Computers & Electronics

Beginner's 3D printer ($300 CAD all in) Anet A8 Prusa i3: tips and tricks

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 28th, 2017 7:32 am
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1689 posts
753 upvotes

Beginner's 3D printer ($300 CAD all in) Anet A8 Prusa i3: tips and tricks

Image

I just got it from ********, 7 days shipping (DHL), just under $300 CAD all in. See my hot deals thread:

********-a8-desktop-3d-printer-kit-300-cad-all-2055184/

This seems to be the cheapest decent specs 3D printer available, so sure will be popular with people new to 3D printing like myself. Hence the need to have a discussion thread here where we could exchange tips and tricks about the printer.

Important features:
  • Heated bed (allows for printing many kinds of plastics, not just PLA: ABS, Nylon PVA / PP etc.)
  • Large printing volume (much larger than other cheap printers like Mini from MonoPrice): 220 x 220 x 240mm
  • Open Source software and hardware (meaning lots of support online).
To be verified features (from ******** FAQs):
  • (?) seems to have Pause and Stop features;


Help resources:

Upgrades and improvements:

Youtube resources:

Alternative firmware:

It looks like SkyNet v2 (open source Arduino code) is significantly better than the stock firmware on this printer, at least for the two following reasons:
- It supports auto-leveling . (One needs to install a proximity sensor for this to work)
- It has advanced thermal protection code (for cases when the hot end thermistor falls off; this has caused fire in the past, due to thermal runaway).

I think I'll switch to SkyNet v2 right away.

I just tested all electronics in my kit - everything works well. It's time to start assembling the mechanics...
Last edited by pulsar123 on Nov 21st, 2016 11:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
64 replies
Member
User avatar
Jun 27, 2011
258 posts
232 upvotes
MONTRÉAL
Thanks for this post.
I submited the proximity sensor deal on the deal page but im glad you posted the switch and the other heat bed relay thing. I ordered them.
I just finished building mine yesterday and im p'aying a bit with the calibration and all.

Its a fun machine. Smiling Face With Smiling Eyes
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1689 posts
753 upvotes
I am almost done building it (I have busy household, so can spend ~1 hour a day max for this). Hopefully tonight. Already got two 1kg rolls of ABS filament (MG chemicals) from amazon.ca, $24 each, free shipping. I don't like PLA (not good for outdoors, and most of my projects involve outdoor usage), so will try to handle the more demanding ABS from the get go.

I am now looking into using a more powerful power source - like ATX PSU (I have one with 300W on +12V side). It sounds like the stock PSU can't really handle ABS (100C hot bed is very power hungry). Already a few people reported failed PSUs in these printers.

Keep posting about your progress with the printer!
Newbie
Nov 14, 2008
21 posts
22 upvotes
London
Thanks for making this post and the summary of reference material...it's quite helpful. I had only known about the Facebook group, which looks like it has a lot of information, but is quite disorganized...The wiki pages you referenced look quite good though.

Like you, I have a busy house, so I haven't been able to complete my build, but I think I'm almost there. Some notes so far:
- the protective layer on all the acrylic pieces are a pain to take off, this took me an hour to remove it all from all pieces.
- the cross rods for the x-axis were difficult to hammer in (my mounts must be a lot tighter than the one in the video). I ended up having to hammer them in on a bench and then install the x axis assembly in one big piece (2 white end pieces, 2 rods + 3 stage sliders).
Penalty Box
User avatar
Apr 25, 2013
7300 posts
1291 upvotes
Dam, Socialism has even come to 3d printing !

Just a quick survey, are you guys getting these 3d printers in Mech Tech/Mech Eng CNC programmer types or has 3d printing gone mainstream that even hobbyist use them now ?
I remember 3d printing in the early 80's cost $350,000 just to start
A $1,250 pen plotter was the only thing we could afford to bring home back then ! ...LoL

[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1689 posts
753 upvotes
EdT586 wrote:
Nov 24th, 2016 2:18 pm

Just a quick survey, are you guys getting these 3d printers in Mech Tech/Mech Eng CNC programmer types or has 3d printing gone mainstream that even hobbyist use them now ?
Sorry, no idea what "Mech Tech/Mech Eng CNC programmer types" are...

These printers use Arduino microcontrollers (one can use open source software, Marlin, with them), and can print either from the internal micro-SD card (one need to generate the gcode first), or from your PC via USB connection, using "slicer" software like Cura.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1689 posts
753 upvotes
odiovidio wrote:
Nov 24th, 2016 12:48 pm
Thanks for making this post and the summary of reference material...it's quite helpful. I had only known about the Facebook group, which looks like it has a lot of information, but is quite disorganized...The wiki pages you referenced look quite good though.

Like you, I have a busy house, so I haven't been able to complete my build, but I think I'm almost there. Some notes so far:
- the protective layer on all the acrylic pieces are a pain to take off, this took me an hour to remove it all from all pieces.
- the cross rods for the x-axis were difficult to hammer in (my mounts must be a lot tighter than the one in the video). I ended up having to hammer them in on a bench and then install the x axis assembly in one big piece (2 white end pieces, 2 rods + 3 stage sliders).
With the enthusiastic help of two of my kids, the step one (removing the protective tape) went pretty fast!

The cross rods were very easy to insert in my case; I didn't even have to use a hammer, just my hands.
Penalty Box
User avatar
Apr 25, 2013
7300 posts
1291 upvotes
pulsar123 wrote:
Nov 24th, 2016 3:26 pm
Sorry, no idea what "Mech Tech/Mech Eng CNC programmer types" are...

These printers use Arduino microcontrollers (one can use open source software, Marlin, with them), and can print either from the internal micro-SD card (one need to generate the gcode first), or from your PC via USB connection, using "slicer" software like Cura.
Mechanical Engineering Technologists, Mechanical Engineers, Computer Numerical Control programmers are normally the usual suspects that play with these toys. G Codes were used in CNC programming before more user friendly conversational programming languages like CAD/CAM came along.

CNC vertical milling in action

[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1689 posts
753 upvotes
My first test print with this printer - it worked out well:

Member
Oct 21, 2009
206 posts
50 upvotes
Ottawa
Are you going to print the circular fan shaper next?
I just got my box. Only 24$ DHL charge. Might have to wait till weeknd to assemble.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Feb 1, 2008
3056 posts
364 upvotes
Niagara Falls, ON
Great thread guys, in getting my boy one for Christmas. Is this still the one to buy at this price. I have access to the US, not sure if one of the monoprices ones are any better. This one can be had at $220 USD with coupon

http://www.monoprice.com/mobile/product/details/13860
Last edited by hyperactiveme on Nov 29th, 2016 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1689 posts
753 upvotes
kevinottawa wrote:
Nov 28th, 2016 2:07 pm
Are you going to print the circular fan shaper next?
I just got my box. Only 24$ DHL charge. Might have to wait till weeknd to assemble.

In fact the opposite - I removed the stock fan shaper, because I only plan to print on ABS which doesn't use that fan. PLA is totally impractical, only for display (it doesn't tolerate moisture). And I want to print practical things (enclosures for my Arduino projects etc.).

Currently I am working on upgrading the PSU (and also high current circuitry - adding a MOSFET module once I receive it) - the stock one seems to be stretching to its limits when printing ABS, and I heard about multiple cases of PSU failing. I am playing with ATX PSUs for now.

Do your POWER and BED connectors look like mine (green screw terminals)?

ImageUnboxing 3D printer Anet A8 by First Last, on Flickr

If not, you have to upgrade them immediately to high-current (ideally 20A) screw terminals - there were multiple reports of these terminals melting down and even perhaps causing a fire.

It is also recommended to get rid of the connector going into the hot bed, and instead solder the wires directly into the bed, again to reduce the chance of a connector meltdown. I will look into this soon.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Aug 30, 2007
1689 posts
753 upvotes
Anyone else using this printer? What kind of upgrades have you done so far?

My very first upgrade (completely solved the shaved filament issue at the top of the extruder):

ImageUntitled by First Last, on Flickr

My biggest upgrade so far was purchasing a sheet of 0.8mm thick PEI sheet - the "miracle" building surface material for 3d printers (22$ on amazon.ca; https://www.amazon.ca/Polyetherimide-Na ... =pei+sheet). Most glue it to the bed with 3M sticky tape, but I simply use a bunch of bulldog clips along the bed's perimeter, and it works perfectly fine. My aluminum bed had a ~1mm warp, but I managed to flatten it to within ~0.2mm by placing it on two boards and carefully applying a rubber hammer, until it was flat enough. PEI is as magical as advertised: my ABS prints stick well to it when the bed is hot (I'm using 100C), and can be removed without any tools when it cools down. For larger parts, I am adding a 10-15 lines brim. I don't have to use any glue, sprays, ABS slur etc. I don't even have to clean the surface between prints, but I usually wipe it with a rubbing alcohol.

My much more involved upgrade is still in the process. I plan to make my printer much safer both in terms of fire and health safety. I have ordered some parts (12 gauge silicone wires, MOSFET unit for the bed, and a 50A 12V PSU) and will use them to upgrade the high-amperage part of the printer once I get them. I am also designing and making an Arduino based "3D guardian" which will use a bunch of sensors (smoke, CO, thermistors) to detect a potential issue, and to control a powerful 10A/380V AC solid state relay to shut down the printer in case of an emergency. (The Arduino + SSR combo is already working, but for now I'm using it to make our Xmas tree LED lights flicker :)


Finally, I'll be moving my printer to my basement's unfinished cold room (bare concrete floor and walls; air outlets), where it will be placed in a fire proof metal enclosure I am designing right now. It will have a metal exhaust pipe with a small fan under arduino control which will pump the poisonous ABS fumes out. It should also help with ABS warping, as I can keep it warm inside the enclosure.
Newbie
Jul 1, 2015
11 posts
2 upvotes
Toronto, ON
wow, this looks really fun and awesome.. thanks for sharing. i know very little about 3d printing but i have an overwhelming desire to print my own sandals.

any idea if this setup can print flexible materials like recreus fila flex? also what do they mean when they have a picture of a spool of material and they say it's $40 for 0.33 mm?

Top