Anet A8 3D Printer Desktop / DIY Kit Review and Build

I was sent an Anet A8 3D printer by Gearbest. It’s a very affordable Prusa i3 clone. I’ve always wanted to make a 3D printer, but it’s been a little beyond me. I had tried to build a delta with Nathan from Opentronic back in 2013, but we got stuck with the software and an alternative interest in brewing.

I think my understanding of CNC has dramatically improved since I’ve built my own machine and controller, and this machine comes with several instruction manuals.

Anyway I’ll start with what’s in the box. On the top, you’ve got the linear bearings, some plastic bits, a massive bag of machine screws. There’s some wires, the heat bed. That must be a heat sensor there. Another bit of aluminium. Also a few tools. Some more wire, and a plug which the wire seems to have actually melted onto the polystyrene – interesting.

The next box has some of the larger acrylic parts. There’s a handful in there. Got the display, in a nice box. Looks like it could have some soap in there. Got the main board here. I don’t know what version this is or what it’s running.

There’s also a timing belt, USB pen, USB cable and heat sink. And in the bottom you’ve got the rest of the components. Acrylic parts, cable chains over here, you’ve got the stepper motors which have been pre-assembled.  The heating element for the plastic, you also have some machined threaded rods, some look like trapezoidal and the rest look normal. And there’s some straight bar at the back. There’s a fan. These are the bits. Ok that’s interesting, this hasn’t been 3D printed.

I’d also asked for a sensor, a bed levelling sensor which actually came broken, but I’ll be able to glue that back together. with some dichloromethane. They also sent me some filament. I asked for PLA just because it’s easier to work with, you don’t need to heat everything up as much but they sent me ABS instead. I also asked for red. I wanted China red but they sent me UK grey.

Ok I’m not going to tell you have to assemble this because there’ so many videos doing that. I’m just going to get on with it and show you some of the stages which maybe useful for you to see.

I may come back and put washers on these.

I just put this piece on here, and I’m going to do the other side of it now.

I’m going to put a bit of machine grease in there.

Defiantly going to unscrew these and square it all up. I’m pushing it that way.

I’ve managed to break the snips that came in the box.

Ok I did do a bit of research about this machine, and one of the things I did notice was the contacts terminals here. The plug that fits onto it here is a well known point of fires. What I might do is use shielded terminals or maybe get some fibreglass shielding or sleaving, and cover the wires up after I’ve soldered them directly onto the terminals that I need. But I’ll save that for another time. Ok a week later, I’m just going to make sure the belt lines up so the pulley’s been put on quite to one side, and it doesn’t look square.

I’ve got some flanged head machine screws. These are just a little bit wider than the machine screws I’ve been sent – the mushroom head ones. I think they will actually hold a bit better. They are a little bit shorter. 16mm instead of 18mm but they still hold the nuts. So I’m just going to do the rest of what I’m working on.

Ok I just went and had a break, watched some socialist meme caucus and then it all suddenly clicked into place. There’s a grub screw in there and I couldn’t see it because this area isn’t well lit. So I’ve just undone that a little bit. This is what happens when you don’t read the manual or pay attention. And that goes straight in.

The thing I don’t get with the heat bed is they haven’t used insulated fireproof wire. But for the other heating element here, they have. Which is what you’re meant to do. I anticipated this so I bought fibreglass insulated wire which I will replace on the heat-bed.

I’ll secure that on this.

I’m jumping ahead after putting the extruder and belt on the gantry.I just managed to break the… I managed to break the stainless steel Teflon pipes which connect the heating element and feed the filament. There probably should be a couple of these in the box but they are quite cheap to replace. Just don’t over tighten them when you are at this stage of the build.

I’m going to carry on and replace the broken parts when I get it.

Make sure the wire comes out the groove so you don’t pinch it.

I’ve put the display panel on. You can see I’ve got a nut between the circuit board and the back panel, just to space it out and the plastic doesn’t put against there.

I’ve made the spool holder and added a few of the wires. But I can’t really do any more until I get the 8mm stainless steal filament tube that I broke. Obviously I just over tightened it but I am getting another one in the post and it’s a few dollars or quids.  Ok so the last thing I’ll do before putting everything else away, is fix the bed levelling sensor. The plastic bit broke on the way too me and instead of getting them to send me another one, which would be a waste of time, because I can actually glue this with this stuff here which is liquid solvent cement or dichloromethane. So the way this glue work is have to push the pieces you want to join together, and brush the glue into the crack. And it uses a process called capillary action to draw the glue between the two areas.

I’ve changed over to some longer machines screws.

Ok I’m going to stop here and wait for the next things to come in the post and carry on later.

Ok another week has past and a load of other stuff has turned up to the studio. Shielded crimps which I will be using to replace the wiring on the heat bed. I’ve also got two different types of tape. Kapton for printing on and one of heat insulation. A few other nozzles and the thing I broke from the previous week a piece of threaded rod with a hole in the centre with the PTFE for the filament to go through.

I am crimping on the insulated spade terminals – they fit on quite well but they are technically not the correct fittings for the type of terminal on the heat-bed. What I should really do is crimp the correct opposite terminal onto a piece of heatproof wire, and solder that directly onto heat-bed. But I think this is good improvement from what was already there so I’m going to stick with it for now.

I’m placing a piece of borosilicate glass with PEI plastic on top. This doesn’t come with the 3D printer so I had to buy those separately and stick them together. I’ve made a separate video about the build platform and will link to that video in the information card.

I levelled the bed manually with a feller gauge and then installed the software and drivers. It isn’t as simple as plugging in and playing with this 3D printer, but the software set up time wasn’t that long or too difficult. I’m not going to go over that install because it’s documented in the instructions which come with this machine, but I will make another video showing how I installed the updated firmware called Skynet which will allow me to use the bed levelling probe.

It’s really impressive and it seems to working quite well first time around.

The only problem is the fan. This fan here is not running. So this is my first print. I don’t know what this means in Mandarin but it looks pretty cool. I had a few problems at the beginning because the filament didn’t come out directly on the bed. I think the nozzle was a bit too high still and it looks a little bit loose so I’m going to have to change some settings. I’m hoping that just slowing it down will be enough. But  it’s pretty cool. PLA is a nice material to print with and the only other problem I had was the fan wasn’t spinning. This piece here was a little bit too high and when it’s in, and pushed all the way you can see that’s not turning. But if i pull that down a bit it can turn.

To use the bed levelling sensor you need to install an updated firmware for the controller called skynet, but because I am using a piece of borosilicate glass which has PEI – Polyetherimide plastic stuck to it, it is too thick for the sensor to work. So I will come back to that in another video.

This video has turned into another long one. I will link to some of the relevant videos, sources and forum which have helped me while construing this machine – and I will warn you now I have noticed there are different build version depending where you look.

All I can say is please be careful if you decided to get this 3D printer. If you don’t like reading don’t get into 3D printing because you need to read around the subject – it’s that simple. There are a lot of essential improvements you need to do which will help with prints quality, but also safety.

The main upgrade I did during this video was to use 2.5mm core heat resistant fibreglass cables for the head bed and insulated terminals to connect to it. I am also planing to use mosfets to connect the PSU to the heatbed and extruder heating element.

I have to admit very impressed by the initial print and thanks again to Gearbest for sending this out to me.

As I said earlier there’ll be relevant link in the description bellow. Don’t forget to sacrifice a thumb and thanks again for watching.

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