Reviews

Review: The Anet A8 3D Printer

Despite causing more than its fair share of house fires, the Anet A8 remains one of the most popular budget 3D printers to date. Between the large build volume, rock bottom prices and effective marketing tactics, this plastic oozing fire hazard has been placed into thousands of homes worldwide. Certain retailers hand out the Anet A8 to any Youtuber with a face, in exchange for an “unbiased” review of the product. In doing so, a brief Google search for “Anet A8 review” makes this $150 3D Printer look like the best thing since Cura sliced bread.

The Anet A8 is not without merits though, it has great potential as a barebones kit in the hands of an experience user. For those willing to replace certain components, upgrade the frame and install fail safes, it can be made into both a reliable and capable machine. The problem however is that it has been marketed to naive buyers, looking to purchase their first 3D printer while maintaining a limited budget.

If you are looking to get into 3D Printing at the lowest possible cost, I recommend checking out our article The 10 Best 3D Printers Under $800. For the rest of you with comprehensive homeowners insurance, we will look into what you can expect when purchasing the Anet A8 3D Printer.

Assembly:
Build Quality:
Features:
Price:
Overall:
Specifications
Resolution100 Microns
Dimensions500x400x450mm
Build Volume220x220x240mm
Platform3mm Aluminum Plate
Filament1.75mm
MaterialPLA/ABS
Weight19 Lbs
ConnectUSB/SD Card

Included Parts

The Anet A8 package contains 3 Styrofoam trays filled with all of the necessary parts to assemble a working 3D Printer. While the included tools are sufficient in most cases, it is preferable to have a sturdy Phillips head screwdriver on hand. It will be used often and the one provided is quite small and uncomfortable to grip.

  • 220x220x3mm Heated Bed
  • A1284 Mainboard
  • LCD 2004 Screen
  • 12V Power Supply & Cable
  • Acrylic Frame Parts
  • 3D Printed Z-Axis Mounts
  • (5) Stepper Motors
  • (3) Mechanical Endstops
  • Premeasured Wires
  • Plastic Nippers
  • 5x160mm Flat Head
  • 3x130mm Phillips Head
  • 1.5m USB Cable
  • 8GB TF Card & Reader
  • Hex Wrench Set
  • Filament Spool Holder
  • (1) 50G Sample PLA Pack
Anet A8 3D Printer Parts

 

Anet A8 Assembly

While there is no instruction manual included with the package, there are several official Anet videos on Youtube that cover the assembly process. Although the videos are well produced and easy to follow, they have released several revisions that don’t exactly fit together well. Between part one and part two, I found myself jumping back and fourth, trying to determine where it resumed the steps I was currently on.

Installation Video – Part 1
Installation Video – Part 2

Considering that I have built 3D printers from scratch, I expected to breeze through the assembly of the Anet A8 kit. This was not the case, it took somewhere around 12 hours spread across a period of 2 days to complete. The acrylic frame pieces are the most time consuming ordeal, covered in a protective paper that takes at least a couple hours to remove. Once they are unwrapped, the rest is fairly straight forward as long as you can constantly pause/play the instructional videos. They switch between normal and accelerated speeds every few seconds during the 55 minute run-time, making it easy to miss important steps should you happen to blink.

The acrylic frame is designed like a puzzle that simply snaps together, locked into place using M3 nuts and bolts. This is certainly not the most rigid construction, however it does manage to at least hold everything together.  Once the frame is done, installing the electric components such as motors, endstops and boards is almost fool proof. Everything has been labeled well, mounts to the frame and is nothing more than a game of plug and play. If you don’t mind a mess of wires, you can shave several hours off the build time. Proper cable management on the Anet A8 is somewhat complex given the lack of places to hide wires from plain view. I picked up some $2.00 split wire loom from Home Depot (personal preference) but they do include spiral loom, zip ties and plastic clips to aid in the organization process.

 

Anet A8 Build Quality

The materials used in the Anet A8 construction are nothing short of abysmal. A rigid frame is an absolute necessity in 3D Printing, where unexpected movement will create obvious defects. Any machine worth consideration will have a metal frame, often made from aluminum or steel. The choice to use acrylic (plastic) pieces was nothing more than a cost savings gimmick at the sacrifice of considerable product quality.

Although a lousy frame won’t turn your children into orphans, the included electronics are just as inferior if not worse, making use of unrated components that are sourced from the lowest cost manufacturer. The power supply and connectors are not capable of handling the sustained draw of electricity needed to run the heated bed, extruder and more. Best case scenario, this will eventually cause components to burn out without causing any harm. For those less fortunate, a spark ignites something flammable and you become a statistic.

While the above should cause any reasonable person to second guess this machine, those are just the most notable problems to take into consideration. In addition to safety concerns, I found every single bearing in my package was bad, where the balls fell out upon picking them up for installation. Since a 3D Printer relies entirely on smooth motion to operate, the lack of ball bearings means increased friction. As a result, the gantry, extruder and heated bed screech and grind with every movement, making decent results almost impossible to achieve.

Once I have finished replacing the necessary items, the total cost of the Anet A8 will have more than doubled. A premade metal frame from Ebay is nearly the same cost as the printer itself. Throw in new belts, bearings and electronics and you could have bought a much better machine for less.

 

Final Thoughts

I purchased the Anet A8 3D Printer for two specific reasons. I wanted to (A) offer an honest review in a market that has been saturated with paid feedback and (B) take the opportunity to write a series of guides that cover how to make it safe and reliable. This is one of the most popular 3D Printers sold online, yet the most urgent mods and necessary upgrades are not nearly as accessible as they need to be.

As mentioned in the introduction, I do feel that the Anet A8 3D Printer has an immense amount of potential with the right information available. Backed by a massive community of owners, there is countless customizations already designed for this platform. To provide examples, the AM8 (All Metal Frame) offers a complete frame replacement for around $55 in total. The dangerous power supply can be replaced on Amazon and cheap MOSFET Boards can bypass underrated connectors to prevent meltdowns. With enough motivation, many of the components can even be used to build an entirely different 3D Printer such as the HyperCube Evolution.

The problem however is the average shopper will have no intention of making any such changes. These are purchased as gifts for loved ones, tools for students and projects for hobbyist. The retailers know this and will make no attempt to emphasize dangerous flaws, but instead highlight the capabilities under the guise of a small price tag.

Pros

  • Inexpensive Cost
  • Large Print Volume
  • Heated PCB Bed

Cons

  • Extensive Assembly Required
  • Acrylic (Plastic) Frame
  • Unrated Electrical Components
  • Cheap Linear Bearings

Anet A8 3D Printer

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Anet A8
Author Rating
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6 thoughts on “Review: The Anet A8 3D Printer

  1. Can I suggest trying a casted aluminum bed instead a glass bed?
    Because I have seen that you recommend putting a glass bed as the best surface possible, and I really think that the casted aluminum one is better in any possible way, I tried both with PEI. It’s as flat as the glass (the only thing that is good in the glass) and is thermically conductive, is not fragile and has similar density.

    Example of what I talk https://drmrehorst.blogspot.com.es/2017/08/thermal-performance-of-ummds-print-bed.html

    1. As of now, the Anet A8 is setup in stock form for the purpose of doing this review. As a temporary measure, I used blue painters tape on the bed but will be looking to upgrade that in the future. While I had not considered using such an approach, I will definitely look into that as an option!

  2. I’ve had my Anet A8 for a few months now and have printed about 2.5KG with it and I have to say my experience was a fair bit different from yours. I agree that peeling the paper did take a surprising about of time, but even with that I was able to get it together in about 9-10 hours. I didn’t find the videos to be that difficult to follow. Most things go together pretty logically.

    I did have a couple bearing balls floating around in my bag but it’s not been enough to screech or otherwise cause obvious problems.

    The electronics have been fine for me with the exception of the bed connector. As many users have noted, the plastic overheats easily and scorches. The community suggestion of soldering the heatbed wires should absolutely be headed. I haven’t had issues with the board itself overheating due to powering the heatbed, though I understand that’s a fairly common issue. I have purchased the $5 mosfet upgrade that’s meant to prevent this issue.

    Make no mistake, I wouldn’t recommend the Anet A8 to everyone, but I think it’s a good option for anyone who enjoys tinkering and making. There’s a long list of upgrades I’ve got scheduled for my machine including polymer bearings, frame stabilisers, drag chain for the moving parts, motor dampener mounts, belt tensioners and the aforementioned electronics upgrades.

    I have enjoyed my Anet A8 enough that I’ve been watching the various sites since nearly the day I got mine to pick up a second unit on sale.

    TL;DR: It’s not the worlds greatest printer but the savings are worth it and you can easily fix the most glaring flaws.

  3. I certainly don’t believe this review is unbiased. While I agree with the build quality rating, the rating for the features is a little weird. What do you expect? It has a heated bed, a part cooling fan, a display where you can change settings while you print and all the basic features. There isn’t very much it’s lacking. Sure, an enclosure would be nice, a bowden setup would probably be more easy on the frame and some other things. But it sure has more than the necessary basics.

    1. While I definitely understand where you are coming from, a feature is defined as “a distinctive attribute” or “prominent attribute/aspect”. There is nothing I would consider to be distinctive about the Anet A8. What you have listed is included with nearly every 3D Printer made in the last several years. While I do believe it manages to check all of the basic requirements and isn’t lacking anything of importance, it doesn’t have anything that I would consider to be a feature.

      1. Upon further consideration, I would actually consider the above average build volume to be a feature, where I have bumped the feature/overall rating stars up a bit to account for that. I listed that on the pros column since a 220*220*240 build plate is definitely larger than standard, but didn’t take it into account for the ratings.

        Thank you for the feedback, I do appreciate anything that helps to improve my reviews!

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