This was the state of my desk monday when a package from Hong Kong arrived, when I took this picture I hadn’t found any instructions either. It’s an Anet A8 3D printer, the same one Luke Towan has. Unlike Luke I got mine through Amazon but due to a bit of good luck it actually didn’t cost me anything. I won an Occulus Rift through a software developer survey, they fulfilled the prize through Amazon and included a gift receipt so I was able to return it for an Amazon gift card (I actually never opened the Occulus, the day it arrived I gave it back to UPS to head back to Amazon).
The lack of instructions wasn’t really a problem though, I’d found a few good build guides on youtube that were very helpful but if you find your self getting one there are instructions and parts lists on the included MicroSD card.
So why the Anet A8? I picked it for a number of reasons including the price, as a kit it’s fairly affordable (comparatively) for the build volume. It’s also based on a Prusa I3 printer (which is entirely open source) and seems to be one of the best hobby printers you can get. It’s also a kit, so once you get it working you have a pretty good idea how it works and how to fix or upgrade things (true story: most of the things on my backlog to print are parts for the printer). Finally it appears to be a fairly common printer, I was able to find a ton of part models for the A8 on Thingiverse both as replacements (if needed) and as design upgrades liked the Z Endstop Fine Adjustment that I’d highly recommend as it’s super fiddly to get right out of the box (which paradoxically you will still have to do in order to print those parts unless you have a friend that will do it for you).
The build is pretty straight forward, if you are mechanically inclined you probably won’t find it to be difficult. None of the things you need to do are difficult, but the scope of things that needs to be done is a challenge in itself. It comes with all the tools you need… except a 5.5mm wrench, you can do without it’d be a little easier with one for all the M3 nuts. In all it took me about 8 hours from unboxing to fully assembled, that includes keeping an eye on the kids, having supper, and keeping an eye on severe weather (side bar we had >60F on Monday when it arrived and severe thunderstorms, tomorrow it’s supposed to snow… all in a 7 day period). What helped me is doing the research before hand and watching youtube build guides ahead of time so I had a general idea of what I was doing and then referencing those same build guides as I went.
I don’t feel like I’m qualified to comment on 3D print quality as a 3D printing newbie, it’s so far been good for me and it’s important to keep perspective on what 3D printers are good at (which isn’t everything) and focus on using it to it’s strengths.
I don’t really fancy myself as much of a reviewer, and in evaluating this review you should keep in mind that I’ve been 3D printing less than a week but I would say this is a pretty good printer for the money, though it does take an investment of time to assemble and keep it running well.