Review: Anycubic Kobra Max 3D Printer

To help you decide if the new Anycubic Kobra Max fits your needs, I put this printer to the test.

Cameron Coward
4 days ago3D Printing

Anycubic recently expanded its line of FFF (Fused-Filament Fabrication) 3D printers with the introduction of the Kobra line. While the regular Kobra is a conventional size, the Kobra Max is a massive 3D printer. To help you decide if the new Anycubic Kobra Max fits your needs, I put this 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.

The new Anycubic Kobra Max has the same print volume as the older Anycubic Chiron: a huge 400 x 400 x 450 mm (15.75 x 15.75 x 17.72 inches). But it implements a number of new features that the Chiron lacked. These make the Kobra Max an attractive option for those looking to print very large objects.

Specifications:

  • Print volume: 400 x 400 x 450 mm (15.75 x 15.75 x 17.72 inches)
  • Machine size: 665 x 715 x 720 mm (26.18 x 28.15 x 28.35 inches)
  • Max hot end temperature: 260°C
  • Max bed temperature: 90°C
  • Print speed: 80-100 mm/s
  • Included nozzle size: 0.4 mm
  • Z axis: dual steppers with threaded rods
  • Interface: 4.3" full-color LCD touchscreen
  • Features: Automatic mesh bed levelling, automatic Z offset adjustment, filament runout detection

Unboxing and assembly:

It is hard to overstate the size of the Anycubic Kobra Max—it is enormous. So naturally, the shipping box is big, too. But the cardboard is sturdy and the printer is protected well with custom-cut foam. Every component was secure and arrived undamaged.

The printer comes 90% assembled, but does require that the user perform final assembly. That process took me about an hour, from when I opened the box to when I was able to start the first print.

Assembling the Anycubic Kobra Max was straightforward, thanks to the fully illustrated instructions. All of the necessary tools come with the printer and I didn't have any trouble following the instruction manual.

The Kobra Max features both automatic mesh bed levelling and automatic Z offset calibration, so setup after assembly is simple. All the user has to do is adjust the belt tension and the roller tension for each axis, which only takes a couple of minutes.

The extruder:

Unlike the smaller Kobra, the Kobra Max has a Bowden-style extruder. This means that the extruder motor is remote and doesn't ride on the X axis carriage. The benefit is that this reduces moving weight and should improve both speed and quality.

The downside is that the extruder motor must push filament through a long PTFE tube before the plastic reaches the hot end. That can cause jamming problems with flexible filaments, like TPU, and also reduces retraction performance. The printer must retract the filament further and often still leaves "zits" where retractions occur.

I believe that a direct drive extruder, like on the smaller Kobra, would have been a better choice. That would have added some moving weight to the X axis, but the Kobra Max's print speed is already limited by the moving weight of the large bed in the Y axis. In my opinion, the benefits of a direct drive extruder outweigh those of the Bowden extruder in this situation.

I also think that the Kobra Max would benefit from a larger nozzle. 0.4 mm nozzles are great for general printing, as they balance volumetric flow and print quality. But a large printer like this should prioritize volumetric flow in order to avoid extremely long print times. Fortunately, swapping to a larger nozzle is easy and affordable.

The bed:

The Anycubic Kobra Max comes with a textured glass bed. It attaches to the heated platform with six low-profile metal clips. Those clips do a good job of keeping the bed secure and they don't get in the way during movements.

The bed's texture provides extremely good first layer adhesion—to the point where parts, skirts, and brims can be very difficult to remove. Because the surface isn't smooth, it is hard to slide a razor or scraper underneath filament in order to get it off.

I would have preferred a spring steel PEI-coated magnetic sheet, like the bed on the smaller Kobra. But I understand why Anycubic chose to use a glass bed. At this size, both flatness and thermal expansion are both serious concerns. The glass ensures that the bed remains flat, even with thermal expansion.

To avoid leaving filaments remnants on the bed that would be difficult to remove, I recommend printing without a brim when possible. You might even want to print without a skirt.

The Z axis and movement system:

Anycubic made the smart choice and gave the Kobra Max dual Z axis motors, so the X axis gantry has full support on both sides. The smaller Kobra only has a single motor, but that would have been a bad idea when you consider the length of the X axis on the Kobra Max.

But like the smaller Kobra, the Kobra Max rides on rollers that coast along the aluminum extrusion. While that is generally considered an inferior choice when compared to proper linear rails or even hardened rods, it seems to work well here.

Each set of rollers has a tension adjustment, so the user can make sure they roll smoothly without any lateral movement. As long as the aluminum extrusion is straight and flat — which was true for my machine — the roller system should work just as well as hardened rods. The roller wheels themselves are replaceable if they ever wear out.

The interface:

Some other manufacturers are still using low-resolution monochrome displays with knobs, but the Anycubic Kobra Max has a nice, big, full-color touchscreen. It even shows a flashy little animation when you turn the machine on.

The touchscreen interface lets you calibrate settings, move the axes, load filament, and start prints. When printing, it provides status information on the current job. It doesn't, however, show previews of the models when you browse the files on the SD card. It would be nice if you could take advantage of that nice screen to see a preview, but all you get is a list of file names.

Software:

Anycubic doesn't lock you into a specific software ecosystem, so you can use whatever slicer you prefer. But it does come with profiles for Cura, which is what most users will choose to use.

Setting up Cura only takes about five minutes and you can start slicing immediately after you import the provided profiles. There are profiles for PLA, ABS, and TPU. They are all setup with a 0.2 mm layer height and that is what most people stick to — though you can increase the dramatically if you swap in a larger nozzle.

The default print speed is 80 mm/s and I stuck to that. I usually try to push the speeds in these reviews, but I felt like the default speed was already close to the limit for this machine. Because the bed is so large and heavy, the acceleration is quite slow and the Kobra Max wouldn't be able to reach speeds faster than 80 mm/s in most circumstances anyway.

The tests:

I started my test prints on the small side with a tabletop miniature. The Anycubic Kobra Max isn't meant for small models, of course, but I wanted to see how it did. I was happy to find that the quality was acceptable — on par with budget FFF printers. There was some stringing, likely due to the Bowden extruder's retraction, but it was minor.

If you intend to print small models, I would definitely recommend a different printer model. But if you're going to print lots of large models, then you can still use the Kobra Max for the occasional little figurine.

Next, I went in the opposite direction and printed something that took up almost the entire build volume. I chose a minimalist geometric vase and scaled it up almost to the maximum. To avoid weeks of printing on this one model, I printed it in "spiral vase" mode, which prints a single perimeter wall.

Even with the single wall, it took 17 hours to print the vase. But the quality was good and this shows how you can print some truly gargantuan objects with the Kobra Max.

From there, I printed a handful of more "normal" models to get a sense of the printer's typical quality and reliability. Those included a dice tower and an articulated shark.

Those printed without any issues and the quality was decent. There is some ringing/ghosting, which is a consequence of the moving weight and resonance. This printer won't wow anyone with its quality, but the output is acceptable for what I consider to be this model's use case.

Who this printer is for:

While I can't speak for Anycubic's marketing team, I believe that the target market for the Anycubic Kobra Max is the engineering crowd. This printer is great for people who need to print very large objects on a budget, and who are willing to sacrifice some speed and print quality to get that.

If you want to print huge prototype enclosures, cosplay props and suit pieces, or even small furniture proofs of concept, this is a good choice. It is more affordable than the speedy CoreXY printers and has a much bigger build volume than most consumer models on the market.

Conclusions:

Most hobbyists do not need a printer this big and they are better off with other models — including the smaller Anycubic Kobra.

But the people who do need large printers have limited choices and those choices tend to be very expensive. The Anycubic Kobra Max gives you industrial-grade build volume at a consumer-level price.

If you don't need lightning-fast print speeds or fine detail, but you do need build volume on a budget, then the Anycubic Kobra Max should be at the top of your list.

Available on:

The Anycubic website

Amazon

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