After about a year with the Anet A8 , I learned quite a bit about 3D printing and how 3D printing works.
The A8 is a kit printer which requires assembly. I really enjoy building these kinds of things so it was the perfect choice for me. That and the price was right. After a year of ups and downs, I wanted to see if the mistakes I made were the fault of myself or the printer.
When I was offered to review the A6, another kit printer from the same company I jumped at the chance.
The A6 is the bigger brother/sister of the A8. A well-designed printer which are both modeled after the Prusa i3 printer. The A6 cost about $50 more than the A8.
What are the differences between the Anet A8 and the A6 besides the price?
Well, because I have both I’m in a great position to tell you. Rumor has it that the A8 is being phased out. But that’s OK because the A6 will likely take its place in price. Speaking of price the A8 and 6 have dropped in price over the past year as they become more and more popular.
While there are tons of similarities, in this article I will focus on differences between Anet A6 and Anet A8. Let’s begin.
Build Volume and Size
The A6 and 8 have roughly the same build volume while the A8 is a lot bigger in size. The A8 is 500 X 400 X 450 and the A6 being 480 X 400 X 400. This can be both a good and bad thing. While good you have more space on your desk or bench it’s also bad in that it leaves less space to work on. This is especially visible for things like leveling the bed which is a must for any printer without an auto level system. Luckily auto level is easy and cheap to implement.
Because the A8 uses two vertical pieces of Plexiglas with horizontal piece across the top and bottom there is a lot of play and vibrations. When the printer is moving so much in all axis’s it’s leaves what is called artifacts in your prints. They can be waves or ripples. This means you will have a lot more post print processing work to make them look nice.
The A6 however has a box shape front piece as well as the two vertical pieces that hold the power supply and mainboard. This give much more stability to the printer leaving less artifacts. I recommend bracing both printers to a piece of wood or table top of some sort. This helps with artifacts as well as noise from both printers.
The A6 has a better design for the X axis as it is horizontal and not vertical like the A8. I’m not sure if it makes a ton of difference but it sure feels more stable for the direct drive extruder. The direct drive means the motor which feeds the filament into the hotend is directly mounted onto the X carriage.
The other type which reduces weight and seems more popular are called a Bowden system. In this system the motor is off to the side and feeds the filament into a Bowden tube which is connected to the hotend. That is good for reducing artifacts produced by the belts flinging the carriage back in forth and also gives you the choice to speed it up with less chance of errors. One down side to the Bowden system is the flexible filaments are harder to print with.
Heat break (throat)
The throat AKA heat break is the threaded tube holding the hotend to the X carriage. On the A6 they have a 40mm throat as opposed to the 30mm one on the A8.
I’m not sure why they are different as they both have direct drive but the 40mm one lets it get closer to the pulley on the motor which helps with printing flexible filaments.
You could move the A8 one closer but the heater being closer to the motor is probably not a good idea. I’m going to order a bunch of 40mm ones so I can update the A8 as well as keep spares on hand because they are easy to break if you are not careful.
The display control
The A6 has a full graphic display with a turn knob for navigation while the A8 has a standard 4 line display and 5 flimsy buttons for navigation. The flimsy buttons can be less so with the button helper mod someone created and shared on the Thingivers website.
The knob is great but feels less accurate as fine tuning a setting is not possible unless you use a USB connection to a PC to change it. The reason being that each click of the knob moves 2-3 values. So setting 100 steps per mm on a motor would be 101 or 102. I’m not sure if that’s important as it’s very close anyway.
Another cool thing with the A6 display is it has a tiny speaker that beeps like PC’s use to do which is great because at the end of the print of plays a little tune which is good if you are in a different room. The bad about this is its loud and hard on the head if you are sitting beside it. I don’t know of a way to turn it down.
While both the A6 and A8 print very well with a little bit of effort on the users part the A6 prints better in my opinion. The reason for this is because the A6 is generally more stable out of the box. So after printing many items the prints are great on both printers. Although the A8 took longer to get there.
The A6 has printed more types of filaments out of the box. Filaments like ABS and TPU (Flexible). While stringy these parts printed well. The stringiness is typically filament related but can be fixed or lessened with settings. As seen it prints overhangs, bridges, thin walls, circles, points and small texts very well.
So both printers print at par with printer costing thousands of dollars. The expensive printer give you things like enclosures looks and better warranties. Warranties are also needed as parts on those printer typically cost more to fix or replace.
The A6 has more features than the A8 but the A8 is a lot more popular due to price therefore there are many mods that can overcome those short comings.
Whether you buy the A6 or A8 you can’t go wrong. Both printers are great value for the buck. While the company support is lacking there is a huge community willing to help beginners with any sort of issues they may encounter.
I recommend the A6 over the A8 because of these differences but the A8 is a lot more popular and has a lot more printable upgrades then the A6. So if you want to tinker and have fun modding and money is very tight then get the A8. If you just want to print cool things and get down to business then get the A6.
Either way, Happy Printing and welcome to the community!
Where to buy Anet printers?
In order to avoid buying a fake printer, or getting an Anet clone, be careful when you’re making your order. Here is a list of recommended stores for both printers :
Coupon codes and discounts (limited time only)
Learn more about Anet Printers
Here are some useful resources to help you understand better which Anet printer is right for you.