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Anycubic Kobra 3D Printer Review

Beginner-friendly 3D printing

Emily Byrnes Updated: Posted:
Category:
Hardware Reviews 0

We’ve covered a few resin printers on MMORPG, but this month we were fortunate enough to get our hands on the newest, beginner-friendly filament printer in the Anycubic lineup - the Anycubic Kobra.

Specifications

  • Estimated price: $279 (Anycubic - $299, Amazon - $319)
  • Product type: FDM
  • Structure: Cartesian
  • Printing platform: 8.7 x 8.7 in. /22 x 22 cm
  • Printing dimensions: 9.8 x 8.7 x 8.7 in. / 25 x 22 x 22 cm (HWD)
  • Printing material: PLA / ABS / PETG & TPU
  • Extruder: Self-developed
  • Extruder type: Integrated direct drive
  • Extruder quantity: 1
  • Nozzle dimensions: ø 0.4 mm (replaceable)
  • Filament dimensions: ø 1.75 mm
  • Nozzle temperature: ≤ 500 °F / 260 °C
  • Cooling fan: 2
  • Machine leveling: Anycubic LeviQ, auto bed leveling with inductive sensor (25-point)
  • Platform material: PEI Spring steel
  • Hotbed temperature: ≤ 230 °F / 110 °C
  • Y axis: Rail x 1
  • Operating noise: ≤ 58 dB
  • Printing accuracy: ± 0.1 mm
  • Horizontal accuracy:12.5 μm
  • Vertical accuracy:2 μm
  • Z axis: Threaded rod x 1
  • Layer thickness: 50 - 300 μm
  • Printing speed ≤ 7.1 in./s / ≤ 18 cm/s
  • Control panel: 4.3’’ LCD touch-control
  • Data input: microSD card
  • Mainboard: 32-bit stepper motor drivers TCM2209 
  • Resume printing: Yes
  • Filament sensor: Optional
  • Body material Aluminum alloy
  • Modular assembly: Yes
  • Machine dimensions: 19.1 x 19.1 x 16.9 in. /48.6 x 48.6 x 43 cm
  • Machine weight: 15.4 lb. / 7 kg

Something I’ve quickly learned over these past few months of diving into the world of 3D printing, is that filament printers are intimidating and extremely technical at a first glance. There are far more moving, mechanical parts that can be tuned and tweaked to get just the right response from the unit, whereas our resin printers seem to house most of the moving parts internally. Because of this, there’s a bit of a steep learning curve when it comes to using filament printers and understanding the lingo, but the Anycubic Kobra has attempted to solve some of these issues with their semi-assembled design.

Right out of the box, we’re greeted with a variety of tools and pre-assembled items. Everything you could possibly need is included: various screws and washers, a nicely assembled tool kit, lubricant, a spare bit of filament, and a pre-loaded memory card with a card reader. The small bit of filament had me concerned at first because I knew that I was probably going to go through a lot of trial and error on my journey to learn the unit, but Anycubic was kind enough to send us a large, neon-green spool of their neat PLA. The “neat” variety is fantastic for beginners because it is less prone to tangling up, is non-toxic, and smells less! Since this unit would be going in my smaller office, I was definitely excited about the less-smelly aspect of the filament.

Seeing everything strewn out on the table was definitely intimidating the first time. The Anycubic Kobra has dimensions of 19.1 x 19.1 x 16.9 in (build volume of 9.8 x 8.7 x 8.7 in)., but even though it is a little on the smaller side it is still a well-designed, tight-knit piece of machinery. If you’ve ever experienced that immense sense of satisfaction from seeing a computer rig with great cable management, you would probably appreciate this printing unit as well. There are very few if any loose cables to get in the way amidst the sea of machinery. Thankfully, there’s a nice instruction booklet to guide us through the process. 

In hindsight, the first thing I should have done is to pop the memory card into the card reader and to peruse the files on my computer. While the instruction booklet was incredibly handy with colored graphics and useful notes, there is actually a full PDF stored on the card reader that has the pictures blown up with larger font. So note to our readers, if you end up purchasing this unit for yourself-look at the included card reader first! 

Back to the assembly, everything was actually fairly self-explanatory with a few hiccups here and there. The most difficult and awkward part of the assembly for me was in installing the frame to the base. There really was no way around tilting the base off of the edge of the desk so that I could insert and tighten the screws through the base and to the frame. Something I tend to keep in mind when assembling anything is the difficulty of using one hand versus two. I have a family member who would love nothing more than to get into 3D printing as a hobby, but I know that he wouldn’t be able to assemble this on his own due to his inability to use both hands at the same time. Once you can get past the frame, it’s easy - but still, it’s something that weighs heavily on my heart when thinking about assembly and those that may not have anyone who can assist. Just a personal note.

Aside from noticing a nick or two on the braided part of the printer head cable (probably from transit, honestly, even though the unit was packaged extremely well) everything else was in perfect condition and felt really secure and heavy. Now for the fun part: turning it on! A cute little melody plays and the touchscreen display lights up after flicking on the power switch. Huzzah! The first thing to do according to the instruction booklet was to level the bed. The Anycubic Kobra uses automatic bed leveling with inductive sensors as opposed to mechanical or optical sensors. This concept is completely new to me, but I’m all for fewer errors that I have to account for. After a few button presses on the touch screen and letting the unit warm-up, it was time to figure out how to insert the filament.

Still following along with the instruction booklet at that time, I hung the green spool of PLA on the filament holder and started trying to get acquainted with the printer head. One of the more unique features of the Anycubic Kobra is that it actually uses a Direct Drive instead of a Bowden Extruder for printing. This makes sense considering the smaller size of the unit, because that means that there’s much less power needing to be used to feed the filament through the extruder. There’s less space that it has to travel! Using a Direct Drive extruder also means that we should experience less nozzle leaking or general issues since it should be able to retract the filament easier (being closer to the nozzle instead of pushing it down the length of a Bowden tube).

Inserting the memory card directly into the printer, I selected the owl file and began printing. If I had to estimate, it took roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes to print, but the process was smooth and absolutely magical. Seeing something materialize right in front of your eyes, especially a figure as cute as a neon green owl with a flower on its head, just triggered something in me that had to print more and more. But, how does one do that? 

There wasn’t any guidance after printing the owl in the instruction booklet. Watching the boyfriend before on the resin printers, I knew he used a program called “Cura” and that we needed STL files to print. Keep in mind, I’m on my own here, and I was determined to make this work on my own. So, I downloaded Cura and got to work. After a little research, I wanted to print out the ever-popular “Benchy”, a benchmark boat that helps diagnose and fine-tune printer issues, so I headed over to Thingiverse to snag the file. After adding the file to the card reader, I learned that printers use files called “.gcode” to print, and that’s where I needed to use Cura to slice up the STL file and convert it into instructions the Kobra could read. 

Remember how I said I should have looked at the card reader before? I got all the way through installing Cura, adding my own custom profile called “Anycubic Kobra” and importing a file before I realized the absolute wealth of material available on that card reader. That PDF file I talked about earlier? It jumps right into the basics of 3D printing and talks about Cura and what you need to do to continue printing. Anycubic even included the latest Cura download file so that we wouldn’t have to go searching for it. I just had to do things the hard way.

This is where things started to go a little funny after sabotaging myself. I started to print Benchy, but he just would not, no matter what I tried, stick to the build plate. There is thankfully a helpful troubleshooting section of the instructional PDF that led me to believe that my nozzle was still too high, which makes sense because Benchy kept trying to sail off of the build plate as soon as he gained any ground. I don’t know who was piloting him, but he was definitely not cleared for launch. 

After a good five or six failed boats I tried to take a step back and think about what I could change. What was the issue? The filament seemed a little too thin, and he didn’t want to stick to the plate. Let’s change the extrusion force and play with the leveling some more. After lots of trial and error and a couple of hours, voila, a Benchy! To say I was proud would be an understatement. Also, mentally fatigued. It felt so good to have pushed through this strange and exciting piece of technology to finally hold a small boat in my hands. I could already tell that there was some more tweaking I would need to do, due to some errors in the print, but I’m more than up for the challenge.

Final Thoughts

Do I think that the Anycubic Kobra is a beginner-friendly machine worth the time and money? Abso-freaking-lutely. Consider me hooked. A majority of the problems I endured come with more experience and knowledge of the hobby with little to no fault going towards the machine. Like anything else, it’s going to take some time to learn, but I am learning and I’m ecstatic to do so. If I can do this, with zero prior knowledge of filament printers, anyone can. It just would have been extremely helpful to know about all of the resources on the memory card beforehand! Maybe put a little note at the end of the provided booklet to *refer to the memory card after initial print for more instruction and troubleshooting* or something to that effect.

The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. 

8.0Great
Pros
  • Easy to follow instructions
  • Good, solid quality unit
  • All assembly tools included (and useful!)
  • Great unit for beginners to learn the basics
Cons
  • Please mention the card reader earlier!
  • A few nicks from transport (though it was packaged well!)
  • A few localization issues in instructions
  • A bit pricey for the size


Jensyn

Emily Byrnes

An avid lover of all things fantasy, horror, and stylesheets, Emily spends her spare time trying to balance her affection for both technical and creative writing. One day she'll get there, but until then, she'd rather lose herself in the wonderful stories to be found within tabletop games and rpgs.