Anycubic is a company best known for their range of consumer resin 3D printers. But they also make FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) models. Popular past models include the Mega, Vyper, and Chiron. They recently announced a new series and so I put the Anycubic Kobra 3D printer to the test.
Disclaimer: Anycubic provided me with this printer free of charge, but this review is as unbiased as possible. Anycubic did not pay for this review and these are entirely my own thoughts.
For now, there are two printers in this series: the Anycubic Kobra and the Anycubic Kobra Max. The Kobra is a small entry-level FFF 3D printer that seems to fill the same market segment as the Anycubic Vyper and some of the Mega printers. The Kobra Max, which I will post a review of soon, is much larger and will likely replace the Anycubic Chiron.
The Anycubic Kobra is a Prusa i3-style 3D printer that shares many design elements with the popular Creality Ender 3. Instead of conventional hardened rods with bearings, each axis rides on rollers along aluminum extrusion. The Z axis has a single motor and leadscrew, as opposed to a pair, in order to keep costs down. Notably, this printer utilizes a direct drive extruder, as opposed to the Bowden style found on the Kobra Max and several other Anycubic models.
While cost-cutting is apparent in some ways, such as the single Z axis motor and the lack of linear rails, the Anycubic Kobra does have a host of modern features that add convenience. It has a magnetic spring steel PEI-coated sheet for the bed, a large 4.3" full-color touchscreen, 25-point automatic mesh bed leveling, and filament runout detection.
The hot end can reach 260°C and the bed can reach 110°C, making the Anycubic Kobra suitable for most common filament materials, such as PLA, ABS, ASA, PETG, and TPU. The print volume is 220 x 220 x 250 mm (8.7 x 8.7 x 9.8 inches), which is on smaller side in today's market, but still very usable.
As usual for Anycubic products, the Kobra arrived well-packed in a sturdy cardboard box. They didn't skimp on the foam and the printer was pristine, despite my shipping carrier roughing up the box a bit.
The printer arrives partially assembled and it does require some assembly by the user before printing. A tool kit comes in the box and it contains everything needed for assembly, included step-by-step instructions with great illustrations for every step.
Working alone, it took me about 45 minutes to assemble the printer. I took my time and didn't the rush the job. The instructions were clear and I didn't experience any frustration. That definitely isn't true of all 3D printers, so I was happy that the Kobra assembly was smooth and pleasant.
After assembly, there are only a few steps to take before printing. First up is adjusting the belt tension and roller tension. Belt tension is easy to tweak thanks to bright red knobs at the end of each axis. Roller tension was also straightforward, but does require a wrench.
From there, one needs to level the bed and calibrate the Z offset (nozzle height). Bed leveling is a snap, because the Anycubic Kobra comes equipped with a inductive probe and automatically performs 25-point mesh leveling. Z offset adjustment takes a little more work, but anyone familiar with the paper method will breeze through it.
The microSD card provided by Anycubic includes slicer profiles for Cura so users can start immediately. There are profiles for PLA, ABS, and TPU. All of these are set for the typical 0.2mm layer height. They also have conservative print speeds of 50mm/s.
It's obvious that Anycubic chose these profile settings because they provide a reliable experience and offer good quality. But 50mm/s, while still common in the industry, is somewhat slow by modern standards.
Of course, users are free to modify the profiles and increase the speed if they want to. Anycubic claims that the Kobra's maximum print speed is 180mm/s and the average speed is 80mm/s. Maximum print speed specs should be taken with a grain of salt, as they usually just refer to the hardware movement limit and don't have much bearing on practical use, but that 80mm/s speed is realistic.
I started by printing the owl model that Anycubic included on the microSD card. Getting it running was easy: I inserted the microSD card into the slot on the front of the machine (the slot in the touchscreen isn't used for this), selected "Print" from the menu, and then selected the gcode file.
For this model and all of the rest of my tests, I used Colorfabb PLA/PHA filament that I have found to be very consistent. The owl print succeeded on the first try and the quality was very good right out of the box. The owl was nearly flawless, with the only minor imperfections being at the top of the ears where the layer time was very short. Even the overhangs and bridges were perfect and there was no visible Z seam.
From there, I printed several other models, including a Benchy, a large dragon model, and a kazoo. While I did have a couple of failed prints, which seemed to be the result of under extrusion (possibly caused by a partial clog), the Anycubic Kobra performed well.
After confirming that the standard slicer settings worked well, I bumped print speeds up to 80mm/s. That also worked well, though there was a minor, but noticeable, drop in quality. At this speed, the surface quality was slightly inconsistent, which indicates that this may be reaching the flow limit of the hot end. Something like a CHT nozzle could improve that, but I didn't test it.
For everyday printing, the 80mm/s speed is suitable for most people. Some may even want to push it a little faster. For prints where quality is a high priority, I recommend sticking with the 50mm/s defaults.
I was also surprised to find that the single Z axis motor didn't seem to be a problem. I didn't notice any negative effects from that or the roller-based linear movement system. On a larger printer, dual Z axis motors might be necessary, but it wasn't an issue on this model.
I believe the Anycubic Kobra's biggest competition is the Creality Ender 3 S1 printer, which has similar specs and features. The Ender 3 S1 does have dual Z axis motors, but it also costs $100 (33%) more than the Anycubic Kobra.
The Anycubic Kobra is competing in the very hot budget end of the 3D printer market, but I think it is a solid choice. It might not be the cheapest model out there, but the build quality, specs, and features all make this a product that offers a lot of value for the money.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Anycubic Kobra to someone looking for their first 3D printer or for someone who wants an affordable printer with modern features. It is a great "all-rounder" that should work well for most users.
If, however, you require a larger build volume, then stay tuned for my upcoming review of the Anycubic Kobra Max.