Reviewing AnkerMake M5C: Affordable and Reliable 3D Printing Simplified


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

The M5C 3D printer has a top speed of 500 mm/s and an acceleration of 5000 mm/s². It also shows off a maximum flow of 35 mm3/s. Because of this, AnkerMake says the printer allows users to print parts swiftly and conveniently, without losing quality.

When working with the printer’s “Precision Mode,” it’s touted as being able to accomplish a resolution of 50µm when 3D printing. Besides this, the M5C also comes with “Fast” and “Normal” printing profiles provided.

The design of the 3D printer incorporates a 5 kg base and a lowered center of gravity. As a result, there is less than 0.08 mm vibration amplitude during high-speed 3D printing.

The M5C is adaptable with a variety of materials and supports 3D printing with PLA+, TPU, ABS, PETG, PA, PETG-CF, and PA-CF. This feature comes from its stainless steel hotend and a highest nozzle temperature of 300℃, which offers diameter options of 0.2 mm and 0.4 mm.

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.  

The AnkerMake M5C. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

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. 

Assembling the M5C is straightforward – one just needs to fix the gantry to the base and secure it with a few screws. Our efficient team managed to get the model up and running in under 10 minutes, straight out of the box. The pre-attached 3D print head on the gantry simplifies the setup process significantly.

The packaging of the M5C was impressively sturdy, being shipped in a sturdy cardboard box with well-cut foam panels for protection. This ensured that our M5C arrived devoid of any damage or missing components.

Included with the 3D printer is a kit for maintenance and accessories, a hard-copy manual, and a spare set of nozzles. Additionally, the package contains the essential tools for the 3D printer setup and upkeep.

Unboxing and Packaging of the 3D Printer, Photos by the 3D Printing Industry.

A sleek and compact design

AnkerMake’s new 3D printer portrays an elegant open design. The M5C’s comprehensive aluminum enclosure covers essential components such as motors, sensors, and other crucial moving mechanisms, providing the 3D printer with a sleek and minimalist appearance.

Interestingly, this minimalism is intensified by the absence of a digital interface. Instead, the M5C incorporates a single button for pausing and resuming 3D printing tasks. All other 3D printing procedures are operated through the Ankermake app and AnkerMake Slicer.

As a particularly compact 3D printer, the M5C measures merely 355 x 355 x 480 mm, and has a total build volume of 220 x 220 x 250 mm. This size makes it an optimal choice for desktop users who are engaged in prototyping, DIY, and model-making activities.

Another notable feature is that the spool holder is located at the top of the 3D printer, as opposed to the side. This design helps in reducing tension during the 3D printing process, ensuring a more even flow of materials and decreasing the likelihood of filament breaking. 

Accompanying the M5C are a series of accessories, along with detail views of the 3D printer head and motion system.

Slicing Software: AnkerMake

The M5C is equipped with its unique slicing software known as AnkerMake Slicer. This program is the only slicing tool that can directly manage the M5C’s 3D printing activities. In addition to this, AnkerMake also offers a mobile application that can be employed to supervise 3D printing tasks on the M5C. This application comes with an array of pre-established models ready for immediate 3D printing. 

Upon evaluation, we discovered that the AnkerMake Slicer and its accompanying application are quite efficient. Our team was able to produce satisfactory results using the given slicing tool and material profiles without the need for any considerable modifications. The slicer’s design UI was straightforward and user-friendly, making it ideal for the M5C’s target audience of beginners.

The M5C is compatible with gcode, allowing users to slice and export their 3D print files using third-party slicers. However, the only software with direct network integration with the M5C is the AnkerMake Slicer. If you choose to slice your 3D prints externally, you will need to upload them using a USB-C stick. From there, the AnkerMake mobile app can be used to initiate the 3D printing process.

Take a look at the AnkerMake Slicer and mobile app interfaces. They are highly user-friendly according to the 3D Printing Industry.

Our Benchmarking Test

Our testing process started with a 3D benchy test file, downloaded from the AnkerMake app. We printed two distinct benchy models using AnkerMake PLA+ filament in both fast and normal modes of the M5C. The 3D prints were ready in 17 minutes 40 seconds and 47 minutes, correspondingly.

It was observed that the benchy 3D model printed at normal speed showcased a superior surface finish and fewer defects, especially around the frames and bridge areas, which testifies to the excellent cooling attributes of the M5C. However, the fast-print model didn’t offer adequate cooling time, which led to some imperfections on the roof’s underside.

The 3D printed benchy test images. Credit goes to 3D Printing Industry.

We also performed a circular trajectory test to discern the M5C’s ability to print 3D parts with circular portions. Our evaluation revealed a noticeable variation in the dimensions between the X and Y-axis. The X-axis was found to be more aligned with the targeted measurements, having more consistent deviations. This wasn’t the case for the Y-axis, however. 

There was a higher standard deviation for the Y-axis compared to the X-axis, indicating potential issues with the M5C’s movement system. This could potentially be rectified by editing the XYZ-steps, or by scaling the 3D model in the slicer. That said, it’s currently impossible to change the XYZ-steps since the M5C firmware configuration can’t be accessed.

Circular trajectory 3D prints and measurement results. Information by 3D Printing Industry.  

Evaluation of the M5C’s repeatability was also carried out. Three distinct elements (squares, hexagons, and tubes) were 3D printed in sets of 12. Each piece was then carefully measured and compared to the respective target dimensions. In order to pass this particular test, the average deviation must be less than 0.1 mm, and the standard deviation must fall below 0.05 mm.

3D prints from the repeatability test. Pictures courtesy of 3D Printing Industry.

On the whole, all three tests showed satisfactory results in relation to the X and Y dimensions, with the average deviations falling within the acceptable range of under 0.1 mm and standard deviations being less than 0.05 mm. However, when it came to printing diagonally for the hexagon pieces, inconsistencies were identified. Similar to the issues found with circular trajectory, this suggests potential deficiencies with the motion system or the XYZ-steps. 

Results from the repeatability test. Data provided by 3D Printing Industry.

Subsequently, a bridging test was performed to examine the M5C’s capacity to 3D print without any support. This test serves as an excellent tool to evaluate the 3D printer’s cooling function, as superior cooling typically results in a more efficient bridge. The short bridge lengths commence at 5mm and extend up to 25 mm in increments of 5 mm. The larger bridge starts at 20 mm and reaches up to 60 mm, increasing by 10mm increments.

All bridges were successfully 3D printed, yielding particularly outstanding results up to the 20 mm length bridge. Beyond this length, the printed bridges displayed gradually increasing drooping. The M5C delivered above-average performance in this test as many FDM 3D printers present these flaws beyond the 15 mm mark. Even more noteworthy is the fact that these superior outcomes were realized at 3D printing speeds of 250 mm/s.

Photographs by 3D Printing Industry serve to demonstrate the bridging test.

To identify M5C’s maximum 3D printing dimensions, tower and width tests were performed. The tower component achieved dimensions of 45.1 x 45 x 249.5 mm, virtually touching the 3D printer’s peak build height (250 mm). The M5C also delivered consistent surface quality, with no observable difference from the top to the bottom.

The width test component measured 219.4 x 220 mm, devoid of warping or defects at the corners. Consequently, it is evident 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 consist of 6 overhangs each, increasing in increments of five degrees from 40° to 65°.

Overhangs under 55° 3D printed quite well, however the 60° and 65° overhangs failed with noticeable gaps between layers. As the parts were printed at the standard 250 mm/s speed, we view these results as very good. Slower speeds would allow for more cooling, improving the overhangs.

Overhang tests. Photos by 3D Printing Industry.

We next conducted a retraction test, the results of which were quite impressive. There was no stringing or artifacts present, apart from some wisping at the top. This is due to the M5C hot nozzle temperatures and the direct drive mechanism, which enable more control over filament extrusion.

We also conducted our in-house 3D Printing Industry (3DPI) benchmarking test, which includes a variety of different tests in one model. 3D printed in PLA+. This test was repeated three times using the M5C’s normal, precision and fast profiles. The M5C performed well here, except within the accuracy test.

There are significant differences between these three 3D prints with regard to overhang ability and negative precision. Surprisingly, the fastest profile achieved the greatest negative precision result, able to 3D print with a negative precision of 0.15 mm, compared to 0.2 mm achieved by the other two profiles. However, the fast 3D print experienced some drawbacks, such as subpar overhang capacity and surface quality, with visible cavities left on the external layer by this profile.

In terms of overhangs, the precision test yielded the best results. This was anticipated, as the extruded filament was subjected to the cooling fan for a longer duration relative to the faster 3D prints.

We carried out 3DPI tests for the normal, fast, and precision profiles, supplied by 3D Printing Industry.

We also conducted a small and precise parts test to assess whether the M5C could print a functional nut and bolt model with extremely small dimensions and tolerances. The 3D printer performed admirably in this test, producing a part with no interference, even at a 0.2 mm layer height. Photos provided by 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 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.

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

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.

A Voronoi tower was also 3D printed in PLA+ to assess the M5C’s ability to handle detailed prints with many overhangs. This model was 3D printed three times using each profile (fast, precision, and normal).

The M5C 3D printed these models without any failed supports or visible defects. All of the detail has been preserved in all three profiles, with the overall quality being very for each high. This showcases the M5C’s ability to 3D print intricate models at high speeds, without sacrificing too much on quality.

Voronoi tower in 3 profiles (fast, precision and normal). Photos by the 3D Printing Industry.

Finally, we 3D printed a functional pipe fixture using Nylon-Carbon Fiber, a composite material. To print this part, we used 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.

3D printed pipe fixture. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.

Final verdict  

The M5C emerges as a valuable and user-intuitive FDM 3D printer, offering impressive 3D print speed and quality. The 3D printer is tailored for newcomers, providing an easy entryway into the world of desktop 3D printing. With its 300℃ nozzle, it facilitates a wide range of material compatibility, extending the usefulness of this 3D printer for more advanced users.

The dependability of the M5C was a notable feature throughout the testing phase. In fact, we didn’t experience a single failed 3D print or sensor issues. Furthermore, the M5C consistently upheld its advertised claim to create top-quality components.

Original source


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