The Anet A3 is a good starter printer for anyone interested in 3D printing who doesn’t have a lot of money and doesn’t want to build a kit. The A3 comes Pre-Built and cost ~$260 USD at the time of this review.
While the build volume is only 150mm X 150mm X 150mm it is well-designed, compact and would look right at home on any office desk. The printer itself is only 317 X 330 X 368.3 mm leaving it the right size for most desks.
Anet A3 Specification
Here you can check the technical specs of the A3. If you’re interested in comparison with other Anet printers, check our comparison table.
- Printer model
- Printer size
- Packgage size
- Printer Weight
- Package Weight
- Print Area
- Print speed
- Nozzle diameter
- Layer thickness
- XY-axis positioning accuracy
- Z-axis positioning accuracy
- Material diameter
- Printer Frame Material
- Platform board material
- Operating Temperature Range
- Printer navigation
- Reset printer
- LCD Screen
- Extruder type
- Supplied memory card
- Nozzle Temperature
- Heatbed Tempeature
- Auto leveling sensor
- Operating system
- File type
- Offline printing
- Retail price
- Model variation
- Anet A3
315 x 333 x 375mm
12.4 x 13.1 x 14.8″
385 x 365 x 420mm
15.2 x 14.4 x 16.5″
150 x 150 x 150mm
5.9 x 5.9 x 5.9″
- 20 - 100mm/s
- 0.012 mm
- 0.004 mm
- AcrylicAluminum version available
- Anet v1.0
- 10 to 30°C
- G-code, OBJ, STL
- rotatable knob
- on the mainboard and on via the menu
- MK8 (parallel mount)
- ABS / PLA / Wood / Nylon PVA / PP / Luminescent
- Windows XP / Windows 7 / Windows 8/Windows 10 / Mac / Linux
- A3- (acrlic frame)A3-AL (aluminum frame)
Anet A3 unboxing
The packaging is well done and easy to open. It comes covered in foam and taped to keep it from sliding. The size of the package is 381 X 381 X 431.8 cm.
After you remove the foam you will find the printer wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent damage during shipping. This plastic wrap is easy to remove with a pair of scissors.
Next, take away the plastic and the protective foam inside the printer as well as the box of accessories and any leftover plastic wrap around the extruder.
What’s inside the box?
Inside the box you will find :
- A3 Printer assembled
- small amount of test filament
- PTFE bowden tube
- a power cable
- side cutters (used for trimming supports off prints)
- assorted tools like allen wrenches, standard wrench, screwdrivers
- USB cable
- USB Micro SD card reader with a MicroSD card
- Threaded rod for a spool holder
- 2x printed pieces. One is an X that holds the spool into the printer and the other is a fan for cooling nozzle.
Do not plug it in at this point. The printer has one more protective layer which is a plastic coating similar to the plastic covering plexiglass when you buy it. It protects the printer from scratches while the company builds it.
SD Card files
On the SD card you will find all the instructions,manuals as well as test files ready to print including 3D Models to try slicing. Basically there are no printed guides and a manual, but you have everything to get you started on a SD card.
- A3 Operation instruction 1.1.pdf
- Print Quality Troubleshooting Guide-Anet1.0.pdf
- Software Driver: CH340G for Windows and CH341SER for MAC
- Software: Cura 14.07 and RepetierHost_1_0_5 (You should just download the newest versions from the internet.)
- Test models (Needs Slicing): Baymax.stl, Box.stl, Brush barrel.stl, chess.stl, Figure.stl, FU.STL, Pyramid.stl.
- Test Gcode (Ready to Print): Baymax-1.75mm PLA-A3.gcode, Box-1.75mm PLA-A3.gcode, brush barrel-1.75PLA-A3.gcode, chess-1.75mm PLA-A3.gcode, Figure-1.75mm PLA-A3.gcode, FU-1.75mm PLA-A3.gcode, Pyramid-1.75MM PLA-A3.gcode
- Mainboard-English.jpg which is a detailed layout of the mainboard.
Before you turn A3 on
While I said, even though you don’t have to assemble the printer.
Bowden PTFE Tube installation
The first thing is to install the filament holder and bowden tube. Not hard really and they even supply a wrench to install it. To install the filament holder you need to remove one of the bolts on the threaded rod.
Next, put the rod through a hole in the back of the printer. From the inside you need to screw the nut back onto the rod and tighten it.
They do only provide one wrench, so if you have one of your own or some pliers I would recommenced tightening from both sides at the same time. Be sure the rod is not sticking to far into the printer that it will impede the movement of the build platform.
The PTFE Bowden tube helps guide the filament from the roll on the back of the printer to the extruder on the inside of the printer through the opening on the top side. To install this you simply put one end of the the tube into the printed plastic piece sticking out the back of the printer and the other end into the top of the extruder as shown in the picture below.
Power supply voltage setup
There are a couple more things to check before you plug the printer in. One and the most important is the power setting on the power supply. This is done through a small cutout on the left side of the printer.
The switch can be in one of two settings. The first is 110 volt and the other is 220 volt. Here in Canada we use 110 volt so I made sure the switch is to the left in the 110 volt setting. Be aware that you check the voltage in your country carefully, otherwise you can burn the electronics down.
The other thing you should check is the wiring on the bottom side of the printer. While it looks all neat and tidy one of my display cables had fallen out. At first I turned it on and nothing. I was disappointed thinking I got a bad printer. Luckily, I basically just had to plug them back into their connections.
At this point you can plug in the printer and turn on the power.
Design and build quality
The printer has an Aluminum coated plastic body which is better than the acrylic body of the previous models. It feels solid and less fragile then the Acrylic A8 and A6. Weighing 20 pounds it feels solid as well.
The all metal X, Y and Extruder carriages are solid and no chance for breaking, but also adds weight the motors need to move. On printers less weight is better. The smooth rods are protruding through the frame and the ones that turn are on bearings to help them turn. On the acrylic version the rods are held in place with printed parts leaving more room for error.
So the design is pretty good and you get a lot for the money but how does it print?
Well the first print I did was a new fan shroud. It’s important for PLA to have good part cooling and the stock on only blows on the part from one side of print. The most popular shrouds online are the ones that blow on the prints from all sides.
I also printed the calibration test. This print has many things that are considered difficult for printers such as thin walls, overhangs bridges and curves. The A3 fared pretty well as evident in the pictures.
After that I decided to try something I haven’t tried on any of my printers. I printed a rocket in vase mode. Vase mode means it’s printed non stop. Each shell is one row thick. The rocket came out perfect and I’m glad I gave it a try. My daughter loves it.
Can Anet A3 Print PETG? PETG Test
My second and third print was using blue PETG. PETG is easy to print like PLA only it is done at higher temperature which means it will stand up to the outside summer temps better. I printed a Y axis belt tension-er and a MOSFET holder for the Anet A6.
The MOSFET is used to handle current of the Heatbed when you print ABS. I ordered one for the Anet A6 and one for the A8. Since then I have 3 other printers to order them for. A3 included.
Being pleased with the PETG results, I printed some Batman the toys for myself. The pictures don’t do it justice really. The shine makes it hard to see in pictures.
You can also take a look at video time-lapse I recorded.
Trying out the TPU – Flexible filament on A3
The last thing I wanted to try was flexible filament. TPU is hard to print with because it get wound up on gears. The trick is to print super slow. Like 15-20 mmps. I printed the open RC Formula one tire.
ABS. The last filament type I wanted to test was ABS. I don’t recommend printing with ABS unless you remove the bed and solder the wires directly to the bed. The reason for this is that the connectors used are not rated for the current it takes to power the bed at 100°.
The connector will eventually burn out and stop heating the bed. In extreme cases this could cause a fire.
I printer the same Batman bust I printed in PETG. It turned out almost perfect. It is a bit less shinny than the PETG.
The ABS (Left) curled a bit on the bottom as ABS does without an enclosure.
That brings me to one of my favorite things about this printer. Because it is basically box shaped it wouldn’t take much to close it in to keep the heat in. Two side panels, one on the front and top would be easy to make. I will do an update with this mod soon.
ABS shrinks when cooled to fast and makes it hard to print with and sometimes pops it off the build plate.
That brings me to another great thing about 3D printing and the main reason I got into printing in the first place. Printing trinkets is cool and fun but I mainly got into for Cosplay. The idea I can print endless costumes and props is awesome on so many levels.
With all the model websites now you can find just about anything you need. If that doesn’t work there are plenty of great tutorials on YouTube that will get you started.
Anet A3 Upgrades and modifications
There aren’t many printable upgrades for the A3.
The Mosfet holder which may vary depending on the one you order.
Bed support. I’m not sure how much this is helping the prints or printer but I printed it anyway.
Auto level. If you wish to ad auto level to the A3 you would need to update the Firmware to one like SkynetV2.3.2 which is a version Marlin specifically developed for Anet boards. In the file sections of the official Skynet group you will find a sensor mount for the A6 which has the same X carriage as the A3.
I recommend (eBay link) this auto-level sensor.
A MOSFET is used to handle current of the heatbed when you print ABS and other filaments that require the bed to be at high temperatures.
Valuation, pros and cons
Print Quality: 80/100
I give this printer an 80 for print quality. It prints just as well as the A6 with no modifications at all. And I’m sure with the proper settings in the slicer you could get up to 90.
Build Quality: 80/100
The aluminum body of this printer was a good surprise. It’s block shape makes it strong and right at home on my desk. I think the open sides would be good to cover for printing ABS but with the small build volume it wont print anything big enough to warp to bad.
User interface and Navigation: 50/100
I give the interface and navigation a 50 because you can’t do fine control for movement because each click of the dial moves 3-4 positions. So if you want to move the axis .1mm you can’t unless you control it over USB. Also the display could be better if it was angled at 45degs. I will make something up in Fusion 360 and upload it to Thinigivers for anyone who wants it.
Value for the money: 80/100
I give this printer a 80 for value. While it doesn’t compete with other desktop printers like the Ultimaker which cost thousands. It does compete with printers such as the Geeetech MeCreator 2 which is a couple of hundred dollars more.
Final judgment 72/100
Overall, I give this printer a score of 72. If not for the navigation this printer would compete with printers 3-4 times it’s price point.
So what are the pros and cons of the Anet A3?
- Form factor of this printer is great. It looks great and goes well in an office as well as any 2D paper printer.
- This printer is solid so it feels and looks like it would cost much more than it does.
- Ease of use. The A3 is so simple to get up and running making it less intimidating for many. Friends and family tell me 3D printing looks fun but without spending lots of money you have to basically build the printer from scratch. Well this printer debunks that. So when I point this out I’m sure some of them will get started with 3D printing.
- Solid X and Y carriages. The horizontal x carriage makes for a smoother more precise movements.
- The full graphics display has a nice interface and control. Although as stated before each click move 3-4 digits when changing settings or moving the axis.
- Filament support. Do to the heat bed and nozzle that reaches 250 there is a wide variety of filaments supported although ABS works for small prints. Large prints would require closing in the enclosure to prevent warping.
- Tools and USB. The printer comes with the tools needed to repair the printer should you need to fix or replace any parts. It also has a USB SC card reader and a 16GB card for putting files to print on.
- This printer plays a cool tune at the end of each print. While the loud volume is good if your not in the room when it finishes it痴 pretty loud when you are sitting beside the printer.
- The electronics are hidden below the printer which is nice to see. Having mains voltage accessible with kids around is not a good idea.
- Optical Z Endstop. I was surprised to see this as their other printers use switches which seem to be less reliable.
- The build volume of this printer is pretty small. This is needed to make the printer fit nicely on a desk. Although you can always slice your prints smaller and glue them together which is what may prints need anyway.
- Manual bed leveling. This day and age most printers have auto bed leveling. The A3 comes stock with a manual level system. This can be fixed by (eBay link) ordering a sensor for under $10 and flashing a community made firmware to the printers motherboard. Very easy to do and lots of info at the Facebook group mentioned above. This tells the printer if the bed is angled in any way and compensates for it.
- Bed wires not right for the current. The wire on the bed doesn’t handle the current from ABS printing very well. It’s recommended you get a proper MOSFET and solder the wires directly. They are cheap (around $10) and easy to install.
- Access to put the SD card in and out is out of place and hard to access.
Where to buy Anet A3?
Currently there are few places where you can get genuine Anet A3.
So, would recommend the Anet A3 printer? Yes! After owning the A8 and A6 for a while and all the fun I had with the I was impressed at the prints I could accomplish with a Sub $500 printer. The A3 is a nice addition to my collection.
From the full graphics display to the Horizontal X axis. The A3 will be a good printer for printing smaller items. I wont need to power the larger bed for smaller prints.
Other than that the A3 has nice touches like branding of the Anet logo on the front as well as the software on the display. The A3 also has a smaller footprint and I will keep it on the desk instead of the table on the other side of the room.
If you are really strapped for cash then you can’t go wrong with the Anet A8 or Anet A6. But if you can afford the difference then go for the A3 will save you building time. Be warned, 3D printing is an addicting hobby. It should be in all the schools as it will be a common part of most household item.
This printer would be good for kids to use as the electronics are out of the way. So buy a printer and join us on Facebook for fun and interesting things. Or join the group to help you make the decision.