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Assembling vs buying preassembled  

Eminent Member
Assembling vs buying preassembled

How difficult is this to assemble? Is it worth it to save the extra 200 and just assemble?
I am not the most mechanical person, but I don't want to be stuck with a big paperweight after I mess something up during assembly.

Thoughts from the first timers or others that have assembled?

Posted : 01/01/2017 10:48 pm
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

Hi Brent, Assembly is eased by Prusa Research providing all necessary tools, and ensuring that all cables are close to their ideal length, and ready terminated.

It should be possible for any moderately dexterous person to assemble the kit and prepare it for service.

there is, (in my opinion) one unforgiveable issue, that will catch moderate to experienced electronics people out, that will probably not occur to complete novices...

the LCD cables are ribbon cables, and by convention, the coloured wire on the cable goes to pin1 on the connector... On the Prusa, the coloured wire goes to Pin 10...
there are two identical cables it is easy to mix up cable 1 and cable 2...
on the Prusa assembly, one end of these cables goes into 'keyed' sockets, so you CAN'T get that end wrong,
the other end goes onto non keyed connectors,
IF you follow the diagrams, you will almost certainly get it right. if like me and some others you use your 'Knowledge' you will almost certainly get the cables installed incorrectly, and the LCD will not work... 😳

I also had a problem with one of the fans, which if memory serves me well, was wired incorrectly from the factoy... (that's a long time ago (Mk1 machine) and may have been caught by now and resolved by Prusa.

Make sure you don't over-tighten the Zip Ties on the cabling, and make sure that you do insert the cable support filaments properly into their recesses...
over and above that, the descriptions for assembling the main frame and the screwed rods, are a little confusing. but they do work if you work methodically through them... and it's really helpful if your workbench is flat, mine had a bit of a twist in it. which resulted in a bit of a twist in the frame, when I pressed the corners down, as advised in the instruction manual... 😳 I now have a new surface on my work bench!
Above all, follow the instructions, to the word... mark them off when complete, (Make use of the higher definition pictures on the internet,) and you should be successful.

the good thing about building your own printer, is that you get to understand how it is put together,

and you can spent the extra 200 money units on more filament to play with! 😀

Best wishes... Joan

I try to make safe suggestions,You should understand the context and ensure you are happy that they are safe before attempting to apply my suggestions, what you do, is YOUR responsibility. Location Halifax UK

Posted : 02/01/2017 12:17 am
Reputable Member
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

I suck at building stuff. Ikea furniture brings me to my mental and physical limits. I strip every screw i touch, can't hammer a nail in straight. In short: i am completely useless when it comes to things with no keyboard.

The MK2 is my 4th printer, but the first one I assembled myself. Building the MK2 was actually quite straight forward and. Parts come in bags matching the steps in the manual. The manual is pretty good (use the online one, it has bigger pictures). I actually enjoyed the build process. Save the 200 and build it yourself. You learn a lot and you get less worried if something needs readjusting or swapping later on - which will happen with preassembled units as well.

Posted : 02/01/2017 2:29 pm
David T.
Noble Member
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

You learn a lot and you get less worried if something needs readjusting or swapping later on

Posted : 02/01/2017 3:07 pm
Honorable Member
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

In my college days and single days I would have done the kit myself mainly because I had long windows of time spanning hours.

Today I only get chucks for 45 minutes before some thing pulls me away from a project. For my current situation, I am glad I got the factory built unit and now I can focus my efforts on 3D printing.

If you attempt the kit, watch videos on the net regarding some of the tricky points ( getting everything square).

Posted : 02/01/2017 3:43 pm
Eminent Member
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

As someone who went the kit route here is what I learned and my advice...

TLDR; - Get the preassembled version (my recommendation for you, although that is not what I would recommend for me).

Time to read on? See below...

First off - I consider myself a "mechanically" inclined person and do lots or Maker/DIY stuff.

The instructions while good are not always perfectly clear. I used the manual because I was assembling away from my computer (Prusa provides an online version as well). The photos are too small and it's hard to pickup small details. I found the assembly quite challenging, So if you are not someone who is particularly good with mechanical things - get the pre-assembled version.

Also when you assemble the printer you have to do the initial calibration yourself. Things can go horribly wrong here if you make a mistake - and I mean even a small one. I had my bed probe a fraction too high and I did not pay close enough attention when initiating the calibration (plus I missed a critical warning in the calibration instructions because it was at the end of the instructions). Needless to say I irreparably damaged my print bed and had to buy a new one. This cost me $60USD + $40USD shipping + $20CND tax and duty. And if you add this up with the initial cost of the printer, I saved nothing over not buying the kit.

One more thing to consider with calibration is it can take a loooong time to get everything right. And if something isn't coming out right and you can't account for it with software/firmware adjustments, you may have to take it apart and reassemble some parts to get a more accurate build. This happened to me. I struggled for months to get my bed level so I could print on all sides however there was just too much variation from left to center to right. And it was not until I read on the last page of the printing guide that this can be caused by some parts being out of square. After taking it apart and re-squaring the issue was finally resolved. However after having the printer for months and lots of frustration I can say that everything is working as expected and I am getting reliable amazing quality prints.

If fact there is only one argument I can think of to get the kit - assuming it's not because you don't have the extra cash... it's something that I don't think you would get from not assembling it yourself and having issues to solve, and that's very deep understanding of how the printer works and 3D printing in general. I don't think I would be getting the same results I get now if I had got the kit. So in the end for me I would not do anything differently except read the instructions carefully -- twice and cover to cover, both books. And when in doubt of an image go to the computer and look at the higher resolution images for assembly.

That being said from how you describe yourself and your abilities I would NOT recommend the kit. And believe me you will NOT regret it. I have watched countless hours on YouTube and read dozens of articles about 3D printing over the past few months and the quality of the prints from the MK2 are noticeably better than what others are getting from machines 3 - 4 times the cost.

So again my advice is don't get the kit unless you have time to dedicate and don't expect smooth sailing. That being said getting it working well after many many issues is very rewarding and worth way more then the cost savings.

As an aside - I decided I did not have enough frustration getting this working and have ordered the multi-material upgrade... on to the next challenge!

Cheers and let us know what you decide...


Posted : 02/01/2017 11:28 pm
John Smith
Active Member
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

I opted for the kit for three reasons, it was cheaper, I am retired and had plenty of time to invest in the build, and I wanted to have a good understanding of how the unit operated if it had problems or broke down.

After the experience here are my own observations. I am comfortable with electrical and mechanical assembly but it is not something I do every day so I am no expert in putting things together. I have seen estimates of as low as 4 hours to complete the build. There is a video of a build which took 6 hours with some rework and commentary. I took my time, with the build spread over 3 days and invested about 8 hours total with the build and calibration. I had to spend a lot of time double checking images on-line to make sure I understood the instructions before doing each step. Consequently I did not have to perform any re-work. If I had to repeat the process now with a new kit, with the experience gained, I probably could get close to the 4-5 hour build time. Calibration would probably not be reduced and might increase.

My build went together well. I had one small bed alignment issue which was quickly corrected. The z-axis alignment seems okay but with better instructions and a more clearly defined end-goal I could probably fine-tune it a little better.

With the third issue of understanding the printer's operation I am of a split opinion. The design and operation of the printer is very straight-forward and easy (at least for me) to understand. If I had spend half as much time studying the assembly manual and just watching the machine in operation I would have just as good an understanding of the machine as built. One question is would I have had the same level of motivation to study the manual if I did need to actually do the build? Second, now that I have the printer I am thinking about putting it into an enclosure and perhaps making other modifications. I will probably want to move some or all of the electronics off of the unit and place them outside the box. If I do make those kinds of changes I already have a good idea of what is and is not possible, how difficult those changes might be, and what re-enforcement I might need to replace on the unit to maintain its rigidity.

For me the question is what is your time worth? I saved about $200 and spent 8 hours, so my time returned $25/hour. But to gain the same level of knowledge with the pre-assembled unit I would probably have to spend 2-4 hours, increasing its price by $50-100 using the same hourly rate.

Posted : 28/01/2017 10:15 pm
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

Also, if you buy pre assembled, you will have to gain your experience, when the first fault occurs, and at that time, you will nave a Prusa Paperweight, and a steep learning curve.

regards joan

I try to make safe suggestions,You should understand the context and ensure you are happy that they are safe before attempting to apply my suggestions, what you do, is YOUR responsibility. Location Halifax UK

Posted : 29/01/2017 1:32 am
John Smith
Active Member
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

I will add one more advantage of the kit over preassembled unit in my own situation over the 3 mentioned above. In the first week of operation after the kit build I experienced a filament blockage. In addition to knowing how to disassemble the extruder section I also had the confidence to attempt the repair. If I had just purchased the unit I believe I would have been more reluctant to take it apart. Also if I have not put it together, I would have to start reading the manual and searching this forum and googling the web. So my initial investment in understanding the operation began to pay off almost immediately.

Posted : 31/01/2017 6:35 am
Noble Member
Re: Assembling vs buying preassembled

Hello Brent,

I bought my MK2 two years back and using it since then almost every day. I bought a KIT because I wanted to understand the machine from the scratch.

My recommendation comes down to one simple question. Do you want to fiddle around with a printer from day one or a little bit later?
If you get it assembled, there is a high chance that it will be plug and print.
If you get a kit, there are a lot small "mistakes" you can do during assembly. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure you will be able to assemble it and print, but it might have some issues which will require research and partially rebuild.

But be prepared to do a maintenance on a printer and fixing small issues like clogging. This is part of the 3D printing right now, It doesn't matter which route you will go.

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Posted : 18/04/2018 11:09 pm