A great way to get into 3D printing is by getting yourself a cheap printer. With so many options these days it is hard to decipher what you really need and how much you should truly pay. Often you can save yourself a few hundred dollars and still get a 3D printer that is reliable and high performing.
However, for the truly cheapest 3D printers, they often require at least some self-assembly. These DIY kit 3D printers are great for those who have a bit of experience with electronics and tinkering with other mechanical parts. As well, it is a wonderful way to really understand how the 3D printers operate, which leads to easier troubleshooting if you run into issues down the road.
Two of the most popular 3D kit printers are the Tevo Tarantula and the Anet A8. Given it’s a fun, hands-on experience to build the 3D printers and the very budget-friendly price tag, it is easy to see how these two 3D printers gathered cult-like followings on the internet.
Both printers are based off the ever popular and often imitated Original Prusa i3. Both are very cheap. Both arrive at your door completely unassembled. Both are open-source. Both have some good and some not so good characteristics.
As these 3D printers are fairly similar, I will try to point out the differences of each. As well, we will discuss the positives and the flaws to help you decide which is best.
Bottom Line Up Front: Two very similar 3D printers. It is hard to go wrong with either one as you can upgrade them to improve overall performance. And you will find plenty of help online for both.
Initial Overview of Printers:
The Tevo Tarantula
Tevo is based out of Zhanjiang, China and ships their 3D printers all over the world. They are mostly known for this Tarantula model; however, the Black Widow and Little Monster are also a couple of their more popular machines. Tevo is one of the top-producing companies when it comes to cheap Prusa i3 replicas.
The Tarantula has a couple of upgradable features: build plate, dual extruders, and automatic bed leveling. All of these options will cost you a little more. The standard size is 7.9” x 7.9” x 7.9” and the upgradable size enlarges the bed to 7.9” x 11.0” x 7.9. For the purpose of this comparison, I will use the standard bed size.
While automatic bed leveling is not always included, you do get a heated aluminum build plate. Pair that with the all-metal Bowden extruder and you have a pretty decent setup that allows you to print a wide range of filaments. The Tarantula will handle standard plastics, wood, and flexible filaments.
The overall size of this 3D printer makes it an easy fit on your desk or workspace measuring at 17.0” x 17.3” x 15.7”. This is nice as it leaves plenty of room to operate around the machine.
This is an open source 3D printer so you can tweak it how you please and use it with many different slicing software packages. Also, I will discuss it more below but there are many helpful online resources full of easy upgrades for this machine. Once you have it built you can begin to upgrade it immediately by printing your own parts.
Since it is based off the Prusa i3, the Tevo Tarantula is also an open 3D printer. There is no enclosure so your prints are more prone to drafts and warping from temperature changes during the printing process. Of course, this is an easy fix and you can create an enclosure yourself. The Tarantula is a fun tool that starts with a good printer but can become a great printer with a few changes.
The Anet A8
This may be one of the most well-known 3D printers and is surely one of the most popular. The Anet A8 also comes from a Chinese manufacturer, Shenzhen Anet Technology Co., Ltd., which was established in 2015. Since then Anet is now a leader in the 3D printer marketplace.
The A8 is the most popular model the company currently offers. When you can get a build volume of 8.6” x 8.6” x 9.5” for $159.99 from Gearbest, it is hard to turn that down. As well, the overall size of the printer is 19.7” x 15.7” x 17.7”. This is just slightly bigger than the Tevo Tarantula but still small enough to fit where you need it to.
This 3D printer also lacks auto bed leveling but does include the heated aluminum bed. You can get creative with the A8 as it is able to print multiple filament types. While it can’t produce as thin of lines as the Tarantula, the A8 still creates great prints that look like they come from much more expensive 3D printers.
Similar to its competition, you will assemble pretty much everything on this 3D printer. Once completed you can upgrade parts as you deem necessary. The online presence for the A8 is astonishing. There are so many awesome upgrades for you to choose from.
Overall, I really enjoy this 3D printer. The bang for your buck factor here is what gets me. It is so cheap and yet it performs really well.
Key Specs Comparison:
|Tevo Tarantula||Anet A8|
|Build Volume:||7.9” x 7.9” x 7.9”||8.6” x 8.6” x 9.5”|
|Build Speed:||150 mm/s||120 mm/s|
|Resolution:||50 microns||100 microns|
|Desktop Space:||24.4” x 23.2” x 29.9”||18.6″ x 22.4″ x 26.1″|
|Nozzle Diameter:||0.4 mm||0.4 mm|
|Connectivity:||SD Card, USB||SD Card, USB|
|Filament:||PLA, ABS, PETG, Wood, PVA and Flexible Filaments||ABS, PLA, Wood, Nylon PVA, PP, Luminescent|
Tevo Tarantula Pros and Cons:
Anet A8 Pros and Cons:
|Easy Setup||Acrylic Frame|
The Tevo Tarantula and the Anet A8 are both good 3D printers. But they are rather cheap. And ultimately, you get what you pay for.
As I have mentioned before, the online communities for both 3D printers are very strong. There are a ton of instructional videos available to help you get the 3D printers built. You will find free models to print for upgrades. There are a couple of popular Facebook pages where you can post any questions or chat with other users to bounce ideas off one another. There are Q&A forums, tips and tricks, and best practices. Everything you could need can be found through various resources online. It’s nice knowing you can talk with others who have been through the trouble before.
As the price tag is very budget friendly, you are not going to get an industrial grade, high strength. All metal machines. While the Tarantula is at least an aluminum frame, it is not the most stable for printing. The Anet A8 is an acrylic frame but seems to move and shake a little less.
Either way, you can expect not everything to line up perfectly. There are multiple reports where some screws aren’t threaded. Some holes will not line up, which can lead to a warped frame. While it is easy to get excited about the price tag, you need to remain level-headed and know that not everything is perfect in the box.
Packaging: What’s Included with the Printer:
Tevo Tarantula includes:
- Tarantula 3D printer unassembled
- Power cable
- 2 Spools of filament, your choice
- USB cable
- Instruction manual
Anet A8 includes:
- A8 3D printer unassembled
- Wire cutters
- Alan wrenches
- Power cable
- PLA filament
- USB cable
- Instruction manual
The Anet A8 packaging includes a couple of the basic tools you will need for set up. You may need more than what is included to fully complete the build.
Final Verdict: Which is better?
This is a tough decision as both 3D printers are fairly interchangeable. They are both based on the same 3D printer. Both of them are similar in shape, size, and performance. The Tevo Tarantula has a better layer resolution and the upgradeable options. As well, the Tarantula can run slightly faster than the Anet A8. I also like the aluminum frame you get with the Tarantula.
Without any upgrades, however, I believe the Anet A8 is the way to go. It still performs well and it is slightly cheaper than the Tarantula. It has been around for a little longer so more people have experience with the machine. This decision really comes down to personal preference and I don’t think you would be making a bad decision either way. Just remember to stay patient and join the online community. Both of these 3D printers will make you very happy in the end.