Unique Prusa i3 MK3S

[Editors’ Note: While PC Labs was reviewing the i3 MK3S, Prusa Research issued a minor upgrade to it, the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+. The changes should provide a modest performance boost, and more substantially improve durability. Although this review is written for the i3 MK3S that we tested, most everything in it should apply to the i3 MK3S+ as well. Differences between the two models are small, and are detailed toward the end of the review.]

The Unique Prusa i3 MK3S is Prusa Analysis’s flagship 3D printer, descended via many iterations from the Prusa i3, which was bought by the corporate at its founding in 2012. As befitting a 3D printer that emerged from the RepRap tradition and that has been persistently improved over time, the i3 MK3S is straightforward to make use of and persistently produced good-quality prints in our testing. It’s a straightforward Editors’ Alternative decide for a mid-priced 3D printer for hobbyists and makers.

The Anatomy of Prusa’s Flagship

In contrast to the Unique Prusa Mini, which ships solely as a equipment, the i3 MK3S is accessible both as a equipment ($749) or absolutely assembled ($999). Our evaluation unit was the latter, shipped from the Czech Republic. (Be aware that on purchases of greater than $800, U.S. clients could need to pay an import obligation on receipt.)

This red-and-black printer measures 15 by 19.7 by 22 inches (HWD), excluding the spool and the spool holder, which sit atop the printer. It’s significantly bigger than the Unique Prusa Mini, which measures 14.6 by 13 by 15 inches (HWD). The i3 MK3S additionally has a bigger print quantity, 9.8 by 8.3 by 7.9 inches, in contrast with the 7-by-7-by-7-inch print quantity of the Prusa Mini. The i3 MK3S’s print quantity can be bigger (at the very least in two dimensions) than the 6.7 by 10 by 6 inches of the Editors’ Alternative-winning Dremel DigiLab 3D45 (a feature-rich however pricier 3D printer), and significantly bigger than the LulzBot Mini 2’s printing area (7.1 by 6.3 by 6.3 inches).

The essential type of the i3 MK3S is a sq. arch, with the construct plate beneath it within the center. On both sides, extending from the bottom to the highest of the arch, are two vertical steel dowels. The inside dowels are threaded and help a carriage holding the extruder meeting, which may transfer both vertically (Z-axis) or back and forth (X-axis). The construct plate rests on a carriage and may transfer both towards or away from the consumer (Y-axis).

In entrance of that carriage is a management panel with a monochrome LCD, from which the consumer can load and unload filament, choose a file from the SD card and launch a print job, entry settings, and run a calibration routine…

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

Behind the arch on the suitable is the ability provide, which accepts an AC twine and has an on/off change. Behind the arch on the left is an electronics field containing the motherboard and accepting quite a lot of cables. On high is the USB Kind-B port.

The Setup’s a Cinch

As talked about, our i3 MK3S take a look at unit was of the prebuilt selection. The one factor that required any meeting was the spool holder, and even that was merely a matter of snapping three plastic items collectively and attaching the works to the highest of the printer. The holder can match two spools directly, however can feed from solely one after the other, because the i3 MK3S is a single-extruder mannequin. To change to the second spool, you must unload the filament already in place, load from the second spool, and extrude till the filament from the primary spool has been flushed from the extruder and the brand new coloration seems.

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

Though our take a look at unit was not a equipment, and we will’t communicate to it as such (apart from that Prusa Analysis says that it ought to take about 8 hours to assemble), it did include one kit-related merchandise that I acknowledged from the Unique Prusa Mini:  a bundle of Haribo Goldbären—higher identified within the U.S. as Gummi Bears. With the equipment, you eat them as rewards for finishing sure steps as specified within the meeting information. No such dietary restrictions apply to the pre-assembled model.

The i3 MK3S comes with the 3D Printing Handbook, the consumer guide for the i3 MK3S. In contrast to most 3D printer manuals, which are usually spartan, the 3D Printing Handbook is a fantastic, professionally printed information. The handbook is the consumer information for each the preassembled model and for the equipment. (To truly construct the equipment model, although, customers are directed to the online manual.)

Our preassembled Prusa i3 MK3S arrived already examined and calibrated. There was even a accomplished take a look at print—the Prusa plaque—on the print mattress. In contrast to the Unique Prusa Mini equipment, which took me a very long time to calibrate earlier than it might print efficiently, the i3 MK3S labored high quality proper off the bat. As soon as I loaded the filament, chosen a take a look at object, and launched a print job, it was off and operating, and by no means appeared again. It printed all of our take a look at objects with no misprint, and in good high quality. 

Filament, Connectivity, and Security

The i3 MK3S helps quite a lot of filament varieties, together with however not restricted to PLA (polylactic acid), PETG (polyethylene terephthalate enhanced with glycol), ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene), ASA (acrylonitrile-styrene-acrylate, a substitute for ABS), and Flex. The i3 MK3S features a 1-kilogram spool of PLA. Prusa sells its filament (which it dubs “Prusament”) for $24.99 per 1-kilo PLA spool and $29.99 per PETG or ASA spool. You may also use third-party filament, which needs to be less expensive than having Prusament shipped from the Czech Republic.

Connectivity is to a pc over a USB connection. The i3 MK3S has a USB 2.0 Kind-B port, the type generally discovered on strange printers. It additionally helps printing from an SD card. Certainly, it comes with one that’s crammed with take a look at recordsdata.

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

Because the Prusa i3 MK3S is a completely open-frame printer, it’s vital to maintain youngsters and pets away from it throughout printing, in addition to any objects in supplies equivalent to plastic or paper that might conceivably soften or ignite ought to they arrive into contact with the new extruder. Fortuitously, as soon as a print job is completed, the extruder and construct plate routinely settle down. One other plus is that the Prusa i3 MK3S is comparatively quiet, which isn’t all the time the case with open-frame printers.

The PrusaSlicer Software program

The Prusa i3 MK3S makes use of PrusaSlicer 2.2 software program. It’s based mostly on Slic3r, an open-source program that takes 3D object recordsdata in STL, OBJ, AMF, or 3MF codecs and converts them into G-code recordsdata, that are basically the coded directions for outputting the article on a 3D printer. Slic3r is a substitute for Cura, one other open-source platform, on which the slicing packages of quite a few 3D printers we’ve reviewed are constructed, together with fashions by Dremel, LulzBot, Monoprice, Ultimaker, and XYZprinting.

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

PrusaSlicer performs the identical fundamental features that Cura-based packages do, together with loading objects (that are depicted to scale on a simulation of the printer’s construct plate), modifying them (resizing them, altering their place or orientation, including a number of objects, and the like), setting the decision and filament kind, and including helps or a brim. I had initially put in PrusaSlicer when testing the Unique Prusa Mini, so I added the MK3S from this system’s listing of printers. Then you definitely slice the file, codifying the a number of skinny layers that will likely be printed, one after the other, because the printer builds the article.

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

PrusaSlicer lets you choose from a Easy, Superior, or Professional interface, which every presents an more and more big selection of settings to select from. I favored the texture of the PrusaSlicer interface, and it let me do what I wanted with it, with one exception.

Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t in a position to slice one object—a illustration of the Apollo Command, Service, and Lunar Modules—that I’ve had no bother slicing and printing with Cura-based packages. I say “unsurprisingly” as a result of it additionally couldn’t slice with the Prusa Mini. (I obtained a message that there was an issue with the file, one thing about clean layers, and was not in a position to slice it right into a Gcode file.)

You’ll be able to ship your Gcode recordsdata over the USB connection to the printer, or it can save you them to the included SD card and print straight from that.

Persistently Good Print High quality

I accomplished 11 take a look at prints with the Prusa i3 MK3S. These included lots of our regular take a look at objects, together with a number of generally described as “stress checks” or “torture checks,” that are primarily utilized in testing the printing skill of 3D printers. I additionally printed a number of of the recordsdata offered on the USB key that got here with the Prusa Mini.  About half have been printed on the default 150-micron (High quality) setting, and half on the 200-micron (Velocity) setting. I didn’t discover any high quality distinction between the 2 resolutions.

Original Prusa i3 MK3SOriginal Prusa i3 MK3S

The i3 MK3S was in a position to print all of the objects efficiently. The one anomaly I skilled was when printing stopped in the midst of a print, and I used to be instructed to unload the filament after which to reload it, upon which printing resumed and the print job completed. I’m not certain what triggered the problem; typically with 3D printers, filament stops feeding due to a snag within the spooled filament, however that didn’t appear to be the case right here.

The excellent news is that the printer was in a position to determine that there was an issue, and provided an answer that mounted it and allowed printing to renew. All too usually with 3D printers, within the occasion of a snag, the print is ruined and must be scuttled.

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

Even higher, print high quality for practically all of the objects was above common. The Prusa i3 MK3S did very properly in rendering high quality element on all its prints, together with on our stress-test objects. Output on our fundamental geometric take a look at object (the tall merchandise pictured above) was proper up there with the Prusa Mini in being among the many greatest I’ve seen. Not one of the completed prints had any important issues, and plenty of confirmed no seen flaws.

Original Prusa i3 MK3SOriginal Prusa i3 MK3S

The i3 MK3S vs. the i3 MK3S+

As famous earlier, whereas we have been reviewing the i3 MK3S, it was tweaked and changed in Prusa’s line by the i3 MK3S+, a modest improve. When you do a procuring search on the i3 MK3S, you’ll come throughout quite a lot of entries, principally from, for the i3 MK3S or i3 MK3S clones. Really, they’re all clones—different corporations duplicating the open-source Prusa i3 MK3S—and though many price lower than the i3 MK3S, they’re of questionable high quality. We might counsel that you just persist with Prusa’s personal printers, and go for the i3 MK3S+.

Prusa characterizes the adjustments between the i3 MK3S and its successor, the i3 MK3S+ as minor, providing improved sturdiness with little change in efficiency. The MK3S+ has a special mesh mattress leveling probe referred to as SuperPINDA, which is temperature-independent. Nonetheless, Prusa says that the earlier probe was already exact, and the change was merely compensating for temperature drift. MK3S customers will see solely a small enchancment in first-layer accuracy. This variation is extra important for the Unique Prusa Mini+, which replaces the Prusa Mini. (Prusa unified the mesh mattress leveling probe on all its machines.)

Prusa made a couple of different {hardware} enhancements to the i3 MK3S+. The Y-axis has steel clips as a substitute of the previous U-bolts to carry the bearings. Additionally, some new plastic components maintain the sleek rods. (Zip ties have been used earlier than.) The X-axis has a special belt-tensioning system. The extruder’s plastic components are additionally barely completely different, to permit for higher cooling airflow.

Whereas we will’t definitively consider a product we haven’t examined but, the i3 MK3S+ looks like a optimistic, if incremental, replace to the i3 MK3S that we’ve reviewed right here, with no obvious draw back. Additionally, within the occasion you personal a MK3S or land one in early 2021, Prusa Analysis says that an improve equipment, which is able to in impact convert the MK3S into the MK3S+, will likely be obtainable someday in 2021.

A Close to-Excellent Open-Body Printer

The Prusa i3 line is without doubt one of the hottest strains in 3D printer historical past: fairly priced, reliable, with nice print high quality and complete buyer help. It evokes, and is the fruits of, the good maker custom out of which it advanced. The preassembled model of the i3 MK3S is virtually plug-and-play, solely requiring piecing collectively the spool holder, including a filament spool and loading the filament, after which choosing an object file from the included SD card and launching the print. Printing was clean and near-flawless, with no misprints and high-quality prints. And the PrusaSlicer software program is straightforward to study and use.

Original Prusa i3 MK3S

Whether or not for security or aesthetics, some individuals could desire a closed-frame 3D printer. However for individuals who are snug with an open-frame design, the Prusa i3 MK3S presents loads for its worth. It’s our new Editors’ Alternative decide amongst mid-priced 3D printers for hobbyists and makers. We will’t wait to see how its tweaked successor, the Prusa i3 MK3S+, performs.

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