The Anet A8 or the fire starter as it has become to be known by is a budget 3D printer I reviewed in February of 2017. Overall, I had a lot of good to say about it after building it and testing out its print quality. I felt that it has quite a lot to offer for its $160 dollar price tag and relatively large build volume for anything in that price range. It has been a little over a year since then and I still am constantly seeing posts about it and am being asked questions about the printer so I decided to make an update on it.
This will be both an update as far as how the printer has performed over the last year as well as how my opinion has slightly changed on this printer in my recommendations for someone. To begin let’s look at how it has performed print wise since I finished assembly and upgrading it a year ago. The machine has been great coupled with an E3D clone, a proximity sensor and Skynet firmware printing on this thing is a breeze. It prints just about as well as any of my other printers do even ones that cost twice as much.
I printed my mini arcade cabinet completely on the Anet A8 which was one of the biggest multi part prints I had done to date. I did run into some issues when I had prints that were printing at 70mms or above where they where to brittle, but at 60mms it has been able to print parts beautifully. I have only printed PLA, ABS, and some wood PLA on this printer so those are the ones I have had experience with on this printer.
Overall, my experience has been solid and although the frame is by no means rigid with its acrylic build, it has held up quite nicely. I did print some frame braces initially that I am sure have helped keep it together a bit more than if you had left it just with the acrylic pieces it came with. My Anet A8 is modified, and modified quite heavily. This was one of the reasons I was enticed with its low price tag when initially purchasing it. I had planned to get it and upgrade the hell out of it.
Over the past year I have seen about four different instances of Anet A8’s causing fires. Some ranged from fairly small with the unit eating itself and some other doing more damage. This has led to many users damning this printer and calling it a fire waiting to happen with some users going as far as saying that if you get the printer it WILL catch on fire.
The reason that there have been these cases of fires starting is two fold (which is not including the neglect and carelessness the users of these printers may have had). The first reason is the firmware. The Anet A8 ships out with firmware that by default has many of Marlin’s safety features such as thermal runaway protection disabled. These are things that are put into the firmware to keep the user safe but Anet has chosen to thing this is clearly not mandatory.
The reason it is disabled is due to the cheap electronics on the Anet it can be prone to triggering these safety features so by disabling them their printer is able to… well print. The other cause of fire issues is the cheap electronics and poor connections on things especially the heated bed which draws the most power.
These fixes are quite easy, and I did them right away when I got my printer by swapping the PSU, wiring connections directly and adding a MOSFET board. Along with that, I reflashed the firmware to ensure that I had all of Marlin’s safety features enabled in case anything did go wrong. In total it cost me about $50 dollars for the upgrades and an hour of my time which is not a lot considering the time that goes into the build.
I recommended this printer a year ago for the price and I still do. However, I recommend it more for someone who is a bit more advanced with 3D printing and I do not think it is a great choice for a beginner. It is a lot more work than it is worth for a beginner when there are other units available such as a Tevo Tarantula, Monoprice Printers, and the Ender 2 or 3 to name a few. The Anet A8 is an excellent machine to mod into something like an AM8 or one of its varients but it is not a machine that is great to build stock and trust.
Although I do think many enthusiasts are being a bit extreme about the machine causing fires as a guarantee I do think as a beginner you are better putting your money elsewhere. If you do decide as a beginner to take the chance still on the Anet A8 then at least do the safety upgrades. To me those upgrades are not optional and should be mandatory if you plan on making this printer your daily driver.
What is your experience with this machine if you have owned own?