3D printers are a must-have these days if you are a hobbyist or an engineer. They allow parts to be made on-the-fly for your projects with so much ease. We have been looking to buy one for a while but was unsure which one to get. Remember the days when you had to buy individual parts to make a Reprap or buy an assembled one from the limited suppliers at the time? However these days, the prices range from ridiculously cheap or for stupidly high prices. For our case, we were looking at a mid-range one on Gearbest.
GearBest specialises in consumer electronics, DIY electronics such as arduino and Pi shields and has an extensive catalogue of gadgets. Their online catalog is constantly expanding with the very latest and the coolest gadgets, and they provide fast DHL delivery if you are eager to get your new gadgets fast. Over the years, they have developed into a professional online shop and they are fairly responsive to queries in English! 🙂
We decided to settle for the ANET A8 as it was at a reasonable price for a starter 3D printer and it had very good reviews on Gearbest. We ordered it and selected the fast DHL service. Happy days 🙂
A few days later, we got an email from DHL that said that the shipment was in the UK and it would be delivered once we have paid the customs tax of £34.00. This is one thing that you need to account for, in your budget, when buying a 3d printer from outside your home country.
The box was professionally packed with all parts surrounded with protective foam.
The box also contained some snips and a screwdriver. I would recommend that you don’t use the screwdriver as it is not very good! The box did not come with assembly instructions but you can download a PDF from the product page on GearBest. The PDF is fairly detailed and has photos to help assembly.
Assembly of the ANET A8
The frame of the ANET A8 is made of perspex. Looking at the parts, it seems that the whole frame might have been cut from a large sheet of perspex with a laser cutter. All the perspex parts comes with the protective film still on. On the edges, the protective film seems to have “fused” a bit with the perspex; making it challenging to remove the protective film. Anyway, we did it in the end and the frame started to take shape.
For the build, we decided not to record a video as the steps were straightforward, as long as you follow the pdf. However, there are a few assembly videos on YouTube that are useful if any of the steps are not clear enough.
One thing that we did not put together as suggested by the pdf is the “H” base plate. We decided to put it upside down as it provide better movement of the Y-axis belt. This is also suggested by various people online and we agree with them. This give less clearance between the belt and the stepper cog and hence better contact.
And on went the heated bed:
The stepper motors, extruder and LCD followed:
The next step was to fix up the power supply but we decided to leave that for last. We proceeded with installing the controller board. The controller board felt very well made and labelled up properly.
We connected up the stepper motors, heated bed, limit switches and extruder to the control board. All the wire cable were labelled up. making it very easy to connect every together. The end results was a right mess!
The ANET A8 kit came with a considerable length of “spiral Cable tidy”. We were a bit reluctant to use them at first but then we start to wrap the wires and things start to look well tidy.
The ANET A8 kit came with a power supply that needed a mains cable to be screwed on the terminals. The kit also came with a mains cable but with a not UK plug. The issue we had with this set up is that if this power supply was plugged in the mains and the wire was to become loose from the power supply screw-terminal; then a live connection might become exposed. That can be lethal.
After looking around online, some people seemed to have printed parts to make the power supply safer. So we decided to wire the power supply for now in the hope that we can print the same parts.
So we were good to go, except that the tape on the heated bed.. well, the masking tape, was all over the place.
The ANET A8 can be controlled with the buttons on the LCD but we found it to be quite “sticky” and took a while to get use to it.
The tape that came on the heated bed was damaged and already peeling off. So we took it off and bought the following painter’s tape.
We uploaded the gcode of one of the test piece on the SD card and placed the SD card in the the ANET A8. We levelled the bed before starting the print from file.
The end results was:
Very impressive. The print adhered very well to the painter’s tape.
We can wait to print actual useful things with it 🙂
Our thought on the ANET A8
We are very pleased with the quality of print of our ANET A8. For the price, I would highly recommend getting one if you are in the market for a 3D printer.
Here is a summary of our thoughts so far.
- Good price.
- Easy to assemble + Good assembly instructions.
- Print from SD card
- The AVNET A8 can be upgraded
- Good quality of print
- The power supply live terminals can be easily exposed posing as a potential lethal hazard.
- The perspex protection film was a pain to remove.