Anycubic i3 Mega S: A 20k+ Hour Review

TLDR;

The Anycubic i3 Mega S has a few key upgrades to the previous model, which was already a perfect entry-level printer, and with a few small upgrades, good enough for both hobby or commercial use. After running four of these units seven days a week over two years for commercial production of tabletop gaming terrain, we can strongly recommend these printers.

Photo: Cybernaut Protocol

The Basics

A Bowden extrusion, fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer, Anycubic’s version of the well-known i3 platform has been in production since June 2017 and has been known as a powerhouse among the available entry-level printers for those getting started in 3D printing. The barrier to entry is extremely low once you combine the ten minute assembly-to-print time (versus up to several hours for machines like the Creality Ender 3 Pro), Anycubic’s responsive support, and the ability to print PLA, ABS, HIPS, PETG, Wood and TPU.

From assembly to your first print is easily under 15 minutes with the install consisting of screwing the upper assembly to the base with eight screws and attaching the optional spool holder. The first print files are preloaded on the included SD card, allowing you to print a set of cute, wedding owls after you level your print bed. Leveling, as with any printer with manual bed leveling, is a quick process once you get used to it. For more advanced users, there is a third-party firmware update that adds mesh leveling to the Mega S.

Photo: Anycubic

What’s Been Upgraded?

The “S” upgrades consist of three different parts and a modified print bed. Let’s look at these in detail.

The first upgrade, and most important in my opinion, is the new Titan extruder. The extruder on the original model was the only paint point I ever had. I had a few that malfunctioned and, like many other entry-level machines, the process of getting the filament to feed into the extruder when changing spools was something you just had to practice over time to become comfortable with the amount of pressure and angle needed to hit the target. The Titan extruder solves all of the problems. So much so that I upgraded my original Mega’s to the S with the upgrade kit that Anycubic offers.

The second upgrade, allowing much easier printing of TPU, is the new filament sensor. It sits right behind the spool holder and is able to both sense the existence of filament, but also aid in a consistent flow of material to the extruder.

The new filament rack (aka spool holder) is a great improvement over the original acrylic, standalone spool holder. Not only does it work better it also shrinks the footprint of each machine. This is something that is important when stacking machines on a workbench side by side. In order to stack the machines up before, we had to put the machines at a diagonal for the spool holder to work right. Now, the machines can stack very tightly together.

The final upgrade, the new attachment for the printing surface, enlarges the heated plate just a bit and adds small metal clamps to attach your Ultrabase printing surface. This doesn’t in turn enlarge the printing area, it simply allows you to swap out printing surfaces much easier. The old heated bed was glued to the Ultrabase with glue I can only describe as glue from hell.

With the new filament sensor and Titan extruder, I have easily printed ty Ender 3 Pro), Anycubic’s responsive support, and the ability to print PLA, ABS, PETG, Wood, and TPU. The only material I haven’t tried is HIPS because I haven’t had a need to print with it.

Warranty & Support

All of Anycubic’s printers come with a One Year Limited Warranty. You can read all of the details on their site, however, let’s just sum it up from my own experience, as well as many others I have spoken to – it’s excellent and they will do whatever they need to do to make you happy short of just refunding your purchase. I have written them in the past about a small broken part or a fan that is very loud and they simply send brand new parts within a week or so. For example, I wrote within the first two weeks of purchasing one of the machines about a very loud fan. Instead of going back and forth about what it might be, they just sent me a brand new power supply. I can tell you from my experience with much larger brands, that treatment is above and beyond. I have had other larger brands literally go back and forth with me over email for weeks only to end up sending me a small part that I have to solder onto the main board myself.

What’s in the Box

Anycubic i3 Mega S:
3D Printer x 1
Flush Cutters x 1
Scraper x 1
Tool Set x 1
SD Card Reader x 1 (tip: throw this away and use a better one)
SD Card x 1
User Manual x 1
Power Cord x 1
USB Cable x 1
Screw(M5) x 10
Filament Rack x 1
1kg Roll of Filament x 1 (seems to alternate between white and black)
Anycubic Filament Sample Pack x 1
Leveling Paper x 1

The Specs

Highlights

  • Anycubic’s Ultrabase™ Printing Platform – a strong adhesion when the platform’s hot and easy to remove when cool down.
  • Upgraded Filament Sensor – provides better printing experience of flexible materials.
  • Upgraded Titan Extruder – Provides better printing experience when using flexible filaments.
  • New Suspended Filament Rack – the feeding of filament is smoother and the storage of filament is more convenient.
  • Touch Screen – full-color, multi-language, user-friendly UI.
  • Fast Assembly in 3 Minutes – only need to install 8 screws and connect 3 wires before the first print.

Details

  • Printing Technology: FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling)
  • Large build volume: 210 x 210 x 205 mm
  • Positioning Accuracy: X/Y 0.0125mm Z 0.002mm
  • Supported Print Materials: TPU, PLA, ABS, HIPS, Wood
  • Full Rigid Solid metal frame construction and superior stability
  • High quality, accurate printing with layer resolution down to 50 microns
  • Ultrabase™ for excellent adhesion and easy parts removal
  • Auto Resume Print from Power Outage
  • High-Quality Titan Extrusion to print Flexible filaments
  • Suspended Spool(Filament) Holder
  • Input Formats: .STL, .OBJ, .DAE, .AMF
  • Ambient Operating Temperature: 8ºC – 40ºC
  • Connectivity SD Card, USB Port (advanced users)
  • Package Weight: 16.5kg

The Cons

If I had to find a few things to put in the Cons column with this printer, I’d be hard-pressed to do it. Could it have a better hot end? Sure. Could it have a better filament rack? Sure. Could it have a better extruder? Sure. However, we are talking about a sub $400 (when on sale, you can get it for as little as $279 with Prime shipping) printer that works perfectly fine with a good slicer profile and decent materials, not a Prusa MK3. Plus, the i3 platform is easy enough to upgrade anything you want. I have seen plenty of Mega’s with $400 in upgrades on them. Is that required for the average user? No.

Accessories & Upgrades

  • Octoprint running on Raspberry Pi – this was the first and best upgrade I ever made. Octoprint allows you to manage & monitor prints remotely, as well as control your printer.
  • Raspberry Pi Camera Module
  • 3D Printer Enclosure – this is required for ABS, but a good idea in general to create a temperature-controlled and dust-free environment.
  • Extra Printer Nozzles – you are going to need these. Just go ahead and buy them now, trust me.
  • SD Card Reader – the only part that comes with the printer that you can just throw away and replace immediately. This is the read I use and it is the best I have found after years of trying different ones.

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