At the end of May, a much anticipated package from the Czech Republic arrived at my home. Inside the rather dense box was a well-packed Prusa i3 mk2s 3D printer in kit form. I removed all of the different boxes and bags, inventoried the items, and stopped. The assembly of the printer would need to be measured, methodical and accurate. Haste would definitely make waste, so I took a breather and waited for an open day where I could focus on the task of constructing a precision tool.
I opted to go with a kit printer rather than a fully assembled one for four reasons:
- Price: The Prusa i3 kit is known for having great instructions and having built it, I have to agree. The directions are very clear, although I highly recommend using the online version of the assembly manual as it is easier to step through and see details in the photos.
- Time: In kit form, the Prusa i3 would ship sooner, and it did.
- Experience: At some point the printer will develop a problem, and fixing it will take more than a surface knowledge of how it goes together. By buiding the printer from a kit, I’d gain invaluable knowledge that I could apply later.
- Risk: Although there’s risk in building a kit, shipping an assembled printer from Europe to the US seemed like asking for a problem to happen. I know the odds are low, but if something was broken or twisted during shipping, I’d be stuck with no knowledge of how or where to fix the problem.
So it may sound all wine and roses, but it did take two days for me to build and test the printer. I worked slowly with a precision ruler and calipers at every step to make sure everything was adjusted to spec. When I assembled something incorrectly (which happened a couple of times), I carefully worked backwards to the point of error and restarted from there. I avoided tearing the affected subassembly apart as I didn’t want a “reset” to turn into an accident that resulted in a broken part. Tools were provided in the kit, but I did find myself using some of my precision tools to better handle specific tasks. When I powered up the printer and ran the self-test and calibration sequences, the printer responded with the all clear the first time. The extra care spent during assembly paid off. Print quality is great (and will get better as I learn more).
Looking back, my four reasons for going with the Prusa over other options were indeed valid. What I didn’t expect, however, is the amount of information that people post online about this printer and how to get the most out of it. If you opt to go with a Prusa i3, you not only end up with a printer, you gain a community.