Like many tech enthusiasts I’ve been interested in 3D printing for a while but the steep entry prince always kept me from actually buying one. That is until the last Ali Express sale during which the Anet A8 was price reduced to €132. Needless to say I jumped on top of it, purchased one and even used some coupons to reduce the price to a mere €120 including shipping from Germany with DHL. Of course we all know DHL stands for “Duurt Heel Lang” which is Dutch for “Takes Very Long”, and as such I had to wait 10 days for DHL Germany to actually process the parcel and forward it to the Netherlands. But hey, it arrived eventually and at this price I can’t really complain…
Building the Anet A8
Out of all the things I’ve put together over the years the Anet A8 was a pretty straightforward build. A full colour manual came included in the box with around 30 steps to follow, most of which being “take piece A and B and screw them together. In the end I’ve spend around 6 hours from start to finish with the majority of that time being spend on removing the protective paper from the acrylic pieces and cable management. Removing the paper really is a bit of a hassle, although it became a lot easier once I grabbed a guitar pick and used that to lift the paper up in one of the corners. after that you can pull on the paper at a 45 degree angle and it should come off cleanly. I thing that did worry me about this printer however are the cable connectors. My main board is the latest revision which is deemed relatively safe but despite the screw connectors you can still pull the cables loose with a bit of force. Still, as long as you’re careful things should be fine.
After building came setting up the software side of things. Cura is my slicer of choice and the Anet A8 Facebook Group has a great starting guide available for all to use. Their guide includes the proper Cura settings as well as some additional Gcode to add for proper functionality. Z calibration is done by raising the height of the end switch, setting the printer to home and lowering the Z stop switch until it’s just above the printbed. From there on you can level your printbed and are ready for your first print.
Calibration and mods
The first print I made was the xyz calibration cube from Thingiverse and came out pretty good if I say so myself. The Y axis fell a milimeter which indicates a loose Y belt. Instead of just tightening it and calling it a day I decided to print a Y belt tensioner for easier adjusting in the future. After installing that piece I printed another cube and it came out nearly perfect. Aside from the belt tensioner I also added a X belt holder for easy X belt adjustments if necessary and a semi-circular fan duct which greatly improves cooling. In the near future I will also remove the connector to the printbed and instead solder it on directly as this part is prone to failing.
After printing a Benchy that came out nicely there was just one thing left to do. I keep my printer on top of an IKEA Expedit closet which uses hollow outer planks and as such each vibration produced by the printer is greatly amplified. To remedy this I went for the audiophile solution of putting the printer on top of a 1 cm thick cork mat. This alone was enough to greatly reduce the amount of noise and by adding another mat on top it became pretty silent. Well, aside from the stock fans which I’ll definitely replace with silent fans at some point.