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This Anker 3D printer blew me away and it's perfect for beginners

The AnkerMake M5 gives you perfect prints in a fraction of the time it takes a traditional machine to do the same.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
AnkerMake M5 3D printer
Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

3D printers can often feel like fickle, temperamental devices. With a steep learning curve and a multitude of factors at play -- including 3D filaments, slicers, and the ever-changing environment the printer inhabits -- the journey to producing top-notch, functional prints can feel like a rollercoaster ride filled with frustration.

But fear not, my fellow 3D printing adventurers! There are a few things that you can do to flatten that learning curve, but it all starts with buying a quality printer.

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I've put many hours into a number of different 3D printers, and while they've all been able to output good prints eventually, that took a lot of time, experimentation, and fiddling. So much so that I could see them being wearisome to the point of being disheartening for the beginner.

The problem is finding that magical printer that caters to beginners' needs while still offering enough pizzazz to satisfy their inner 3D printing needs as they grow more experienced.   

I've been using the AnkerMake M5 3D printer, and I have to say that I've been blown away by just how good it is. 

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AnkerMake M5 3D printer tech specs

  • Max print size: 235 × 235 × 250 mm³
  • Control interface: 4.3-inch touchscreen
  • Print resolution: 0.1 mm
  • Leveling: 7 x 7 auto-leveling
  • Heated bed: Yes (up to 100°C / 212°F)
  • Filament support: PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU
  • Print bed: Bendable, scratch-resistant PEI-plated
  • Connectivity: USB-C and Wi-Fi
  • Control software: AnkerMake app, AnkerMake Slicer, Alexa
  • Construction: Die-cast aluminum alloy structure
  • Assembly time: 15 minutes

AnkerMake M5 3D printer, 3D printing!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Right out of the box, everything about the M5 is user-friendly.

There's a little bit of assembly to do (attaching the print head support to the bed, and a few cable connectors), but all the tools you need are supplied, and the instructions are easy to follow. If you're used to assembling things like flat-packed furniture, you'll have this done in well under 15 minutes (I had it assembled in under 5 minutes).

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The build quality of the M5 is just perfection. It's solid yet stylish. Everything from the components to the tools is high quality and well presented. 

A selection of tools for a 3D printer

AnkerMake supplies all the tools you need

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The 4.3-inch touchscreen interface is responsive, practically placed, and easy to navigate.

Touchscreen display on a 3D printer

The touchscreen controls make the M5 a really easy 3D printer to use.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

You also get a spare print head, a handful of print nozzles, and two very durable, double-sided print beds.

Spare print head and nozzles for the M5 3D printer

There's also a spare print head and nozzles for the M5 3D printer.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

After assembly, I switched the machine on, connected it to my Wi-Fi, updated the firmware, loaded in the filament, and was printing in under 30 minutes.

Previous 3D printers I've had all required manual bed leveling (the process of calibrating the nozzle to print the bed distance of the printer), so having the printer do this itself was a nice change.

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And from that point on, I've been printing a variety of 3D prints and have been blown away by the quality, accuracy, and speed. Anker claims that the M5 is five times faster than most other 3D printers on the market, and I believe this. Prints that could take all day and night on other printers take a few hours on this one.

3D printed soap dish for the shower

This 3D printed soap dish took only 3 hours to make on the M5, versus 12 hours on competitors.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Worried that your printer might make a mess while you're not watching it? The M5 has a built-in AI error detection feature that keeps an eye out for problems such as the print detaching off the bed, an extruder jam, and the filament coming out in a spaghetti mess (this happened to me once when forgot to use the correct filament).

3D camera built into the AnkerMate M5 3D printer

The built-in camera keeps an eye on the printing.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

You can also monitor the printing via the AnkerMake app on your smartphone, so you can not only make sure things are progressing well but also when they're done!

Remotely watching the M5 printing using the AnkerMake app!

Remotely watching the M5 printing using the AnkerMake app!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The only accessory that I bought for this printer was a 3D printer enclosure (there's currently a $23 off coupon on Amazon if you buy this, bringing the price down to under $70), which is basically a fireproof, dustproof tent for the printer. I bought this so I wouldn't be tempted to pile things around and on top of my printer. It's worked, and I've instead piled things on top of the enclosure. 

AnkerMate M5 3D printer inside a foil-lined enclosure

My printer lives inside a fireproof, dirtproof enclosure.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The enclosure is insulated and helps keep the temperature and humidity constant during printing, which in turn results in better prints.

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It also helps stop the noise (not that there's much from the M5), smell, and the little bits of filament that are emitted from the printing process.

AnkerMate M5 3D printer prtinting a print

Another print started!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I've now put many rolls of different kinds of filament through my AnkerMake M5 since unboxing it on April of this year, and not only has it exceeded my expectations, I've not outgrown it. It's a 3D printer that covers both beginner users and advanced users with ease. The prints are always high quality and I've had very few failures or dud prints. 

In that time too, several firmware upgrades, as well as updates to the AnkerMate slicing software have bought a raft of improvements both in the speed and quality of the outputs. 

At $799, the AnkerMake M5 commands quite a price tag, sitting in between budget printers such as the Creality Ender 3 or Anycubic Kobra Neo and higher-end units such as the FLSUN V400 and the Snapmaker 2.0

But for me, the Anker printer offers the best of both worlds in a printer that's closer to $500 than it is $1,000; it's a printer that's quick and easy to set up, very reliable, and packed with professional features that will keep it relevant for years to come. 

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