I’ve had mine sometime now and it’s one of those tools I don’t use all the time but when I need it it’s invaluable. When you buy ARTF(Almost Ready To Fly) RC model aircraft it’s often quite hard to get any spares for them or if you can they charge silly money with packaging. So for me, the best thing about a 3d printer is making those hard to source parts or something that you can’t buy. There are thousands of prints you can download and usually, somebody has already designed it and it’s free in most cases.
After a lot of research, I decided to get the Anet A8 3D printer for two reasons:-
I purchased mine from direct from GearBest and ordered it with the auto-level sensor and a roll of PLA filament. Looks a little daunting at first with all the parts but the assembly videos are quite good and I had it running without any issues, but not with the auto level sensor. I wanted to get it working as standard.
Anet has now (2019) introduced a new model the ET4 which is a little more expensive than the A8 but is getting some very good reviews.
There’s support for the Anet A8 3D printer on Facebook and on YouTube. I highly recommended Daniel’s channel CrossLink He has some video’s specifically for the Anet A8 and has some great mods and tips.
The price is coming down on these now and they are very affordable, just over £100 UK. I’ve added a few mods to mine and its ideal for making parts for my Radio Controlled planes that are difficult to source. I’ve made propeller spinners, exhaust stacks for Merlin V12 engines, a BAE Hawk for my grandson and tail rotor for a Tri-copter, just to name a few.
There are many modifications you can make to the Anet A8 to improve its results. But to be honest the first print I made with the standard machine was very good.
The first modification was to print a new cooling nozzle, this replaces the original and cools all around the extruder.
The second modification I made was to buy a MOSFET board, from eBay. which basically relieves the controller board from supplying the current to the hotbed. There are some instances when the hotbed connector on the controller board melts. You can also add a second power supply to speed up the heating of the nozzle.
I ordered the auto bed level sensor with the printer and this picture below is what sent. Keeping the hotbed level is important to get good prints. The auto-level sensor with the Skynet firmware installed on the controller board measures the bed before the print and compensates for out of level on the bed.
The first time I plugged the auto-level sensor in the LCD on the printer wouldn’t light up. Unplugged and it worked fine. Anyway, after much Googling, I found out the sensor was supplied wired incorrectly. The blue and brown wire need to be swapped. For the money, the Anet A8 is very good.
Update – I don’t use the auto-level anymore it was never very good and I just check the level before each printing session.
My first print was the cooling nozzle and it came out very well and since that, I made loads of parts. Had a few failures but that’s more down to me learning how to use it. I also printed the bracket for the auto level sensor which again came out well. All were downloaded from Thingiverse and printed with Cura 2.3
I’ve added an X and Y belt tensioner from Thingiverse and this has made a big difference the quality of the prints
I lost the spinner of my RC TopHobby Focke Wulf 109A. Couldn’t get one from CenturyUK who supplied the model and just said keep checking, pretty crap I thought. Seems like these are hard to come by now. So I decided to make one. This video shows my efforts and a successful flight
I did have some issues with the amount of play on the linear bearings and printed some new ones which removed nearly all the play. The video below shows the issue. I upgraded all the linear bearings including the Y-axis with Drylin bearings which are very quiet and eliminated all the play.
Would I buy an Anet A8 again?
Yes if my budget was limited then absolutely, as I type this post its printing a beany hat mount for my GoPro Session camera that I use to film my exploits at the flying field. For the money you can’t go wrong, I wouldn’t bother with the auto level sensor in fact mines disconnected now. I just check the level before a printing session. I now print on a glass bed mostly with PLA at 205 degrees on the nozzle and 70 degrees on the bed, needs to be a bit warmer with the glass on. Any lower and it doesn’t stick too well.
If you can spend a bit more them the aluminium frame printers seem to be a bit more consistent according to some sources. If mine where to break I probably buy one of these below