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Anker’s second 3D printer is the more affordable AnkerMake M5C

Aug 22, 2023

By Sean Hollister, a senior editor and founding member of The Verge who covers gadgets, games, and toys. He spent 15 years editing the likes of CNET, Gizmodo, and Engadget.

Anker didn’t exactly knock it out of the park with its first 3D printer, the AnkerMake M5, but today, it’s trying again. The new AnkerMake M5C, shipping today in the United States, ditches some of the original’s clumsier features in exchange for a $400 price tag. That’s half what the AnkerMake M5 cost when it arrived last year.

The M5C still offers the same 49-point automatic bed leveling system, removable flexible magnetic plate for easy adhesion and removal, and remarkably fast printing speeds up to 500mm per second (though no promises about quality at maximum speed). It still prints down to 0.1mm in resolution, has a hefty aluminum base and dual screws for the Z-axis, and now boasts a one-piece design for faster, simpler setup (though still requires some slight assembly). Print volume is just slightly smaller at 220 x 220 x 250mm instead of 235 x 235 x 250.

Importantly, it now comes with an all-metal hotend, something the M5 lacked. (While Kickstarter backers were promised one for meeting stretch goals, Anker later claimed it was a misunderstanding.) All-metal hotends let the machine reach higher temperatures to melt tougher filaments and — done right — can help prevent certain kinds of jams.

The AnkerMake team tells The Verge (via spokesperson Brett White) that this hotend has no PTFE or other materials inside, supports higher extrusion flow rate, and that the accuracy of auto-leveling has been improved. And, Anker is optionally bringing the new hotend to the original M5 too — they’ll be available for $1 for backers, $10 for later buyers, and $35 separately.

So, what do you give up in exchange for the $400 price tag? Here are M5 features that the M5C lacks:

That last is a weird omission! Printers half the price of the AnkerMake M5C still come with a screen, and they’re quite handy to monitor the status of your print and make calibration tweaks. Here, you’ll have to use Anker’s still-in-beta PC and Mac slicing software and Android and iOS apps instead.

“The intuitive AnkerMake app empowers users to monitor the status of prints, control the printer, and transfer sliced models directly from their smartphone or laptop,” reads a line from the company’s press release.

You do get one control on the printer itself, though: a single programmable button you can press, double-tap, or long-press to activate three functions of your choice. I’d rather have a screen, but I suppose I’d program mine to pause, play, and raise the gantry 100mm to more easily get at the bed — something I did often with the original AnkerMake M5 by repeatedly stabbing a touchscreen.

The AnkerMake M5C still doesn’t have an SD card slot but does retain a port for a USB thumbdrive on the right side of the base — it’ll be nice to no longer have it atop the moving gantry. And, the M5C will be compatible with the company’s V6 Color Engine for automatically changing filament, says the team, but the printer itself doesn’t have the ability to auto-load and eject filament.

I didn’t enjoy beta testing Anker’s first 3D printer, but I have to admit that it got a bit better, and it sounds like this new one may have fewer points of failure. But the real question is whether the company’s quality control has improved, something that (I keep hearing) also afflicts some buyers of lower-priced Creality machines.

Personally, I’ve moved on to a $700 Bambu P1P (currently on sale for $600 now that Bambu has introduced the enclosed P1S), and I’ve never had an easier time printing than now. And I’m looking forward to seeing if the $600 Creality K1, a very similar machine, is its equal or better.

Correction, 12:20PM ET: The M5C does still have a filament runout sensor — but it’s in the print head. The one that sometimes didn’t work during my review has indeed been removed, but you do get one! Also updated with a couple more details.

Update August 2nd, 2:10AM ET: Added that Anker’s bringing the all-metal hotend to the M5 too.

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Correction, 12:20PM ET: Update August 2nd, 2:10AM ET: