Some Assembly Required
- An inexpensive open-frame 3D printer, the Anycubic i3 Mega S ($269.99) has an ample build area, a sturdy metal chassis, and decent print quality for a basic filament-based machine.
- It supports a variety of filament types and employs fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology.
- The price is attractive for those new to or wanting to experiment with 3D printing, but know that its print-bed alignment proved to be finicky in our tests, which had an impact on the print quality of at least one of our test objects.
- Still, although it may involve some tinkering and a learning curve, the Mega S is easy enough to assemble and is a good choice for beginners—just make sure that youngsters don't get too close to the exposed, hot extruder.
- The Mega S is made by Shenzhen, China-based Anycubic, a major manufacturer of 3D printers.
A Good Starter 3D Printer
Although it has its own online store, in the US it sells chiefly through Amazon. The Mega S is typical of today's budget 3D printers, with an open frame and a relatively large build volume, in this case 8.1 by 8.3 by 8.3 inches (HWD).
That makes its build area larger than that of the Original Prusa Mini (7 by 7 by 7 inches), and nearly as large as the Original Prusa i3 MK3S (9.8 by 8.3 by 7.9 inches). The price is low, a bit more than the Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer ($179.99), but the Mega S has a much larger build area.
Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (Read our editorial mission.). Before you can start printing, some minor assembly, starting by screwing the printer's frame to its base, needs to be completed. The steps are detailed in the user manual, which comes in both a paper version and on an included SD card, which also includes one test print file and from which I launched all our test prints, using the printer's on-chassis LCD.
The main step in assembly is fastening together the two main components, the base—which includes the print platform, the LCD, various ports, and electronics—and the frame, a squared-off arch that stands astride the base and holds the extruder, the X-axis motor, and the X- and Z-axis carriages.
The last allow the extruder to move vertically and horizontally (side to side). You fasten the base and frame together using eight screws, which you tighten with an included Allen key. You then connect several cables (for motors and the filament detector), plugging them into their sockets according to diagrams in the user manual.
Then you fasten the filament spool holder to the side of the base using additional screws. (The spool holder is awkwardly positioned, as its placement—especially when a spool is attached—makes it tricky to reach the USB port and, especially, the SD-card slot.).
Original Prusa i3 MK3S+
Once you plug in the printer and turn it on, you are ready to level the printing platform. You accomplish this by using the LCD to lower the extruder incrementally until it nearly touches the print platform.
(You should be able to slip an included thin card between the extruder nozzle and platform, meeting only slight resistance.) Under each corner of the platform is a knob, the turning of which raises or lowers that corner.
You move the extruder to each corner in turn, slipping the card between nozzle and platform and adjusting the knob if needed, to make sure the alignment is correct.
You then repeat the process at least once, re-checking all four corners plus the platform's center. This is an important part of the setup process, and worth doing meticulously, as we shall soon see.
Once you place a spool in the spool holder, you slice the free end of the filament at an angle and run it up into the filament sensor and into the white plastic tube that leads to the extruder. You can get the filament to automatically feed by clicking the icons Tools > Filament > Filament In.
- The Mega S ships with just a small coil of filament, enough for perhaps two prints, so you will want to order a full filament spool at the time of purchase.
- When sold through Amazon, the Mega S is frequently bundled with a 1-kilogram spool of polylactic acid (PLA) filament, which is how our test unit was equipped. Anycubic sells both its printers and filament in various types: PLA, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), and polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG).
- All of those filament types an be handled by the Mega S. Although we recommend that beginners stick with PLA because of its ease of use, more experienced users may want to experiment with the other filaments.
- For software, Anycubic offers the open-source Cura package. Cura comes with most consumer 3D printers we have reviewed, as a download on its site.
Monoprice Mini Delta V2 3D Printer
- When installing it, do not be dismayed if you do not see the Mega S in its list of supported printers. It showed up for me only after I had updated the program (when prompted by the software) twice.
- Cura is a full-featured suite, which lets you load, modify (move, scale, rotate, mirror, add supports), slice (cut a 3D object file into layers for printing), and save 3D files. The Mega S handles object files in the common .STL and .OBJ formats, as well as the more obscure .DAE and .AMF file types.
Original Prusa Mini
- Standard resolution settings range from Draft (300 microns) through the default setting, Normal (200 microns), to High (100 microns).
- I printed eight test objects, all at the Normal resolution setting.
- Their quality was mixed, ranging from below par to good, with most of them average for a lower-priced filament printer.
- Although the Mega S completed the main geometric test object we use—comprising various shapes and text emerging from a steeply angled face—and did well in printing its very small type, parts of the object were warped and some of its elements misshapen.
- After a close examination, I concluded that the print platform must have been slightly misaligned with one corner down, causing the object to print slightly askew.
- I had run through the alignment routine twice during setup, and it had appeared to be okay, but clearly it needed a little more tweaking yet.
- As a rule, the greater the width and depth of an object, the more it is likely to be affected by any misalignment.
- If you just can't seem to get the print platform aligned perfectly, sticking to smaller objects will help mitigate any misshapenness.
- With a low price, a large build area, and decent print quality, the Anycubic i3 Mega S is a good choice for someone getting started in 3D printing.
- The assembly is minimal and could prove to be a fun project.
- Youngsters should be supervised when using it, though.
- Due to its open frame, there is always the possibility of a burn should someone come into contact with the hot extruder.
- The Cura software is easy to learn and use.
- That said, we've tested other low-priced 3D printers worth considering.
- The Monoprice Mini Delta V2 sells for less than the Mega S and put out a large number of prints with no misprints in our testing.
- It has a tiny build volume by comparison, though.
- The Editors' Choice-winning Original Prusa Mini consistently churned out high-quality prints once we got it calibrated correctly.
- But if you crave an even larger build area, or you'd rather not need to have your printer shipped to you from the Czech Republic, the Mega S is an appealing and cost-effective alternative.
- Large build area for an inexpensive printer.
- Generally solid print quality.
- Supported coils of filament are small.
- The Anycubic i3 Mega S, an inexpensive open-frame 3D printer, produced decent-quality prints in our testing.
- To get the most out of it, though, may require precise calibration.
- Sign up for Lab Report to get the latest reviews and top product advice delivered right to your inbox.
- This newsletter may contain advertising, deals, or affiliate links.
- You may unsubscribe from the newsletters at any time.
- Your subscription has been confirmed.
- Keep an eye on your inbox!
- Compatible Materials / Filaments: ABS, PLA, PETG, TPU
- Material Diameter: 1.74mm
- Third Party Material Compatible: Yes
- 3D printer software: Cura, Smplify3D, Repetier-HOST
- Compatible File Types: STL, OBJ
- OS Compatible: Windows (7+), Mac OS X
Creality Ender-3 V2
Here are our trusted partners that sell the Anycubic Mega S:
Anycubic i3 Mega S
The Anycubic Mega-S is a very cheap 3D printer ideal for beginners or people who want a new printer for their collection but don’t want to spend a lot of money.
The price tag for the Anycubic Mega-S will attract many people to the product, and the included extras and hardware are not commonly found in printers at this cost.
Despite its issues, users have praised what the Anycubic Mega-S is for its cost, and many praise its design and function as a great choice for a wallet-friendly 3D printer.