Mechanical components make up the bulk of any 3D printer, but without the addition of electronics working alongside they would be fairly stationary and that would be dull. The electronics on the A8 are easily upgraded or replaced should it be needed, and any quick look through Google and you’ll know this may come to fruition. It cannot be stressed enough why you should not leave your printer unattended. Don’t believe me? Read this!!! Obviously I don’t want this to put any doubt in your mind about buying one, it’s just really important that you understand the risk and take caution. I’m also not suggesting you should sit there and watch if for hours at a time either because some prints can take a while and we all have lives to live.
I will publish an additional page to cover the typically precaution activities you can take to minimise risk as much as possible
As with the mechanical components, I have detailed below a list of all the electrical components that build up an A8 to give you an idea of what particular parts to look for.
- Stepper Motors
- Limit Switches
- Power Supply and Plug
- LCD Screen
- Heater Cartridge
- MOSFET (Optional – Not Standard)
The A8 has a total of 5 stepper motors which are all equal. It’s a Cartesian style 3D printer which means it operates on an xyz coordinate system. One stepper motor operates the X axis which sits on the gantry and slides the extruder carriage from left to right (or across, get it, a cross, a x, x-axis is a cross, just me?)
A second motor drives the Y axis, which is the heated bed. It is mounted at the rear centre of the chassis and moves the bed back and forth.
Motors three and four make up the Z axis. They work in unison to raise and lower the gantry that houses the extruder carriage. Operating slightly differently to the other motors, the Z axis uses lead screws to create motion whereas the others motion a drive belt.
Moving away from axis motion, motor number five has the sole responsibility of turning a single gear. This gear, once primed, is used to pull the filament off its spool and push it through the nozzle, controlling both flow and retraction.
- Number of phases – 2
- Step Angle – 1.8 degrees
- Voltage – 3.96v
- Current – 0.9A
Replacement motors can be purchased here
Just like a computer, the motherboard is the brains of the machine and controls the screen, motors, fans, sensors, heaters and end-stops (limit switches). The board also houses the power supply input, SD card reader and USB B port.
The motherboard has a number of pre-installed Allegro A4988 micro-stepping bipolar stepper motor drivers. These drivers have an operating range of 8 to 35V and can provide up to 2A with effective cooling.
When it comes to the assembly of the printer, all the cables come pre-loaded with labels which match the scribings on the board to remove any confusion with connection points.
Replacement motherboards can be purchased here.
There are 3 limit switches on the A8 which operate simply on an open and closed basis. They are used to home each axis and are situated in specific locations to provide the firmware with a known location to measure from. Once a switch is activated it sets that position as 0.
Power Supply and Plug
First things first, take the cable that comes with the printer and just go ahead and chuck it in the bin. Go on. Assuming nothing has changed in the design since mine arrived in 2017, the supplied cable simply has a live and neutral. In the UK it is regulation for all plugs to have a two-pole and earthing-pin plugs. I am not a qualified electrician and you should do your own research and/or contact a trained professional if you do not feel comfortable. I took an existing kettle lead I had lying around and snipped and stripped the end. I then attached ring crimps to the bare wires and affixed them to the appropriate terminals on the power supply.
The Anet A8 is supplied with a 240W 12V 20A fan-less switching power supply. It works, it does the job but if you have a spare bit of cash, upgrading to a branded power supply with active cooling wouldn’t go a miss. The power requirements for the printer are already closing in on the recommended pull for this power supply so if you are intending on powering additional features such as lighting you may wish to increase the wattage.
A replacement power supply can be purchased from here.
The A8 comes with a blue screen LCD2004 display controller. It features a 4 line 80 character blue screen with white text. It is fixed to the top centre of the printer frame, connects to the motherboard and comes equipped with 5 navigation buttons (Up, Down, Enter, Back and Menu).
A replacement screen can be purchased from here