Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling
 
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SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

There has been a lot of discussion about Bambu and Prusa. The main discussion has been around these:

  1. Proprietary vs standard parts, Open Source vs Closed Source.
  2. Value: Price, Quality & Features
  3. Economic viability (long term)
  4. Made in China
  5. RFID Lock-Out of filament

BACKGROUND:

Let me start by stating that I have been a loyal Prusa customer for a great number of years. I've owned early versions of the Mk3 and MMU. I have two Mini+ and I had an XL5. I like Prusa and their products.

But I really had a bad experience with the Prusa XL5. After waiting two years my XL5 arrived and it had numerous problems and then died. The XL5 is a Rube Goldberg (See Rube Goldberg: complicated gadgets performing simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways). It's an incredibly complicated machine--inexplicably complicated. Then, as I looked back I realized that my MMU2 never really worked, and the Mini+ took years to get features like WiFi that were promised at the outset...and that even today WiFi is a painful experience on Prusa.

I started to see a pattern in recent years: Prusa over sells and under-delivers. They use the "Beta" and "Alpha" monikers as an excuse to justify poor quality and unfinished functionality...and they leave those monikers on for extended periods of time. It is as if Prusa is either a dullard with respect to R&D or else they are "brain constrained".

This is what prompted me to embark on the scary path of investigating Bambu Lab and their printer line. Before my XL5 experience I had zero interest in Bambu Lab. I am a skeptic of new companies, especially when they launch on Kickstarter.


THE BAMBU THREAT:

What I discovered was that Bambu is run like a normal company. Prusa is run like a hobbiest/hacker community. I remember this home-brew feeling from the 1970s and 1980s when PCs were new. The hackers came up with clever home-brew designs that worked OK but were full of limitations and surprises. Then, came Radio Shack and Apple with turnkey computers that were plastic, but also better and cheaper and stable. Once IBM arrived, the hacker mentality was nothing more than a niche.

In carefully looking at the Bambu community what I see is fundamentally different from Prusa. Their products are consumer friendly. The emphasis is on aesthetics, a beautiful user experience, simplicity, reliability, and producing 3D printed articles of exceptional and consistent quality. Bambu has taken the "finesse" out of 3D printing and has just made it be an end to plastic goods. Bambu machines aren't a bobby like Prusa machines...they are a tool. This is a vastly different mentality.

Bambu Lab management comes from a consumer products company, DJI, the drone company. DJI was famous for offering excellent products, superior value, and for innovating. They understand mass production, distribution, and scale. In a very short time (about 2 years) they have opened offices in a multitude of countries, they distribute locally from those local offices, and they have iterated their products several times. With a major product announcement about every 6 months, and software releases every month, they are moving much faster than is Prusa.

When I review public postings what I see are happy customers, quality products, and a 3D printer that out-performs every other product in its class. Even compared with Prusa, the Bambu machines cost much less, come fully assembled, are faster, and most importantly: produce higher quality plastic articles. Quality is clearly, consistently excellent on Bambu machines.


The ISSUES:

Some people have expressed various concerns about Bambu:

  • Made in China. Whether you buy an iPhone or an air conditioner or clothing or toys, there is a high probability that it is made in China. China has become the manufacturing experts in the world. While some may have a philosophical issue with something made in China, I tend to think that the train left that station long ago. I don't see any reason for politics in my 3D printer decision.
  • Chinese Data Security. Bambu's cloud services are based in China, and some have security concerns about that. Bambu has addressed this by providing (fast) LAN-only printing as an option. You don't need to use their cloud services. In my case, nothing that I print is very interesting to the Chinese, anyway.
  • Proprietary Parts. Almost all of the parts in Bambu's printers are proprietary. But--and this is important--every essential part is available at very inexpensive prices from their website. In fact, a higher percentage of replacement parts are available from Bambu printers than Prusa printers. Increasingly, Prusa parts are proprietary (eg "Nextruder") so this concern seems to really be more fear based than fact.
  • Economic Viability: Both Prusa and Bambu Lab are privately held and don't disclose their financials. We know nothing about the economic viability of either company. However, given Bambu's management's background combined with their rapid product releases and their having physical local offices, they don't appear to be capital constrained. In contrast, there are many signs that Prusa is either capital constrained or intellectually constrained.
  • Filament Lock-out. Because the Bambu Lab has an RFID reader so that they can auto-detect filament type and specifications there has been a concern that they may behave like Hewlett Packard and attempt to lock out non-Bambu filament. Bambu has directly addressed this concern by stating: "Everyone showed their concern when they saw RFID in the system, asking whether the filament is a closed system. We believe that it would be supremely stupid to make a closed filament system. There are so many materials, colors, surface finishes, compounds, and blends out there. No single company could fulfill the diverse needs of the 3D printing community. Using a closed filament system would mean that a printer is crippled from day one." (See: Bambu Filament Lockout Policy)
  • Value. There can be no doubt that Bambu is intentionally doing a frontal attack on Prusa. Bambu's products match up against Prusa's and in every case Bambu offers a lower price and more features and higher quality than the comparable Prusa product. Such a direct product alignment is designed to make comparison easy for consumers at every price-point.
  • Product Lineup: Bambu's A1 Mini is priced at the rather odd $459 that Prusa chose. This is intentional. Then, the Bambu A1 includes a 4-color AMS/MMU, a camera, higher speeds, a better user interface, and filament sensors. Every indication is that the new A1 is superb. The same game is being played with every one of Prusa's products. (Bambu does not have an XL at this time, although Bambu has officially stated that it is coming in the future. Perhaps Bambu's XL will actually work, which would be a nice improvement over Prusa's XL).

COMMUNICATIONS:

Some companies are very secretive. For whatever reason, information from these secretive companies is limited.

Bambu is perhaps more open than any other company in the 3D printing industry. They lay out for everybody to see their strategy, their philosophy, and their reasoning. Frankly, I rarely see any company that is as forthright as Bambu has been. It's quite remarkable. To see all of this, go to the Bambu Lab Blog (See: Bambu Lab Blog). Wow, they talk about everything from why they went with a proprietary print head to their policy on patenting their inventions and open source. There is really no guessing what is in their mind.

But there is one posting that deserves attention being called to it. (See: Let the arms race begin) It is a profoundly unusual posting because it is essentially directed at one person: Josepf Prusa. In the corporate strategy world to do this is called "Signaling" and it is the one way that competitors can legally communicate with each other. The way that "signaling" works is that first one company calls the specific attention of another, usually with a confrontational posting such as this one. (This posting is precisely the recommended way to begin "signaling".) Then, the other company will find some channel to signal back. Now, the two companies have established full-duplex communications. At this point the two companies carefully craft messages that are the opposite of what they appear to be. On the surface the messages will look like taunting but the underlying messages will usually be how each company intends to yield market share to the other, or a negotiation about pricing, or a proposal for patent cross licensing, or to pick off a third competitor, or establishing an industry trade group to set standards (for things like filament RFID).

(Digression: Airlines are one of the best examples of legal "signaling" between competitors. Selected routes and language are used between the airlines to signal such things are price increases, proposals to drop service to a city, or a statement that a competitor has stepped into sacred territory. Over time, these signals become well established and clearly understood. A specific flight number flying on a specific day may be used to sign a desire for price increases, as an example.)

The question is whether Josef Prusa has enough experience and talent to understand that he is being "signaled" and whether he can craft responses that begin a meaningful dialogue. If Mr. Prusa has sufficient brainpower and experience he will find a legal backchannel and will send coded messages back to Bambu. Then, the industry will begin to work together, will congeal, and will both consolidate and become consumer friendly. My concern is that Josepf Prusa may not understand that business is a team sport, and your competitors are "frenemies" (Friendly Enemies). It will be interesting to see. 

If you so nothing else, but want to start understanding the race underway, I recommend these Bambu Block postings:

I like Prusa. I want to see Prusa succeed. If Josef Prusa doesn't understand the business concept of "signaling" then perhaps he will read this posting. Bambu is clearly playing the game by the book, and they are playing for keeps. But they are also proposing that Prusa and Bambu can own and control the consumer market through leadership. Hopefully for all of us, Prusa's management is better than the Prusa XL5 was for me.

As consumers, we will win by this. The days of Prusa's lethargy may well be over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted : 06/11/2023 7:00 pm
kengineer, GuyH and alan liked
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

Love the following quote from Bambu's CEO. It couldn't be more clear that Bambu Labs is specifically "Signaling" Josef Prusa into a dialogue and is proposing an industry dual-leadership. As corporate strategy goes, a quote like this is like a flashing neon sign to become frenemies:

Through social media, I can sense that for some reason, Joseph isn't too fond of Bambu. What I want to tell Joe is: Bambu and Prusa are actually on the same side. (See: Lets signal each other through social media and lead this industry together.)

I sure hope that Mr. Prusa picks up on this and that Prusa and Bambu become the industry leaders. Strategic cooperation between these potential frenemies (Friends and enemies) will bring many benefits ranging from an RFID standard for filament to ongoing G-Code compatibility to slicer enhancements going back and forth between companies. I can't even begin to speculate the wonderful things that can result from two competitors signaling cooperation in areas where both will mutually benefit. Josef, are you listening?

 

Posted : 07/11/2023 12:37 am
Netpackrat
(@netpackrat)
Reputable Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

That sort of relationship has to be based on some level of trustworthiness and good faith, which are attributes not evident in Bambu.  Also, why did you feel a need to make a second thread to re-hash the first one you started?

Posted : 07/11/2023 2:50 am
dasdigidings, IPIND 3D, Eds_3D_Odyssey and 2 people liked
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE:

 

Posted by: @netpackrat

That sort of relationship has to be based on some level of trustworthiness and good faith, which are attributes not evident in Bambu.  Also, why did you feel a need to make a second thread to re-hash the first one you started?

  1. No trustworthiness or good faith is required at all for two companies to Signal and cooperate. Pure mutual corporate benefit is enough. It's not necessary for the frenemies to like or trust each other in any way. This type of corporate Signaling is not a partnership, not a friendship, and not a relationship. It is best described as a "relationship of convenience".
  2. The second posting was to explicitly draw out that Bambu has called out Mr. Prusa by name, expressly. Despite how it looks, it is an invitation.
  3. My opinion is that at this time Bambu has complete trustworthiness and good faith; I have seen nothing to the contrary. Prusa has a long history that gives them credibility, but my impression is that in the past two years Prusa is long on promises and short on delivery.

 

Posted : 07/11/2023 3:53 am
GuyH
 GuyH
(@guyh)
Reputable Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

Interested in examples to back up this statement. I've followed the Bambu Lab story from the start (I backed the kickstarter) and sure they have made some errors along the way but I tend to see an open and honest level of communication by them. Their CEO always comes across well in this regard to me. The recent interview with Stefan (CNC Kitchen) would be an example I would point to.

I'm just back from Fromnext and speaking to people in the industry it is so evident how much BL have shaken things up. Even the big boys like Stratasys are seeing the impact from Bambu Lab.

Posted by: @netpackrat

That sort of relationship has to be based on some level of trustworthiness and good faith, which are attributes not evident in Bambu.  Also, why did you feel a need to make a second thread to re-hash the first one you started?

 

Posted : 10/11/2023 10:47 am
Renze
(@renze)
Eminent Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

Without any explicit arguments to back my opinion I still feel that the things you mention are part of a narrative I see more often with certain companies. 

Yes, they did shake things up dramatically and I think that consumers will profit from this shakeup, but we don't know how it is going to play on the long run. Also privacy is a big issue for me. We have a strong privacy law in Europe and it does feel okay to have my data on European servers.

Posted by: @guyh

Interested in examples to back up this statement. I've followed the Bambu Lab story from the start (I backed the kickstarter) and sure they have made some errors along the way but I tend to see an open and honest level of communication by them. Their CEO always comes across well in this regard to me. The recent interview with Stefan (CNC Kitchen) would be an example I would point to.

I'm just back from Fromnext and speaking to people in the industry it is so evident how much BL have shaken things up. Even the big boys like Stratasys are seeing the impact from Bambu Lab.

Posted by: @netpackrat

That sort of relationship has to be based on some level of trustworthiness and good faith, which are attributes not evident in Bambu.  Also, why did you feel a need to make a second thread to re-hash the first one you started?

 

 

Posted : 10/11/2023 11:22 am
GuyH
 GuyH
(@guyh)
Reputable Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

I appreciate your perspective. I am not 100% sure but I think BL have servers in other countries, not just China. So for example, US jobs sent via their cloud is all within the US and subject to US regulation. I'll try find some evidence of this.

BL are not naive to western scepticism of Chinese companies, typically it's not because of the people running those companies but because of the potential for government monitoring. I could say that EU and US law may look to protect the end user but are we sure our governments aren't using similar monitoring? Maybe that's another discussion not for this thread.

Posted by: @rgb

Without any explicit arguments to back my opinion I still feel that the things you mention are part of a narrative I see more often with certain companies. 

Yes, they did shake things up dramatically and I think that consumers will profit from this shakeup, but we don't know how it is going to play on the long run. Also privacy is a big issue for me. We have a strong privacy law in Europe and it does feel okay to have my data on European servers.

Posted by: @guyh

Interested in examples to back up this statement. I've followed the Bambu Lab story from the start (I backed the kickstarter) and sure they have made some errors along the way but I tend to see an open and honest level of communication by them. Their CEO always comes across well in this regard to me. The recent interview with Stefan (CNC Kitchen) would be an example I would point to.

I'm just back from Fromnext and speaking to people in the industry it is so evident how much BL have shaken things up. Even the big boys like Stratasys are seeing the impact from Bambu Lab.

Posted by: @netpackrat

That sort of relationship has to be based on some level of trustworthiness and good faith, which are attributes not evident in Bambu.  Also, why did you feel a need to make a second thread to re-hash the first one you started?

 

 

 

Posted : 10/11/2023 11:30 am
Renze liked
Netpackrat
(@netpackrat)
Reputable Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

Currently getting my ass kicked by winter; sorry for the lack of response.

Posted : 10/11/2023 10:03 pm
Renze liked
Renze
(@renze)
Eminent Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

Even though I am a fan of the Prusa company and the responsability they seem to take for everything that has to do with sustainability I do see their flaws. One example is the long queues with their online 24/7 chat. Also every time I see a new review about their XL. Just shipped too early. I rather they just wait (like they’re seem to be doing with the MMU3 for the MK4) with shipping until they are 100% sure that it is pretty flawless. Without giving too much attention to all the pressure from outside. 
Just saw the Teaching tech YouTube movie about his perspective. 

It looks like the pressure because of growing competition (BL), the shortage of staff in the EU € the problems with supply chain because of Covid is contributing to this new(?)  problem. I know Prusa machines for being rock solid reliable so what is going on?

Posted : 11/11/2023 9:22 am
Thejiral
(@thejiral)
Noble Member
RE:

I agree. Prusa seemed to have panicked with the rise of Bambulab. So they rushed out the MK4, all of that while they were struggling with the development monster of a tool changer which was long overdue already. Which they rushed now as well as they feared the wrath if they simply kept on non-delivering.

Both things together probably created an avalanche to their support lines. As well as their QC lines. Even if it is dangerous, I think Prusa needs to take a break to try clean up the whole situation and recover from that double blow. Get these 2 produts in order (I think the MK4 might be on a good way already, once they get QC back up to the expected level again), then I would think a more reasonably sized CoreXY would be a good idea, maybe with native enclosure. Nothing revolutionary, rather a downscaled evolutionary, non-tool changer based on what they learned from the XL.

Mk3s MMU2s, Voron 0.1, Voron 2.4

Posted : 11/11/2023 11:04 am
Renze liked
Crab
 Crab
(@crab)
Reputable Member
RE:

They've made just some terrible technical/engineering decisions that I am not sure they are going to be able to recover from. By using ad-hoc/inferior hardware on their communication hardware (TCP Stacks) their firmware people are having to go all kinds of gyrations to make it work.. no public certificates (which is unheard of to any network engineer), having to compress Gcode to get better performance, unable to address simple bug fixes like getting ping utilities to work, arcane way to input TCP parameters.. If they had leveraged a proper communication board/platform and not used the buddy for ethernet, they would have all the TCP capabilities baked into a Linux or similar distro with already hardened hardware and performance. The extra cost of the hardware would have freed up their few developers to work on better applications and user interface enhancements, rather than be bogged down by trying to build "silk purses from sow's ears".. And I know I've overemphasized this smaller part of their design which can be completely avoided by using the USB stick .. but it illustrates a root problem with their design decisions that flow to other issues that might hinder reliability. Having to have a USB stick inserted to buffer gcode jobs is just another potential failure point down the road. They .. soooo.. need a system with 1G of ram to buffer jobs.. it's just basic stuff.

Their post-3.11 thermal model release issues of the MK3 firmware has caused them no end of headaches and I'm sure has eaten up much resource time.

By not designing the MK4 as core x/y or cartesian xy system they have missed the opportunity to ramp up on this technology to remain competitive against Bambu and others.. Meanwhile Qidi, Bambu and others are now addressing initial issues and their designs are receiving very favourable reviews, while their XL flagship has been mixed. I think there is a huge marked for a Voron 0 type of machine.. small... mini size.. core xy.. hardened nozzle .. ventilation capable .. allows you to dip your feet in ASA and similar.

I was amazed when I saw the PRO line being announced and the basis of one machine being a Delta design. They would not be the first company where their 'reach exceeds their grasp".

 

Posted : 11/11/2023 3:41 pm
kengineer
(@kengineer)
Eminent Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

We can’t launch or support our current product line so we decided to make a PRO line. 

Let’s hope the people who are failing to launch and support XL and Mk4 have nothing to do with it.

Maybe they are selling the Prusa name although that name is downgraded with every failed launch and over promised delivery date. Seems like a text book case of ignoring their core competencies and trying to do more than their capability allows. 

With every “notify when available” notice I get trying to order parts I think I need to find a dependable supplier.  

If I was looking for a printer with lack of replacement parts I could have found a cheaper option

Posted : 11/11/2023 4:13 pm
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE:

I was shocked (appalled, actually) when this past summer the senior management and engineers went on a “rock star tour” to visit users in many cities.

While that was absolutely a good thing, it was a misplaced priority. Time should have been invested in getting products to work, not in seeking audiences to applaud them.

I went to one because I was increasingly impatient about my XL delivery. But then at the meetup it hit me: why weren’t they getting their products ready instead of spending time schmoozing?

I knew zero about Bambu when I went to one of those meetups. I knew nothing about Bambu when my XL5 arrived in October. When my new XL5 catastrophically died I read the tea leaves and sent it back for a refund. (At a loss of shipping charges and import duties, I’m afraid.)

That’s when I started researching where the industry was and discovered Bambu. To be honest, the more I read about Bambu the more I felt hoodwinked by Prusa.

Some say that Prusa rushed out the XL. But that implies severe engineering ineptness. Surely they were working on it a long time before the product announcement. Then it was two years to begin shipping. That’s far longer than Bambu took to develop five very different products that are superior to Prusa’s.

Prusa was either asleep, or in over their heads, or making poor management decisions. That’s the only explanation for how they got here. As a loyal Prusa customer I would never even know about Bambu if Prusa had just done what every company must: deliver what you promise.

Prusa has made a lot of dubious decisions, such as to actually assemble their own PC Boards. That’s a 1960s mentality of bringing everything in-house. Adding PCB assembly concurrently with developing the new XL must have dramatically multiplied the project complexity…and for no benefit. PC board manufacturing and assembly is an art and separate discipline. There is good reason that companies sub that out to China.

From the time you have your CAD files done to the time you have assembled prototyping PC Boards can be as short as four days, and is always under two weeks. That includes parts acquisition. You can’t do that in-house. The Chinese are masters at doing that.

Anyway, I am on the fence about whether to get an XL next year or whether to go Bambu. I’m leaning towards “Better Faster Cheaper” Bambu.

 

Posted : 11/11/2023 5:11 pm
Renze
(@renze)
Eminent Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

I am not sure they are going to be able to recover from

I am confident they will recover. They have enough history, enough backers and other than some other companies they stick with their company mission. Which I think isn’t ’sell as much as you can at any cost.’

I for a fact will buy an MK4. 

Posted : 11/11/2023 5:35 pm
kengineer
(@kengineer)
Eminent Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

I have already bought a Mk4.  Would you buy one if the build plates, nozzles , and other common parts were not available and the delivery was undetermined/unreliable?

Posted : 11/11/2023 6:43 pm
SeattleDavid
(@seattledavid)
Estimable Member
Topic starter answered:
RE:

 

Posted by: @kengineer

Would you buy one if the common parts were not available and the delivery was undetermined/unreliable?

Yes, this is a valid concern since the XL and Mk4 have many proprietary parts. I don’t see any replacement parts available for the XL5. I’m bothered that the Mk4 uses a highly proprietary nozzle.

But this seems to be the pattern in the industry right now. The Bambu also uses a proprietary nozzle so it isn’t different.

What does seem to be different is that Bambu offers a huge selection of repair parts immediately available locally (in the U.S.) while Prusa doesn’t list many (or almost any) for the XL.

Posted : 11/11/2023 8:39 pm
Thejiral
(@thejiral)
Noble Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

@Crab

You address a lot of valid points. I think Prusa is trying to reinvent the wheel on too many things. Outside of their core competence. Wi-fi illustrates that very well.
CoreXY is a bit more complex. At the size of the Mk3 or Mk4 it is not so clear that Core XY is superior. CoreXZ can operate with shorter belts and the weight of the bed + printed object can't easily get too problematic. Bambulab after all also went with cantilevered Core XZ for their A1 Mini, which is only moderately smaller than an Mk3, at the exact size of a Prusa Mini.

The issue is rather that bedslingers aren't "sexy" anymore and people who spend more money in the premium hobby segment seem to expect nowadays increasingly a Core XY design. Way more important int my opinion would be a native and as compact as possible enclosure for the printer. Something like the Voron Switchwire has. A core XY can have an even more compact enclosure but the Switchwire shows also bedslingers can have reasonably sized ones if they are natively designed into the printer.

Mk3s MMU2s, Voron 0.1, Voron 2.4

Posted : 12/11/2023 12:58 pm
Thejiral
(@thejiral)
Noble Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

 

Posted by: @seattledavid

I was shocked (appalled, actually) when this past summer the senior management and engineers went on a “rock star tour” to visit users in many cities.

While that was absolutely a good thing, it was a misplaced priority. Time should have been invested in getting products to work, not in seeking audiences to applaud them.

I went to one because I was increasingly impatient about my XL delivery. But then at the meetup it hit me: why weren’t they getting their products ready instead of spending time schmoozing?

I knew zero about Bambu when I went to one of those meetups. I knew nothing about Bambu when my XL5 arrived in October. When my new XL5 catastrophically died I read the tea leaves and sent it back for a refund. (At a loss of shipping charges and import duties, I’m afraid.)

That’s when I started researching where the industry was and discovered Bambu. To be honest, the more I read about Bambu the more I felt hoodwinked by Prusa.

Some say that Prusa rushed out the XL. But that implies severe engineering ineptness. Surely they were working on it a long time before the product announcement. Then it was two years to begin shipping. That’s far longer than Bambu took to develop five very different products that are superior to Prusa’s.

Prusa was either asleep, or in over their heads, or making poor management decisions. That’s the only explanation for how they got here. As a loyal Prusa customer I would never even know about Bambu if Prusa had just done what every company must: deliver what you promise.

Prusa has made a lot of dubious decisions, such as to actually assemble their own PC Boards. That’s a 1960s mentality of bringing everything in-house. Adding PCB assembly concurrently with developing the new XL must have dramatically multiplied the project complexity…and for no benefit. PC board manufacturing and assembly is an art and separate discipline. There is good reason that companies sub that out to China.

From the time you have your CAD files done to the time you have assembled prototyping PC Boards can be as short as four days, and is always under two weeks. That includes parts acquisition. You can’t do that in-house. The Chinese are masters at doing that.

Anyway, I am on the fence about whether to get an XL next year or whether to go Bambu. I’m leaning towards “Better Faster Cheaper” Bambu.

 

 

The comparison to the development time of Bambulub is mor than just a bit flawed. Bambulab has not tried to develop a tool changer and it hasn't for a good reason. That thing adds a lot of complexity. Bambulab has developed actually 2 printers, not 5. The larger one merely comes in 4 different tastes. The platform was developed right from the start for this kind of modularity and the unique parts (especially the injection molded ones) are largely re-used in all of them. Now that is clever in itself and advantageous for Bambulab and customers alike but it also means that the effort needed is not remotely the same as developing 5 different tool changers.

Prusa has in the same time frame also launched two printers. But unlike Bambulab it rushed them and unwisely spent a lot of resources apparently in the wrong areas.

Assembling their own boards was probably a terrible decision.

Mk3s MMU2s, Voron 0.1, Voron 2.4

Posted : 12/11/2023 1:11 pm
Crab
 Crab
(@crab)
Reputable Member
RE: Strategic view of Bambu & Prusa - Part 2 - Corporate Signaling

I would agree that having an enclosed (or easily enclosable) printer is a key goal moving forward. I don’t think people want to print ASA/Carbon all the time, but having a hardened/all metal hotend, with some enclosure that can limit VOC emission is something my next machine must have. And while you can add an all metal hotend to anything, it may require a new heating system (which you weren’t aware of when you got a new nozzle), and brand new profiles.. (after you’ve spent much time tuning the originals). I won’t print much with ASA/carbon, but having this capability means I won’t be limited on what projects I can work on. Core XY may be no better than Cartesian XY, but not having the bed going side-side must provide a more controllable environment when you are now constraining the bulk of the acceleration design to the hotend. Slant 3D expressed an opinion on this for what it’s worth. And I just think it would have given Prusa such an excellent opportunity to develop another motion system and get it into a wide audience. This would have provided them with so much growth in XY motion design. (And they have core XY systems in their Print Farm from info they released years ago.. would be interested to see how that worked for them and why they thought they couldn’t bring that into their ‘home’ market.

If you look at a recent TADA video, she was working with the latest Prusa slicer and  she could not get her MK4 to recognize slicer gcode  files. Here is where you get bit by limited hardware design and then start building  solutions one on top of another (at which point you might be losing sight of your corporate and user philosophy) which makes the entire system overly-complex. The issue was that the slicer was producing binary g-code but the MK4 did not have a firmware update to recognize the new compressed format. Now many will say that this is a user issue.. but if Prusa is producing reliable, “just works” printers to the masses, they might be deviating from this goal. On one hand, Prusa offers Alpha software to ‘fix’ problems you might have with their XL, but now you introduce other issues that can slow you down. Binary GCode may be a great idea down the road.. but it’s also a potential choke point for interoperability with other systems. (And now it’s a proprietary solution and will have its own good/bad characteristics like any other system). It’s like the thermal anomaly errors from post-3.11 firmware on the MK3. It broke every Revo hotend instance immediately (and some stock installs) and 6 months after release (with continual complaints along that journey), gives me an uneasy feeling about installing any future firmware updates from Prusa for this printer.

Posted : 12/11/2023 2:59 pm
tsamisa
(@tsamisa)
Estimable Member
RE:

Personally i think another issue that needs revaluating is  the whole concept of Prusa being opensource and reprap. XL is not and cannot be. The same goes for SLS1 and i thing in the future that will be the case for all the rest. XL is such a complex machine with very low tolerances that cannot be considered a reprap project even if at some points it gives that impression. Prusaslicer is still one of the best slicers out there but it ended up being a necessity for Prusa printers and get even more complex at every iteration. People are arguing that BL (by the way i dont own one i have an XL5H mk3s+mmu2 and an SLS1) that it may or may not become more of a closed ecosystem in the future. The same can be said about prusa. I mean i dont know Joseph Prusa personally or the BL guys so who can tell that in the future Prusaslicer wont be under some form of license. I know that for the time being is under GNU but there are ways to change that (look RHEL linux and CENTOS, not the same but they found a way) . Is there another slicer out there that can be used for XL? People are also arguing about BLs RFID and that you cannot use a camera if not online. Well what does Prusa offer in that sense?

E3d makes and sells nozzles and other stuff but thats it. I hear arguing about the possible availability of spare parts for the BL. Guess what, XL doesnt have any. I considered a plus the fact that you could print a big number of  parts of your printer when needing replacements, and that you can buy the mechanical parts from various vendors (belts,motors, nozzles etc) but again with the XL and nextruder this is really limited.

Again XL for me it can be a great machine and a game changer. That of course would be true if Prusa of the past replaces Prusa of the last two years. 

Is BL corporate signaling Prusa? Who gives a damn. I as a customer dont. The point is Prusa is adding extra floors to their house without strengthening the supports of their ground floor. Yes PRO line and SLS are different companies. But learn first to handle a single company before adding others to the mix. Or did Prusa think that the Prosumer hobbyist market was a sure thing that they could spread to the pro market? Well good for BL that gave them a waking slap. 

Finally another joke is the misconception of their customer support strategy. That works for minor issues that you can wait -ONCE- for half an hour and you problem can be solved with the often polite and well behaved agents. The problem starts when you need a higher level of support. You may or may not get an answer from email. Twice i  had issues that could not be solved from chat support and even if in the end PRusa replaced the parts without arguing i had to go through 3 or 4 chats wait for half an hour each, to wiggle, flash, calibrate or screw things. Every time i asked for someone to open an email "path" as to send the results and get an answer without waiting for chat every time and re-explaining the issue , i was reassured but ignored. 

Posted : 12/11/2023 4:19 pm
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