Exploring the AnkerMake M5C: An Easy, Affordable and Reliable 3D Printing Solution – A Review


Manufacturer of Chinese 3D printers, AnkerMake, a subsidiary of electronics device company Anker Innovations, was established in the year 2020. It launched its first 3D printer, the AnkerMake M5, during the year 2022.

This article offers a review of the M5C, the newest addition to AnkerMake’s FDM 3D desktop printer collection. AnkerMake suggests that the M5C merges affordable rates and user-friendliness with rapid, superior quality 3D printing.

Marked at a mere $399, the M5C aims to attract users from all tiers, making it ideal for industry novices. Indeed, the latest 3D printer from AnkerMake is marketed as enabling the user to “accomplish more with less exertion.”

AnkerMake M5C Key Features

Offering a maximum 3D printing speed of 500 mm/s and an acceleration of 5000 mm/s², the M5C also brings forward a maximum flow of 35 mm3/s. AnkerMake asserts that this machine enables users to rapidly 3D print components without affecting their quality.

Additionally, the M5C is touted as providing a 50µm resolution when 3D printing in its ‘Precision Mode.’ In addition to this, the M5C provides ‘Fast’ and ‘Normal’ 3D printing profiles.

Designed with a hefty 5 kg base and a decreased center of gravity, the 3D printer assures lower than 0.08 mm vibration amplitude during high-velocity 3D printing.

The M5C boasts a broad spectrum of material compatibility, permitting users to 3D print in various materials such as PLA+, TPU, ABS, PETG, PA, PETG-CF, and PA-CF. The 3D printer’s stainless steel hotend and maximum nozzle temperature of 300℃, offering diameter selections of 0.2 mm and 0.4 mm, enables this.

Ease of use is bolstered by the M5C’s 7 x 7 auto bed leveling feature. Here, the 3D printer examines a total of 49 points on the build plate, calculating a virtual height map to ensure a good first layer at the start of each 3D print.

Easy assembly in under 10 minutes

The AnkerMake M5C is designed with ease of use in mind, and is optimized for entry level users. As such, the unboxing and assembly process for this 3D printer is especially straightforward.

Users just need to fix the gantry to the base and secure a couple of screws to assemble the M5C. Our team managed to unbox and set up our model in less than 10 minutes. The quick and easy setup process owes much to the 3D print head being pre-mounted onto the gantry.

The M5C was packed meticulously, transported in a cardboard box with plenty of precisely cut foam panels. This ensurded that our M5C arrived in perfect condition without any damage or missing components.

The package of the 3D printer includes a maintenance and accessories kit, a physical user manual, and an additional set of nozzles. The box also contains all required tools for the setup and ongoing maintenance of the 3D printer.

The packaging and unboxing of the 3D Printer. Images courtesy 3D Printing Industry.

Reimagined with simplicity and elegance

The latest offering from AnkerMake, a 3D printer, is an object of beauty. Encased in an all-aluminum body, the M5C disguises all the vital components like motors, sensors, and movement mechanisms, presenting a sleek open appearance.

Staying true to minimalist design principles, the M5C dispenses with any digital interface. It has a solitary button that lets users pause and continue 3D print tasks. The AnkerMake app and the AnkerMake Slicer software handle all other aspects of 3D printing.

The compact dimensions of M5C – 355 x 355 x 480 mm, with a total build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm, is ideal for those needing a desktop 3D printer. It is perfect for prototyping, DIY adventures, and model-making endeavors.

It’s a small but crucial feature that the spool holder is situated on top of the 3D printer, as opposed to the side. This reduces stress during 3D printing, maintaining a steady material flow and significantly reducing the likelihood of filament breakage.

A closer look at the M5C with accessories, focusing on the 3D print head and the motion system. Images are courtesy of the 3D Printing Industry.

AnkerMake Slicer

Included with the M5C is its own slicing software, known as AnkerMake Slicer. This is the only slicer capable of directly managing the M5C’s 3D printing operations. AnkerMake also offers a mobile app, which can be used to control 3D printing tasks on the M5C. The app has a variety of preconfigured models that are ready for immediate 3D printing.

In our testing, we found the AnkerMake Slicer and its accompanying app to be highly effective. Using the provided slicer and material profiles, our team was able to produce satisfactory results without needing to adjust the settings significantly. Moreover, the overall slicer design UI was straightforward and user-friendly, making it an excellent fit for the M5C’s beginner-friendly target audience.

The M5C is fully compatible with gcode, thus users can utilize third-party slicers to slice and export their 3D print files. However, it’s important to note that the AnkerMake Slicer is the only software that provides direct network integration with the M5C, so 3D prints sliced externally can only be uploaded through a USB-C stick. To start the 3D printing process, users are required to use the AnkerMake mobile app.

The AnkerMake Slicer and mobile app interfaces are provided as shown by 3D Printing Industry.

Benchmarking test

Our testing commenced with a test file 3D benchy, downloaded from the AnkerMake app. In our test we 3D printed two different benchy’s in AnkerMake PLA+ filament, using both the M5C’s fast and normal methods. These models were 3D printed in 17 minutes 40 seconds and 47 minutes, respectively.

When it comes to the standard speed benchy, it demonstrated a superior surface finish with fewer flaws, all thanks to the M5C’s excellent cooling abilities. It was free from any defects around the frames or the bridge zones. On the other hand, the quick print version didn’t provide ample time for cooling, resulting in minor issues on the roof’s underside.

We also ran a circular trajectory test to gauge the M5C’s capacity to produce parts with circular sections. The test showed a proportional variance between the X and Y axis dimensions. The X axis was closer to the anticipated measurements, and the deviation was almost constant, which wasn’t the case for the Y axis.

Additionally, the standard deviation for the Y-axis was higher than that of the X-axis, suggesting a problem with the M5C’s motion system. This issue could potentially be remedied by adjusting the XYZ-steps, or scaling the model within the slicer. However, the M5C’s firmware configuration is presently unavailable, meaning changes to the XYZ-steps aren’t possible.

The circular trajectory 3D prints and measurement outcomes are demonstrated. The repeatability of the M5C was also scrutinized. For this, three distinct components (squares, hexagons, and tubes) were 3D printed in set of 12 each. After the parts were printed, they were quantified, and subsequently matched against expected dimensions. To successfully pass this test, it’s expected that the average discrepancy stays within 0.1 mm, while the standard discrepancy remains within 0.05 mm.

The repeatability test 3D prints were also documented. As a general observation, all three tests gave quite promising outcomes in relation to the X and Y dimensions, with the average deviations sitting inside the intended boundary of within 0.1 mm and standard discrepancies remained less than 0.05 mm. However, there were some inconsistencies observed when proceeding with diagonal printing for the hexagon components. Similar discrepancies were found in the circular trajectory, indicating a potential issue with the movement mechanism or the XYZ-steps.

The repeatability test results were also recorded. The next experiment was a bridging test, intended to evaluate the M5C’s proficiency to 3D print devoid of any support. This proves to be a significant evaluation to test the printer’s cooling capacity, as an improved cooling generally leads to a superior bridge. The bridge length for smaller size starts at 5mm and extends to 25mm in installments of 5 mm. On the other hand, the large size bridge commences at 20 mm and reaches up to 60 mm in extensions of 10mm.

All bridges were successfully 3D printed, with especially good results up to the 20 mm length bridge. Following this length, the bridges showed progressively more drooping. As most FDM 3D printers produce these defects after 15 mm, the M5C achieved above-average results on this test. It is especially impressive that these results were achieved at 3D printing speeds of 250 mm/s.

Bridging test. Photos by 3D Printing Industry.

Tower and width tests were also conducted to determine the maximum 3D printing dimensions of the M5C. The tower part achieved dimensions of 45.1 x 45 x 249.5 mm, virtually reaching the maximum build height of the 3D printer (250 mm). The M5C also achieved good consistency in terms of surface quality, with no difference from top to bottom. 

The width test part came in at 219.4 x 220 mm, with no warping or defects around the corners. As such, it is clear that the M5C can successfully 3D print close to its maximum horizontal dimensions.   

Tower and width tests. Photos by 3D Printing Industry.

An overhang test was also conducted to determine the 3D printer’s maximum printable overhang angle without supports. The test pieces comprised of 6 overhangs each, escalating in increments of five degrees from 40° to 65°.

The overhangs under 55° were 3D printed successfully, however, there were observable gaps between layers in the 60° and 65° overhangs. These results are quite impressive considering the parts were printed at the standard 250 mm/s speed. Lower speeds will allow more cooling, possibly improving the overhangs.

Overhang tests. Photos by 3D Printing Industry.

Following this, a retraction test was performed and the outcomes were noteworthy. There were no signs of stringing or artifacts, other than some wisping at the top. This is attributed to the M5C hot nozzle temperatures and the direct drive mechanism, which permit more precise control over filament extrusion.

Furthermore, our in-house 3D Printing Industry (3DPI) benchmarking test was also conducted, incorporating various tests in a single model. Printed in PLA+, the test was repeated thrice using the M5C’s normal, precision, and fast profiles. Except for the accuracy test, the M5C showed great performance here.

The primary distinctions between these three 3D prints lay in their ability to handle overhangs and their proficiency at achieving high-quality negative precision. Interestingly enough, the speedy profile showed the greatest prowess for negative precision, managing to 3D print with a negative precision of 0.15 mm as opposed to the 0.2 mm demonstrated by the other two profiles. However, it faltered when it came to overhang capability and surface quality, evident in the conspicuous cavities on the external layer.

When it came to overhangs, the precision test outperformed the rest, a predictable outcome given the increased exposure of the extruded filament to the cooling fan as compared to the faster 3D prints.

A series of 3DPI exams for the standard, fast, and precision profiles were also conducted. The data used was provided courtesy of the 3D Printing Industry. In addition, another test was held to figure out if the M5C is capable of printing a working nut and bolt model with extremely small dimensions and tolerances. In this regard, the 3D printer performed admirably well, creating a part without any snag, even with a 0.2 mm layer height.

The 3D Printing Industry is also to be credited for the images provided during the small and precise parts examination.

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 next 3D printed a planetary gear using PLA, a functional part which includes a lot of high tolerances. When we first previewed the model at 0.20 mm layer height, the gap between the rings was not sufficiently distanced by the slicer. We therefore lowered the layer height so that the slicer would leave a gap. After 3D printing, the model fused and required some manipulation to free the gears. Overall, the quality was good, with the gear system moving smoothly with no excess friction.

Again using PLA, we 3D printed two typical hobbyist miniature models using the 0.2 mm diameter nozzle. These parts were impressive, both possessing a smooth and consistent surface finish with no noticeable ringing.

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

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

A Voronoi tower was also 3D printed in PLA+ to evaluate the M5C’s capability to manage detailed prints with numerous overhangs. This model was replicated thrice employing each profile (fast, precision, and normal).

The M5C successfully 3D printed these models without any failing supports or noticeable defects. All the details have been retained in all three profiles, with each one exhibiting high quality. This demonstrates the M5C’s capacity to 3D print complex models at top speeds, without significant compromise on quality.

Voronoi tower presented in 3 profiles (fast, precision and normal). Photographs provided by 3D Printing Industry.

In conclusion, we 3D printed a functional pipe fixture with Nylon-Carbon Fiber, a composite material. For this print, we utilized a hardened steel nozzle with a 0.4 mm diameter.

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  

On the whole, the M5C emerges as a reasonable and user-friendly FDM 3D printer offering satisfactory 3D print speed and quality. This 3D printer caters to newcomers and provides an easy initiation into the realm of desktop 3D printing. Its 300℃ nozzle permits a wide spectrum of material compatibility, therefore, enhancing this 3D printer’s utility for intermediate-level users. 

What was notable during the testing process was the exceptional reliability of the M5C. As a matter of fact, we did not experience any failed 3D print or sensor issues. Additionally, the M5C continuously exhibited its claimed capability of crafting high-grade components. 

Original source


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