One minute review
The Anycubic Kobra is a brilliant FDM (fused deposition modeling) printer for those wanting to get into the world of tinkering or upgrading from an older model.
It comes in at a fairly budget-friendly price, just $300 / £270 / AU$470 from the Anycubic website† For that you get a printer with an automatic leveling system (which both beginners and experienced printers will enjoy) and intuitive touchscreen controls that give you easy access to all functions and settings of the printer.
Plus, it produces some high-quality prints outside the gate. Sure there are areas for improvement, but if you’re looking for a setup that works right out of the box – and doesn’t require you to tinker with settings you don’t quite understand yet – that’s what the Anycubic Kobra delivers.
Before you get too excited, though, consider what you’re using the printer for.
If you’re looking to make quick prototypes or larger, less complex models, this is the kind of system you’re looking for (thanks to its large build space of 9.8 x 8.7 x 8.7 in (220 x 220 x 250 mm). if instead you’re hoping to create complex figurines for a table game or highly detailed figurines to decorate your desk, you’ll want to grab a resin printer instead.
Price and availability
The Anycubic Kobra can be had for $300 / £270 / AU$470 from the Anycubic website†
At this price, it’s not quite the cheapest option out there, but it’s still affordable enough for someone looking for their very first 3D printer. It is also suitable for someone who wants to upgrade from a cheaper model.
This matches the Anycubic Vyper, an earlier FDM printer from the brand that was equally budget-friendly and offered decent features for its price.
The black aluminum alloy frame of the Anycubic Kobra is accented with dark navy blue and red plastic housings. The utilitarian design won’t win any beauty contests, but it will make sure the Kobra does its best when printing your 3D models.
Anycubic Kobra Key specs
Printing technology: FDM
Supported Filaments: PLA, TPU, ABS, PETG
Build volume: 9.8 x 8.7 x 8.7 in / 220 x 220 x 250mm
Print resolution: 0.05mm – 0.3mm
Positioning Accuracy: X/Y 0.0125mm; Z 0.002 mm
Extruder Number: Single; Nozzle diameter: 0.4 mm
Print Speed: 20 – 100mm/s (recommended 80mm/s)
Ambient temperature: 8°C – 40°C
Operating nozzle temperature: 500°F / 260°C
Operating hot bed temperature: 230°F / 110°C
Connection mode: SD card
Machine Size: 19.1 x 16.9 x 19.2 in / 486 x 430 x 487 mm
Weight: Machine weight: ~7kg
The Anycubic Kobra comes in parts that require assembly, such as IKEA’s flat-pack furniture. The build isn’t overly complicated – and the instructions should give you a clear idea of what to do – but if you can, we recommend helping someone.
The metal parts have a heavy weight and the screws must be inserted through the base of the machine. As such, it can be difficult to hold everything in place while tightening the screws with just two hands. But with another person providing their assistance, you should have the Anycubic Kobra together in no more than 30 minutes.
Building is made very easy as all the tools and screws you need are packed in the box – so you don’t have to go out and buy specialist equipment.
That said, another thing to watch out for during installation is to make sure the metal build plate doesn’t come off with the packaging (like ours did). The gold plate should snap back into place super easily thanks to the magnetic field of the base, but you need to make sure it’s secured before you automatically level the printer.
If you don’t, the sensor that detects the plate to prevent the nozzle from dropping too far down will not function properly and your nozzle could lodge itself in your printer and cause serious damage.
On the subject of the build plate, however, it is quite useful. That’s because it has a slightly rough texture that won’t affect your prints, but is designed to remove them very easily once they’ve cooled down a bit.
Our testing shows that this feature works exactly as intended. Although there is a plastic scraper in the box, we never needed it to remove what we printed from the build plate – provided we happily waited a few minutes for everything to cool.
The only design issue we had was the Anycubic Kobra’s reliance on a microSD card for transferring files from your PC to the printer. While the printer has one in the box — and also comes with a USB adapter so you can plug it into your PC — we’re just not fans of these tiny little storage devices.
Not only are they much easier to lose than a regular USB stick because they’re smaller, you’re also less likely to have an extra microSD lying around – so if you inevitably lose the included USB stick you’ll have to go out and buy another or wait for one to be delivered.
One of the most user-friendly features of the Anycubic Kobra is the automatic leveling of the bed.
To print an object, the Kobra and other similar 3D printers extrude molten plastic through a nozzle on the bed. If the distance between the nozzle and the bed is not constant across the entire bed, your builds will have inconsistent quality for their layers.
Manual leveling is a tricky process that requires careful adjustment of the screws while constantly staring at a spirit level. Automatic bed leveling takes all the hassle out of it and the printer does it for you.
This feature won’t be present in some cheaper 3D printers, so if you can afford to spend a little extra for the Kobra, we highly recommend that you only do this for the auto-levelling.
Another useful feature is the printer’s direct-drive tool head. In simpler terms, this means that the Kobra’s extruder components are all packed into a single object on the front, with an easy-to-find port on the top for you to insert the filament.
The manual will walk you through the process, but it’s as simple as pressing a button and gently feeding the plastic filament into the obvious hole. The only problem with this process is that there is a lot of initial basting – where newly molten plastic leaks through the nozzle.
It’s easy enough to clean up – and it cures incredibly quickly – but you’ll have to wait about a minute for the printer to calm down and the basting to stop.
Finally, there is the touchscreen of the Anycubic Kobra. This intuitive interface allows you to interact with the printer’s settings and start printing with ease. It is located on the front of the PCB and is angled slightly so that you can read the display easily without bending over.
In addition to the printer itself, the included microSD card stores a copy of Ultimaker Cura that you want to install on your PC. Once you’ve set up Ultimaker Cura for the printer settings (the Kobra instruction manual will walk you through it), you can start using it to slice STL files to get them ready for printing.
Whether you download a publicly available 3D model or use CAD software to create your own 3D model, it will likely exist as an STL file. However, the Kobra cannot do anything with this type of file, it has to be cut first – literally cut into many layers which are then printed one by one by the Kobra.
Ultimaker Cura is what’s called slicing software – it can turn STL models into a format the Kobra can use – and it’s fairly intuitive, if not a little basic.
Thanks to the decent bed size, the Anycubic can make prints up to 9.8 x 8.7 x 8.7 inch (220 x 220 x 250 mm). It also has an average print speed of 80mm/s – this is fairly fast, but expect most large prints to take at least a few hours, if not much longer. During testing, we had models print for over 24 hours – although this is common for 3D printers if you want to make something big.
To put this 3D printer to the test, we used three benchmarks, or “torture tests,” to see how well it performs. We printed all of these with the Kobra’s out-of-the-box settings and were impressed with the results.
the classic 3DBenchy boat was displayed incredibly well. The smooth sides might convince you that this is made in one piece rather than using many layers of plastic, and the boat’s features have been expertly recreated. There were some minor stinging issues on the cab walls, but these were easily remedied with some smooth sandpaper.
We saw equally impressive results from the All in one 3D printer test† The many structures (including pipes, holes and bridges) were each recreated with relative ease. Our only concern was that there was quite a bit of basting and the overhang tests had a drop in quality at the 70 degrees – although not a single print failed completely.
That said, we were impressed with the out-of-the-box settings. If you’re confident enough to try tweaking the settings, you should be able to improve Kobra’s performance, but if you’re a beginner who just wants hassle-free printing, this Anycubic printer performs more than well enough.
Of course, you don’t just want to print benchmarks with your printer. We also put the Anycubic Kobra to the test by printing out a few longer projects. This included a small storage box that looks like a book and cosplay props based on items from one of our favorite games: Destiny 2.
Again, the Kobra performed admirably. The book-shaped box was sturdy and the edge designed to be folded did so without breaking. The sci-fi gadgets looked great too.
After the more than 24-hour print job was completed, we found that larger parts of our props (with only minor details) looked identical to their in-game counterparts – although smaller, more intricate pieces were impossible to get right, even after several attempts.
However, this is standard for FDM 3D printers, with resin printers such as the Anycubic Photon M3 being preferred for small but complex prints – ie figurines used in Dungeons and Dragons.