Introduction: Beginners Guide to 3D Printing - Anet A8 DIY 3D Printer Kit

Picture of Beginners Guide to 3D Printing - Anet A8 DIY 3D Printer Kit

Have you ever thought about buying a 3D printer? But you feel like you may not know enough about the hobby or you really want to purchase one but they are just too expensive? Well this may be the right Instructable for you!

In this Instructable I will be introducing you to the Anet A8 DIY 3D printer kit from Gearbest.com. If you have never used a 3D printer before and you are thinking about purchasing one I would highly recommend buying this printer kit for many different reasons. First being the price (ONLY $230 CA!). This printer is extremely affordable compared to other printers that are out there and if you are just getting into 3D printing like myself you will be very impressed with the prints that this printer can make. Also, there are a lot of custom parts and different upgrades that you can print off to make this printer even better and that can improve the quality of your prints.

You may be wondering how hard it is or how long it takes to assemble this printer and you may not like the idea of assembling it in the first place. But if you are anything like me you will have a blast putting this printer together and you will also learn how a lot about how a 3D printer works. The printer comes with very well written full instructions including detailed videos on how to assemble the printer so you don’t have to worry about it being too hard it may just take you some time. So assembling this printer is one thing but when its finished you may not know how to download files to print or set up Cura with proper parameters. But don’t worry because I will be going over all of that for you.

Before I go any further I will post the purchase link to this printer below!

PURCHASE PRINTER HERE: http://www.gearbest.com/3d-printers-3d-printer-ki...

PURCHASE FILAMENT HERE: http://www.gearbest.com/3d-printer-supplies/pp_42...

Step 1: Check Out the Videos!

Anet A8 Unboxing/Build:

How to Use Your 3D Printer - Anet A8 (Tips, Tricks, and Upgrades):

Before you go through look through the rest of this Instructable, you should definitely watch the two videos that I have posted above. The first video shows lot's of cool clips of me unboxing and building the printer and the second video demonstrates how to use the printer as well as goes over some upgrades that you can do to make the printer even better . Also, if you enjoy the videos you should definitely hit the like button or even consider subscribing to my YouTube channel. Most importantly don't forget to follow me here on my Instructables page so that you can see all of my future projects!

Step 2: Unboxing/Assembly

Picture of Unboxing/Assembly

When I received my 3D printer in the mail I was very happy to see that it was well packaged and nothing was damaged at all. All of the parts were separated in their own bags and all of the parts were nicely labelled. Once you open up the package you will quickly notice a piece of paper with links to YouTube videos on it. The other side of the paper shows the wiring diagram for when its time to hook up all of the wiring. The links take you to detailed instructional videos that you can follow while you assemble the printer. I won't be going over how to assemble the printer step-by-step because this is already done by Anet and I wouldn't be able to demonstrate it near as well as they do.

The printer kit comes with all of the necessary tools to complete the build and it even comes with some extra hardware. This kit also comes with a Micro SD USB stick that comes loaded with PDF instructions, software, test print files, a tool list, and other pictures. I have attached a good amount of photos of the build process for you to look through so that you can see more of whats included and see what the build process is like. If you want to see more of the build make sure you check out the first video I posted in the previous step!

If you did end up needing some extra guidance with the assembly or let's say you ran into a problem while you were assembling the printer, there is a very active Anet A8 Facebook page were you can easily get the help you need. Ill post the link here!: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1068531466501015/

Step 3: How to Use Your 3D Printer

Picture of How to Use Your 3D Printer

As I mentioned before I didn't want to go in depth with the assembly of the printer because this has already been very well done by the makers of this printer (Anet). I thought it would be better to show you the basics of using this printer and show you some upgrades that I have done to my own printer to make it even better.

So let's say you just finished assembling the Anet A8 3D printer kit and you are just itching to try it out, but you have no idea how to download files to print or set up your printer with the proper parameters. In this step I will guide you through the basics on how to download and print files.

The first thing you are going to want to do is go to http://www.thingiverse.com/ and make a free account. Once you make yourself an account go over to the search bar type in something that you would like to print. So once you find what you would like to print hit the download button and you will get a zipped folder so you will want to extract it somewhere you will remember. Its a good idea to make a 3D printing folder on your desktop that you can extract all of your print files to.

The next thing that you will need to do is download the program called Cura. This is where you will set up your printing parameters as well as slice your model and save it to your SD card. You can download Cura for free online. I will put the download link here: https://ultimaker.com/en/products/cura-software. There will also be a download link on the supplied micro SD USB stick.

So once you open up Cura the first thing that you will want to do is click on "machine" at the top of the screen and then select “Add new machine..” then click “next” ,select “other”, and select “Prusa Mendel I3”. Now you can go over to the basic tab and begin setting up your parameters. (THESE PARAMETERS ARE FOR PLA FILAMENT NOT ABS FILAMENT)

Basic Tab:

  • Layer Height: 0.1mm or 0.2mm
  • Print Speed: 50mm/sec
  • Printing Temp: 190 deg C
  • Bed Temp: 45 deg C
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75mm
  • Flow: 100%
  • Nozzle Size: 0.4mm

Advanced Tab:

  • Travel Speed: 100mm/sec
  • Infill Speed: 60mm/sec

All of these parameters are VERY important to be changed from their defaults, otherwise you will for sure have many problems with your prints. Once you have inserted all of your parameters you can open up the thingiverse file that you downloaded earlier, plug in the supplied micro SD USB and then hit the "save toolpath" button at the top left and make sure it gets saved to the SD card. When you do this Cura converts the .STL file to a .GCODE file. Your printer cannot print .STL files so you have to slice all of your Thingiverse files on Cura before you can print them. So that’s it, insert the SD card into your printer, turn it on and print away!

Step 4: Upgrade 1: Center Nozzle Fan

Picture of Upgrade 1: Center Nozzle Fan

Now that you know how to use Thingiverse and slice your print files, I will show you some upgrades that you can print off to make your printer even better and that will improve it's print quality.

The first upgrade that everyone with this printer should do is the center nozzle fan by Thingiverse user "Arjjck". This fan attachment improves the print quality a lot and it fits perfectly into the bottom of the fan so I highly recommend doing this as your first print. Instead of just cooling down the plastic from one direction this fan will cool the plastic all around.

I will post the link to this fan attachment here:

Center Nozzle Fan: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1620630

Step 5: Upgrade 2: Filament Guide

Picture of Upgrade 2: Filament Guide

The second upgrade that I printed off was this filament guide by thingiverse user "Papinist". This upgrade is quick and easy and it ensures that your filament is always being fed from the same direction it also helps the filament feed into the extruder smoother and can prevent your filament from getting stuck on something and jamming.

I will post the link to the filament guide here:

Filament Guide: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1764285

Step 6: Upgrade 3: Y-AXIS Belt Tightener

Picture of Upgrade 3: Y-AXIS Belt Tightener

The third upgrade that I printed off was a Y-Axis belt tightener by Thingiverse user "Radem". When 3D printing you never want to have loose belts or you could end up with poor quality prints, they should always feel somewhat tight when you press down on them. This upgrade makes it really easy for me to keep the y axis belt at the perfect tension and in the near future I plan on doing this to the x axis belt as well.

Y-AXIS Belt Tightener: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1755471

Step 7: Upgrade 4: Spool Holder

Picture of Upgrade 4: Spool Holder

The spool holder by Thingiverse user "Madjestik58" is by far my favorite upgrade that I have done for this printer. Originally the spool did not easily spin on the threaded rod but this upgraded spool holder allows the spool to spin very smoothly on the threaded rod and it allows the filament to feed straight down into the extruder with minimal tension. This also clears up a lot of desktop space because you no longer have to have the spool holder sitting beside the printer. If you decide to do this upgrade you won’t need to use the filament guide anymore. (You will need to go to the hardware store and buy a longer piece of threaded rod for this upgrade)

Spool Holder: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1624641

Step 8: Tips and Tricks

Picture of Tips and Tricks

So those are the only upgrades that I have done to my printer so far but there are still some other mods out there that I plan on doing. You may have noticed this expandable wire sheathing that I put over all of the wires. You should know this printer does not come with the sheathing that I used but it does come with its own wire wrap that is a lot easier to put on. I just decided to use the expandable sheathing because I really like the look of it. I purchased my wire sheathing from Princess Auto and it is 3/8" in size.

Also, after you have been using your printer for a while and you have done quite a lot of prints. The tape on the heat bed will begin tearing and the filament will not want to stick to it anymore. But don’t worry, just go to your local hardware store and purchase some blue painters tape. It will work just as well as the stuff that comes on the heat bed.

Step 9: Final Thoughts

Picture of Final Thoughts

Overall I must say I am extremely happy with the quality of this printer and I even before I did any modifications I didn’t have any issues with this printer at all. To me this printer prints just as well as a lot of the expensive printers that are out there and it is SO much fun to use. This is the perfect printer for me and I will definitely be using it all the time and using it for a lot of my future projects. If you are just getting into 3D printing and you are thinking of purchasing a printer this would be a great choice for you and you really can’t go wrong with the price.

I hope that you all enjoyed this Instructable, Thanks!

Comments

jrosado3 (author)2017-11-14

also should nozzle retraction be enabled?

jrosado3 (author)2017-11-14

does it matter which version of Cura you use or get?

purposelycryptic (author)2016-12-23

Hi, and thanks for posting this instructable, it was very helpful to me to see all the details of this particular printer close-up, and how everything is put together.

I've been planning to build a 3D printer (based on this 'ible https://www.instructables.com/id/Cherry-60-3D-Printer/), and came across the printer in yours (or an identical clone) while I was browsing Ali Baba for the parts for $206 incl. shipping.

The parts for my homebrew add up to $204 thus far, without the parts I need to get 3d-printed or the structural parts (either MDF, acrylic or aluminum), so total will end up around $240-280, depending on remaining materials, but that number includes nearly every part in duplicate/triplicate (I'm paranoid regarding everything getting here intact, given that most sellers on AB just use plain envelopes).

From your experience with this printer, would you say it's worth getting this instead of building one from scratch?

Thanks for taking the time to read my question, and for any advice you may have - I know it's a highly subjective topic, but would still appreciate hearing your opinion (As well as that of any other knowledgeable community members) ☺

RaduR13 (author)purposelycryptic2017-09-20

Anet A8 it is now available at promotional price 149$, check out here: http://www.gearbest.com/3d-printers-3d-printer-kits/pp_337314.html?lkid=10372884

HLModTech (author)RaduR132017-10-05

Mine arrived last week. =) That price was impossible to pass up. Your page was awesome for helping with that first print. Thanks for all the details. Fun checking out all the A8 thingiverse prints. I tried this fan and am doing to the first print with it now. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2450296 Thanks again.

Hi there,

I apologize for the late response. I have been using my printer quite often ever since I assembled it and it is still working great for me. I myself am very impressed with the Anet A8 for its price and what it can do. I am fairly new to 3D printing so I do not have much to compare it to. If you are very confident with building your own printer from scratch and it is something you really want to do then I think it would be a pretty fun project and you should go for it. But if you are quite unsure the Anet A8 would be a safe bet just because you will know for sure that everything will work in the end after it is correctly calibrated.

It's been the better part of a year, and somehow I have only now finally found time to work on building my printer (and replying to comments that my inbox seemingly ate) - my utmost apologies for this incredibly late reply, especially after your apology for a comparatively inconsequentially late reply.

I've been all but drowned by work this year, and then somehow ended up spending my little free time building a forge and smelting furnace (long story...).

After far too much deliberation, I finally did decide to go with building a home-brew printer, a decision I will surely live to regret given the overwhelming number of additional things that can/will go wrong compared to starting from a kit; my (hopefully) final parts bill ended up a little over 2x the cost of the A8 at $308, but I essentially ordered enough parts to build almost 3 printers, chassis components aside, on the assumption that some parts may be defective, damaged in shipping, or end up accidentally destroyed by me.

If I'm lucky, I'll end up being able to make a prototype, and learn from the inevitable mistakes I'll make there to build a more polished/less likely to explode version. Then the prototype can become a Christmas gift for a friend (once I've verified it won't actually explode or spontaneously combust).

Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to reply, and (again) my apologies for taking almost 9 months to do the same. Hopefully I will actually find enough free time to finally build my printer before the year is over, and not end up sidetracked yet again...

Well, at USD200, you already blew the budget for the A8 anyway, it actually sells for less than €135.

Building your own printer may make sense if you need different features (size...), but I can't see how you can beat the price of the A8 with a homebrew.

If you can make attention to details (read labels...) it is definitely worth getting (and they provide more screws & nuts than what is needed)

Pedro64 (author)2017-07-19

You don`t happen to have the perameters for ABS filament or can you piont me in the right direction to find them for cura. I justreceived my A8 to day. I haveread through your artical and it is great and very helpful.Thanks for your time cheers

KyleH103 (author)2017-06-17

After building my printer, and successfully printing the chess piece. I was stupid and wanted to make the micro usb less cluttered. After that none of my files will print, even the files that came with the printer. I save the files separately, but when i put them back it still doesn't work. Can someone help me?

tnweiss5 (author)KyleH1032017-06-24

I am not sure if you have found the solution or not, but when this happened to me I went to my A8 and selected SD Card from the menu and then unmounted the card. If you then go back in and mount the card all of the prints on the SD card should show up!

KyleH103 (author)tnweiss52017-07-08

Thank you for responding but, it isn't that they don't show up. They start and say 0% then go to printer ready. Even if I leave it for a bit the temp. stays the same. Can you add a image of how your SD Card is set up?

EmperorRXF (author)KyleH1032017-07-11

Can you make sure the SD doesn't have any STL files. If you try to mistakenly print an STL that will happen. It will only work with GCODE files that you convert via your slicer software (i.e. Cura)

KyleH103 (author)EmperorRXF2017-07-12

It worked! I was wired i broke my printer the day I got it. Thank You!

ridsel (author)2017-07-03

I'll be expacting my Anet A8 in the mail this week. Thanks for the clear explanation. This helps a lot.

RickW56 (author)2017-04-17

I just downloaded Cura 2.4.0 and it is completely differnt than your video. There is not a selection for Prusa Mendel i3. Only a selection for Prusa i3 (no Mendel) - also I cannot find the settings as you have shown.

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Bio: Hello and welcome! My name is Austin. I enjoy creating interesting projects and sharing my projects and ideas with all of you. Please feel free ... More »
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