Today if you talk about 3D printers then there’s one company that stands out from the rest, and that’s Prusa Research.
It’s founder Joseph Prusa, who gives the company its name, is not only the brain behind the operation but also the figurehead, and a common sight on the 3D printing circuit.
What he and his company has managed to do is to bridge the gap between the Open Source community and commercial enterprise.
Prusa, the man and machine, do things differently with tweaks and innovation at the core of the technology. That means that if you invest in a model today, there’s a high likelihood that it can be upgraded in the future, as all Prusa machines before have done.
The new printer, Original Prusa i3 MK3S, like the previous generations is available in a selection of formats, free as printable parts and a shopping list, as a kit that you build yourself or as an expert built system that can be unboxed and is ready to use.
I’ve built a few in the past, and this time Prusa has sent the factory-built version. I have to say the quality of finish, especially with the wiring routing, is a world apart from my usual wiring mess.
One observation from the outset is that the Original Prusa i3 MK3S while being the latest iteration of the printer looks much the same as previous generations, it’s only under closer scrutiny that you realise that it’s a very different beast.
I’m looking at the S model, which is a minor update to the MK3, so this review relates to the Original Prusa i3 MK3 with the S update.
3D printers as they stand are not design classics. While the 3D print technology has bounded along the product design hasn’t. Although there are a few manufacturers such as the Cel-Robox and MakerBot who have got product designers involved in the aesthetics.
Part of the reason is that the 3D community likes to tinker, and the industry has grown from the Open Source community. Prusa of all the companies has stayed close to the original community and still feeds much of the research and development back.
As such, the MK3S, as with previous generations, has an open design and look. It wouldn’t look at all out of place in a garage or workshop and looks less at home in a style-conscious design studio.
Looks can be deceptive, and you shouldn’t underestimate the design – the Original Prusa i3 MK3S is one of the best printers on the market when it comes to print quality, but it’s also the most versatile if you’re prone to a little tinkering.
The printer is there to use, develop, enhance and make your own; the Prusa is the only widely available printer left that enables you to do this.
Let’s take a look at what makes the Original Prusa i3 MK3S a little different from the vast majority of other printers.
Firstly there are the options, parts for the printer can be printed from files downloaded from the Prusa site and then with a bit of time and effort you can collect together all the bits you need to build your own.
It’s dubious if you’ll save yourself any money, but if you’re at a loss for a project, then it’s a good challenge and more than possible.
The fact that there is a kit option is one of the most prominent features; it’s what got me and so many others into 3D printing in the first place. Build it, and you can see how it works.
I’ve now built and designed my own 3D printer so having one turn up pre-built is a huge plus point for me but knowing that I can tinker at some point, which I inevitably will, I can upgrade the extruder if there’s a need, mess with the firmware, and well, that’s all part of the fun.
There’s a reason that the Prusa i3 has become such an icon of the 3D printing world.
The design lends itself to being upgraded, adjusted and experimented with. It’s open, and all the parts are accessible so you can see how it works, if you want to, you can even build your own.
While the design might not bother those from the 3D printing community, those external to it may have an issue with the DIY aesthetics, however, refined they are.
In truth the machine has evolved, it may look like it’s been built in a garage, but design, function and quality are all exceptional. From the quality of the components through to the exceptional prints.
The Original Prusa i3 MK3S is so good that it rivals if not beats many printers that are well over twice the price.
This is only the single extrusion machine, but being Prusa an upgrade to dual or multi extrusion is, of course, available making it more upgradable than most other machines on the market.
As there’s a vast community of users, the machine can be hacked and upgraded in countless amazing ways, but there are drawbacks.
The machine is open, so if you have children or pets, then fingers or noses are drawn towards the hottest parts of the machine, especially it seems sweet smelling PLA. This means that while it’s an excellent choice, it may not be suitable for homes or educational facilities where children or pets can get easy access.
The design is very workshop, something I love, but that lack of style and aesthetics will put the chic design studio types off.
However, the Original Prusa i3 MK3S does two things no other printer can do. Firstly it’s the cheapest 3D printer on the market that can produce this quality of print consistently. Secondly, it’s the best FFF printer on the market and is the printer by which all other 3D printers will be judged.
If you’re looking for your first 3D printer, you like to tinker, or you run a business and want a good reliable machine then look no further than the Original Prusa i3 MK3S.