needed for ABS printing.

The Anycubic printbed is heavier. However, the motors and belts can handle this weight without any problems, even when printing at high speeds

Z Axis

Both printers have two motors, two shafts, and two screw guides on the Z axis. The guides are not synchronized with each other.

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However, 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.

With Wanhao i3 Plus, 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 not recognize this and will print parts with distorted geometry.

Extruder

There are already quite strong differences here.

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The Wanhao uses a direct extruder, i.e., the feeder with the motor is located directly on the carriage. This has both pros and cons.

Most accurate filament feeds allow the use of short retracts (1-2mm). This increases the uniformity of the filament and makes it easier to print with elastic filaments.

With a direct extruder, the moving part turns out to be rather heavy and does not allow the X-axis to be accelerated strongly.

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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 the printers are also different.

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Wanhao has a plastic analogue of MK8 and its feed gear is located directly on the motor pulley. The mechanism works fine.

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Anycubic (namely the Mega S version) has a Titan-type feeder, i.e., the filament is fed through an additional gear, thus improving the accuracy of the feeding and increasing the torque.

When printing with ordinary plastics (ABS, PLA, PETG), everything works fine, the plastic is fed clearly, and the retracts work well. But when printing with flex-plastics, we had problems with the stability of the feed.

The airflow being blown to the part on both printers is not sufficient as we would have liked.

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Still, the Anycubic wins. The printer has a “snail” fan, which gives a clearer and stronger air flow than a simple 40 x 40 x 10 fan fitted in the Wanhao printer.

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Generally, the airflow in both printers leaves much to be desired. It requires modifications and improvements.

On the axes, here is our verdict:

In most aspects, the Anycubic wins again. The advantages of the Wanhao include only a direct extruder. However, you can easily convert the Anycubic extruder to a direct one using ready-made models from Thingiverse.

Power Supply

The control box on both printers is easy to access. You just need to lay the printer on its side, unscrew a few screws and remove the bottom cover.

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Anycubic power supply from an unknown manufacturer, 12 volts 25 amperes.

 

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Wanhao has a proprietary block from the Meanwell company, which is 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.

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Wanhao’s control board is installed by Melzi and is based on the Atmega2560 chip. The stepper motor drivers on it are soldered directly on the board and, therefore, are not removable.

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Anycubic has a Trigorilla board based on the same Atmega2560 chip. However, the drivers are removable. In case one of them fails, you can easily change it to a new one. You can also easily change the drivers for more modern and quiet ones.

Control Screen

The screens on both printers are touch-sensitive. The Wanhao has 4.3″ screen that is vertically mounted, while the Anycubic has a 3.5″ screen that is tilted for ease of use.

However, the most important thing about a 3D printer display screen is not the diagonal tilt nor the responsiveness of the sensor. The main thing is functionality.

Wanhao isn’t perfect with that. The start screen does not display any useful information such as printbed or nozzle temperature.

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There are only 4 buttons:

  • File selection menu for printing
  • Utilities button
  • Calibration assistant menu
  • Settings button

When it comes to printing, there are 6 buttons:

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  • Utilities menu, which includes PLA / ABS preheating
  • Auto-home
  • Manual axis movement,
  • Filament loading / unloading,
  • Cooling button
  • Motor off button.

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In the Advanced Settings menu, there is:

  • PID settings button, which allows you to change the PID of the extruder
  • Steps/mm of motors
  • Reset button to reset everything to the factory settings

That is all. It ‘s 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.

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Things are better at print time.

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The screen displays the necessary information and you can change the temperature, print speed, airflow and flow.

As for Anycubic …

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The start screen contains information about the temperature at the moment.

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It is also possible to heat the extruder and the printbed 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, However, 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.

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Anycubic has both.

While it may not be right to call these functions vital, sometimes they can save hours of printing.

We tested both printers in their initial factory settings. We made no additional settings nor installed any modifications.

Most of the printed models that the Anycubic i3 Mega S has already been shown in a recent review on it.

We printed the same models with the same materials on the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus. Considering that the printers are of the same price segment and in general 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.

Here are the results:

PLA Printing

Calicat
Plastic: Hatchbox PLA Orange
Layer: 0.2mm
Speed: 50mm / s
Temperature: 205/60
Dimensions: 28.5×28.5×35 mm

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For the models printed with Anycubic, the 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 models printed on Wanhao seems to be better. However, this is not the case. While you cannot see on the material, 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.

ABS Printing

Side Release Buckle
Plastic: Hatchbox ABS blue
Layer: 0.2mm
Speed: 50mm / s
Temperature: 235/100
Dimensions: 93.7×70.5×14.9 mm

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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.

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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 model 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 printbed vibrates a little while moving. It can be bad bearings, uneven shafts, a defective motor, or any other reasons.

Still, the purpose of the experiment was to test the printers “right out of the box.”

PETG Printing

Spider-man bust
Plastic: Esun PETG Magenta
Layer: 0.2mm
Speed: 50mm / s
Temperature: 240/85
Dimensions: 95.5×101.2x150mm

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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. However,  on this model with such material, it is not even particularly striking. The results were similar.

Flex Printing

TPU (Ninjaflex) Strap
Plastic: Polymaker Polyflex white
Layer: 0.2mm
Speed: 20mm / s
Temperature: 230/60
Dimensions: 12.2х155х3.2mm

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And finally, we tried to print a little with Polymaker flex-plastic. As we already wrote in the review on the Anycubic 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. However, its quality left much to be desired.

We though 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 what the Anycubic managed. The lines ran evenly without any obvious gaps. Yes the surface quality of the model was far from ideal. Still, the Wanhao coped better with flex-plastic printing than the Anycubic.

Conclusion

Our comparative review shows that the Anycubic i3 Mega S outperforms the Wanhao Duplicator i3 Plus in terms of features and capabilities.

Among the advantages of the Wanhao i3 Plus is a more reliable 24V Meanwell power supply, versus 12V from an unknown manufacturer at Anycubic. The Wanhao also has a Direct-extruder, which allows better printing with flex-plastic, and slightly more touchscreen capabilities, which however lacks the ability to manually set the nozzle heating temperature.

In all other parameters (electronics, echanics, housing, and usability in general), the Anycubic i3 Mega outclasses the Wanhao i3 Plus.

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