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Review of the Anet E10 from GearBest.com

Recently I picked it up the Anet E10 from Gearbest.com here just after the launch special for $290.00– that’s AFTER applying the coupon “ANETE10” to lower the price. I’m one of those idiots who always misses the train, but luckily GearBest always seems to have some kinda promotional special going.

Why the E10? My first printer was an Anet, and I’ve been printing with them since 2015. I am also the admin of an Anet-focused group on Facebook (Anet A-series 3D Printer Help & Discussion, (RepRap, Prusa, & Other Clones), and People often ask me “a $200.00 to $300.00 printer? it must suck, right? Those things are at least $1k+ for a decent one!”

They don’t- but you get what you pay for. But considering I am running 5 chinese-based printers at any given point, I would say that they work pretty well. Call me biased, but I really like what they have to offer for what you pay for them:

All day and all night!

In terms of other Anet machines, I own an A8 (which now has a custom frame!) and an A2. I’ve helped a friend build the A6 and and now the E10 (duh..)

Thankfully, It’s an all-metal… mostly (has some printed parts)… printer that burst onto the scene to mixed reviews. People dismissed it as a Creality CR-10 clone, while others said it was a logical progression and were excited. I am in the latter group, but my thoughts on that further in the article.

Any time I order a new build it yourself printer, I dread having to assemble it. I spin wrenches on countless other machines every day, so doing it as a hobby is like pulling teeth for me. But for the E10, my immediate reaction when getting this printer: “Wow, it’s mostly put together! Awesome!”, and assembly was measured in minutes instead of hours- had it together within 30 minutes. Don’t believe me? Watch how simple it was:

I’m also super happy that it has NO acrylic parts. I loathe acrylic now. I despise peeling off the paper. I abhor how brittle it is, and I detest the creaky sound that hurts your teeth when you pick it up to move it. But time to close the thesaurus on all the synonyms I want to use to describe acrylic and just say this: It sucks. Avoid it. Metal frame master race!!!!111one.

Other minor but cool points- a stock Y-axis tensioner! And thumb screws on the bed leveling springs that aren’t complete garbage! It’s the small things in life that add up to being awesome.

So let’s cut to the chase– here’s what you can do with a stock Anet E10:

Fox – some stringing on the ears. Sue me.

Majora’s mask half

Pretty impressive quality for a 220x270x300 printer for around $300.00 dollars. My A8 did not print nearly as good as the E10 did, but it is also an old design that’s now 2+ years old and i’m much better at doing this now.

Let’s get it out of the way. Is it a Creality CR-10 clone? ….maybe? Then again, is the TronXY X3 that I reviewed recently ripping off the CR-10? My only connection is the “10” designation, but it’s a long shot.

Side-by-side, all of these printers look pretty similar. I would say that this is just how all of them are starting to look– like how all modern cars look the same. I feel like Anet isn’t trying to punch out of their weight class and take on the titan that is the CR-10, but is instead trying to dominate amongst their peers.

Can YOU spot the difference?

So like in typical fashion with these chinese printers-  The Anet E10 wasn’t straight-out-of-the-box awesome. There’s a few rough points that had to be smoothed out. My first print did NOT go well, as the filament immediately jammed in the hot end– but strange thing is, I could not get it to feed, so perhaps when they were testing this at the factory, they withdrew the filament too slowly and clogged the throat. Were I a beginner, this would have perplexed me, but eh- not a big deal.

I discovered these use an all-metal hot-end. This is awesome since you can print all sorts of advanced materials that require higher temperatures. Problem is- the Anet E10 struggles to even hit 200C, which is what I print PLA at. This is due to the hotend cooling fan (not the print cooler!) being mostly enclosed and directing air down.

You’d think it would be awesome to have a powerful fan to help keep the extruder cool, but it’s NOT.

There will be issues with your plastic not hitting it’s glass temperature and melting properly, and your prints will come out brittle, as my first print crumbled apart like stale bread. Without addressing this issue, you can forget about printing with anything else which makes having an all-metal hotend a moot point. It’s a little funny, but I applied a hack to mine to help it come to temperature by putting tape over the fan grate to limit the airflow– which reminded me of my carbureted bike days in the winter with cardboard over the radiator to limit the cooling system efficiency:

 

It turns out, another person had already came up with the same solution!

I can’t help but feel a little salty about this, as it goes to show that whoever designs these have no clue of their operation. Why wasn’t this corrected in the design phase? Don’t they know that you benchmark these and push them to their upper limits before manufacturing?

Another bizarre thing that happened while printing as the bowden tube ferrule (the blue-capped bit that holds the tube) physically POPPED OUT 21 hours into a 25 hour print. This shot the filament out, which kept extruding– wasting about 7-9 meters and ruining the print. I have no idea how it managed to do this (badly cut threads..? walking back out due to vibration / movement?). Really strange that this happened, as I have never seen it before. Maybe I forgot to resecure it after opening it up… in any case, ARGH!

Another thing to address is the firmware is STILL MISSING THERMAL PROTECTION- MORE ARGH!!!

When you see these horrible scenes of fires from “crappy chinese printers”, it’s not because they just decide to blow your house up (though don’t quote me on that– electronics do all sorts of wacky stuff and can blow up any time they feel like), but it’s likely something else– like the hotend heater pulling out of the block and getting SUPER HOT as the system merrily keeps supplying voltage, causing a meltdown as it gets dragged around while glowing red-hot.

Why do you need this? Thermal protection limits this by detecting discrepancies in the temperature. If something isn’t right like your hotend suddenly getting cold, or the temperature not rising to the target even when the system turns the heaters on, it will shut the entire system off and prevent your house from being a fireball.

But I cannot for the life of me figure out what firmware they are using (Marlin, maybe..?), and why they disable this feature. Granted if they enabled it on this E10, it would throw an error every time since the stock fan cools it down too much, and will confuse the system into thinking there’s a problem.

Not an issue though- you can very easily set these up to use Marlin or RepetierServer, since it uses the same 12864 smart screen controller that’s popular (and also widely supported!).

Getting a little more technical, another whining point from people is the printer using T-slot aluminum extrusions instead of the more popular V-slot. Here’s the difference:

V-slot extrusion – notice the channel? Groooovy…

 

 

T-slot extrusion- again, look at the channel. Not so groovy.

I can see their complaint– it’s not standard, so most wheels you would use to upgrade your moving parts may not fit quite right. Does it break the printer? Not at all. The print quality above shows this. It may get worse as time goes on and everything begins loosening up, but from what I can tell- it’s not that big of a deal.

Here’s an abridged list of things I noticed above that need addressed (rated from easy to hard):

  • Flipping the Z-motors around so the bed won’t hit the motor wires.
  • Securing / insulate the hot-end with Kapton tape to prevent thermistor from pulling free.
  • Limiting the airflow from the extruder cooler to keep hotend from overcooling using tape over the fan grate (TEMPORARY HACK / FIX!!!).
  • Replacing the firmware to have thermal runaway protection.
  • Replacing the entire hotend setup to be more conventional (better solution than tape above).

It’s not a bad printer- in fact, I think it’s pretty awesome if you just need a printer up and running. Considering that I paid $300.00 for my Anet A8 2 years ago, I am absolutely stoked at the price for this. However- it has rough points. It is NEW, and everyone is still discovering the various quirks.

If you’re a little familiar with 3D printing, you should be fine with this printer. It’s a breeze to get running, and all of the issues are not deal-breaking. I didn’t have to change anything major (unlike my TronXY X3, which required an entire Y-axis overhaul) to get it up and running, but it’s major Achilles heel is the hot-end cooling issue. For the price, it’s a good stop-gap between your typical Anet / chinese offerings, and the Creality CR-10 (oh no, making that comparison again!).

We’re hard at work finding solutions to address these problems in the group, so drop in and see what we’re up to!

 

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Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 Reviews Comments Off on Review of the Anet E10 from GearBest.com