Making China kit printers safer. In my video a few weeks back I talked about China kit printers and a lot of the exaggerations that seem to give them a bad name online in many forums. One of the things I did say though was that the quality control on these machines is without a doubt subpar when you compare them to a much larger name more expensive 3d printer. I have a few China kits but my most current is the Anet A8 and I have seen a few posts of things burning up.
I am currently in the process of running some upgrades on the machine and a few of them will be safety precautions that are relatively simple and can give you a peace of mind. What I am talking about will pertain to all China kits and not just the Anet A8.
The first thing that you should replace on your China kit 3d printer is the power supply. Most 3d printer kits do use the same style power supply but they are not made equally. As part of the not so good qc performed by the manufacturers, they often cut corners in safety and use cheaper components in side of the power supplies that might not be able to meet the demanded load that is being put on them.
Swapping out the power supply is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You have many options from picking up another similar style power supply like this one:
Or like me, you can modify an ATX power supply to work with your machine. I will be making a guide on how to do this but there are many great guides and tutorials that exist so feel free to give it a Google. If you want a recommendation for a relatively low cost yet good quality ATX power supply this is one that I recommend.
Second thing you may want to replace is the controller board. These are also made of really cheap components that can definitely go up in magic smoke. You have a ton of options for replacing, you can go with a relatively cheap 8 bit ramps/arduino combo, a rambo board, or opt for something nicer but higher in cost like the smoothieboard.
If you do decide to go with the low cost ramps/arduino setup for your 3d printer or even decide to keep the stock one that came with your printer then you should at least consider upgrading your MOSFET. Under load from the hot bed this can easily burn out causing issues with heating up or switching the hot bed on and off. If you have the skills you can desolder and replace the MOSFET with a higher quality one or go with a simple solution like a board on the side with easy connections that you can just clamp down on the cables.
For the hot bed and even the power plug you may want to consider directly soldering instead of using the plugs on the bed and controller board. The connectors are often made very cheaply and may not be making a good contact which could cause more heat to be generated and could burn of the plug connector on either end.
The hot ends are typically not as much of an issue but you can easily replace the hot end with a j-head clone for under 10 dollars. With just these couple of upgrades that should not cost much more that 50 or so dollars you are almost eliminating the risks that could be associated with one of these cheaper machines.