A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)
 
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SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

I wanted to cut through the hype regarding Bambu Labs and get to some "facts", especially with the new Bambu A1 (Mini) and the Prusa Input Shaper software now being released.

So I took a relatively complex (150 x 150 x 100) technical model and sliced it for all of the mainstream models, also with layer heights of 0.15 through 0.35 and also comparing 0.4 and 0.6 nozzles.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The "Executive Summary" is that with Input Shaping, the Prusa models are relatively competitive against the Bambu products. Bambu is generally (but not always) a little faster than Prusa. Bambu is much faster at smaller layer heights (0.15) and Prusa is faster at higher layer heights (0.35).

It's also noteworthy that when you compare across all layer heights and models, switching to a 0.6mm nozzle yields surprisingly modest reductions in printing time, averaging only about 7%. This was a great surprise to me. There are even a few cases where the 0.4 prints faster than the 0.6, which I cannot explain (is the slicer mis-calculating?)

Layer height is roughly proportional. Compared to a "standard" later height of 0.25, here is the print time difference: (again, broadly across all models and all nozzles):

  • 0.15 Layer: 167%
  • 0.20 Layer: 123%
  • 0.25 Layer: 100%
  • 0.35 Layer: 68% (roughly a ⅓ reduction in printing time.)

It is clear that Input Shaping is the salvation of Prusa as it keeps them in the game. There is a reason that Bambu promotes smaller layer heights (such as 0.15) because that is where the difference is greatest between them and Prusa. (Bambu's management is clearly very smart, arguably more-so than Prusa's.)

For those imagining that switching to a Bambu printer will slash printing times by 4x, sadly, this isn't going to happen when compared against Prusa's Input Shaping enhancements now rolling out.

Here are the actual numbers for the same model, according to the slicer forecasted printing times: (Percentages are comparing the Bambu configuration to a comparable configuration of the Prusa Mk4)

So where is the Bambu strategy likely to head against Prusa?

  • The new entry machine, the A1, is clearly designed to bring first-time customers into the Bambu fold. It is a gateway machine, and by capturing first-time customers they will naturally upgrade to Bambu's larger machines. This is probably why they introduced the A1 in advance of their upcoming "XL".
  • Bambu has a super cost effective and convenient filament switcher. This was a strategically wise move since the MMU2 was an unreliable, horrible, miserable device that developed a poor reputation. Whether the MMU3 can overcome this is dubious, because of price and reputation.
  • Bambu software and hardware seems to be well tested, and this will lead to a good reputation. Prusa has had an excellent reputation, but in the past year or two there has been a "reality distortion field" in Prusa Management. Prusa's new software and products are buggy, 80% feature complete, and they have lost credibility by announcing the XL two years before being available, and some of the Mini's features were years late in being delivered. Prusa seem to have fallen victim to not reasonably delivering what they have announced (late, buggy, feature incomplete, and under-performing) while Bambu has (so far) delivered precisely what they have touted.
  • Bambu's senior management is all from DJI (the drone people) and so they have experience in manufacturing at volume, producing superb products, delivering value, and they have access to Chinese manufacturing supply lines. In contrast, Prusa has a "Not Invented Here" (NIH) syndrome in its management and so they tinker and do somewhat hair-brained seeming things like trying to manufacture their own printed circuit boards, rather than doing what Apple and Bambu and the whole tech industry does by farming PCB manufacturing out to people who are truly skilled at it.

STRATEGY SUMMARY

  1. Bambu has a sophisticated, experienced management team that is very intelligent.
  2. Bambu is a spin-off of DJI, and they have consumer-product manufacturing experience.
  3. Bambu fully understands where their products excel over Prusa and that is the messaging that they are delivering.
  4. Bambu products are somewhat better than Prusa's, but it isn't the 4x better that they have been able to spin.
  5. Bambu delivered what they promise. They are clearly prioritizing building their credibility, realizing that Prusa has undermined their reputation somewhat.
  6. Bambu will deliver an XL printer. Reliable sources have confirmed this. This means they will align perfectly with Prusa's product mix.
  7. Bambu has established local presence in many countries while Prusa remains a foreign company and customers must struggle with customs, duties, and language.

PRUSA CHALLENGE

  • Regain credibility. Stop over-selling stuff. Deliver on time (like they did with the Mk4.)
  • Tweak their product line to be competitive with Bambu. This may mean improvements and (minor) price adjustments.
  • Start delivering 100%. The mindset where it is acceptable for software to be perpetually 80% complete or in "beta" must change.
  • Improve product messaging. Bambu is very sophisticated in their messaging while Prusa is geeky and often off-point.
  • Start innovating again. To be honest, Prusa has been very very slow at innovation. Bambu clearly recognized this.
  • Analyze the whole Prusa XL fiasco as it perfectly illustrates the problems that are endemic within Prusa.

So that's my opinion of the Prusa/Bambu situation.

 

 

 

Posted : 23/10/2023 10:15 pm
Fikcja, menka, ronnie12342003 and 3 people liked
TJH
 TJH
(@tjh)
Trusted Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

Interesting info. I assume that the slicer times are based on what the slicers indicate, not on tests? Which slicers were used? 

 

Posted : 24/10/2023 12:37 am
Crab
 Crab
(@crab)
Reputable Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

There is obviously quite a cultural and philosophic difference in the two companies when it comes to what are the important functions of a 3D printer, and what skillsets do they need in their designers.. Bambulabs has shown the power of electronic engineering and engineering processes and I think Prusa has shown the power of sheer experience, iteration and tuning (from their perfection of the I3 design). Prusa will be living with its networking electronics & firmware issues for several years and it will be interesting if they show a cultural shift in their design team moving forward... 

Posted : 24/10/2023 12:38 am
Kalimero liked
Netpackrat
(@netpackrat)
Reputable Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

Just looking at speeds only tells part of the story when comparing the minis.  According to what I have seen, the Bambu A1's bed will only reach 80C, which is barely hot enough to print PETG.  The Prusa Mini can print ABS, PC, nylon, etc.

Posted : 24/10/2023 1:45 am
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE:

The Prusa Mini can print ABS, PC, nylon

There will always be niches where an otherwise non-competative product will have application.

It’s debatable whether any open frame printer can or should be printing exotic plastics. Aside from warping there is the issue of VOCs and air quality.

Prusa products aren’t bad (possibly excepting the XL), and with the input shaper they remain viable. But for most people in most applications, Prusa is dated and probably a good but not the best choice.

 

Posted : 24/10/2023 2:08 am
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
Member
RE:

 

Posted by: @seattledavid

The Prusa Mini can print ABS, PC, nylon

There will always be niches where an otherwise non-competative product will have application.

It’s debatable whether any open frame printer can or should be printing exotic plastics. Aside from warping there is the issue of VOCs and air quality.

Prusa products aren’t bad (possibly excepting the XL), and with the input shaper they remain viable. But for most people in most applications, Prusa is dated and probably a good but not the best choice.

 

Not sure the XL is a bad product.  My two-head semi-assembled works fine.  I have no idea why people are having problems.  I have two colleagues who live nearby whom I have helped build their printers, and their printers work well also.  There is a slight variability in the print quality, but none is a show-stopper.

I do own two Bambus, and I like them.  They are decent printers.   I often use them to print test prints.  

This post was modified 4 months ago by cwbullet

--------------------
Chuck H
3D Printer Review Blog

Posted : 24/10/2023 3:22 am
Netpackrat
(@netpackrat)
Reputable Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

I see that as a core capability rather than a niche, but 99.99% of what I print is functional parts.  ABS, Nylon, and Polycarbonate are not exotic; they are some of the most common plastics in use today.  Throw your Prusa in an enclosure and it's no longer an open printer...  I use a Wham Bam hotbox when I need to enclose my Mk3S+ and it works great, and folds up and stows out of the way when I don't need it.  No reason it couldn't be used with a filter or fume extractor.

If you just want to print trinkets, then yeah the A1 sounds like a great choice for a smaller unit that can do that.

Posted by: @seattledavid

The Prusa Mini can print ABS, PC, nylon

There will always be niches where an otherwise non-competative product will have application.

It’s debatable whether any open frame printer can or should be printing exotic plastics. Aside from warping there is the issue of VOCs and air quality.

Prusa products aren’t bad (possibly excepting the XL), and with the input shaper they remain viable. But for most people in most applications, Prusa is dated and probably a good but not the best choice.

 

 

Posted : 24/10/2023 5:55 am
ChrisPete
(@chrispete)
Active Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

Does anyone remember a #1 company named Nokia selling 430M cellphones each year that were solid enough to take 30 minutes in a dry tumbler?  And on comes a Cupertino-based company that is fine with their phone screens cracking at the first drop because they redefined the game to usability and functionality through the internet and apps.

Complacency is a company's worst enemy. The Bambu Lab team comes from a volume production tech background (DJI drones) and is pushing a much-needed industry shakeup. I hope Prusa will snap out of it and deliver competitive, robust, seamless connectivity products on time. Even with the input shaper for Mini, we can crank out *twice as many* prototypes in a day on the Bambu Lab P1S, so at 750Euro, P1S is a real no-brainer.

Happy owner of 5 Prusa Mini+, and now also a Bambu Lab P1S.

Posted : 24/10/2023 7:44 am
Thejiral
(@thejiral)
Noble Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

Interesting analysis, I mostly agree but one point I'd like to challenge. I know that Bambulab has a large CoreXY printer in the pipeline, but the XL is a tool changer, not just a large printer. That is its USP. I have not heard any rumours about Bambulab planning a tool changer as well. Does anyone know more?

As long as Bambulab is not developing a tool changer it is not going for an XL alternative. 

Mk3s MMU2s, Voron 0.1, Voron 2.4

Posted : 24/10/2023 11:39 am
Thejiral
(@thejiral)
Noble Member
RE:

Fun fact. Nokia is alive and well. While its size has slightly consolidated (but not by that much) it is a highly competitive and well positioned company nowadays. It isn't in the market of selling consumer phones anymore but very few non-Chinese companies still are. Apple (basically a Made in China designed in the US phone as well) and Samsung (the only large player with larger produciton base outside of China?) are increasingly the last ones standing. 

Indeed while Nokia missed the transition to modern Smartphones (or at leat competitive modern Smartphones with the necessary software ecosystem), it played the exit from the consumer phone market masterfully. Bascially they sold the whole segment to Microsoft at a still considerable price point. So they left the frontal crash to Microsoft. A giant which just wrote it off without blinking an eye. 

PS: One can still buy Nokia phones. And even though they are nowadays Made in China like iPhones and more at home at entry to mid-level, they are still featuring the old Nokia qualities to some extend, ie good assembly, sturdiness, longevity. Cameras are a bit mediocre though. The company behind those phones does have some connection points to Nokia and is also headquartered somewhere next to a Nokia campus in Helsinki if I am not mistaken. 

This post was modified 4 months ago by Thejiral

Mk3s MMU2s, Voron 0.1, Voron 2.4

Posted : 24/10/2023 11:51 am
GuyH
 GuyH
(@guyh)
Reputable Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

The speed difference anomaly between 0.6 and 0.4 is likely down to max flow rate. The larger orifice means you need to melt more plastic and when hitting the limits of the hot end you have to slow the print down to suit. 

Posted : 24/10/2023 12:13 pm
ChrisPete
(@chrispete)
Active Member
RE:

They (Nokia) are a shadow of who they were once, and the whole situation was one hot mess in a dumpster fire in a train wreck, I really don't believe there was any masterful exit other than a firesale. Anywho, my point was complacency and thinking you are untouchable.  Peace!

This post was modified 4 months ago by ChrisPete
Posted : 24/10/2023 12:14 pm
Asus1357
(@asus1357)
Trusted Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

I have not received my 5 head as of yet (but soon :))
Though I have noticed something that in my mind is missing from thee topic details mentioned above. The details are nice collaboration of data but seem to lack an entire section of specs/time for a full comparison. No mention of the tool changer pros / cons for the XL  compared to the Bambu (with AMS). Throw even some material changes and the Bambu falls behind. Yes, I get it, if it is printing one material and one colour there is a section where the Bambu really shines. Add to that a large print (one the Bambu can't accommodate would not be far so keep it within the Bambu's limited plate size) and the Bambu falls even further behind. The Bambu is a bad printer though a full / complete comparison is  more informative of course depending on use and requirement. Speed is nice though there are limits before it affects print strength. I do not dispute the XL roll out was far from smooth and the entire XL MK4 development/promises and QA as well as support has not by any means been as good as it was prior.
It is all about what wants and needs the printer to do.
Just wished Prusa would have done it faster and a lot smoother (and complete)
In the long run I think what I am saying is it all depends on what one needs or requires the printer to accomplish.
Not looking for a verbal smack down just my opinion.

Posted : 24/10/2023 12:46 pm
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

All are good thoughts above.

I think the question is whether Prusa will become a niche company, relegated to serving the less mainstream demands. Or even if Prusa is viable in the long term. The Nokia analogy is an interesting one because they exited the mainstream consumer market but pivoted nicely.

My guess is that the answer is whether Prusa can regain its credibility and start delivering products that are 100% feature complete. Taking two years to deliver a shoddy product that isn’t feature complete is not a survivable corporate lifestyle.

Bambu labs is well positioned to sit on top of at least half of Prusa’s market. And this happened because Prusa has been slow to innovate, has sold vaporware and undermined its credibility, and everything is “Alpha” or “Beta” and buggy and feature deficient. It will take a realignment in company philosophy to not continue to be pushed around by Bambu.

From what I understand and from what people are saying here, Bambu has a great product offering that Prusa has left exposed by their lethargy.

Posted : 24/10/2023 3:33 pm
_KaszpiR_
(@_kaszpir_)
Reputable Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

I believe current 3D print cake is so big that each company can choose their own specific goals and do whatever they like to pursue them, and what is profitable for them.

Sometimes getting major part of the cake is not always the goal because you need to be able to swallow it. Some prefer to choose only specific chunks from it.

I just wish recent changes on certain Prusa products had better quality control, but systems (I don't say just printers) are usually much more complex and not that easy that they seems to be that it is easy to hit some bumps on the road. I'm sure they are aware of it and do a lot to improve it, it may look slow but sometimes things just take time.

See my GitHub and printables.com for some 3d stuff that you may like.

Posted : 24/10/2023 11:17 pm
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

I believe current 3D print cake is so big that each company can choose their own specific goals and do whatever they like to pursue them, and what is profitable for them.

Sometimes getting major part of the cake is not always the goal because you need to be able to swallow it. Some prefer to choose only specific chunks from it.

What you have said is generic and applies to every business in every market everywhere.

There will certainly be a niche market for Prusa.

Yesterday, Prusa set the bar. Today it may be Bambu. Bambu really seems to have executed well.

If Prusa can stop overselling, and can actually make things feature complete, and can deliver products that aren’t as terrible as the XL then I think Prusa will be fine.

Posted : 25/10/2023 12:57 am
Real 3D Prints
(@real-3d-prints)
Active Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

There are some serious nuances and I would argue that Prusa beats Bambu even without input shaping, particularly with multicolor, due to the infamous poop chute approach. Prusa marketing is NOT clearly stating their filament cost advantage. Even if Bambu is 10-15% faster, the filament waste is 50% more with a bambu. Here are some slicer results using Prusaslicer and Bambu studio with the same three color model that I made, a panda bear which you can see here. The plate has six pandas on it with a .25 layer height at 15% infill and 39.29mm tall. The model is here if you want to confirm. https://www.printables.com/model/558983-panda-bear-mmu

Keep in mind these measurements are with the MK3S+ and MMU3. I can't model the MK4 +MMU3 as I don't see that in Prusaslicer yet, but I have used input shaping in single color on my MK4 and obviously these times will only go up once I get the MMU3 for the MK4 (please get that to my I ordered it July!!), and probably will beat all the Bambu labs printers. Also this is only a THREE color print. As we add more colors, up to five even (which Bambu cant really do without adding another AMS, and mini cant do at all) we increase our Prusa advantage. I cant believe Prusa, with all the Multicolor for everyone garbage printing hype that Bambu is shoving out, hasn't published a comparative study with a plate of six or so models at 3, 4, and five colors.  I keep my multicolor models small and prints lots at once which negates the tool change penalties, but the filament advantage would be even more pronounced with a 4 color intensive color change model of a single print. I chose a realistic comparison of only three colors which gives Bambu the advantage and Prusa still comes out ahead once you consider the filament cost deficit vs the minor print time improvement.

MK3S+ with MMU3: 9hr 31 minutes , 109g filament

A1 Mini: 9hr 7 minutes, 155g filament

X1C: 8hr 42 min, 157g

Posted : 25/10/2023 1:54 am
menka liked
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

I cant believe Prusa, with all the Multicolor for everyone garbage printing hype that Bambu is shoving out, hasn't published a comparative study with a plate of six or so models at 3, 4, and five colors.

Doing this would be problematic. Bambu could respond by demonstrating their numbers for 6 or even 16 colors…something impossible for Prusa.

There are—and always will be—datapoints where Prusa is superior. In my opening post if you look at the green cells in the spreadsheet there are conditions where Prusa is faster than Bambu.

The issue is larger than cherry picking datapoints. It is one of market leadership, and defining what the market is. Prusa has been the standard benchmark for years. This makes them the defacto leader. But Bambu has done a superb job of carving out the mainstream while delivering (apparently) quality products. Their reputation is good, and they are the go-to for those who are not Prusa fanboys.

Prusa will survive, of course. But will they be a market leader or a niche-play?

Radio Shack and the TRS-80 comes to mind. Radio Shack was the first to produce a mass market high-function computer that was modular and economical and that worked.

Move forward to today and Radio Shack lost market share because they became a geeky niche product that catered to fanboys and techies.

The consumer friendly machines by IBM and Apple took over because they just worked, accomplished their job better and with less hassle, and anybody could use them.

Bambu vs Prusa is like Apple vs Radio Shack.

Posted : 25/10/2023 2:36 am
Real 3D Prints
(@real-3d-prints)
Active Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

OK then four colors - that is not cherry picking datapoints, since Bambu ships that by default.  Prusa should put out a benchmark on that since that is what Bambu themselves have selected to ship. I even gave Bambu the advantage even with only three colors and Prusa still won with their 2 year old tech. This is not just a tech battle but a perception/marketing one.

Posted : 25/10/2023 2:58 am
_KaszpiR_ liked
Real 3D Prints
(@real-3d-prints)
Active Member
RE: A strategic view of Bambu & Prusa (including benchmarks of all flagship models)

Replying with some data for a four color example with a larger model. We have similar stats where bambu is slightly faster but wastes so much filament the advantage is more than lost in my opinion. I am sure Prusa is waiting until the MMu3/MK4 is out so input shaping can easily move this towards their favor even more.

https://www.printables.com/model/513325-cute-dino-mmu

93.2mm tall, 3x on plate4 color, .2 layer height, 15% infill

MK3S+ / MMU3 - 31 hours 19 min, 287g filament

A1 mini - 28 hours 45 min, 416g filament

X1C - 27 hours 33m, 420g filament

Posted : 25/10/2023 3:37 am
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