Buying MK3S - Kit or Ready Assembled....??  

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Rob99
(@rob99)
Active Member

3D newbie here.

I've done a lot of research on 3D printers and more or less decided the MK3S is the one for me but m current dilemma is whether to order the fully assembled printer or the kit. The lower price of the kit (by £200) makes it very attractive and I am very competent with most things electrical and mechanical but would appreciate any advice on the following:

1. How long does it take to assemble the kit?

2. How difficult is the kit to assemble? Is it like a very complex Lego model but not overly difficult as it comes with good instructions?

3. As a precision piece of kit, is it hard to achieve the same level of precision yourself as you'd get if you purchased it ready assembled and (presumably) fully tested at the factory?

3. Could I completely screw it up and end up with a very expensive 'ornament'?

4. If I have trouble assembling it, what is the Prusa support like in helping me along?

5. For those who have built one from a kit, do you wish you'd bought fully assembled or would you build one again?

Apologies for the list of questions and appreciate any responses.

Thanks all

Rob

This topic was modified 4 months ago by Rob99
Posted : 13/05/2020 10:32 pm
joan.t
(@joantabb)
Veteran Member Moderator

Hi Rob, 

I prefer to build the kits myself then I can lubricate the Linear bearings during the build, irrecpective of the prusa comment saying you don't have to... and then later in the same paragraph, giving you a link to the maintenance section which tells you how to lubricate the bearings later...

you can then spend the £200 on filament and spares... 

If you order a spare thermistor and heater, you will be prepared for when you get a Blob of Doom,  and you will know how to repair the printer if you are clumsy removing the blob... 

chances are, if you actually have spares, on hand, you will not have to use them, if you don't have spares, you will be unable to print whilst you wait for spares to arrive

If you want to read the online assembly guide to see how well doccumented the build is, you can follow this link

https://help.prusa3d.com/en/tag/mk3s/

it's well worth reading the instructions and the user comments in advance so that there are no surprises during the build!

If you can build Ikea flatpack items, you should have no problem building the prusa mk3S

If you follow the assembly instructions, it's hard to get things wrong.    the printer will be better than your initial ability to use it... 

the Prusa First layer calibration tool, 'works' but is difficult to interpret for someone who has never done it before. 

I prefer 
https://forum.prusaprinters.org/forum/original-prusa-i3-mk3s-mk3-assembly-anda-first-prints-troubleshooting/life-adjust-z-my-way/
which, in my opinion is a lot easier to interpret... 

it's always possible to screw things up!    but you have to try hard... Lol..

the favourite errors include having the X and Y motor toothed wheels in the wrong place on the motor shafts. and 
Forgetting to correctly tighten the grub screws that hold them in position. 
Note the X motor toothed wheel intentionally goes on the motor shaft, 'Back to Front'
Over tightening the Y axis U bolts and the X axis Back-plate
mixing up the LCD Cables...   even though they are labelled with one stripe and two stripes at both ends

and....    Pressing the X (Reset Button) instead of the LCD Control button, during the setup procedure (Common 'Own goal,')

I suggest you wash and rinse your heatbed, to make sure that there are no fingerprints or grease, on the surface...
even saving £200.00 by building the printer yourself, it's still a fair chunk of cash, please think about how hard it will be to lubricate the linear bearings once the printer is assembled...  they are your bearings and smooth rods... You paid for them, if you don't want to Lubricate them that's your choice... I have 4 Prusa's I lubed them all from day1  and I never had problems... a 'Relatively' small number of people have issues that they cannot understand, caused by lack of lube...  

Prusa offer 24 hour Live Chat, support...  I think they are brilliant... Email support is slower... 

As I said, I have built four Prusa's, you could call that five, because my first was a Mk1, which I rebuilt to make the Mk2, (biggest upgrade in the prusa range. ) 

that printer is about five maybe six years old, and prusa have recently updated the firmware. so they have not abandoned their old users!

I hope these answers help you... 
regards Joan

I try to make safe suggestions,You should understand the context and ensure you are happy that they are safe before attempting to apply my suggestions, what you do, is YOUR responsibility. Location Halifax UK...
Posted : 13/05/2020 11:47 pm
bobstro
(@bobstro)
Illustrious Member

For me it came down to how much a days time was worth. I have no issue with electronic kits, but also don't particularly enjoy building 3D printers. I spent way too much time building my own PCs over the years. At the time, I had very little time at home, much less to troubleshoot. Paying the extra for a functioning printer I could get started with was worth it. Knowing I could call and get support made it an easy decision.

On the other hand, if you enjoy kits or are trying to be really frugal, doing a bit of up-front research (reading Joan's recommendations) should allow you to do a build quickly. The savings is attractive, and the kit well thought out.

Those are all personal considerations that only you can quantify. The one notion I do reject is any suggestion that you'll only be able to fix and fully understand the printer by building a kit. With a kit, you'll develop some of that knowledge before you get a first print. With a pre-built, you can learn each topic when and if needed. The manuals are just as good at repair time as they are at build time. 

Now that I've got experience based on my first printer (the Mk3), I'd have fewer reservations about a kit. I just would not have enjoyed the process as much starting out. I've also been apply to apply many of the same lessons to a totally different printer with no issues.

This post was modified 4 months ago by bobstro
My notes and disclaimers on 3D printing and miscellaneous other tech projects
He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two dimensional thinking. -- Spock in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan...
Posted : 14/05/2020 2:20 am
rasmusdc
(@rasmusdc)
Active Member

i assembled mine, and must admit, even though taking much time to ensure it was done perfectly, aligning all rails, using so much time, i stand back with noise issues, where it seems to be normal, compared to all online videos, even with "prusa assembled" printers. 

but too much compared to my CR10S pro, and it would have been nice just to be able to throw it back at prusa, instead of having taken the responsibility for it myself.

To be honest, it for me is one of the most fragile constructions i have ever worked with, at that price, more should be either moulded, or in metal, i get it, the whole "print your own printer" mindset.. but the tolerances is ALL over the place, things seem brittle, most fixing is done with nut and bolt, so yes it is metal on metal with plastic inbetween.

the whole "smooth rod" and rolling bearings seems to not be the best solution, or the bearings are just of a really poor quality... 

mines done 4 prints since assembled yesterday, although all the "dissapointments" i has done all 4 perfectly, and perfect bed levelling, so the mechanics of printing seems nice..

Posted : 14/05/2020 7:32 am
Rob99
(@rob99)
Active Member

@joantabb

Thanks Joan for a really detailed response, lots for me to think about there. I don’t think I’d have any problems assembling the printer but will take a look at the online assembly guide before I make a final decision which way to jump.

Thanks also for the various tips, I’m sure they’ll prove valuable in the coming weeks and months as I get into 3D printing.

 

@bobstro

That’s a good point about what my time is worth. I work freelance so it’s very relevant to me and will be a factor in my decision.

I do enjoy assembling kits and working on complex things and that’s one of the elements that attracted me to the kit, as well as the lower price. On the downside of course is the potential warranty argument if it doesn’t work as it should because I’ve assembled it myself.

 

@rasmusdc

In spite of your less than positive experience with the kit it’s good to hear that your first prints are actually good.

 

 

Food for thought…….

Posted : 14/05/2020 6:09 pm
jiral
(@jiral)
Trusted Member

Building the kit requires no electrical engineering skills whatsoever, merely involves a decent amount of cable management and clicking the right plugs into the right slots. The manual is super detailed and if you stick to not only the pictures but also the text you can barely do something wrong.

Reading the comments in the online manual is a good thing, for some critical steps, just have a look at which steps the numbers of comments explode. That's a good hint for where to look out, however don't feel intimiated, in many cases I did not need to read through all the comments. Just make sure you prepare the 3D printed parts according to the separate manual you can find somewhere in the manual page from Prusa3d.com. Be careful regarding the frame assembly and not bending it. Use the mentioned tricks regarding inserting stuff and screwing etc.

I went for the kit, not only because I wanted to save the money (just to reinvest it straight away into the MMU) but also because I do enjoy kits and because I wanted to get a better understanding of how the printer actually works. This knowledge helps you also later when being confronted with technical issues.

If you do not enjoy kits, if you know your way around 3D printers already or if you just want a printer out of the box printing experience, invest a bit more in the completed printer.  Regarding precesion and quality of home assembling the printer I was worried as well but that proved entirely unfounded. I am fairly happy with printing quality of my self assembled printer.

 

 

This post was modified 4 months ago by jiral
Posted : 14/05/2020 8:20 pm
rasmusdc
(@rasmusdc)
Active Member

correct Jiral it does not demand skill in these areas but it does demand patience, and "soft hands" you need to take your time.

you need to be really calm, and really ensure that things fit.. i actually took a 3 mm drill into my set of "tools" simply to ensure that the M3 bolts did not cut it´s own thread into the plastic parts, because when it did that, you will have issues capturing the thread on the metal nuts, and you will end up stripping nuts. (not a drill a rival (don´t know the english word, it is a tool for creating H7 fitment holes)..

the main problem here, is that slight deviation of the size on the plastic parts, some are really loose some are tight..

by assembling it your self, you get this knowledge on how everything works, that gives you an edge when you go the next step of wanting to improve design, and there are MANY things you can improve.

* liniar rails

* all the bearings (There are so many better ones on the marked)

* the cooling.. i am actually not that impressed by it, but Way better than my creality when it was stock.

my criticism is by far, maybe the REPRAP part of it, print your own printer, although i really LOVE that you can just print the S upgrade for your non S, and the value of this.. printed parts in plastic are just not "mass production quality" i am also quite sure that Prusa with the amount they make would have a LOT of value in actually buying a par of cheaper moulding machines for some of the elemens.

i would make the plastic parts for the smooth rails in aluminium not plastic, and make a more safe mounting than the "strips" used.. and also improve the whole extruder carrier.. i am playing a bit with getting it milled on our 5 axis, or maybe 3d printed on our metal printers, then finished by the 5 axis, just to see how much better it could be made, because the foundation seems to be working..

the pinda probe is just SO much better than what i have on the CR10s-pro been so used to just having to manually adjust z height.. but you will have some resonance in the printbed, the "printboard" that it is made on, standing on 9 metal stands, just don´t seem like the best solution.. and the way the lcd screen is set in the plastic mount, is also something that will wobble when you have resonance...

but again, you can take that as a positive that you learn all that from building it your self, or as a negative if you don´t want to improve on the design, and you have to live with it.

Posted : 15/05/2020 7:57 am
jiral liked
towlerg
(@towlerg)
Honorable Member

@rasmusdc

".. printed parts in plastic are just not "mass production quality" " FWIW personally I've always found manufactures claims that they injection mounded their parts, to be a sign of lack of confidence in the process/their printers.

"i am also quite sure that Prusa with the amount they make would have a LOT of value in actually buying a par of cheaper moulding machines for some of the elemens." The huge advantage of a scaled test bed for their printers vastly outweighs any tiny putative cost saving. Coupled with the fact a design change costs essentially nothing in either time or money where parts are printfarmed but the same cannot be said for injection mouldsing.

This post was modified 4 months ago by towlerg
Posted : 15/05/2020 2:30 pm
Rob99
(@rob99)
Active Member

Thanks all for the very useful debate.

 

My preference would normally be to buy the kit as I enjoy putting stuff together and it would probably satisfy my OCD side more, knowing it has been put together as I wanted it. If I were retired (almost, but not quite) it would be a no-brainer for me as I'd have plenty of time to put it together properly.

 

However, as I'm still working that's less clear cut as I have considerably less time, so I'd appreciate some advice on how many hours does it take to assemble, assuming no problems, and what about the warranty? Presumably individual parts must be covered but no guarantee on the assembled printer working as it should.

 

Thanks

 

Posted : 15/05/2020 5:09 pm
jiral
(@jiral)
Trusted Member

I can only speak about myself. I managed to build it within one weekend from Friday evening till sunday, including calibrations and first  benchy print. I have read that others were substantially faster but I would advise against stressing yourself. I think rushing things is not advisable, one should do it at ones own speed.

That said, I think it is no problem to build the thing in portions (individual steps can be done in one or at the outmose a few hours), if so, it would be advisable to have a room where you can leave your endeavor as it is. If you have to pack the stuff away in between and pull it out from somewhere when you continue that is rather bothersome I would assume.

Warranty is like you said I think. In any case the good thing is that you can buy every part as replacement if need be or you just want to. The individual pieces are not that cheap but ok I would say.

Posted : 15/05/2020 6:02 pm
rasmusdc
(@rasmusdc)
Active Member

@towlerg

i get the mindset of "showing the quality of your printer" however i am at the mindset, of creating the best quality you can within the budget, so if you have the "numbers" of sales that can make injection moulding cheaper, and it IS of better quality, why not use it where it is usable, there are parts where the geometry does not support moulding, either designs could be changed, or these could be kept as they are..

because if i had to rate the printer based on the quality of the printed parts i am getting, then my evaluation is that the tolerances are all over the place.

also to look at his factory, and the 100´s of printers just running full time printing, then look at the running cost and power consumption, then this is not a "green" mindset. a electric moulding machine, would be MUCH cheaper to run energy wise. 

i love the concept, and to be honest, and it also triggers me to better this printer. but as the product as "it comes" could just be better, and cheaper.. but okay having done DFM for development for years in the past, searching for cost savings, and high quality solutions, with mass production, i am as a person damaged by that mindset. 

Robustness, low variance, is just something i am trained to search for, and also just quality feel in a product... and having worked in high quality aluminium production, and later Carbon / steel and now Plastics, and at companies that never produced for "cost" but for quality (at the right cost) i know that i am a bit to picky.

This post was modified 4 months ago by rasmusdc
Posted : 15/05/2020 9:52 pm
Rob99
(@rob99)
Active Member

@rasmusdc

It does seem to me that you're not happy with the quality of the printer parts so I wonder why you bought one.

Posted : 15/05/2020 10:54 pm
bobstro
(@bobstro)
Illustrious Member

I recently acquired a 2nd printer, an Artillery Sidewinder X1. The major covers and shroud are injection molded. If something breaks or needs to be modified, there's no place to readily get a replacement. If I'm lucky, somebody else has dedicated their time to produce a 3d printable design. If I bought a version that has been superceded (my X1 is R4), parts can be hard to find. I'm now into my 3rd week of waiting for a warranty replacement part promised in a priority basis.

The ability to update older Prusas thanks the the release of printed parts designs as source files is a major advantage to Prusa's approach IMO. I can keep up with design iterations as I see fit and not be at the mercy of availability of injection molded parts of the needed revision. As for precision, I can produce parts with 0.15mm tolerances on my Mk3, which is more than sufficient for my needs. 

Plus I can fully customize my Mk3 in some hideous color scheme if I see fit, or print everything out of polycarbonate. 

My notes and disclaimers on 3D printing and miscellaneous other tech projects
He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two dimensional thinking. -- Spock in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan...
Posted : 16/05/2020 2:48 am
jiral
(@jiral)
Trusted Member

3D printed parts are indeed inferior to injected molded ones. Maybe for some (more) critical components injection molding would make sense. Where lowest tolerances are not of outmost and good enough tolerances perfectly suffice the advantages of 3D printed parts outweigh in my opinion.

I think the Mk3s works perfectly fine for its price range. The print quality is quite decent for an affordable home printer. Yes, one can get similar quality, especially with some upgrading for a considerably lower price tag as well but with Prusa the quality is like that out of the box (no matter if kit or readily assembled printer).

The advantages of 3D printed parts are based in product flexibility and perfect downwards compatibility. Prusa can react extremely fast to changes in design and is not stuck with expensive injection molds of outdated designs. In that reagard, if Prusa engaged towards injection molding, only very standardised parts which won't see the need for change and are modular enough for future designs should be done.

Also replacement parts management is much more flexible. They can basically very easily produce on demand, any part every designed, also in relatively small quantities without causing unproportionate costs. That also can keep needed storage space in check. On the other side the customer profits from the ability of producing spare parts oneself (in advance or with a 2nd printer, or not completely critical parts even with the very affected printer) or easy replacement services by Prusa, also for old designs.

Last but not least, tinkering with printer design is made very easy that way and for many this is part of the fascination with 3D printing as far as I understand it. Prusa has a brand and that is integral part of the brand, what some people also expect to get. For another strategy of the best tolerances, at the cost of modability and easier replacement of damaged parts, one should maybe look somewhere else and possibly also be ready to invest substantially more than for an Original Prusa printer, as an injection molded printer should be well designed right out of the box, otherwise what's the point of the injection molding.

 

 

This post was modified 4 months ago 3 times by jiral
Posted : 16/05/2020 11:22 am
towlerg
(@towlerg)
Honorable Member

@rasmusdc

"i get the mindset of "showing the quality of your printer". I didn't say anything about that. My point is that people who make and sell 3d printers but don't use 3d printed parts either do not trust the technology or their printers. 

"however i am at the mindset, of creating the best quality you can within the budget, so if you have the "numbers" of sales that can make injection moulding cheaper, and it IS of better quality," That rather depends upon the quality of the process, we've also seen appalling injection moulded parts. If the original parts for the mini had been injection moulded, how much money and lead time would have been wasted?

"why not use it where it is usable, there are parts where the geometry does not support moulding, either designs could be changed, or these could be kept as they are.." As previously stated the value of test facility provided by a print farm is perhaps immeasurable.

I didn't mention that if you use moulded parts, Prusa printers would no longer be open source.

Posted : 16/05/2020 12:43 pm
towlerg
(@towlerg)
Honorable Member

@bobstro

Hi we posted a while ago re. alternatives to Prusa. My pro against Prusa were Mini, delivery (will I even live that long) or Mk3s a lot of money for a kit. I looked at Artillery Genius but it had pretty bad reviews, just when I settled on Sovol  SV01 it went out of stock. Any thoughts about the Sidewinder?

Posted : 16/05/2020 2:16 pm
rasmusdc
(@rasmusdc)
Active Member

@rob99

i´m fine with the quality of printed parts, i´m just stating that you at cheaper cost could improve the design of the printer.

so it would print better..

i´m not complaining about the product it makes, i´m just picking a bit at the printer design. i love the things i can get from the printers, but the prusa is not a "value" add to the marked anymore, compared to what you can by an Ender 5 or 3 for or other printers, yes it is budget compared to an ultimaker, which is just insanly priced, and i really don´t get why we have so many of them in our company..

so your statement would be, that you should just make a product "half assed" because it delivers printed products? i would love for prusa to be a part of the printer scene for a long time, instead of the chinese taking over that scene, to keep some european development, but that also means that they need to "move" quality wise. 

moving to more tolerance driven products, at lower cost might be a way forward, sheet metal, moulded plastics, aluminium might be a good area to go though, to make it better, and done right it is cheaper..

i don´t mean to be extremely critical, but i would still like the reserve the right to actually discuss the product i have bought.

Posted : 17/05/2020 8:39 am
rasmusdc
(@rasmusdc)
Active Member

@towlerg

the sidewinder had good comments on the way, and you do get the direct drive, which i see as great value..

it seems the most critical part of the sidewinder is the cable management, the flat cables, just don´t hold up that well. 

Posted : 17/05/2020 8:40 am
jiral
(@jiral)
Trusted Member
Posted by: @rasmusdc

so your statement would be, that you should just make a product "half assed" because it delivers printed products? i would love for prusa to be a part of the printer scene for a long time, instead of the chinese taking over that scene, to keep some european development, but that also means that they need to "move" quality wise. 

moving to more tolerance driven products, at lower cost might be a way forward, sheet metal, moulded plastics, aluminium might be a good area to go though, to make it better, and done right it is cheaper..

i don´t mean to be extremely critical, but i would still like the reserve the right to actually discuss the product i have bought.

I think the point here is that this is a legit move but it comes at a cost that goes beyond just some ideological reprap question. The more non-standardised injection molded parts you have, the more you sacrifice design and development agility and the more expensive it will become to uphold the current backwardscompatible replacement parts service. It will also complicate logistics tremendously and if production were not be based in Prague or even Europe, this could even turn into a full blown nightmare if Prusa tried to stay agile nonetheless.

If you figure out an improvement to a design, you'd waste a ton of money if you discarded a mold before it produced a ton of pieces. Now, at some point this might become less of an issue, as the overall technology matures and improvements become generally very incremental. Maybe we are reaching this point, I am not expert enough to judge that. Nonetheless it will change what the brand stands for and also impact repairability and modability for customers themselves.

Maybe at some point the only road to improvement will be based on introducing more of these parts in the printer design. In that case they should be as modular as possible and the best thing would be to rely on standardised elements which are easy to source, as much as possible. Parts where precession is not critical (like the Display or electronics housing) I think 3D printed parts should remain even then.

Posted : 17/05/2020 10:08 am
towlerg
(@towlerg)
Honorable Member

@rasmusdc

"i´m fine with the quality of printed parts, i´m just stating that you at cheaper cost could improve the design of the printer.

so it would print better.." if you're happy with the quality of printed parts, how would injection moulded parts "print better".

"i´m not complaining about the product it makes, i´m just picking a bit at the printer design. i love the things i can get from the printers, but the prusa is not a "value" add to the marked anymore, compared to what you can by an Ender 5 or 3 for or other printers, " I don't even know what this means.

"so your statement would be, that you should just make a product "half assed" because it delivers printed products? i would love for prusa to be a part of the printer scene for a long time, instead of the chinese taking over that scene, to keep some european development, but that also means that they need to "move" quality wise. " If your going to put words into my mouth, I'll send you my password and you can post you're own replies. A 3d printer is not a consumer product in the way a toaster oven is, if you're happy with printed parts, how does injection moulding help apart from appearances? I wonder how many printers Ender use to test?

"moving to more tolerance driven products, at lower cost might be a way forward, sheet metal, moulded plastics, aluminium might be a good area to go though, to make it better, and done right it is cheaper.."

Having said that you are "happy" with printed parts this seems a particularly odd statement. BTW compare tolerances of sheet metal work to printed parts.

"i don´t mean to be extremely critical, but i would still like the reserve the right to actually discuss the product i have bought." I totally defend your right to be as critical as you like and to discuss the product you've bought just as I reserve the right to reply.

 

Posted : 17/05/2020 12:33 pm
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