tl;dr Despite of all of the drawbacks, this is a tinkering man wet dream. Probably the best kit to learn things about 3D printing itself.
Last year I bought myself a 3D printer. I did my usual homework. Look for reviews, ask people who already own one, compiled a list and compare those to what’s available here in Jakarta. Because my original plan was just to dip my toes in and see if it’s something for me, back then, anything below $1000, will be a kit that I need to build my own. Pretty far from a 2D printers. So local is important, if I fuck something up, I can get parts fairly quick.
Back then, Anet was on the top of the list. It’s the cheapest one on the market, and very upgradeable. Turns out, the upgrades were necessary, not optional. Now if you punch “Anet house fire” into google, you’ll get plenty of results. The A8 has literally burn a house down, and many has fire started around the main board area. I guess I lucked out with mine.
At this point, many Anet A8 owners will not recommend this to other, neither will I. You can call this sunk cost fallacy, but man it’s so much fun “upgrading” the A8. At the beginning, I was a 3D printer virgin, I tried to watch some youtube vids, but many of the words just fly over my head. I don’t even get what they’re talking about. So I just pull it out of the box, and just follow the instruction to build it. It’s like building a pretty complex IKEA shelf.
Built it, test run, and immediately scratch the heated bed. Because the instruction for the bed leveling sensor were completely wrong. Pull the sensor out, switch back to button end stop. It was more practical, and made sense in my head. I can’t even begin to debug the sensor right? Not much to do but to go back to the button, at least I can get my head around that, Z axis goes down, hit the button, and stop. That’s the lowest point of the printer. After that, I start printing things. Mostly scuba accessories. Goodman handle, GoPro trays.
Funny thing, after I got OctoPrint up and running, it’s when I learned that the Anet is a fire hazard. Learned that I need to upgrade to Marlin firmware, but when I tried all the suggestions I found on reddit, none were successful. So I just suppress the fire warning, and kept on printing on stock hardware and firmware.
Until at one point, the nozzle was clogged. I pull it out, dunk it in acetone (best part about printing ABS, acetone is the almost cure all solution), and put it back on, turns out, I put it back way too loose, plastics come out off from the side of the nozzle. It’s now stuck on, and I can’t print anymore. Can’t even take it out to clean again. Stop printing for awhile.
Until a few months ago, all of the sudden things just clicked in my head. I need to heated up the nozzle, and just use proper tool to undo the nozzle. Clean it up, put it back on real tight this time. Everything went great. I even print better than ever. Got the thing I needed to upgrade the firmware. And then I start looking into things to Anet A8 modifications / upgrades. There were a lot of things. I started printing all those printable upgrades, ordering mosfets, new hot-end, and the extruder upgrade kit. Everything is coming on a slow boat from Aliexpress.
Bottom line, I love mine, but ultimately it comes down to this, are you a responsible person who loves to tinker? Do you want to play with the printer or do you just just want print trinkets from thingiverse? Cost aside, the answer to these questions should show whether you should get the Anet A8 or not.