Anycubic Kobra Review: Budget-Friendly Direct Drive Printer

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An anycubic Kobra 3D printer with a direct drive exturder, lcd screen, knob tensioners, heated textured PEI build plate, and spool holder
Anycubic Kobra Review
  • Print Speed
  • Print Quality
  • Ease of Use
  • Features
  • Support
3.6

Summary

The Anycubic Kobra is an easy-to-use, entry-level 3D printer with an impressive offering of features and great print quality at an affordable price. The Kobra’s 3D prints come out looking smooth with a great level of detail. The printer handles overhangs with ease. However, we found issues with stringing and the printer struggled with intricate details on smaller objects.

The Kobra is an excellent choice for beginners looking to get their start in 3D printing. The direct drive extruder, auto bed leveling, and textured bed make it easy to use and get excellent print results.

Pros

  • 25-point auto bed leveling
  • Direct drive extruder
  • Easy to assemble
  • Good quality at a great price

Cons

  • Excessive stringing
  • Struggles with details on small prints

The Anycubic Kobra offers a direct drive extruder for precise filament control, auto bed leveling for effortless setup, and a flexible build surface for hassle-free print removal. The Kobra makes starting your 3D printing journey a breeze.

However, while it excels in general print quality and affordability, we found the 3D printer struggles with highly detailed miniatures and exhibits noticeable stringing. Despite these hurdles, the Anycubic Kobra is an excellent choice for beginners, offering an impressive array of features and great print quality at an affordable price.

Unboxing and Assembly

All of the components taken out of the box of the Anycubic Kobra 3D printer

Getting started with the Anycubic Kobra is surprisingly straightforward. Like the Anycubic Vyper, the Kobra comes partially assembled, simplifying the assembly process.

The instructions manual is well illustrated, making it easy for beginners to assemble.

With just a few steps, you’ll have everything pieced together in about 20 minutes.

You’ll find all the tools you need to assemble the 3D printer, so rummaging through your tool chest is unnecessary. The Allen keys have a neat holder that makes it easy to organize your tools.

The Anycubic Kobra during assembly. The frame is assembled but the screen and wires are off to the left
The Anycubic Kobra uses a sturdy aluminum frame. Unfortunately, many components, like the belt tensioners, are plastic, giving the printer a cheap aesthetic.

The printer’s frame is very sturdy, providing smooth 3D printing.

The wiring is well-labeled, making it easy to connect.

Connecting the wires on the Anycubic kobra. This is the wire for the z axis motor which controls the leadscrew. The cable is marked with a z for easy assembly
The wires are labeled, making it easy to find the proper connections.

One potential issue I noticed is the weight of the print head. Direct drive extruders are heavier than Bowden-fed print heads, but I was unpleasantly surprised at the weight of the Kobra’s print head.

A heavy print head makes it more challenging for the printer to control movement along the X-axis. And rapid changes in direction create vibrations that can appear in your prints.

Holding the Anycubic Kobra’s Heavy direct drive, dual gear extruder

While the direct drive extruder performs exceptionally well for most prints, I did find the printer struggled with detailed miniatures, as we’ll see when we look at the print quality of the Kobra. I believe the print head’s weight is why the printer struggles with smaller prints – a real disappointment considering how the Kobra excels in every other aspect.

Before powering on your 3D printer, check the voltage switch. A red switch on the back flips between 115V and 230V. My Kobra came pre-set to 230V, but I needed to switch it to 115V.

The voltage switch on the back of the Anycubic Kobra set to 230 volts

You’re greeted with Anycubic’s signature jingle when you power the printer. I’m not a fan of the jingle, but it is standard on all of Anycubic’s FDM 3D printers.

The 4.3-inch display is intuitive and easy to navigate. You’ll find all the necessary features to set the Z-offset, preheat the nozzle, and run the auto bed leveling.

Once assembled, the one-click Auto-Leveling feature is a game-changer. Once the domain of high-end 3D printers or modifications like the CR-Touch and BLTouch, the Kobra is a budget-friendly 3D printer with built-in auto bed leveling.

Close up of the auto bed leveling system on the Anycubic Kobra
Close-up of the induction sensor on the Anycubic Kobra provides 25-point bed leveling using the company’s LeviQ technology.

The Anycubic LeviQ Leveling system takes charge with a 25-point automatic adjustment, ensuring excellent first-layer bed adhesion.

Moreover, the Kobra comes with a textured PEI-coated flexible build platform. Everyone has a preference for building plate surfaces, but Anycubic’s textured spring steel is my choice for 3D printing.

The build surface provides excellent print adhesion and the textured surface makes it easy to remove prints after the bed cools.

You can remove the surface and flex the build plate to remove stubborn prints, but I find that the textured surface releases prints without needing to remove the print bed.

The tensioning knob on an anycubic 3D printer

The Kobra has built-in belt tensioners for easy adjustments and power loss recovery. However, the printer lacks filament runout detection.

Features

After spending more than 50 hours printing with the Anycubic Kobra, there are several vital points to consider if you’re eyeing this printer. While many features stand out, let’s zero in on what could truly impact your printing experience.

Direct Drive Extruder

Close up of the direct drive extruder on the Anycubic Kobra

The Anycubic Kobra’s direct drive extruder is a pivotal feature that provides more precise filament control, improved print quality, and simple filament changes.

The shorter path from the extruder to the hotend allows for more precise filament extrusion and retraction control. The precision and dual gear setup provide a noticeable benefit when printing with materials that require careful handling, such as flexible filaments like TPU.

Direct drive extruders also provide better print quality. However, the Kobra’s print head is weighty. The print head’s weight challenges the stepper motors to control the movement along the machine’s X-axis.

Our print tests found that the extruder’s weight created a challenge for printing smaller, more detailed prints.

One disappointment is that the Kobra doesn’t use an all-metal hotend. You may find long-term performance issues after repeated use. But we didn’t notice any problems with the hotend during our testing.

Build Volume and Surface

The anycubic printer after finishing a 3d printed benchy in grey pla

The Anycubic Kobra offers an average build volume of 220 x 220 x 250mm, the same size as Creality’s Ender 3 series​​. The generous build volume is large enough for most uses, but it’s not a large-format 3D printer.

One of my favorite features is the Kobra’s build surface—a flexible magnetic bed coated with textured PEI (Polyetherimide). The textured spring steel sheet is my preferred 3D build surface.

The textured PEI coating offers superior bed adhesion and perfect first layers. You can rest assured that your prints remain firmly in place during the printing process, and you won’t have issues with warping.

The removable bed offers effortless removal for larger prints. Simply remove the bed and flex the spring steel sheet to release the print. However, removing the bed is never necessary. The Anycubic Kobra’s build surface easily releases prints once the bed cools. We never needed to remove the bed during our tests.

The Kobra’s heated bed can reach temperatures up to 110°C, allowing you to print PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU​​.

The bottom of the anycubic kobra heat bed. The aluminum bed doesn’t have tensioning screws or insulaiton

One disappointment is the lack of insulation on the bottom of the aluminum plate. Insulating the build plate ensures a more consistent bed temperature. The lack of insulation is likely to cut costs, but it is a disappointment.

Auto Bed Leveling

An anycubic direct drive 3d printer

One of the Anycubic Kobra 3D printer’s most user-friendly features is its auto bed leveling system, powered by Anycubic’s proprietary LeviQ technology.

The foundation of any successful 3D print lies in the first layer. A level bed ensures the first layer adheres correctly and uniformly across the print surface. The Anycubic Kobra uses a LeviQ auto bed leveling system, providing a level foundation for your prints​.

LeviQ technology utilizes an inductive sensor attached to the print head to detect the print bed’s surface at 25 points across the build platform. The inductive sensor measures the distance between the nozzle and the bed at each point, adjusting the print head’s height in real time to compensate for the differences in the build platform.

The 25-point auto bed leveling saves you time and significantly enhances the reliability and quality of prints by ensuring optimal adhesion and layer consistency​​​​.

Simply navigate to the bed leveling function on the printer’s display and begin the leveling process. Once initiated, your printer automatically conducts a 25-point leveling check to provide mesh compensation. You only need to confirm that the Z-offset is correctly set​​.

Editor’s Note

The Kobra’s bed is bolted to an aluminum frame. As there aren’t any tensioning knobs or adjustments, the bed doesn’t change. After the initial bed leveling, I never needed to re-level the Kobra’s print bed.

After you run a bed leveling sequence, you never need to worry about leveling the bed.

Sensorless Homing

Close up of the direct drive extruder from an anycubic kobra in the home position

At first glance, the Anycubic Kobra has a sleeker look than many other 3D printers on the market. Anycubic doesn’t advertise sensorless homing as a feature, but the lack of end-stops gives the printer a more refined appearance.

Traditional 3D printers use an end-stop switch to detect when the x, y, and z-axis reach their home position. Without end-stops, the Kobra’s firmware detects when the stepper motor has hit a mechanical stop by monitoring changes in motor current.

Sensorless homing doesn’t offer any quality improvements, but it does provide a cleaner aesthetic and shows the ingenuity of Anycubic.

Editor’s Note

Some users reported issues with sensorless homing on the y-axis. The sensorless homing detects skipped steps or stalls from the stepper motors. The bed can be a bit sensitive and trigger a stop a couple of steps before the bed reaches the home position. You can correct the issue by adjusting the belt tension on the y-axis and slightly loosening the eccentric nut on the roller wheels.

Material Compatibility

The Anycubic Kobra can handle a range of materials thanks to the heated bed, dual gear, and direct drive extruder. You can print PLA, PETG, ABS, and TPU.

The Kobra doesn’t use an all-metal hotend. While that doesn’t limit the use of higher-temperature materials like PETG and ABS, you may run into long-term issues with wear and tear from high-temperature printing.

Touchscreen Display

A view of the textured PEI spring steel sheet and 4.3 inch led touchscreen display on the anycubic kobra

A 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen rounds off this 3D printer’s modern feel. The 4.3” LCD touchscreen on the Anycubic Kobra is a significant leap from the traditional rotary knob interfaces found on most budget 3D printers.

The Kobra’s modern interface offers an intuitive and straightforward way to navigate the printer’s settings and features. With vibrant colors and clear, easy-to-read menus, the touchscreen enhances the overall usability of the printer, allowing for quick selections and adjustments​​.

Anycubic Kobra Print Quality

The Anycubic Kobra has garnered attention in the 3D printing community for its impressive features, low price point, and consistent print quality. This entry-level FDM desktop 3D printer boasts features that promise to elevate the standard of budget-friendly 3D printing.

We put the Anycubic Kobra to the test to see if it lives up to expectations.

I first ran the test owl that Anycubic pre-loads on the microSD card. It’s the same test print that Anycubic loads with all their 3D printers and a good starting point to ensure the printer is correctly assembled.

Front view of a grey pla printed owl

The Kobra is quieter than most budget-level printers, and at first glance, I was pretty happy with the owl’s print quality.

However, I began to notice issues as I looked closer.

The layer lines are very pronounced. When looking at the owl’s ears, it’s apparent that the printer struggles with overhangs.

I plugged the microSD card into my computer and loaded some more test prints using Anycubic Slicer.

side view of a 3DBenchy printed in white pla on an anycubic kobra on a black background

My first print was a 3D Benchy printed in white PLA. The hull was smooth, and I didn’t see the same issues with overhangs.

front view of a 3DBenchy printed on an anycubic kobra in white pla with noticeable stringing on a black background

However, you can see visible stringing in the cabin and across the bow.

I decided to print the all-in-one calibration test to get an overview of the printer and test it on overhangs, stringing, bridging, and details.

Front view of the all in one 3d printer torture test with visible stringing and issues with overhangs

At this price point, the all-in-one calibration test came out better than I expected for a 3d printer. The overhangs look good, as well as the bridging and tolerance tests.

However, the printer exhibits a lot of stringing.

An all in one 3d print test printed on an anycuibc kobra

I played around with the slicer settings and was able to reduce the stringing on 3D prints, but I didn’t expect this much stringing on a direct drive 3D printer.

Overall, the print quality is better than average for this price range. The printer performs well but struggles with stringing and overhangs. You can reduce these print issues If you take the time to calibrate the slicing settings.

Editor’s Note

One odd feature is that the printer homes the bed after the printing process. The homing pushes the bed to the far back, making removing prints slightly inconvenient. The homing doesn’t impact print quality. However, it is a bit of an oversight.

Other printers like the Anycubic Kobra 2 and Anycubic Vyper bring the bed forward at the end of the print, showcasing the finished product and making it easy to remove objects from the bed.

Alternatives

Anycubic Kobra 2

Anycubic Kobra 2



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The Anycubic Kobra 2 is a step up from the original Kobra. The second generation Kobra fixes all of the issues we found with the original Kobra and offers several enhancements, like linear rods, a lighter print head, and dual motor z-axis linear rods.

The Kobra 2 is user-friendly and easy to assemble, like the original Anycubic Kobra. But, the Kobra 2 provides ultra-fast print speeds of 300 mm/s and improved print quality.

The Kobra 2 uses the same display and build platform and offers the same print volume. It’s a better machine if you don’t mind paying extra for faster print speeds and better out-of-the-box print quality.

Anycubic Vyper

ANYCUBIC Vyper 3D Printer

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If you’ve enjoyed the user-friendly nature of the Kobra, the Anycubic Vyper could also be a strong contender. The Anycubic Vyper is similar to the Anycubic Kobra. It offers auto-bed leveling and the same textured PEI spring steel build surface.

Auto-leveling is also a breeze with the Vyper, and it offers a large build volume of 245 x 245 x 260mm. While the Vyper uses a Bowden-fed extruder, we found noticeably less stringing and more detailed prints when we reviewed the Anycubic Vyper.

The Anycubic Vyper offers better performance, less noise, and a larger build volume.

Creality Ender 3 S1

Creality Ender 3 S1
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The Creality Ender 3 S1 is similar to the Kobra, with the same build volume, a direct driver extruder, and auto bed leveling. The most significant difference is the all-metal hot end on the Ender 3 S1, which is more reliable, longer lasting, and allows you to print more exotic filaments like nylon.

The Ender 3 S1 is more costly than the Kobra. But it’s worth the upgrade if you’re willing to spend more money.

Marcello De Lio
Marcello De Lio

Marcello co-founded 3D Print Mentor to share his love of 3D printing. Marcello used to own an online 3D printing company, where he sold unique designs and customized novelty gifts. After closing the business, Marcello’s new passion is 3D printing replica movie props and cosplay items.

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