Original Prusa i3 MK2S 3D Printer

Original Prusa i3 MK2S

The Greatest 3D Printer in the World

I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have to tell me. You’ve seen a million reviews of the Original Prusa i3 MK2S and previous variants and they all say essentially the same thing: the spool holder is the only problem. Well,
they are mostly correct. I’ve had two 3D printers and based on that experience, which is admittedly limited, I have to tell you I believe this printer is riding the pinnacle of 3D printer performance with a very few others. That said,
if you take price into consideration, this printer essentially stands alone.

Really? Is This the BEST Printer?

I believe it is. I went to college in 1991 to study mechanical engineering technology. I wound up switching to computer science, but I made several friends in the mechanical department and by chance some of us have wound up staying in touch. Some of those guys are into 3D printing and aid me in developing my opinions about printers. Without any experience with the actual printer, I labored over selecting my next 3D printer around one major issue: frame style. My friends all encouraged me to consider more strongly, printers that used a complete box style frame due to inevitable flexing and shifting. This made me wonder if selecting a Prusa style printer was the right choice.

In the course of researching printers, I decided I would add a couple of other factors to the list of important considerations based on the veritable flood of data packed into long, boring videos on Youtube. These include:

  • Quality of Parts
  • Open Standards & Materials
  • Support Reviews
  • Technology
  • Lifecycle
  • Price

These may seem somewhat obvious, but I wanted to take a second to dig into each one.

Quality of Parts

  • There are a couple of places you can look for quality parts in the current pool of 3D printers on the market. A ton of data exists in the world of open source printing, especially in RepRap. There is a good bit to consider here because of the enormous amount of hardware being put out by various Chinese manufacturers. Don’t get me wrong, plenty is coming out of China that is good, but there is also a preponderance of product coming from China that is solely focused on making profits. One of the reasons I ultimately picked the Original Prusa i3 MK2S is that the parts sourced for this printer are among the finest available, especially in critical areas. The genuine E3D All Metal hot-end allows me to select much higher temperatures, ensuring I can select a much wider range of materials,
    like nylon. The Rambo control board is an extremely well regarded electronic part as well. The machines I considered in competition relative to price did not include premium selected parts even though it was rare to find one that didn’t cost just as much as the Original Prusa.
  • Open Standards & Materials

  • While it may seem like I’m pushing for Open Source, really what I mean here is I want to be able to go buy filament on the open market. I was uninterested in being saddled with a single manufacturers plastics. While there are varying qualities amongst material providers, their reputations precede them on any reputable dealer site.
    I’d much rather have a spool of junk plastic every now and then than be locked into buying something that costs multiple times what normal filament costs. In essence, my ownership couldn’t be tied to a single source. The Prusa machine uses standard 1.75mm filament, available everywhere.
  • Support Reviews

  • I am not a chemist, a mechanical engineer, or a Rocket Surgeon. I wanted and needed to feel comfortable the company I bought my printer from would have the ability and inclination to stand behind me when I started using their product. I carefully sampled customer feedback in public forums and on product vendor sites. There were several machines I found had pretty consistently terrible feedback relating to how they were treated as customers.
    Frankly, we have too much other stuff to deal with as human beings than to be treated poorly, so many vendors simply never made it past some of their terrible reviews in this category with me. That said, I think there is an art to reading bad reviews. Sometimes people are just plain stupid and leave bad reviews as some sort of public attempt at retribution. I tried my best to be blind to those reviews and judge based on meritorious feedback from level headed folks. Prusa was diligent in responding to me, was available to chat almost every time I looked for them, and was consistent in quality with respect to their responses. This seemed to match with their customer feedback in general so it was easy to keep them on the short list through the entire process.
  • Technology

  • The technology used in my next printer had to be in line with what was currently working in the market on a higher end machine. This meant I wanted automatic bed leveling. I could be convinced to compromise here if the other areas really shined, but in the end that didn’t happen. I also wanted to be able to run OctoPrint or similarly have “access” to the printer for viewing progress and controlling the machine without having to be sitting or standing near it. The Original Prusa i3 has this covered by providing a standard USB interface to their controller board.
    While the machine doesn’t have native wifi capabilities, the Raspberry Pi has dropped so much in price, it almost doesn’t matter at this point. Other machines had deficiencies outside my requirements that kept me from picking them anyway. Things like build plates that were 6″ or less. No thanks!
  • Lifecycle

  • The lifecycle of a product should matter to the customers who buy it. If you purchase an expensive appliance and the manufacturer turns off their support of it in favor of a wildly different replacement system right after you buy it, you lose. This occurs a lot in our throw away world, so it is difficult to find anyone who seems to care about iterative processes. My belief is that with iterative development of products, you have more of a chance of building on things you’ve proven. A brand new model with no real commonality in other experience means an entirely unpredictable and new set of issues to discover. It also means you can count on that vendor to encourage you to buy whole new products rather than supporting what you’ve already purchased as the product ages. I wanted a machine I could keep running for 10 years. While that is yet to be seen, I’m thinking I win here too. The Original i3 was produced several years back and has upgrade kits from the day one machine to the current MK2S. I would much rather spend a little money now and again to keep things updated than have to purchase an entirely new machine to get the benefit of advances in technology over time. Wouldn’t you?
  • Price

  • Let’s talk about price for a second. This is a hobby, so it isn’t going to be cheap. No hobby is!
    Maybe paper airplanes? I wasn’t looking for the cheapest printer on the market. I was looking for the biggest bang for my buck. I truly believe I achieved that with this printer. Taking just one piece of data, the Maker Magazine review for 2017 which listed the Original Prusa i3 MK2S as the best printer this year. Their #2 printer, just a single score point behind the i3, and the price is more than double! There were several other systems further down the list that matched or beat the i3 price, but they were way down the list! I am price sensitive, but I’d rather keep dreaming of having a 3D printer than to have one like my first one. It eventually just wound up sitting in a storage box in the closet because I couldn’t make it work reliably enough for it to be useful. I’ve only had my Original Prusa i3 MK2S a week and I’ve already fixed a backpack with replacement strap clips, made charging my Android watch much easier by printing a stand for it, and made several really neat and useful items for organization. That’s not to mention all the obligatory knick knacks I’ve printed! Everything just comes out beautiful!
  • Summarizing…

    The long and short of it is, the positive reviews for this printer are real. They’ll keep being produced in print and video form until something even better comes along. Josef Prusa is definitely making strides and I think he’ll continue to do so with this printer. I’d like to close with a thought about why I think this printer is so entirely delightful as well: Josef has a focus on making the user experience perfect. He does this with a kind of confidence we haven’t seen in a product designer since Steve Jobs. There are really excellent options for preparing print jobs for this printer, but Josef has actually produced tools that make it super easy, like Prusa Control. There is truly an endless volume of study relating to 3D printing, and everyone should strive to learn as much as they can as it will certainly help to create ever more fantastic things right at home. That said, Josef is turning out an entire ecosystem (product and software) that allows even the layman like myself to actually produce great objects.

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