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2020 Anet A8 Plus Review: 10-Hour Testing

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by All3DP
Jan 3, 2020
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The Anet A8 Plus 3D printer is an upgraded version of the tremendously popular Anet A8 and features a larger build volume plus a refined frame design. Here are our first impressions after 10 hours of printing.

If we equated the budget 3D printer market with the historic Gold Rush, the Chinese-made Anet would have to be considered as one of the first to trailblaze the Western frontier. The immensely popular Anet A8, a desktop 3D printer kit, signified a new era of affordability for FDM technology since 2016.

Although the Anet A8 was an undeniable success as far as popularity goes, it certainly had a few flaws too, including a lackluster design and electrical issues that made the 3D printer a potential fire hazard. However, the Anet team is aiming to address these problems with the Anet A8 Plus, a new and improved version of the manufacturer’s flagship 3D printer. It comes in two versions, a kit and a semi-assembled version (which we are reviewing here).

The Anet A8 Plus is nearly unrecognizable compared to its namesake. It has a new frame design, larger build volume, and a movable display screen, among other intriguing features. Best of all, it can be found for around $300.

How does the Anet A8 Plus stand up to the new class of affordable FDM 3D printers? Let’s sort this out.

Anet A8 Plus
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Anet A8 Plus Review

Feature Check

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Judging by the similarity in name, you might suspect that the Anet A8 Plus is just a slightly tweaked version of the original. But the specifications showcase some stark differences between the two models.

Metal Frame

The Anet A8 Plus has an all-metal frame. (Source: All3DP)

One of the main criticisms leveled against the first Anet A8 was its flimsy acrylic frame. But with the Anet A8 Plus, the manufacturer wisely swapped out this polymer material for aluminum, which makes the latest version much more sturdy and stable.

We were also intrigued by how simple the frame looks, drawing as much inspiration from the minimalistic CR-10-like design as it does from its predecessor. However, like the Anet A8 before it, the Plus has two Z-axis double-threaded rods that run-up in front of the aluminum frame.

All in all, the decision to implement an aluminum frame and new design leads to greater stability and high printing precision. The Anet A8 Plus needs to be built out of the box, but the assembly process is less time-consuming and difficult than the Anet A8.

It’s Much Bigger

It’s bigger. Much bigger. (Source: All3DP)

Aside from the aluminum frame, the first difference you’ll notice between the Anet A8 and Plus model is that it has a much larger build volume. While the original offers a petite 220 x 220 x 240 mm, the Anet A8 Plus is equipped with a 300 x 300 x 350 mm build area, a substantial increase which puts it in competition with the Creality CR-10S or the Tevo Tornado,

Like with its predecessor, the machine uses a Direct Drive system for feeding its filament.

Motherboard and Over-Current Protection

The manufacturer has also upgraded the inner workings of the 3D printer, integrating a better motherboard and protection from over-current and short-circuiting. Considering that the original A8 was rightly chastised for being a fire hazard, the new electronics are certainly a welcome addition to the Plus.

Glass Bed

Anet A8 heated, glass bed and a magnetic touchscreen. (Source: All3DP)

The heated bed for the Anet A8 Plus is made from aluminum substrate and includes a removable glass bed. Anet also states that its easier to adjust the tightness of the X-axis and Y-axis belts. We can confirm that tensioning mechanisms are included, consisting of a slider that can be moved by tightening a wing nut (Y-axis) or turning a screw (X-axis). However, given the rather bare-bones implementation, how helpful these mechanisms actually are in the long run is another question.

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Benchmarking

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To get a good first impression for the Anet A8 Plus review, we took the machine for a test ride by printing two torture tests on a new, freshly unboxed and unaltered machine, using PLA filament and averaged slicer settings for the ranges specified for the material.

Benchmarking Object 1: Benchy

The third attempt on a Benchy torture test finally worked (Source: All3DP)

We used white eSun PLA+ filament. For preparing the needed G-code, we used Cura slicing software included on the provided SD card. We set the hot-end temperature to 215°C and the bed to 60°C.

It took us three attempts to 3D print a Benchy (STL file here).

The Anet A8 Plus achieved  13 out of 15 points. However, we found several problems at the visual inspection.

  • Surfaces: The Anet A8 Plus showed very poor surfaces. The main problem was intensive ghosting and ripples.
  • Details: Due to ghosting, details in the Benchy were less impressive.  The helm was nicely printed, but the chimney’s diameter was inconsistent. The back letters were printed but not readable. As for the box, the walls were slightly (on the millimeter scale) affected by the rippling.
  • Overall consistency: The overall consistency was mediocre. Despite the dimensional accuracy result, the Anet A8 has consistent ghosting which ultimately resulted in an underperforming print. Nonetheless, no over extrusion was found.

Benchmarking Object 2: Kickstarter Autodesk Test

The Autodesk Kickstarter test model looks at an FDM printer’s precision. We used the same white eSun PLA+ filament and the same temperature settings (215°C/60°C).

The Anet A8 Plus scored with 13.5 of 30 points, which is an overwhelmingly poor score. On visual inspection we found the following problems:

  • Surfaces: We found ringing and inconsistencies in the Z-axis alignment.
  • Details: The details in the Anet A8’s Kickstarter test underperformed the most in out benchmarking review. We found nesting and stringing. Additionally, the fine negative features did not score a single point, as none of the pins were removable.
  • Consistency: The consistency of the print was bad. We found the overhangs to score poorly, drifting at just 45°.

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Benchmarking Verdict

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Both in dimensional accuracy and visual inspection, the Anet A8 Plus Benchmarking results scored sub-par. The performance of the Anet A8 Plus wasn’t much better than the plain vanilla Anet A8, a model that was released four years ago at the time of writing.

The original Anet A8 wasn’t perfect, and like with the predecessor, you can address most issues if you are willing to spend some time and dive deeper to find the optimal settings. On the other hand, the competition offers machines that will give you a better out of the box experience.

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Tech Specs

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General Specifications

3D Printing Properties

  • Build volume: 300 x 300 x 350 mm
  • Feeder system: Direct drive
  • Print head: Single nozzle
  • Nozzle size: 0.4 mm
  • Max. hot end temperature: 250℃
  • Max. heated bed temperature: 100℃
  • Print bed material: Heated bed with a removable glass build plate
  • Frame: Aluminum
  • Bed leveling: Manual
  • Connectivity: MicroSD
  • Print recovery: No
  • Filament sensor: Yes
  • Camera: No

Materials

  • Filament diameter: 1.75 mm
  • Third-party filament: Yes
  • Filament materials: ABS, HIPS, PA Wood, PETG, PLA

Software

  • Recommended slicer: Cura
  • Operating system: Windows, Mac OSX
  • File types: G-code, JPG, OBJ, STL

Dimensions and Weight

  • Frame dimensions: 612 x 462 x 573 mm
  • Weight: 10 kg

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Where to Buy

You can buy Anet A8 Plus from the online retailers below.

Anet A8 Plus
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Benchmarking Results

Here you find the detailed results for the Anet A8 Plus test prints. For our benchmarking procedure please click here.

Benchy

  1. Overall length (60 mm ±1 % tolerance): 59.81 mm, 1 point given
  2. Overall width (31 mm ±1 % tolerance): 30.52 mm, 0 point given
  3. Bridge Roof length (23 mm ±1 % tolerance): 23.18 mm, 1 point given
  4. Chimney roundness inner diameter (3 mm ±10 %): 2.30 mm, 0 point given
  5. Chimney roundness outer diameter (7 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 7.07 mm, 1 point given
  6. Vertical overall-height (48 mm ±1 % tolerance): 47.67 mm, 1 point given
  7. Box depth (9 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 9.18 mm, 1 point given
  8. Box inner length (7 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 6.83 mm, 1 point given
  9. Box outer length (10.81 ± 5 % tolerance): 10.65 mm, 1 point given
  10. Box outer width (12 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 11.75 mm, 1 point given
  11. Box inner width: (8 mm ± 5 % tolerance): 7.66 mm, 1 point given
  12. Hawsepipe inner diameter left (4 mm ±10 % tolerance): 3.65 mm, 1 point given
  13. Hawsepipe inner diameter right (4 mm ±10 % tolerance): 3.93 mm, 1 point given
  14. Bridge front window width (10.5 mm ±5 % tolerance): 10.21 mm, 1 point given
  15. Rear window inner diameter (9 mm ±5 % tolerance): 8.83 mm, 1 point given

Kickstarter Autodesk Test

  1. Dimensional Accuracy: 5 of 5 points (24.92 / 20.015 /14.98 / 9.96 / 5.09)
  2. Fine Flow Control: 2.5 points (1 spires were printed correctly)
  3. Fine Negative Features: 0 points (0 pins were removable)
  4. Overhangs: 1 points (Surface dropped at 45 degrees)
  5. Bridging: 5 points (No bridges we contacting)
  6. XY Resonance: 0 points (ringing was detectable)
  7. Z-axis alignment: 0 points (not visible)

Overall, the Anet A8 Plus scored 26.5 out of 45 points.

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How We Benchmark

For the benchmarking element of our review, we use the following guidelines:
Unbox the printer: We unbox the printer and assemble it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Deficiencies and errors are noted and build around according to the consensus online for the printer.
Filament: We use amazonlink url=”https://www.amazon.com/eSUN-1-75mm-Printer-Filament-2-2lbs/dp/B01EKEMFQS/” ()white eSun PLA+ filament/amazonlink (). Temperature settings are 215 °C for the nozzle and 60 °C for the bed.
Printing: We print two test models — Benchy and the Kickstarter x Autodesk FDM 3D Printer Assessment — using the manufacturer-provided/recommended slicer and settings. If the printer ships without a dedicated slicer and profile, we generate a generic Cura profile using the essential information of the printer.
After the first print, we inspect the object for easily fixable problems (i.e., a loose belt or a poorly leveled print bed) and then print again. If the printer can’t provide a decent result after three attempts, we stop. Printers that fail to produce a test object receive zero points for the respective test object.

1. Benchy

The Benchy 3D printer torture test is one of the world’s most popular prints. It helps to measure the dimensional accuracy capabilities of your printer and helps highlight other visible print nastiness.
We measure our best Benchy print using digital calipers, scoring 15 criteria against their target value. A total of 15 points are available.

  1. Overall length: 60 mm
  2. Overall width: 31 mm
  3. Bridge Roof length: 23 mm
  4. Chimney roundness inner diameter: 3 mm
  5. Chimney roundness outer diameter: 7 mm
  6. Vertical overall-height: 48 mm
  7. Box depth: 9 mm
  8. Box inner length: 7 mm
  9. Box outer length: 10.81
  10. Box outer width: 12 mm
  11. Box inner width: 9 mm
  12. Hawsepipe inner diameter left: 4 mm
  13. Hawsepipe inner diameter right: 4 mm
  14. Bridge front window width: 10.5 mm
  15. Rear window inner diameter: 9 mm

To accommodate the difficulty and inaccuracies when measuring small features, we have implemented a sliding scale of tolerance in our scoring. The smaller the feature, the greater our allowance for deviation:

  • 60 mm to 23 mm: 1 percent tolerance allowed
  • 23 mm to 7 mm: 5 percent tolerance allowed
  • 7 mm to 0 mm: 10 percent tolerance allowed

Finally, we do a visual inspection and note any flaws and problems we encounter.

2. Kickstarter x Autodesk FDM 3D Printer Assessment

The Kickstarter x Autodesk print exposes an FDM printer’s precision via six distinct tests in one object.
By pushing a printer’s hardware and software the system to the point of failure, the print reliably visible imperfections that can be used to assess the performance of the slicer, the extruder, and the motion system together.
caption id=”attachment147218″ align=”aligncenter” width=”700″ ()

The Kickstarter Autodesk test 3D printer test (image: Kickstarter)
The Kickstarter Autodesk test 3D printer test (image: Kickstarter)/caption ()
Here’s what’s getting measured.

  • Dimensional Accuracy
  • Fine Flow Control
  • Fine Negative Features
  • Overhangs
  • Bridging
  • XY Resonance
  • Z-axis alignment

The tolerances and measurements are very detailed. You can find the exact measuring procedure on Github. The highest possible score is 30, indicating a very well-calibrated system.
It’s worth noting that these benchmarking tests are not a definitive measure of a printer’s worth. More an indication of a printer’s state out of the box with no-tinkering, it’s only after a full evaluation and in-depth review that we fully judge a 3D printer.

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License: The text of "2020 Anet A8 Plus Review: 10-Hour Testing" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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