Assembling the printer
After unboxing the printer and taking an in-depth look at all of it’s components, it’s time to put it together.
One thing I’m not going to do here is write about how I put it together or even take photos of the process. Due to the way the kit has been put together, there are very few steps to the process. You put the uprights on the top part, attach the bottom parts and then install the effector. Job done. The manual supplied by Anycubic is very detailed for each step. They also have a video you can watch and follow which details each of the steps.
So of you’ve built a linear plus as I have, which was easy enough in itself, this is even easier. It definitely puts this printer in the newbie category.
Loading the Filament
Once assembled, the next thing to do is load some filament and calibrating the bed. I think in the video is shows how you should cut the filament into a point but doesn’t necessarily say to do this in the manual. It’s a very good method of aiding the loading of the filament. I loaded the filament in as far as possible, rather than just into the extruder as the manual suggests.
Cleaning the bed
Before you start to print anything, I would suggest cleaning the bed. Heat the bed up to 100 degrees Celsius and let it sit there for 5 or 10 mins. You may notice a chemical smell but this is normal. Then get yourself some cleaning alcohol and a cloth and wipe the bed. You’ll thank me for it later down the line. There seems to be some sort of film left on the bed from the manufacturing process which prevents the filament from sticking.
On to calibration then. I personally am impressed by Anycubics method of calibration on their printers. The way it’s mounted, under the hot end by a magnet, makes it very repeatable and non susceptible to effector tilt. The only downside is that you have to manually fit the switch to run a calibration. If you want to run it at the start of every print you have to be there, you can’t just set it off and walk away. Also, the position of the screen at the top of the printer is too far away from the hot end when you’re going through the first few steps of the levelling. As part of the process, you have to set the distance between the hot end and the bed using a piece of paper. Once set, you then fit the switch and it goes through the levelling process. But every time you want to level the bed you have to go through the process of the paper check with the hot end. If you’ve used any other form of auto calibration on other firmware’s, you’ll know that you shouldn’t have to do this every time you want to check how level the bed is. Luckily, you can bypass the paper thickness by connecting to the printer by USB and running G29, but it shouldn’t be this way. The whole levelling process also seems to be the wrong way round. The typical process is level, remove the switch, lower the head to the bed and check the offset, adjust if necessary and then relevel. For this firmware you set the nozzle position, level the bed and then adjust the nozzle head during the first print. It just seems odd, but unfortunately, due to the type of electronics used, this can’t be changed without changing the whole controller.
All the calibration completed, I printed the calibration test piece. Nothing to say about that so on to something I’ve sliced. One thing I will say though if you watch the video below is that the flying extruder vibrates a lot when on the very outskirts of the bed.
The manual comes with some suggested settings for Cura. It’s made slightly difficult due to the fact that the version of Cura used for the screenshots is a lot older than the current version. This means all of the screenshots are out of date. In reality, there’s not much to change and the manual can be followed.
The first print
The first thing I decided to print was a calibration cube, just to see how it looks. It has some overhangs etc and I find that square things tend to suffer with ghosting from acceleration and jerk.
It looks better in person. I also know there’s something strange going on at the base near the ‘X’. I think what I need to do is tighten the belts etc. But as a first print, I think its very good.
And here’s a video of the same print.
I will say it now, this printer is very noisy. Straight away you will notice that the fan for the power supply is on all the time. Then, because the controller board has A4988’s, the stepper motors are very noisy. It took me back to my first printer about 8 or 9 years ago.
I next decided to have a go at printing a benchy. Again, I think it was rather a good print. There was little to no stringiness from the filament, so the retraction suggested in the manual, of 6mm at 60m/s seems to work very well. See some pictures below.
If you look around the opening of the door and around the port hole at the front, there is some ghosting evident. There is also some salmon skin effect on the hull. Now with the ghosting, there isn’t much you can do about this due to the fact that the controller is so locked down. Its very difficult to edit the acceleration and jerk settings. The salmon skin is also going to be difficult to eliminate due to the type of stepper drivers installed.
Great first start but limited by the controller.
There is nothing but praise that I can sing for the frame of the printer itself. It is rock solid, with no movement when printing. The hot end is great for PLA due to the PTFE liner going all the way to nozzle (but it’ll be poor for ABS etc). The effector is solid and we’re all well aware of the limitations of the delta arms supplied. Without a shadow of a doubt, the biggest limitation to this machine is the controller. If only Anycubic had fitted something like a cheap Bigtreetech SKR controller with swappable drivers. If they had, this machine would’ve been perfect. They may have supplied it with A4988’s and some poorly tuned copy of smoothieware or marlin, but it would’ve allowed us to tweak these machines until they sung.
The verdict is, I don’t think the print quality of this machine will get much better with the controller it’s supplied with. If you’re happy with what you see and you just want a machine which works and is middle of the road, then I say buy this. If you’re wanting to improve the print quality further, then just make sure you know that you’ll have to change the controller to achieve this. Fortunately, its only £50 for an SKR controller, with drivers and a screen.
Hopefully Anycubic will listen to their fans and so something about it. But until then, i’ll be upgrading the controller.