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Why are Prusa printers so good?  

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Crab
 Crab
(@crab)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

 

Posted by: @aw-2

 

Posted by: @print-my-world I am just trying to understand why the prusa is so superior so that I can repair the other machines to be as good as the Mini+.  I use the same slicer and slicer profiles , so I know that is not the cause.  Same nozzle size and filament, so not that.  Perhaps the  E3d hot end, and extruder? Maybe that solid bed and the Spinda?  I will end up testing them all eventually as I rebuild the other machines I guess, but for now it is very puzzling.  The prusa is just so much better.

I think one underestimates the expertise gained from the farm over a long period of time. The settings in the slicer specifically for Prusa's hardware and filaments have been studied and experimented with for years. This comes from extensive research into the physics of the extruder capabilities and the limits of moving bodies. Without a huge amount of expertise, I can't imagine trying to build my own machine and tweak profiles from similar but different machines.

Posted : 12/04/2022 11:31 pm
RoskUr
(@roskur)
New Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

People just try to be more responsible. I also guess they put their own soul in the work they do. 

Posted : 13/04/2022 8:17 pm
aw
 aw
(@aw-2)
Active Member
Topic starter answered:
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

 

Posted by: @crab

 

I think one underestimates the expertise gained from the farm over a long period of time.

It is not my intention to underestimate.  What I am trying to get across is that I just do not see the differences.  Lets use cars as an example: one could look at a given selection of cars and say " they all have wheels and an engine, use gas, and have seats.... these cars are all the same".  A closer look shows a different story.  There is a difference in engine components, chassis design, traction systems, etc.  When it comes to the Mini+ (or any other Prusa), I am seeing my "wheels engine and gas" but not seeing a difference in other components that give quality results.  I see a stiff frame, pulleys, belts, steppers, and all the other things that you would find in any other printer.  While some of these components are engineered cleverly (and quite nicely IMO), I see no functional difference between this printer and other FDM type.  I have done the work on other printers to  stiffen the frame, properly tension the belts, align the motors, smooth the backlash on the z-axis, and any number of other improvements.  This work has provided excellent prints .. for a short time.  My prusa needs few or none of these adjustments/fixes yet still consistently gives excellent prints with no sign of quitting. I agree that my customer service experience with Prusa has been excellent and that this company cares for its customers and is willing to go the extra mile. I agree that they have put in the elbow grease to know "all the things" about Prusa machines and iron out problems. This agreement, however, does not let me see what is physically different about my little Mini+ that makes it so much better.  I just don't seem to be able to figure it out.

If nothing else let this thread stand as a testament of a happy customer.  I love my little Prusa and wish all my printers worked so well. And they will once I figure out the correct amount of elbow grease and melted plastic.

Posted : 16/04/2022 8:25 am
RMDC liked
GregoryStellar
(@gregorystellar)
New Member
RE:

Prusa printers are great to maintain and durable! I am very glad that I bought Prusa printers and I won’t change them for nothing! I am often at work in plastic surgery cosmetic practice, but Prusa printers make my life easier!

Posted : 16/04/2022 9:06 am
Patrick McNamara
(@patrick-mcnamara)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

 

Posted by: @aw-2

 

Posted by: @crab

 

I think one underestimates the eWhile some of these components are engineered cleverly (and quite nicely IMO), I see no functional difference between this printer and other FDM type. I have done the work on other printers to stiffen the frame, properly tension the belts, align the motors, smooth the backlash on the z-axis, and any number of other improvements. This work has provided excellent prints .. for a short time. My prusa needs few or none of these adjustments/fixes yet still consistently gives excellent prints with no sign of quitting.

Ask any mechanical engineer who designs precision equipment.  Materials quality makes a huge difference.  You can make a piece of equipment with cheap materials, and you can make it accurate.  Keeping it accurate will be very difficult.

As you note, there isn't a lot of functional difference between many printers.  So if you have a printer design, how do you make it cheaper?  There are three ways.  1) Quantity.  You get materials prices breaks for buying larger quantities.  2) Cheaper materials.  3) Labor reduction.  The latter two are where you get cheap clones.  Those are the printers where "doing the work" can turn them into good printers, maybe for a while, maybe permanently.  You are doing the work instead of paying someone else to.  Some particular piece doesn't fit right or has bad tolerances, so you buy a replacement and it makes the printer way better.  You are doing the QA work and absorbing the QA cost rather than paying for it up front. One thing to note about cheap materials -- there are two types of cheap materials.  The first type is cheap because it's crap and there isn't much else to say.  The second is cheap because the quality control is poor and the variance is high.  This is the stuff that results in one person buying a cheap printer and saying "Hey, this is fantastic.  This printer prints as good as a printer that costs three times as much."  and a second person buying the exact same model of printer and no matter what they do, never being able to get a good print.  When you have a manufacturing process with high variance, only some fraction of the material actually meets specs.  This is sold at the highest price to the pickiest customer.  A less picky customer might be ok with looser tolerance and so buys the "ok" stuff and a reduced price.  The really crap parts can be sold really cheap, or just scrapped.  If the really cheap/scrap is used to build a the same printer design as the highest price, in-spec parts, the cheap version is going to be crap.

And don't get me wrong, there are plenty of places to make mistakes, even when using quality parts.  If have issues with some of the materials in my printer, and replaced some.  Some of it was my fault, some I would argue were bad engineering decisions.  Those happen.  But the time and materials put into manufacturing a precision instrument directly impact a) the cost and b) the precision and reliability of that instrument.

Posted : 16/04/2022 2:30 pm
MileHigh3Der
(@milehigh3der)
Estimable Member
RE:

 

Posted by: @crab

I think there are 2 key points

a) the huge printer farm that Prusa relies on for their product. Not only does it supply parts, but the torture it goes through is the very best type of testing any product can go through. Two weeks of farm printing might be a year for a typical user. So any weaknesses get identified and iterated.

b) integration. Producing not only the printer, but also filament, firmware and slicer software is the same philosophy many successful companies use.. Apple comes to mind.. a company that creates the silicon, hardware and software. That type of integration ensures good design and a unique consistency you can't get with putting together disparate components.. of which users will have various degrees of success depending on their expertise. 

I think this is the secret sauce in (b).  That is a tight feedback loop.  Using your printers is one level, the Slic3r addresses 0ther variables, and making your own filament completes that triangle- and then have founder and early employees still around seals it.  They get to see all the variables and all the feedback.  If they want to know what the effect of changing a variable in slicing will do, they can probably tweak that variable at 5 levels on 10 machines each for fifty data points- and get that data the next morning.  IIRC I thought they said that early on the time of year changed things because the ambient temp in their bundling varied- and they could see that.

Awesomeness isn’t hard- it just takes hard-work and time, and in reality, few people are willing to actually do it- especially over time.  And when things are running smoothly because of it, someone always wants to come in and start cutting that effort and expense- things are great, we don’t need to do all this stuff…

This post was modified 4 months ago by MileHigh3Der
Posted : 20/04/2022 9:21 pm
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Famed Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

It's a solid product, and it seems to me that Prusa cuts fewer corners in their design than do many others.

I decided on Prusa due to the fact that the printer I had semi-decided upon (Taz, which we used at the local makerspace) had frustrating parts availability issues ca. December 2019, and those in a class I was taking seemed to have the consensus that Prusa (original, not clone) was the way to go.  I also decided against Creality due to reports that they were finicky and required frequent 'futzing around' to keep them operating reliably.

When I ordered the Prusa kit, they were a few weeks backlogged, but they beat the estimate and the package was at the door, all the way from the Czech Republic, quicker than they estimated.

It's been in use at least weekly since I got it (and daily with rare exception during the height of the pandemic) and issues were few, mostly due to learning curve and pilot error issues.

As for overall print quality, I consider the Prusa print quality to be superior to that of the Taz (although I admit those machines of that type that I'm familiar with can be said to be well student-ized), mostly right up there with my 'other' printer (Ultimaker S5), although I must admit that unsupported semicircular overhangs are done better on the Ultimaker.  I consider the print quality of the Prusa to be definitely in the running when compared to the Uprint, which runs well into five figures in cost.

The Prusa also seems to quicker in time from launch the print to finished print than is the Ultimaker.

The downside is that yes, the Prusa requires more hands-on action and interaction than the Ultimaker or the Uprint.  I consider the Uprint to be the closest to 'You push the button, we do the rest' in operational simplicity with the Ultimaker being between the Prusa and the Uprint as far as real-world operational workflow.

Assembly of the Prusa does require moderate mechanical skill, patience, attention to detail, and the thorough reading of instructions and user comments, as well as the ability to interpret and read between the lines in cases.

Overall it's a very solid product!

Posted : 20/04/2022 11:19 pm
Crab
 Crab
(@crab)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

This is my second 'hobby' since retirement.. my first was coffee and there are many similarities in home coffee machines and home 3D printers. I'm an engineer, but I don't want to be constantly tweaking and maintaining stuff. Building the MK3+ kit was really amazing learning so I'm okay with that.. but I don't want to discover that my aluminum bed was not machined & and processed properly and turns into a taco when temps go high.  The coffee machines were like that.. lots of maintenance with no performance guarantees from vendors. I watch the Voron YouTubers and shake my head when I think of any non-expert putting together a kit from companyX in Asia based on a design group that qualify a certain set of parts but provides no real-world testing or troubleshooting that I know of. Really the customers are the alpha testers. I don't mind debugging my mistakes, but debugging design flaws from others is sometimes impossible for average users. Prusa is the first company where they've really sunk a tonne of expertise into their product by its use in their farm. No company can duplicate the experience Prusa has gained from using hundreds of their own machines 24 hours a day. The Anker Maker M5 sure sounds like a winner, but  without this lack of time-tested pounding, I'll be watching from the bleachers.

Posted : 20/04/2022 11:55 pm
doctorg
(@doctorg)
Eminent Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

You really do get what you pay for and, even though my last build was pretty good quality after my E3D upgrades, the Prusa blows it out of the water in every area.

Posted : 22/04/2022 12:22 pm
aw
 aw
(@aw-2)
Active Member
Topic starter answered:
RE:

I don't mind debugging my mistakes, but debugging design flaws from others is sometimes impossible for average users.

This is exactly what brought me to Prusa.  As a new user I expected to have hurdles with the build your own kits, but I never understood just how much the design was getting into the way until I spent a fair amount of time debugging. I also fell to another age old problem of new users; not looking for reviews until after the shipping notification has hit the inbox. The price tag on Prusa was a obstacle, but the word of mouth reputation was impossible to ignore and I bought one. 

You really do get what you pay for and, even though my last build was pretty good quality after my E3D upgrades, the Prusa blows it out of the water in every area.

Agreed that Prusa was worth every penny. Quality prints, excellent engineering, great community.  They have found a fanboy in me.  Sounds like you have designed a build of your own?  With my upcoming upgrade project I would be curious to hear any tips and tricks you would be willing to share, roadblocks you encountered, etc ...

This post was modified 4 months ago by aw
Posted : 23/04/2022 11:20 am
Phil0110
(@phil0110)
Active Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

First of all, I appreciate service in every purchase 

Posted : 20/06/2022 5:50 am
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Famed Member
RE:

In 2019, when I was deciding that my own printer was the way to go, I had tentatively decided on the Lulzbot Taz, probably the Taz 5 at the time, as that was one of the go-to printers at our local makerspace.  I had heard of Prusa printers but had no experience with them.

Then around November of 2019, IIRC, all three of the 'good' printers in the lab were down all at once, leaving only a couple of what we called 'toy' printers available.

The issue with the Taz was that the company had been sold and there was a major delay for one part which was needed to get the thing up and running.  Scratch Taz from the list!

Around that time I took a class over there (not 3d printing per se, but 3d scanning) and at the end of the class the discussion turned to what 3d printer to buy.  The instructor mentioned Creality and quite a few heads in the class shook 'no', and laughed when he mentioned Makerbot.  When he mentioned Prusa, quite a few heads shook 'yes', and although nobody there had one, the opinion was universal that it was one of the more reliable and, even at the price point very cost effective.  IIRC the I3 assembled was just under the price of the Taz 5.

I pulled the trigger and ordered the MK3S kit, as I wanted to not only save the $$$, but to learn the ins and outs of the machine by assembling it.  There was, at the time, a six-week backlog, IIRC, but the package hit the door at about the four week mark, and fortunately before Covid hit the fan.

I've had very few issues that required support.  Once via email and once via chat, IIRC.  Both were quick and answered my concerns.

I was very impressed with the quality of the pieces of the kit, the printed and online assembly manuals, and the Haribo bears added a nice diversion to the assembly process.  (Eat your heart out, Heathkit!)  😉

After I got the Z calibration dialed in, the Prusa logo and the tree frog printed flawlessly.  I added that logo piece to the 3d Upfitters enclosure, and my wife still has the tree frog on her desk.  😉

The only stumble when climbing the Prusa learning curve was when I learned the hard way that the PEI coated build plate could not take a joke when it came to removing a stuck print.

I was used to the glass plates at the local makerspace ('the print is done, get out the air hammer!') and using razor knives and spatulas to remove prints.  I was doing a box-type project in ABS and it would not release, so I went to the kitchen and grabbed a small metal spatula and pried it off.  Along with the print came a few pieces of the PEI coating.  🙁  Lesson learned the hard way.

Since then, it's been incredibly reliable.  Very few failed prints (those which failed were mostly pilot error) and print quality, IMAO, which exceeds that of the Taz and rivals that of the Uprint and the Ultimaker.

It's a mature design which has been iteratively improved upon since the original I3 series, and actually, going back to the 'redi bolt' Mendel and I2 machines.

As was noted, they use these machines to produce the parts for the machines (true RepRap principle) and they know first hand what works and what does not work in a rigorous production environment.

Posted : 20/06/2022 12:39 pm
Crab
 Crab
(@crab)
Estimable Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

Grin. My dad had a Heathkit transceiver. Used to take out all the electronic devices in the house when he used it. Your experience with the prusa MK three mirrors my own. As far as the stack prints, buying a rough sheet was the best investment I made. Printing PETG on that is very easy

Posted : 20/06/2022 12:59 pm
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

 

Posted by: @jsw

Since then, it's been incredibly reliable.  Very few failed prints (those which failed were mostly pilot error) and print quality, IMAO, which exceeds that of the Taz and rivals that of the Uprint and the Ultimaker.

It's a mature design which has been iteratively improved upon since the original I3 series, and actually, going back to the 'redi bolt' Mendel and I2 machines.

As was noted, they use these machines to produce the parts for the machines (true RepRap principle) and they know first hand what works and what does not work in a rigorous production environment.

My experiences are very similar.  I own 4 different manufactures printers.  Only the Prusa approaches not being a tinker's toy.  

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

Posted : 20/06/2022 1:23 pm
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Famed Member
RE:

One thing I just thought of, which I'm sure adds to the overall quality of the user builds, and is therefore cost-effective for Prusa to provide, are a few common tools.

They include a quality phillips screwdriver of the appropriate size, a quality set of long-nose pliers, and a reasonably complete set of METRIC hex keys.

These are of much higher quality than such things as the stamped wrenches that come with various 'some assembly required' products.

For example, many home workshops here in the States will have a set of SAE hex keys, but not metric, and often times one that almost fits snugly will be used for metric bolts, which results in rounded-off hex bolts.

I'm sure the inclusion of the tools results in more consistent overall builds, plus they are nice welcome additions to the home tool kit.

Posted : 20/06/2022 9:04 pm
Steaming T
(@steaming-t)
Active Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

I initially wanted to buy the Creality Ender-3 S1 Pro. Direct drive, touch screen, auto leveling and the ability to print at higher temperatures was the most important factors. But I was unsure, mostly because it is a chinese prodcct and the firmware updates confusing. To update the touch screen you acually have to open the enclosure to access the card reader and insert the micro usb card with the updates. Then I discovered Prusa, more specifically the Prusa Mini+. After watching a ton of reviews, tutorials and reading the excellent documentation available on the Prusa website I changed my mind. Firstly, being made in Europe is a big plus for me (I live in Norway). That makes support and help so much closer to home. Secondly, auto leveling (no more turning thumbscrews under the print table and using a paper sheet), small footprint on my desk (I have limited space), the ablilty to print at higher temperatures, firmware that really shows that Prusa cares about making 3D printing easy and intuitive and a great community with access to hundreds of upgrades to the printer you can print yourself (including the facory prints) on the mini. So even if the size of the prints are limited to 180x180x180mm (it's really not that smaller than the Creality which is 220x220x270mm, just the height). So I ordered one yesterday, arriving by mail tomorrow. I ordered the partially assembled kit so I should be up and running in no time. And I am especially looking forward to the Haribo Gummy Bears!!! Happy Printing!

Posted : 28/06/2022 7:36 pm
tausciam
(@tausciam)
New Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

I'm coming from the other side of the street so to speak. I bought one of the original Ender 3s. Of course, you immediately replace the buildplate with glass because the bed is probably warped. Then you replace the springs with yellow aftermarket springs because they're too weak to hold it level. Then you replace the extruder with a dual gear extruder before the arm breaks on the stock one. But, don't forget to also print a filament guide because filament is fed in at the wrong angle and causes extrusion problems. After that, you replace the 8 bit board with a 32 bit board and, of course, creality doesn't tell give you a marlin config file so you scour around for info on how to get this new board working...

THEN maybe you're so sick of bed leveling you install a BL touch only to give up on it because it never seems to work quite right...or maybe you're one of the lucky ones and it does... and then it does work quite well....for a while...until something gives and your prints start to suffer. Then it's a hunt to find out exactly what you need to replace to get it back in order... 

When my Ender 3 finally died (motherboard shorted somehow), I didn't want to take the chance that something else shorted the motherboard. So, I decided to replace it with an Ender 3 S1. It already had all the upgrades I wanted. I got one and it arrived broken. I sent it back and got another that didn't work quite right, they sent a replacement part and then it didn't work at all. Two printers dead on me in a month. So, I ordered a Prusa.

So, from my perspective the "secret sauce" of the Prusa is that they use quality parts. Sure, they cost more, but take the cost of an Ender, add in the cost of all your upgrades, all your parts replaced due to wear/breakage and your TIME spent keeping that printer printing at an acceptable quality and compare.  It's better to start with quality: both in parts and engineering. Creality designs their printers with the idea that the user is going to be replacing parts. Prusa designs their printers with the idea that the user is going to be 3d printing. 

Posted : 28/06/2022 8:18 pm
Razor liked
Steaming T
(@steaming-t)
Active Member
RE:

Well said and makes me sure I made the right decision. I am not primarily interested in all kind of upgrades. And as you I want to 3D print! I have found a couple of small upgrades here I might do. A clip for the ribbon cable that goes to the screen and a back cover for the same. We'll see. Happy Printing!

Posted : 28/06/2022 8:23 pm
cwbullet
(@cwbullet)
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

 

Posted by: @tausciam

Creality designs their printers with the idea that the user is going to be replacing parts. Prusa designs their printers with the idea that the user is going to be 3d printing. 

That is a good way to sum it up.  

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

Posted : 28/06/2022 8:52 pm
Razor liked
jsw
 jsw
(@jsw)
Famed Member
RE: Why are Prusa printers so good?

Lots of folks do mod the Prusa as well.

I haven't felt the need to do any serious mods, but I did install the switch for the MMU2S and added an enclosure to better do ABS prints.

Posted : 28/06/2022 10:00 pm
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