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Review: The Original Prusa i3 MK3S

The name Prusa is strewn across the 3D printing world, pinned to seemingly every machine to come out of China, but there’s only one original Prusa, the one that started it all by the legendary engineer Josef Prusa.

The MK3S is the latest in the Prusa lineup, and it builds on the features and renowned reliability of the previous models.

Well, there are so many different 3D printers in the market, each designed to deliver specific capabilities. In this review, we focus on the Prusa i3 MK3S and see if it still deserves the reputation as one of the best. This model is the successor of the original MK2 from Prusa that was quite a hit too.

We will be analyzing how the MK3S differs from the MK2 and also give you a list of features to look out for. We will also have sections of the review dedicated to printer set up, pro and cons, and additional general information that help you leverage the capabilities of this unit.

Specifications

  • Build Volume: 250 mm x 210 mm x 210 mm
  • Layer Height:  0.05 mm
  • Nozzle Diameter: 0.4 mm
  • Filament Diameter: 1.75 mm
  • Printer Speed: 200 mm/s
  • Connectivity: SD Card and WI-FI
  • Control: Integrated LCD Touchscreen display
  • Filament: ABS, PLA, HIPS, PET, Carbon fibers, Flexx PP and others
  • Automatic filament loading: Yes
  • Resume Printing: Yes
  • Printer Dimensions: 550 mm x 400 mm x 500 mm without spool
  • Printer Net Weight: 7 Kgs

Features

The Prusa i3 MK3S is a significant upgrade on the MK2, no doubt. However, the unit also boasts certain unique features that set it apart from many other 3D printers in its category. Here are some of the major highlights:

  • The Prusa i3 MK3S comes fitted with a removable hotbed, something that makes it easier and safer to remove objects once they are printed.
  • The Prusa i3 MK3S also offers better cooling compared to its predecessor and other units in the market. It even has dedicated cooling fans for both the extruder and the printer itself for an excellent performance.
  • You also get easy multi-color printing with this unit. The printer is also compatible with a massive variety of filament, making it ideal for diverse printing needs.
  • The Prusa i3 MK3S also has enhanced frame stability. The unit features a reworked Y-axis, designed directly from aluminum for extra rigidity. The aluminum frame also looks sleek for better aesthetics.
  • The unit is also probably one of the fastest printers in its category, with an average print speed of up to 200 mm/seconds.
  • It also offers a quiet operation thanks to its state of the art Trinamic 2130 Drivers and Noctua fan. According to the manufacturer, this unit is quieter compared to 99% of all other 3D printers in its category.
  • The Prusa i3 MK3S also has an automatic print resume feature that guards against accidental power loss and other printing interruptions.
  • There is also a filament detector, nicely built into the newly redesigned extruder. The sensor is designed to detect when you run out of filament automatically.
  • The Prusa i3 MK3S is also fitted with state of the art E3D V6, an all-metal Hotend for optimum high-temperature performance. The Hotend is exceptionally durable and reliable as well, especially for heavy-duty printing.
  • This unit is also equipped with advanced temperature sensors designed to promote equal heat dissipation relative to room temperature during printer operation. This enhances overall printing quality.

Pros

  • Sturdy aluminum metal construction for extra stability and long-lasting service
  • One of the less noisy 3D printers in the market
  • Offers relatively faster printing speeds compared to other units in its category
  • The auto-calibration feature is included for quick set up and leveling
  • Excellent community around this printer, making it easier to find support videos and tricks from fellow users

Cons

  • The settings and setup process for the Prusa i3 MK3S can be complicated for most people
  • Looks very industrial and intimidating especially for first-time users
  • Kit version is complicated to assemble

Unboxing and Box Content

The Prusa i3 MK3S is not assembled or even semi-assembled when it ships. This means that you will need to put together a few things to use it for the first time. Well, all these things are included in the box. First, you will get a pair of needle-nose pliers and a very high-quality Philips screwdriver. A total of 6 Allen keys are also included.

You will also notice that the unit comes with several bolts, nuts, fasteners, and brackets. We also noticed that the manufacturer includes a printed congratulatory message in the box with all the links to the sites you will need to make use of this printer. There is also a 3D printing handbook that should be very helpful for beginners and a detailed user manual for first-time printer setup. The manufacturer includes the Y-axis chassis, The E-axis chassis, and the X-axis chassis in the box too.

There is also a separate circuit board and an LCD touchscreen display in there, too, both of which will need to be attached before you begin using the printer. A power supply system, the hotbed, a single power cord, and a USB cable are in there too. Prusa also gives you an extruder and two fans a 16 GB SD card, a glue stick, and up to 1 KG of free PLA filament so that you can start printing right away.  And just to reward yourself after all that assembly work, Prusa also has a single bag of Haribo Bears just for you.

Setup

Like all Prusa 3D printers, you can choose whether to have it arrive pre-assembled or in a kit form.

If you go for the kit version, the instructions are impeccably clear and precise, so you won’t have any problems putting it together. It is, however, a complicated machine, so you should set aside a good few days for putting it together.

Although the printer has automatic calibration for easy bed leveling, there are several other important setup steps you will need to do on your own. The good news is that the manufacturer gives you a detailed manual on how to go about this.

Up to eight different stages are needed to set up the Prusa i3 MK3S fully. They include; Y-axis assembly, X-axis assembly, Z-Axis assembly, E-axis assembly, LCD assembly, Heated bed &  PSU assembly, electronic assembly, and finally, the preflight check to ensure everything is in place.

The details of how to do all these things are in the manual. The Prusa i3 MK3S also has a vibrant community of users. You are likely to come across loads of blogs, YouTube videos, and forum posts, giving you additional help with the printer set up if need be.

Software

The MK3S is powered by proprietary slicer software from the manufacturer. The user’s feedback is very positive. It’s safe to assume that the software is easy to use. Additional firmware updates and drivers can also be downloaded and installed directly from the Prusa website. All instructions to get this done are available on the site as well.

In Use

As one of the higher-end 3D printers out there, the MK3S does offer relatively better print quality. However, there have been arguments that this quality is not any better compared to the MK2, its predecessor. However, noise levels are really low. 

The manufacturer argues that the MK3S is quieter than 99% of all printers out there. We have not put that bold claim to the test, but we can tell you for sure that this unit is really quiet. The redesigned Y-axis frame also brings excellent stability and rigidity to this unit, something that plays a key role in overall printing quality.

Customer Service 

The manufacturers of the Prusa i3 MK3S have done very well to offer comprehensive customer support. From the comments we saw on the company’s website, it is clear that a lot of people seem to enjoy the help they get there.

Besides, Prusa runs a 24/7 live chat support feature, one of the few 3D printer manufacturers to do so. There is also fast email support where users can leave questions and get responses within 24 hours.

Conclusion

The Prusa i3 MK3S is a redesigned upgrade of the MK 2. But make no mistake; it is a worthwhile consideration. The unit features a new redesigned Y-axis for better stability, state of the art E3D V6 nozzle, a removable hotbed, and excellent compatibility with so many different types of filament. The unit also has a relatively large build volume, offers a near noiseless operation, and delivers excellent print quality.

It’s hard to think of a downside to this 3D printer. If you can afford the price tag, then it’s a no-brainer, Prusa is still the original and best.

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