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3D PrintingAnkermake

3D Printing Update – November 2023

In the prior post, specific user experience details pertaining to an early life failure of a Creality Ender 3 v3 SE and the transition to an Ankermake M5 were covered. Since that point, we experienced a less dramatic failure on the Ankermake printer and wanted to provide some context around the challenges we experienced.

  1. Filament feeding issues: The path from the spool to the extruder traverses a fairly long tube prior to entry. The general practice of using a clean 45-degree angle cut on the tip of the filament prior to insertion was followed extensively. An initial problem with the feed stemmed from a small piece of black filament that was found within the gears of the extruder. Following the steps in a video posted on Dropbox simplified access to the internals and allowed removal of this errant piece of filament using a pair of tweezers. As all initial printing was done using Ankermake Green PLA+ filament, this small piece of black filament may have been the result of factory QA testing. Fixes for further failures to feed included cleaning the nozzle and replacing the nozzle. The second nozzle replacement was unsuccessful due to the weakness of earlier production units which was exacerbated the lack of an isolation column on the heat block. Step 8 in this Ankermake knowledge base article covers the difference between old stock and new stock. Between the failure of our unit and the dramatic price drop for the Black Friday shopping season, it made sense to return the printer.
  2. Slicer Software Challenges: The prior Ankermake Slicer software had some bugs which would prevent models from completing the slicing process. When Z-Hop Retraction was enabled, processing on the model would always hang at 62%. The workaround, at that time, involved slicing the model in Ultimaker Cura and then using the Ankermake Slicer software to send the sliced model to the printer wirelessly. Very recently, Ankermake Slicer was replaced by Ankermake Studio. The new software, like the old software, is classified as a beta. While there’s still work to be done on Ankermake’s part to get the quality and features up to a general availability level, the wholesale change of the backend supporting their printers is complete. Further tuning and bug fixes may turn their Studio product into a solution which can be reliably used by customers who are solely in the Ankermake ecosystem for printing.

Hopefully, all old stock has been flushed out of the inventory of large retailers. The general availability of the all-metal hotend for the M5, the release of Ankermake Studio, and the roadmap for future firmware updates has been laid out in the company’s most recent blog post. With the reduced price of $499 USD for the Ankermake M5 and $319 USD for the slightly smaller yet equally capable Ankermake M5C, it’s a good time to pick one of these up if you’re looking to dip your toe into 3D printing without breaking the bank. We would recommend grabbing the all-metal hotend for the M5 to avoid potential issues with the PTFE tubing in the default hotend.

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