Anker’s first 3D printer might be the one you’ve been waiting for

3D printing can be a time consuming and expensive hobby, even if you try to do it cheaply. I feel like I’ve modified, replaced, or upgraded half of the parts on my Ender 3 Pro. It was fun, but never easy.

But what if a really ready-to-use 3D printer were to change that? We might find out. Trusted phone charger company Anker is officially expanding beyond its Eufy smart home devices, Soundcore audio, Nebula projectors and Roav car accessories into 3D printing this year — and not in a small way. The AnkerMake M5 just unveiled looks like it could give leading brands a serious run for their money.

Vases are relatively quick to print on any FDM printer, but the M5 could make them even faster.
Image: Anchor

The AnkerMake M5 launches later today on Kickstarter for an early bird price of $429 (although Anker suggests it costs $759 or more at retail), the AnkerMake M5 comes standard with useful features you would often find on competing printers. such as a webcam that lets you view prints remotely, record time-lapse videos of your creations, and automatically pause a print job, and alert you if the printer sees a mess of molten plastic instead of a useful part .

But the flagship is something much more fundamental: Anker claims it will be printed five times faster than the competition. And I don’t mean “theoretically you can set it to print really, really fast if you calibrate it meticulously.” I mean, Anker claims you can take the two halves of the printer out of the box, connect them with eight screws, plug in two USB-C cables and a power adapter, and it will automatically print at 250mm/sec because that to be default institution. “That’s our baseline for this,” Anker spokesperson Eric Villines tells me.

250mm/sec is indeed five times faster than the stock speed of my Ender 3 Pro, and over five times faster than the quality setting of the class-leading Prusa MK3S+, and I don’t think I can overstate how important it can be to the hobby if it’s true. 3D printing can be an incredibly slow process, but Anker suggests it can reduce that from a day to a matter of hours, or from a few hours to less than an hour, with a printer that allows you to print parts of the same size (up to 235 x 235 x 250 mm) as the most popular options on the market.

It’s not clear what secret sauce will keep your parts from being shaken off the printer at that speed, but it sounds like it could be a lot of things. Anker claims it moves the Y-axis build plate using a nice stepper motor with “high subdivision drivers” and two belts instead of one. The portal is raised and lowered on two spindles instead of one for stability. It has a removable textured build surface, similar to Creality’s printers, which I’ve found excellent for holding prints to the plate. They gave the printer a heavy, die-cast aluminum alloy to keep it stable. And Anker claims “advanced algorithms that tailor your prints to the way you act.”

I believe 250mm/sec when I see it, but I want to believe it.

It seems that the filament spool can be mounted on the side or on the top. And yes, the touchscreen moves up and down with the portal.
Image: Anchor

For me personally, speed is not my biggest frustration with 3D printing. I’m happy to run a printout in the garage overnight as long as I’m reasonably confident it will finish completely. But I am so tempted to upgrade to a 49 point automatic bed leveling system (bed leveling is the foundation of so much problems with 3D printing), broken filament detection (another problem is that filament can dry out and snap into place in the middle of a print), and a handy one-button feature that automatically heats and ejects the filament so you can replace it with a new one. another copy while avoiding congestion.

Villines tells me that Anker enters new product categories when it thinks it can solve the pain points that keep people away, and this was the moment. “I think 3D printers are at the right time where they could go, if not mainstream, then definitely more than a niche.”

The vision here is a printer where you can download a design from the web, send it directly to the printer’s 8GB internal storage via Wi-Fi or even remotely via the cloud, and it will do the rest for you. You don’t have to search for a slicer app to translate it into printer code, or worry about some of the other most common failure points, and when you’re done, there’s an entire time-lapse video ready for you to watch. can share social media.

But Anker has a lot to prove, and the spokesperson was candid that the company may not have it all figured out yet. While Villines Anchor says will make the printer no matter how it does it during the Kickstarter campaign (it’s more marketing than anything and Anker has a good track record there), there’s a reason it’s not shipping now – software features like intelligent failed detection printing, promised voice assistant compatibility and, well, most software isn’t built yet. “I like to say that the hardware is 75 percent and the software is 2 percent,” he says, admitting that the company anticipates many customer service calls that will move into a new category, such as 3D printing.

It’s also not clear how much of an ecosystem the new printer will have, which current 3D printing hobbyists tend to expect in return for their investment. It accepts GCode like other printers, uses standard (though longer than the most common type) nozzles, and the company plans to offer replacement parts, but it’s not clear yet what’s interchangeable between the AnkerMake and other products on the market. market .

I’d love to see it in action before buying one, but this could definitely be my next – and the first 3D printer I could recommend – if Anker gets it right.

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