Anker’s first 3D printer is up for pre-order and it’s already impressed me

What is happening

After the success of its Kickstarter campaign, Anker’s first 3D printer, the M5, is available for pre-order. We spent some time with him and offer our first impressions here.

why is it important

Anker is a well-known brand outside of the 3D printing community, which can help attract new people. It is also much faster than many 3D printers on the market.

And after

The 3D printer is available for pre-order today (October 24, 2022) and costs $799 in the US and £749 in the UK.

When Anker is the first announced that it was making a 3D printer I was skeptical. I’ve always liked Anker’s products, but there was certainly no guarantee that a company known for making phone accessories and batteries could make a good 3D printer from the start. Well, after using the AnkerMake M5 for the last two weeks, I can confirm: not only can Anker produce a 3D printer, but it can make a very promising one.

The AnkerMake M5 was initially launched as a Kickstarter campaign and successfully raised $8 million in funding. These backers will get their printers this week, so Anker is now ready to let the public buy them too. If you are heading towards the AnkerMake website you can pre-order the M5 for $799 (£749 in the UK), with the full launch live on 1 December. If you pre-order now, you also get two rolls of AnkerMake filament and a 64GB USB flash drive at no additional cost. .

First impressions of the AnkerMake M5

I’ve been playing with AnkerMake for a few weeks, and what follows is more of my first impressions (based on about 50 hours of printing) rather than a full review. You will also notice a bit of a skull theme on my prints. I have two 20-somethings in my household who both love skull iconography, and it just so happens to be seasonally appropriate too. Most of them are from Hex3d’s Patreon if you want to find them.

Hex3d Green Frankenstein Skull

James Bricknell/CNET

The first thing you notice about the AnkerMake is how easy it is to put together. A few screws to secure the gantry to the base are really all you need to do before you can plug it in and get started. The screen guides you through the setup, including installing the app on your phone, and jumps straight to the automatic upgrade procedure. It’s incredibly easy to get started, even if you’ve never used a 3D printer before.

Built-in Wi-Fi is something few 3D printers have, and those that do tend to be a bit patchy in how well it works. I’d like to say that AnkerMake is bucking this trend, but – based on my early experiences – it’s not. The printer often loses a connection, requiring you to run the entire setup again on the app. It’s a pain, but when it works, it saves a lot of going back and forth with USB sticks.

Is the print quality good on the AnkerMake M5?

The CNET torture test in blue

James Bricknell/CNET

As you can see in the OG CNET torture test, which is based on our old logo, the M5 does a great job on quality. Dimensional accuracy is excellent and overhang and bridging tests print extremely well. The only part that wasn’t the best was the two pointy towers. These were a bit wobbly and had strings due to the increased speed of the print.

All of the skulls came out extremely beautiful and – depending on the material we used – the layer lines were even and clean all over. Even when printing some of the smaller skulls, like the Corinthian skull planters, detail was crisp with consistent layer lines throughout.

As far as quality goes, I’d rate the M5 about what you’d expect from a printer at this price point. But the AnkerMake has something up its sleeve that most $800 printers don’t: ridiculous speed.

What is the actual speed of the AnkerMake M5?

Purple and blue skull with slightly damaged eyes

James Bricknell/CNET

The M5 boasts speeds of 250 millimeters per second with a maximum acceleration of 2,500 mm/s. Compare that to the competition: most best 3d printers print at around 50-80mm/s out of the box. On paper, the M5 should be around four to five times faster. Although it’s not quite a leap, the difference can be considerable.

I put the same model in two different printer slicers using the same settings – the AnkerMake and Prusa Mk3’s PrusaSlicer. PrusaSlicer showed that the print would take 27 hours and 13 minutes, which isn’t bad for the size of the print in question. But the AnkerMake software showed that it would only take 11 hours and 17 minutes to print the same model, less than half the time.

Camera-ready prints

A fisheye camera, on the AnkerMake M5

James Bricknell/CNET

Anker has made a big deal on the AI-enabled camera on the M5. It gives you a side view of your model as it prints, which you can access from anywhere. Even while I was shopping I could check the progress and see if there were any mistakes. The AI ​​part is supposed to detect the failure of your print and then warn you, or even pause the print if the failure is serious. This kind of worked but often gave me a false positive when someone walked past the camera, or if the table wobbled a bit too much. It’s a good idea that I think will improve with firmware updates, but at the moment it’s a bit hit and miss.

A nice perk is that the M5 will record a timeslot of every print you make and save it to your app, ready to share with the world. It might not be a professional time-lapse, and the angle isn’t always perfect, but it works well enough for TikTok (although I wish there was a portrait option for media social).

Final thoughts (for now)

Tricolor Filament Sugar Skull

James Bricknell/CNET

What’s truly amazing with AnkerMake is that it can print at the speeds it’s got while still producing the same quality as most printers in its price range; it just does it in half the time. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect. In addition to the Wi-Fi issues mentioned above, I found that at full speed I needed to use more padding. Without it, there would be gaps in certain areas that the filament couldn’t fill fast enough. But new technology requires new thinking, so I’m sure I can modify it to produce even better results.

I think the speed alone justifies the cost of pre-ordering the AnkerMake M5, but you can wait for our full review if you want a closer look at this alluring 3D printer.

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