Anet promises with the ET4 a cheap 3D printer with touch screen control, filament and level sensor. He prints well now, but that was a lot of work.
In the last few weeks, we have mainly dealt with SLA printers such as the Elegoo Mars (test report) or the Anycubic Photon (test report). They harden special resin with UV light and are especially suitable for smaller objects with extremely high resolutions. Now it has again a printer who works on the cheap and proven FDM process, made the editors.
Our previous favorite in this environment is Ender 3 (review). At first glance, it looks like old iron compared to the Anet ET4. But old hands know: For a good printed image much more than a good equipment of the printer.
The technical data of the Anet ET4 are impressive. The print room is significantly larger at 220 × 220 × 250 mm than with SLA printers or the inexpensive FDM printers Wanhao Duplicator i3 Mini (test report) or the Xyzprinting Davinci Mini W + (test report). The pleasingly flat and heated print bed made of glass not only looks chic, it also provides us with an amazingly good adhesion. Thanks to an attachable sensor, automatic leveling is possible. Although this is not as comfortable as with a permanently installed sensor, considering the low price but still a welcome addition. An integrated filament sensor detects if the filament breaks or comes to an end. The printing process is then paused and can be continued after filling. Even after a power failure, the ET4 usually continues printing without any problems, at least for a single test that worked.
setup and start-up
The printer arrives neatly packed at the customer. The padded carton contains the pre-assembled base including the print bed, the top and the mounted printhead. Also included is a bag of screws, tools, USB card reader including Micro SD memory card and 10 meters of white PLA filament. Also a coil holder and a cold device cable are included. The assembly instructions included in the scope of delivery are very concise, but at least neatly illustrated and easy to understand.
The assembly is done quickly and easily even for inexperienced people. First, the assembly of upper and lower part takes place. For this purpose, the two parts must be held together and fixed with four screws. Since this works best with the tilted on the side lower part, it makes sense to do this step together with a helper. Then the finished printhead with its three rollers is pushed onto the X-axis. This is followed by the installation of the toothed belt for driving the axle. This works well, but the belt is clearly too weak. Retensioning works only by moving the X motor. The slots of the engine, however, are too wide. The screws are likely to cause problems in the medium term, we recommend the use of washers, which are not there. But for the first try, the construction should withstand. It's a pity that Anet does not work with a simple belt tensioner here. That would be much more comfortable.
Next, remove the transport locks and connect the Z-axis motor. Then the heating bed and the remaining cables are connected. The assignment of plugs and sockets is straightforward, as all parts are neatly labeled. We have experienced this with other printers quite differently. This is followed by the connections to the distributor board and the Bowden cable to guide the filament. The last steps are attaching the filament roll holder and plugging in the power supply.
The entire construction has taken up to this point just under a quarter of an hour. We are so satisfied and look forward to the practical test. After switching on for the first time, disillusionment sets in: the printer does not emit any sound, the display remains black. This is followed by a longer troubleshooting including replacement of the power supply. The defective component was a different: The on-off switch of our printer did not work.
Troubleshooting and troubleshooting
To be clear, the Anet ET4 is sloppily built in many ways, in many others it's just a faulty design. The following photo gallery shows in detail where we had massive problems.
All in all, we invested nearly ten man-hours in the printer to find and fix technical problems such as the faulty power switch and other minor issues. Meanwhile, the ET4 is actually one of our absolute favorites: It is quiet, fast, cheap and has a nearly perfect print.
Nevertheless, there are several shortcomings – the Z-axis has its limit switch up instead of down, which is why the printer drives through perceived eternities before and after each press. The supply of cables and filament to the hot-end is not, however, made that the printer goes all the way up – the cables and hoses are kinked and brought to their load limits.
The software sporadically ignores the limit switch during operation, so if the pressure unit gets stupid it goes full throttle into the mechanics and the motors continue to turn. In addition, the timing belt, despite the displacement of the motors, only insufficiently tensioned. Insufficiently screwed screws of the pre-assembled parts are another source of error.
Translation errors and other bugs do not make the operation any easier. Sure, once you know the label of the buttons for retract and Extrude In the menu for changing the filament are simply swapped, this is no longer a problem in the future. But you just have to find out – just like the dozens of other bugs and mistakes.
Out of the box, the printed products of the ET4 are first unusable. But who has then found out where it hooks, gets a very decent printed image.
The adhesion of the first print layer to the print bed of glass is surprisingly good. In the test, no tricks with glue stick or the like were needed. The smooth surface of the printing plate also has a positive effect on the final result. Thanks to the convenient auto-leveling function, the liability problem is significantly lower than for printers without this extra.
As with all FDM printers, the same applies to the ET4: For an almost perfect result, the settings in the slicing software must be correct. We process our test prints with the open-source software Cura and have achieved considerable final results. The enclosed mini-pack filament is sufficient in the test just for the first failed attempts.
As we learned on demand, there are two versions of the ET4. The version provided for the test with the quiet TMC2208 stepper motor drivers is currently only directly above the Homepage of the manufacturer and available on request. The version with the A4988 drivers should be much louder in operation, but costs just under 20 euros less.
Despite a good equipment and a decent printed image, the conclusion of the ET4 is very ambiguous. Without repairs and the replacement of defective hardware, the printer is ultimately just expensive high-tech scrap. If you consider your printer as a pure tool, you should look for another product with fewer problems. For beginners the ET4 is much less suitable than other printers of the same price category. The cheap China printer Ender 3 (review) or Wanhao i3 Mini (review) may have a slightly worse features, they worked in the test but without any rework.
If you are familiar with 3D printing and know what to look for, you will get a relatively quiet and well-equipped FDM printer at a fair price with the ET4. In particular, the size of the printing room, the auto-leveling and the ability to resume interrupted prints leave a positive impression. Who considers 3D printing as a hobby and brings craftsmanship, who can access the ET4. Potential has the printer.
If unproblematic commissioning and a German contact person are more important than a low price, devices such as the Xyzprinting Davinci Mini w + (test report), the Dremel 3D20 (test report) or the Renkforce RF100 (test report) are more suitable. When it comes to high print quality and less space, a SLA printer has a clear advantage. More in the guide UV resin or plastic filament: 3D printers in comparison.