I’m not much of a builder to be honest. I don’t have much experience building anything practical. Since getting into 3D printers, I’ve been curious about how 3D printers are made.
I figured this was a perfect time to do some research on some DIY printers. One of the most popular 3D printer kits is the Reprap Prusa I3.
Doing my research, I found some interesting things I think you’ll like. Here is my Reprap Prusa I3 review for those curious builders.
Table of Contents
Things to Consider Before Buying A Product
Building things with your own mind is fulfilling. It takes creativity, problem solving, and persistence to create something of value. The most fulfilling part for me is that I can build something that’s valuable to others.
Being able to build my own 3D printer will satiate some of my curiosity. It’ll also give me confidence in building other products in the future.
Hobbyists or technologists will appreciate this DIY 3D printer. Someone who wants to get printing right away shouldn’t buy this printer. They should get a printer that is plug and play. For those who have interest in 3D do-it-yourself printer kits, there are questions you need to ask yourself.
Why Are You Doing This?
Ask yourself why you want to build a 3D printer from “scratch”. If you believe the process will help you learn, and you think you’ll have fun doing it, why not?
The process is just as important as the goal. If you think you’re doing it for the right reasons, then go for it.
What Tools Do You Need?
Understanding what you need before building is critical. You don’t want to buy the project and realize you don’t have what you need to start.
Understanding what tools you need also lets you know how much this project will cost. You’re wasting money and time if you don’t have the tools.
Where Are You Going To Source Parts?
It’s important to know where you’re going to find parts. There are a lot of sources nowadays. There’s Ebay, Craigslist, and even China. Finding the parts shouldn’t be hard.
It does take some research though if the part isn’t common. This is the price of building something yourself though.
What Comes With The Reprap Prusa I3?
I say all of this to let you know that Reprap provides the parts and tools in the kit. It’s still important to know what you’ll need and where you’re going to get them though.
What if the kit is missing something? These questions will prepare you. Even if you assemble the whole thing, what if something needs a fix? If you know where to get parts, and what tools you’ll need, you shouldn’t have a difficult time fixing it.
Overview Of Reprap Prusa I3
The Reprap Prusa I3 is known as a DIY kit. You’re given the tools, parts, and instructions on how to assemble it.
Some DIY kits make it hard to assemble the products. Reprap makes sure you can get through it. The kit provides every part every 3D printer needs. Those parts include an extruder, nozzle, heat bed, and more.
There are advantages and disadvantages with each filament you use. But, some might cause clogging to your nozzle. The nozzle for those who don’t know is a component of a 3D printer which delivers the filament onto the printing bed.
The Prusa I3 came out after the Prusa Mendel. This model came in with different screw sizes like M5 threaded screws instead of M8. Smaller screws make the printer lighter making it easy to move around. Reprap’s focus was to make the design easy to assemble.
In terms of affordability, this printer is pretty affordable. It’s not the cheapest kit, but it’s definitely not the most expensive. A quick Google search will show you how expensive these 3D printer kits can get.
This printer is one of the best in the market. Reprap is known for self-replicating machines, but their printer kits need to get more recognition too.
- Heated bed
- Customer support
- User-friendly interface
- Printer gives level of difficulty
- Acrylic frame
- No auto-leveling
The design of the printer includes acrylic frames. Acrylic is cheap and lightweight. But, since it’s cheap, it isn’t the most durable. If you plan on buying this kit, I would highly recommend looking into what filament you’re going to get. You’ll see why later in this post.
To be honest, this 3D printer looks bare. When it’s fully assembled, you’ll have wires sticking out which is a concern for safety. Another thing for concern is the frame above the printing bed. It just looks clunky in my opinion. That part of the printer is usually thinner.
The dimensions of this printer are 8”x8”x7”. It’s not the biggest printer on the 3D printer kit market. But, it’s bigger than some delta printer’s dimensions.
You can only use 2 filaments for this printer, PLA and ABS. Some of the best printers I know use resin. The thing that sucks about resin is its odor. Plus, you need protection handling it.
You can still get quality prints with PLA and ABS though. In fact, PLA works the best because of how convenient it is. It cools quick and doesn’t stick to your printing bed as much.
The extruder can fill in 1.75mm of filament. Another feature of the extruder is it can only print one color for each print. But, nobody is really out here printing multi-color designs anyways. Even if this is a problem, you have the option to upgrade so it can print multiple colors.
The beautiful part since you made this is you know how to take parts out and put them back in when it’s time for an upgrade.
This printer bed comes with some heat, literally. What’s great about this bed is you can print PLA and ABS filament objects on this with ease. It comes with a default setup of 12V too.
One disadvantage is that this has an acrylic mounted plate. This can hurt a filament object’s figure as it reaches higher temperatures. Some issues that can happen are warping, and zits.
Another thing to consider is the software. Thankfully, you won’t have to do this yourself. But, it’s still important to make sure the software is solid. You want to make sure it’s not difficult to use.
The software for this printer is compatible with all mainstream operating systems. It contains a friendly interface making it easy to start printing. A cool feature is it lets you know how long a print will take.
I’m assuming since you’re willing to create a printer by yourself, you won’t find it intimidating to create prints. But, if that’s the case, you have difficult levels ranging from beginner to advanced to help with prints.
The catch with 3D printer kits is print quality. They can either be really good, or really bad. It all depends on the settings.
This printer has great precision and efficiency to create good prints. All you need is the right settings. Unlike other printers I’ve covered, this one can’t calibrate itself. For a beginner, knowing how to configure the settings makes or breaks how good a print looks.
If you’re confident you can work them, then work with this printer. It passes benchmark tests with great results.
A standout quality with the Reprap company is their customer support. They guarantee a 30-day full refund if you’re not satisfied with the product. The thing with that is, you probably won’t even have to return it within 30 days.
Their customer support is second to none. What makes them great is how much information they provide. Any specific question you have about their products can be answered by the support team.
Reviews I’ve seen on this printer are mostly positive. The people who weren’t the biggest fans were people complaining about how some things weren’t aligned, and how some parts that were part of the kit aren’t the best.
A lot of the complaints were mostly from people who seem like they aren’t into DIY projects. Complaining how long something takes to assemble is proof DIY isn’t something you have interest in.
Consumers who enjoy it love almost everything about it. They appreciate the cost, print quality, and how it’s open-source. If this printer were fully assembled out of the box, I truly believe it would be one of the most attractive printers on the market.
Alternative 3D Printer Kits
Creality Ender 3
- Heated bed
- Stronger frame
- Print quality
- No wireless printing
The Creality Ender is one of my favorite printers. I’m starting to become a fan of Creality. This is now the second review I’ve done on their products. The first was a CR-10S review. A big difference between this and the Prusa I3 is this comes out the box partially-assembled.
The lower base is the part that comes assembled out the box. It includes all the tools and parts to assemble the whole printer.
Other noticeable differences are the frame and power supply protection. With this printer, you get resume printing, and a heavier frame. The frame is more in line with the printing bed while the wires are not sticking out as much.
Definitely check this out if you’re looking for an alternative.
- Minimalist design
- Aluminum frame
- SD card might not be recognized by the printer
A lot of the printers I’ve reviewed look big. This one has a minimalist design, especially compared to the Prusa I3. But, this minimalist design still has a strong aluminum frame.
This printer is also one of the most affordable 3D printers ever. Its minimalist design gives the customer another advantage, it makes it easy to assemble. One thing I don’t like about it is its print quality. It doesn’t do well in the reviews I saw. The benchmark tests it was given left noticeable blemishes.
The quality you get at this price is still solid though. Just know you get what you pay for. I highly recommend taking a look at it if you’re in the market for another printer kit. Maybe you can fix it up until you get the prints to where you want it.
Anet A8 Plus
- Easy-to-use interface
- Print quality
This is another 3D printer kit that comes partially assembled. A good/bad thing is the most difficult parts are assembled. Depending on who you are, you might not want that because it weakens the challenge.
Other noticeable differences are the spool holder and interface. The spool holder is placed at the left of the printing bed, and the interface is placed in front of the printing bed.
Out of all the printer kits here, this one comes out as the most expensive, although it’s not priced too far ahead of the Prusa I3. The good thing is it comes with great print quality and design.
A Kit For DIY-ers
Builders who want to build a 3D printer from scratch will find the Reprap Prusa I3 a great fit. It’s not partly-assembled, and comes with great customer support.
Having customer support will ensure you get through the whole process. Rerap designed this kit with every part and tool in mind. You’ll definitely feel like your building by trying this kit out.