Updated: Dec 20, 2019
3D printing is a blast. The power to take an idea and turn it into a physical item is immeasurably satisfying. This post will focus on how anyone can set get set up to make their own awesome machines at home!!
Anet A8 printer
1kg 1.75 mm Hatchbox PLA
Sowing machine oil or graphite lubricant
Setting up the printer:
The printer comes in pieces with a flash drive that has the instructions, and some test prints on a mini SD card. The instructions seemed kind of convoluted so I turned to youtube. during set up I highly recommend following this tutorial:
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbNocv6-OOQ&t=495s (Sorry, wouldn't let me put the window in)
Some helpful diagrams:
Main controller configuration:
Power supply layout (110 volt plug):
Notes while building:
Make sure to tighten the screw holding filament pulling attachment of the extruders stepper motor! its a pain to deal with when fully assembled.
Make sure the extruder end is secured tightly! PLA leaks are possible if it is loose
The x-axis motor mount has changed, this is the proper configuration:
once the machine is fully set up, make sure to cover the heating bed with a layer of painters tape to help with adhesion, and lubricate sliding rods with the sowing machine oil. Alternatively, if you are in a dusty or dirty environment whilst printing, you can use graphite based lubricant! this does not leave a sticky environment for to dust build up.
Make sure to level and calibrate your hot bed! to do this, simply turn on the machine, hit home all in quick setup. Turn off the stepper motors, and put the extruder above one of the corners of the hotbed. Place a piece of paper between the extruder and the hotbed, adjust the wing nuts and bolts so there is just a little bit of resistance on the paper when you try to pull it, but do not have the extruder so close as to make it difficult to move the paper.
This sets it up so the machine knows where the bed is, and allows it to accurately place the initial layer so that it sticks to the bed. After this is done to all 4 sides, the machine is ready to print.
3D printers like the Anet A8 run off of a file format called g-code. g-code is a programming language widely used with CNC (Computer Numerical Control) systems. It basically tells the machine how to move and where to move in order to create the objects in your CAD (Computer Aided Design) files (.stl). To do this we use a 3d printing slicer. I use Ultimaker Cura. ( https://ultimaker.com/software/ultimaker-cura ) It is a free program that you can import .stl files into from your CAD program.
When you open the program you're going to want to select the Anet A6 from the printer selections (even though we have the A8 the A6 selection seems to work well), and make sure your material is set to Generic PLA.
you can play around with the different thicknesses as well, however I find .2 mm to be fairly adequate for most of my projects.
Next you're going to want to make some adjustments to the speed and printers behavior. To do this, you select the pencil icon in the upper right hand of the screen.
Switch your mode to expert, go down to speed and change your travel speed to 120 mm/s, with an initial layer travel speed to 60mm/s.
Then go down to the build plate adhesion part, and switch your type to skirt. this will print out a small boarder outside of your prints to make sure the filament is properly flowing from the extruder.
Next step is to hit slice, and download it onto your mini SD card, put it into the printers SD slot, go to SD Card in your printers LCD display, select Mount, and then select your file for print. Don't worry if it start printing immediately. It takes a little bit to heat up to its operating temperature. Make sure to watch your first layer being printed as the first layer often indicates how the print will turn out.
Post Completion Additions:
The Anet A8 is a great cheap 3d printer, however, it does fall short in a couple areas. Luckily you have a 3d printer now, so you can print any upgrade structures you want!!
I currently have 2 modifications on my printer. I didn't like how hard it was to turn the wing nuts on the hot bed leveler, so i downloaded some new ones from thingiverse.com.
Make sure to tip the designer if you can!
I was also having a hard time finding space enough for the filament holder they included, so i hopped onto auto desk fusion 360, and designed filament holders that go above the machine.
And I of course made it downloadable for you guys to print yourselves :D *cough* *cough* (please follow me) *cough*. Wow sorry computer congestion, that was weird.
I used the 8mm threaded rod and nuts that were provided as a spindle as to ensure you don't have to buy anything extra for this.
Additional none printable upgrades:
Automatic Bed Leveler: This is a great thing to invest in, It makes it so you do not have to continuously reset your bed for your extruder head. To do this, you require a sensor that is mounted to the side of your extruder head to send an opening or closing signal to your Anet A8 printer board. This is a substitution for your included Z axis stop. If this is something you would like to look into doing, these are some helpful videos:
Another thing you can do is upgrade the firmware to marlin. The Anet A8 has a bit of a reputation for having some thermal problems. To combat this you need to upgrade the firmware. I'm personally running without marlin and I haven't had any issues, even with longer prints, however it can potentially be a concern. For installation instructions here is a very good video on the subject:
You're done!! go invent!!