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.
Launched today on Kickstarter at an early bird price of $429 (although Anker suggests it costs $759 or more), the AnkerMake M5 comes standard with useful features that you should often get on competing printers — like a webcam that lets you print remotely. view, records time-lapse videos of your creations, and can 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 my Ender 3 Pro, and over five times faster than the quality setting of the industry-leading Prusa MK3S+, and I don’t think I can overstate how important it can be to the hobby if 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 magnetic build surface, similar to Creality’s printers. They gave it 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’ll believe it when I see it, but I want to believe it.
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 for 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 waiting for you to share it on 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 during the Kickstarter campaign (it’s more marketing than anything), there’s a reason it’s not shipping now – software features like intelligent print failed detection, promised voice assistant compatibility and, well yes, most software is not built yet. “I like to say that the hardware is 75 percent and the software is 2 percent,” he says, admitting that the company expects a lot of calls from customer service.
It’s also not clear how much of an ecosystem it will have left, which is what today’s 3D printing hobbyists tend to expect in return for their investment. It accepts GCode like other printers, uses standard (though longer than usual) nozzles, and the company plans to offer replacement parts, but it’s not clear what’s interchangeable between the AnkerMake and other products on the 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.