Should you buy a Prusa 3d Printer?

Here is a link to this new DrVAX video and the comparison grid is attached.

[video=youtube_share;cEIgGn9syB0]Should You Buy a Prusa 3d Printer? - YouTube


Should I Buy a Prusa 3d Printer.pdf (83.4 KB)

I personally think a kit is the best thing to learn how a printer works.

By kit I mean a set, where you assemble everything and not just add a gantry and connect 5 wires.

With a real kit you build within 6 or more hours, you learn every part of your printer and how it works. I had people, which got a fully assembled printer and they had much fun, until they ran into a problem. At that point they had no clue what to do and were to start. One friend even sold his printer for that reason and quit 3d printing. He just swapped the nozzle without knowing how to do it right. After fighting with leaking and clogging for weeks he gave up.

This is why the internet is filled with people having all sorts of problems. These are usually the people which started with an expensive kit and not the people starting with a cheap kit.

I personally started with a 120 Euro kit myself, without any experience beside some YT videos, building an Anet A8. Later I started upgrading it and I was able to fix all issues I had due to my experience in building it.

I think it was Angus from Makers Muse who made a video about printers used in maker spaces, which got broken and nobody there knew how to fix them. In a maker space. This tells a lot.

A ready to run system may be nice for schools and makes spaces, as you don´t need any or minimum experience to print something, but when there is a problem you need help and even Prusa with their outstanding customer support (from what I heard) cannot sort out everything and every problem remotely. Especially when people to even have a clue about how to name parts like heat break or hot end.

It gets even worse with printers that come self contained and enclosed. It takes much confidence to open a 1500+ machine to find the problem, while a cheap kit is not as costly if you break something and you usually already know how it works and which screw does what.

Well, this is just my opinion on the stuff and the way I experienced it. A kit represents kind of self teaching, which in the end prevent from learning by failing and tons of frustration.

While I agree with @Geit that it’s always better to know how your equipment works, it does have a couple of effects: [LIST=1]

  • it pretty much relegates the technology in question to enthusiasts. Those who are not mechanically/technically inclined need not apply. In the long run I don't think this is beneficial to the technology. .
  • it somewhat presupposes that the technology will not mature to the point where it will become much like owning a car. In the beginning, car owners pretty much had to also be mechanics (or rich enough they could afford to have a mechanic on staff). Today, very few car owners know much of anything about how their vehicle works. They know how to drive it, fill it with fuel, and take it to the mechanic for all other service. Certainly, 3D printing, at least inexpensive 3D printing, has a long way to go before it becomes like owning a car. That said, there are now printers (expensive ones) on the market that are much like owning a car. [/LIST]
  • I like what both of you had to say.
    When I got my Ender 3 pro a couple of years ago on a whim it was quite daring of me but I lead a pretty tedious life since my incident/accident and because it affects my brain I have to keep challenging it.
    I will admit I chickened out at first and got a young friend of mine who works with my room mate to help me put it together. I am not sure that he had ever heard of a 3d printer but by playing copious YT videos and by me keeping my big mouth shut while he was figuring out where to put what, it got together in about two hours very leisurely and taking our time.
    Subsequently by watching another myriad of YT videos I began printing PLA with lots of success and just as many failures due to the learning curve etc. I’ll save lots of money on filament if they ever have a handy dandy PLA recycler that makes new filament out of old.
    When we had a party one day and a group came over he came with his wife and everyone was astonished what I could make with a cheap 3d printer. I didn’t show them the box of trash plastic I was saving for the recycler.
    Then I did the dumbest thing I could do and I should have known better.
    Instead of changing one thing at a time so that I could isolate problems I change a bunch of things at once and became very lost.
    The good part is that after a couple of months and doubling my 3d printing investment in increments I finally got my printer working like a charm again in spite of my three cynical friends who were begging me to accept a new printer that they would pay for. They thought that would solve the problem. I explained that the problem was me and my ability to tune the damn thing.

    It is a pretty good hobby for people who want to challenge themselves for sure. I agree about wanting to recycle filament and, although recyclers are available and plans for them also exist, I wouldn’t call any of the “handy dandy”.

    I agree with all of your comments. However, I believe they each should be applied to different communities.

    If you are using a 3d printer as an appliance then spending money for a machine with extensive support and a responsive help/support team makes a lot of sense. You do not really care much about how it works. It functions for you like a washing machine. You just want it to work. You are willing to clean it and load it and even lubricate it. Unfortunately, if something breaks you will not have anyone to call to just fix it unless you are spending thousands of dollars for an industrial machine.

    This may be a limitation of the market. No appropriate support options exist for 3d printers under a couple of thousands of dollars if you want a repair service to maintain it. Part of the challenge is that 3d printers are difficult, heavy, and expensive to ship. So even if a support organization existed it would be difficult to ship your printer to them. This is an interesting business challenge.

    Now for a bit of a rant …

    This same challenge is becoming prevalent for many devices in our disposable society. Few televisions are repaired today whereas when I was a kid you always tried to repair a TV before throwing it out. On the other hand appliance repair companies still come out to fix your oven, washing machine, refrigerator. What about high-end sowing machines? Do people take these into a shop for repair. Some are a bit heavy. Every town used to have a vacuum repair shop. Do these still exist?

    End of rant …

    If you are looking for a new hobby then purchasing an inexpensive 3d printer kit makes complete sense and you will learn a lot as long as you go into the process with the assumption that it will take time to master this new skill.

    If you are a business, then you need someone on staff that knows how to fix 3d printers. They will break, they do not to be adjusted/tuned, etc. This may be another business opportunity. Creating a 3d printer support and maintenance certification curriculum.

    For sure it is hard to justify shipping a $300 3D printer for repair. The shipping costs, both ways, would add up to a very significant % of the cost of the printer itself. Unfortunately, I believe there is a market segment that is not/cannot be serviced: those who want an appliance printer but cannot afford what they currently cost. I would actually fall into this category, if I had that choice. Since I don’t have the choice, I accept that I have to draw on my past experience & new learnings to get the results I want.

    A technician could probably make money remotely by walking people through problems and getting reimbursed for his time.

    Or else they can come to this forum where all these pros help people for nothing.

    I agree that remote service is the way to go. The challenge is that this will only be effective if the printer is designed from the ground up for remote service and the components are designed for easy replacement with minimal technical skills. Overall I find the open frame printers such as the Ender 3 easy to work on, while the fully enclosed Monoprice Ultimate 2, a printer I really like, is very hard to work on. This highlights the need for all components to provide easy access, easy replacement, and remote diagnostics.

    You might be able to start with an Ender 3 and retrofit remote repairability, but this will probably double the cost. This printer will probably also have to ship to the user fully assembled which will further increase the cost. In addition, it will need to include ABL and be factory calibrated. More costs.

    So will anyone pay $500 for an upgraded Ender 3 and another $50 to $100 per month for a service contract?

    I remember a few years ago watching videos about 3d printing and it was really in it’s infancy. I have seen rapid changes in the last two years.

    I hope you guys get the dual head printer soon. I would like to see what you think of them.

    If I can learn to 3d print any idiot should be able to figure it out, The way I did it was to watch a youtube video 30 times in a row to learn how to change a nozzle. Repetition even works for old dogs.