Welcome to ZDNet’s DIY-IT project lab, where I’m testing 3D printers for your entertainment and edification. Today, we’ll be looking at an inexpensive yet very full-featured Bowden drive filament printer.
In the accompanying video, we’re assembling and testing the Vyper from Anycubic. Many of you are familiar with the Anycubic name when it comes to resin printers. This is a filament printer, and Anycubic definitely demonstrates they can extrude filament as well as they can selectively harden the resin.
When I first got it in, the Vyper was priced at about $350. It’s now , (or $390 with Amazon’s current coupon).
The Anycubic Vyper checks off a bunch of FDM desirable features right out of the box. The biggest win for a printer in this price range is the automatic bed leveling feature. The Vyper does mesh leveling, so you don’t have to spend a few hours fighting with adjustment wheels to get it dialed in. Add to that a filament runout sensor and a power-fail resume feature. If your printer runs out of filament or the power fails in the middle of a long print, you can resume your print without losing your progress.
The Anycubic has a build area is 245 x 245 x 260mm. For a 3D printer, I’d put this build size right in the Goldilocks region: it’s just about right. You can build reasonably sized objects, but the print surface isn’t so large that heating it evenly is that much of an issue.
The printer has a heated bed, and the surface is magnetically attached to spring steel. The bed’s surface is stippled, which definitely helps keep objects attached to the bed, but I’m curious how well the surface coating will stand up to heavy use.
The printer comes primarily complete. All that’s really necessary is attaching the gantry to the base. I did run into an issue here. You’re given two bolts that attach from the bottom up into the gantry’s aluminum extrusion. When I tried to tighten the screws, they seemed to strip very easily. I could not create a firm connection between the gantry extrusion and the base.
To solve the problem, I ordered It took about five minutes to attach these across both the base and the gantry, and the two main subassemblies of the printer were securely connected.
Overall, it took me about half an hour to put this together, plus a couple of days waiting for the add-on plates from Amazon. Connecting the various cables was easy because they were clearly labeled.
The printer has a vertically-oriented control screen, which I used for the initial bed leveling. After that, I connected a Raspberry Pi via USB and did all my printing through Octoprint. Oh, and it has a silly little drawer for storing tiny tools.
And with that, let’s move on to the printing.
As usual, I started with Yoda. I print Yoda heads as a test print for all my FDM printers. They make great test pieces because the ears and chin show how well the printer handles overhangs. Spare Yoda head prints also make great giveaways to 3D printing curious visitors to the Fab Lab.
Yoda’s ears were just about perfect, as you can see in the accompanying video. Overall, Yoda came out well, although there’s a hint of layer separation on his back. For the record, I printed Master Yoda before I added the triangular support pieces, which might have firmed up the overall print.
Next, I tried to print the Adalinda dragon. This is an extremely difficult model to print support free, which is why I’ve started using it to test.
You can see some blobbing under the macro lens, but examined from just a few inches away, it came out pretty much perfect on the first try. As you can see in the video, there are a number of items that could be delicate enough to break off, but the Vyper held its own. It was a long, challenging print that proved to be worry-free on the Vyper.
Finally, let’s take a look at the Benchy. There was some stringing and a bit of blobbing, but otherwise, this test print performed as expected.
You can see the flexible steel bed’s stipple pattern from the bottom shot of the first layer, as shown in the video. If you expect to have a smooth first layer, you’ll need a different bed material.
Bridging over the front window was nice and clean. You can see a nice texture on the deck from the top view shown in the video. And as the video pulls back focus, you can see how well-defined the smokestack and the roof are. You can also see some minor retraction issues, which is probably why we’re getting little dribbles of plastic.
Overall, the Benchy did well. Some minor layer lines are visible on the hull’s side, but nothing indicates any printing problems.
So let’s wrap this up. On the positive side, the Anycubic Vyper has automatic mesh bed leveling, a filament runout sensor, and a power-fail resume. It has a removable flexible steel build plate, and it produces good prints. All for about $350 to $429, depending on when you order it.
On the negative side, the vertical gantry screws were stripped upon installation, but the fix was easy and inexpensive. And I’m not sure how robust the bed surface is or whether it will scrape off when removing stubborn prints.
All that said, the bottom line is this: the Anycubic Vyper is a sweet machine for the price. Sure, there are better machines out there, but for the mix of features this offers, you’d be paying two to four times as much. The Vyper offers a sweet spot of convenience and pro-level features for just slightly above an entry-level price. If you can afford $350, I’d recommend this over less expensive printers that don’t have the Vyper’s excellent range of features.
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