A Comprehensive Review of the Affordable and Reliable AnkerMake M5C 3D Printer


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Chinese 3D printer manufacturer AnkerMake, owned by electronics device company Anker Innovations, was founded back in 2020. The company launched its first 3D printer, the AnkerMake M5, in 2022.

In this article we review the M5C, the latest addition to AnkerMake’s desktop FDM 3D printer portfolio. According to AnkerMake, the M5C combines affordability and ease of use with high-speed, high-quality 3D printing.

Priced at just $399, the M5C is targeted towards users of all levels, and is ideal for newcomers to the industry. Indeed, AnkerMake’s new 3D printer is advertised as allowing users to “make more with less effort.”

Key features of the AnkerMake M5C

Providing a maximum 3D printing speed of 500 mm/s and acceleration up to 5000 mm/s², the M5C stands out with a maximum flow of 35 mm3/s. AnkerMake suggests that the fast and simple 3D printing process of the M5C does not compromise the quality of the final parts.

The M5C is promoted with the ability to achieve 50µm resolution during 3D printing in the special “Precision Mode”. Besides, the M5C provides users with “Fast” and “Normal” 3D printing profiles.

The design of the 3D printer assures stability with a 5 kg base and a lowered center of gravity, aiming to limit vibration amplitude to less than 0.08 mm during high-speed 3D printing.

The M5C is suitable for a variety of materials, including PLA+, TPU, ABS, PETG, PA, PETG-CF, and PA-CF. This compatibility is facilitated by the M5C’s stainless steel hotend and a maximum nozzle temperature of 300℃, which comes with diameter options of 0.2 mm and 0.4 mm.

Ease of use is enhanced by the M5C’s 7 x 7 auto bed leveling feature. This 3D printer checks a total of 49 points on the build plate, determining a virtual height map to assure a smooth first layer at the beginning of each 3D print.

The AnkerMake M5C is aiming for simplicity of use, and is ideal for beginners. Therefore, the unboxing and assembly procedure for this 3D printer is particularly simple. 

Setting up the M5C is straightforward. You only need to connect the gantry to the base and secure it with a few screws. We had ours ready to go straight from the box in under 10 minutes. The pre-installation of the 3D print head on the gantry simplifies the setup process considerably.

We received our M5C in great condition, thanks to its careful packaging. A sturdy cardboard box houses the printer, with plenty of precision-cut foam panels providing ample protection. This delivery method ensured that our unit arrived intact, without any signs of damage or parts missing.

3D Printing Industry

Included with the 3D printer is a kit for maintenance and accessories, a physical instruction manual, and a spare set of nozzles. The box also holds the necessary tools for the setup and routine maintenance of the printer.

3D Printer Packaging and Unboxing. Photos by 3D Printing Industry.

A sleek and modern concept

The most recent 3D printer by AnkerMake presents a striking open design. The M5C encompasses critical components such as motors, sensors, and necessary operational mechanisms within an all-aluminum casement, affording the 3D printer a tidy, minimalist aesthetic.

This minimalist theme is further enhanced by the absence of a digital screen. The M5C instead incorporates a single button for pausing or restarting 3D printing tasks. All other functionality of the 3D printer is managed using the AnkerMake app and the AnkerMake Slicer.

With its convenient compactness, the M5C offers dimensions of only 355 x 355 x 480 mm and a total production volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm. These dimensions deem this 3D printer perfectly suited for desktop users engaging in prototyping, DIY projects, and model construction.

The spool holder’s position at the top of the 3D printer, rather than the side, is a small but practical feature. This positioning reduces tension during 3D printing, which ensures a more steady flow of material and decreases the likelihood of filament breakage.

The M5C package includes accessories and offers detailed views of the 3D print head and motion system. The M5C is also paired with its distinct slicing software known as the AnkerMake Slicer.

AnkerMake Slicer is the only slicing software that can directly manipulate the 3D printing process of the M5C. AnkerMake also includes a mobile application, which can manage 3D printing tasks on the M5C. The app features a variety of preset models that are immediately ready for 3D printing.

Our inspection of the AnkerMake Slicer and its companion app revealed them to be quite efficient. Without needing to apply significant modifications, our team was successful in obtaining good outcomes using the provided slicer and material profiles. The slicer’s overall design user interface was intuitive and straightforward to navigate, making it highly fitting for the M5C’s beginner target audience.

The compatibility of the M5C with gcode implies that consumers are not restricted to a specific slicer; they can use third-party slicers to prepare and transport their 3D print files. Nevertheless, the AnkerMake Slicer is currently the only software that has direct network conjunction with the M5C, meaning that 3D prints sliced externally can solely be uploaded through a USB-C stick. For kick-starting the 3D printing process, users have to utilise the AnkerMake mobile application.

The interfaces of both AnkerMake Slicer and the mobile application are user-friendly and intuitive, as depicted in images provided by 3D Printing Industry.

Benchmarking Procedure

We initiated the assessment process with a test file, 3D benchy, which we obtained from the AnkerMake application. We produced two distinct benchy models utilising AnkerMake PLA+ filament and the M5C’s rapid and normal modes. The printing duration for these models was around 17 minutes 40 seconds and 47 minutes, respectively.

As per the test results, the 3D benchy printed at normal speed boasts of a superior surface finish compared to its counterpart, exhibiting fewer discrepancies. It was notable that none of the memorable faults that are usually found around the frame and bridge regions were found in this benchy, indicative of the notable cooling abilities of the M5C printer. In contrast, the fast-paced printing cycle failed to allot adequate cool-down time, leading to some unfavourable outcomes primarily on the roof’s bottom side. 

Another interesting test was undertaken, this one tracing a circular trajectory, to investigate the M5C’s proficiency to 3D print components with circular form factors. This analysis indicated a relative disparity in the proportions of the dimensions along the X and Y axis. The X axis measurements stayed in closer harmony with the desired numbers, showing a regular deviation. The Y-axis, unfortunately, showed no such consistency. 

Besides, the Y-axis observed a higher standard deviation than the X-axis, suggesting possible issues with the M5C’s motion setup. A potential solution could involve modifying the XYZ-steps or resizing the model within the slicer. Yet, at present, the absence of access to M5C firmware settings means no changes can be made to the XYZ-steps.

The result and descriptions of 3D prints following a circular trajectory can be observed. The accuracy of the M5C machine was further evaluated. It involved printing three different parts, namely, squares, hexagons, and tubes, 12 times each. They were then measured and compared with the anticipated measurements. An acceptable result was considered when the average deviation was less than 0.1 mm and the standard deviation less than 0.05 mm.

Images and data from the repeatability test. In summary, the three tests for X and Y dimension accuracy were decently successful, as both the average and standard deviations remained within the acceptable range. However, when the hexagon parts were printed diagonally, discrepancies were found. This implies that the issue might reside in the motion system or the XYZ-steps, similar to the circular trajectory issue.

Analysis of repeatability test results. The next initiative was to perform a bridging test, intended to inspect the M5C’s capacity to 3D print without requiring any support. This is an ideal method to assess the printer’s cooling, as better cooling often results in a superior bridge. The smaller bridges start at 5mm, increasing in 5mm increments up to 25mm. The larger bridges commence at a length of 20mm, adding 10mm each time until it reaches 60mm.

All bridges were successfully 3D printed, with particularly excellent outcomes up to a 20 mm length bridge. After reaching this length, the bridges started to exhibit increased amounts of drooping. Considering most FDM 3D printers begin showing these defects after 15 mm, the M5C displayed above-average performance on this test. It’s particularly remarkable considering these results are attained at 3D printing speeds of up to 250 mm/s.

Bridging test. Photos provided by 3D Printing Industry.

We also conducted tower and width tests to ascertain the M5C’s maximum 3D printing dimensions. The tower segment achieved measurements of 45.1 x 45 x 249.5 mm, nearly attaining the 3D printer’s maximum build height (250 mm). The M5C also demonstrated excellent consistency regarding surface quality, with no variation from top to bottom.

The width test part measured 219.4 x 220 mm, devoid of warping or defects around the edges. Thus, it’s evident that the M5C has the ability to effectively 3D print up to its near-maximum horizontal dimensions.

Tower and width tests were conducted. The photographs were provided by 3D Printing Industry.

An additional overhang test evaluated the 3D printer’s maximum printable overhang angle without the need for supports. Six test pieces were utilized for this purpose, and each one increased at a rate of five degrees starting from 40° and ending at 65°.

3D printing of overhangs under 55° was fairly successful, but the 60° and 65° overhangs demonstrated noticeable gaps between layers. Considering the standard printing speed of 250 mm/s, the results were pretty good. Reducing the speed could further improve the overhangs as it allows for better cooling.

Photos of overhang tests were provided by 3D Printing Industry.

A retraction test was subsequently carried out, producing impressive outcomes. There were no artifacts or stringing, except for a little wisping spotted at the top. This could be attributed to the hot nozzle temperatures of the M5C and its direct drive mechanism, both of which offer improved control over filament extrusion.

Finally, the in-house benchmarking test of 3D Printing Industry (3DPI) was conducted, which amalgamated different tests in one single model, printed in PLA+ material. This test was performed thrice utilizing the normal, precision, and fast profiles of the M5C. The M5C yielded good results, except in the accuracy test.

The principal distinctions between these three 3D prints are their overhang capacity and the finesse of their negative precision. Astonishingly, the speedy profile achieved the most exceptional negative precision result, delivering a 0.15 mm negative precision in 3D printing in contrast to the 0.2 mm attained by the other couple of profiles. The singular problem we ran into with the swift 3D print was its inferior overhang proficiency and surface quality, as this profile left noticeable cavities on the exterior layer.

The precision test excel in the facet of overhangs. This was anticipated, as the extruded filament had a more extended exposure to the cooling fan as opposed to the swifter 3D prints.

We conducted 3DPI tests for the standard, swift, and precise profiles. All information was provided by the 3D Printing Industry.

We also carried out a small and precise parts test to ascertain whether the M5C could print a functional nut and bolt model with extremely minute dimensions and tolerances. The 3D printer executed well in this aspect, fabricating a part without interference, even at a 0.2 mm layer height.

The small and precise parts test were provided by the 3D Printing Industry.

Application tests

Our team also conducted a number of tests to assess how well the M5C handles different materials and real-world use cases.

We first 3D printed an extendable ax model, taking 10 hrs and 45 mins in the 3D printer’s normal mode. The surface quality of this part was quite impressive, however there were sections where the 3D printer traveled outside the model’s 3D printing zone. This created thin artifact lines on the surface of the part. 

AnkerMake M5C Extendable ax model. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

We 3D printed a planetary gear using PLA, a high-tolerance functional part. The model’s initial preview at a 0.20 mm layer height didn’t provide a sufficient gap between the rings due to the slicer. Consequently, we lowered the layer height, prompting the slicer to leave a gap. Following 3D printing, the model needed some adjustments to dislodge the gears due to fusion. However, the quality turned out good with the gear system having a smooth movement and negligible excess friction.

AnkerMake M5C Planetary gear 3D print. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

We also used PLA to 3D print two typical hobbyist miniature models using the 0.2 mm diameter nozzle. The parts were impressive, featuring a smooth consistency and no discernable ringing on their surface finish.

Figurine and Castle models. Photos by 3D Printing Industry.

A Voronoi tower was restructured using PLA+ via 3D printing in order to gauge the M5C’s competency with complex prints containing numerous overhangs. This prototype was reproduced on three separate occasions using each printing profile; namely, fast, precision, and normal.

The M5C successfully printed these models devoid of any flawed supports or apparent defects. Every detail was meticulously preserved across all three profiles, the overall quality remained spectacularly high for each one. This effectively demonstrates the M5C’s skilled proficiency in swiftly 3D printing complicated models without significant compromise on quality.

Trials of Voronoi tower using three distinct profiles; fast, precision, and normal, presented by 3D Printing Industry.

Conclusively, a functional pipe fixture was printed using Nylon-Carbon Fiber, a composite material. In order to print this piece, a hardened steel nozzle, of 0.4 mm diameter, was employed. 

This part 3D printed very well on the first try, using the default profile that comes with AnkerMake slicer. There was some stringing that was seen while printing the part, but this was easily cleaned after some post processing, and did not significantly impact the 3D print quality.

We were impressed by the M5C’s composite material compatibility, as this expands the 3D printer’s customer base beyond hobbyists to the intermediate market.

Final verdict

 

The M5C is recognized as a cost-effective, user-friendly FDM 3D printer, offering impressive 3D print speed and quality. Specifically designed with beginners in mind, this 3D printer serves as a great introductory tool for desktop 3D printing. Its nozzle capacity of 300℃ makes it compatible with a wide range of materials, enhancing its appeal to intermediate users as well.

Through our rigorous testing process, the reliability of the M5C really shines. Notably, we experienced neither a single failed 3D print nor any sensor issues during our trials. The M5C effectively lived up to its promise of producing high-quality parts consistently.

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Meet the mastermind behind NozzleNerds.com: GCode-Guru, a 3D printing wizard whose filament collection rivals their sock drawer. Here to demystify 3D tech with a mix of expert advice, epic fails, and espresso-fueled rants. If you've ever wondered how to print your way out of a paper bag (or into a new coffee cup), you're in the right place. Dive into the world of 3D printing with us—where the only thing more abundant than our prints is our sarcasm.

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