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Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)

Posted by mac hacker 
Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
December 28, 2013 08:26PM
Hey everyone, I am very new to repraps, but I have been printing stuff for a while at a local hacker lab near where I live. I am fascinated by 3d printing and I was hoping to have a 3d printer be my next big project that I work on. I have poked around the different models on reprap.org and I really like the prusa I3 in its appearance and it also looks relatively easy to build. Does anyone have any tips of where I should look to prepare to build this printer? my budget is around $500 for everything and I am hoping someone can point me in the right direction for a user friendly kit or at least a DETAILED build guide online. I found the i3x kit on diy tech shop ( [shop.diytechshop.com] ) and I am wondering if anyone has any experience with this kit. Thanks a lot for helping a n00b! grinning smiley
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
December 29, 2013 12:03PM
There are a lot of kits out there. I would suggest that a budget of $500 to $600 is a pretty good range to shop in. It's a "you get what you pay for" on some of these. You need to look pretty carefully at the small details on the kit to figure out exactly what they did or did not put into it. You might want to look at some of the threads about the DIy Tech Shop kit before buying one.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
December 29, 2013 03:41PM
Okay, that is helpful. What should I look for? Should I look for specific brands of components? Also does anyone have any experience in building the I3 that can give some advice/tips? thanks a lot!
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
December 29, 2013 05:29PM
A lot of us have built i3's from kits. The general advice is always "buy what I bought, it worked for me" or "I've never ever gotten mine working at all". The problem is that the "never got it working" people don't tend to hang around (why would they?). Very few people have experience with multiple kits.

That said, the MakerFarm kit worked fine for me. It's got good parts in in. The main reason I like it is that the support from Colin is *very* good. There's always a glitch / disconnect / oversight issue somewhere in the building of one of these. The faster you can get it worked out the better. Having both good support from the dealer and supper there is a lot better than just having one or the other.

If you are building any of the i3's, I'd plan on implementing auto bed leveling. It takes care of a number of fiddly little issues. The parts will cost you $10 to $30. I'd suggest going with the higher end of that range.


Filament is as much a part of these printers as the other parts that go into them. If you get a kit, get a spool of plastic to go with it from the dealer. You may never ever buy another spool from them, but their setup and defaults *probably* work well with their filament. It's a lot easier to start with some rational settings than to try to zero in on settings while trying to debug everything else.


Just to be clear - that's a kit that worked for me. It's *not* the only kit in the universe that could work for you. My experience was very positive. Your mileage may vary.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
December 31, 2013 12:06PM
So what should I look for? Are there specific brands of components that I should look for in a kit? Also general tips are appreciated grinning smiley
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 01, 2014 02:57PM
If you buy a known good kit, all of the decisions are made for you. If not you have a couple of issues. Say I recommend a "J-Head Hot end". There are several dozen people making knock off hot ends that they call J-Heads. Most of them are 1/4 the price of a real one and pretty much useless. Unless you have one in your hand and can look at it closely, it's tough to figure out what's a real one and what's not. Once it's in a kit it's just called a "J-Head". There is no way to tell if it's real or a clone. Trademark law does not seem to apply in the world of printers.

When you buy a kit you are "paying" the guy to source the right parts, support the kit, and to supply a good design. The only way to tell if he does all this right is to buy a kit from him and see how it does.

Next layer to this onion is that there are many different ways to do all of this. If you read the threads here on the forum, we can spend years debating which kind of wire is or isn't best. Wire is pretty simple stuff.

On most of this, you are dealing with open source hardware and software. It's very normal for multiple vendors to implement the same thing. Marlin firmware is good stuff -it's a free download. Ramps 1.4 boards are quite useful - dozens of people make them well. Most of those people are nameless. Mega 256 boards are a common thing to pair with Marlin and Ramps. They are made by dozens of outfits and sold by hundreds of people. It's hard to find a bad one and easy to find a good one. If you want to buy a name brand Mega, they are -$45 from Arduino.cc. A perfectly good no name clone is < $18.

Hot ends are worth debating. The clone issue makes this debate a bit meaningless if you are buying a kit. You never know if the one it the kit is a clone or not.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 01, 2014 03:55PM
So instead of buying a kit, are you suggesting I buy the parts separately? I can see this option option being cheaper considering I would be cutting out the middle man that puts together the kits. Could you recommend a retailer for the rods and other hardware? I have already found a few websites that sell the electronics, printed parts, and the frame. While I have heard great things about the maker farm kit, I like the appearance (I am a stickler for these kinds of things) of a metal frame. I have found the frames on arduino.cc, but I don't know if I have to worry about stress from the moving axes and if this frame is strong enough. I think that picking the parts myself could be better, but I just want to make sure I have good quality parts for a reasonable price. Thanks a lot for your help.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 02, 2014 08:03AM
To follow up on what Uncle Bob said, get a kit from a known reliable vendor.
The two I have heard the most good things about are diytechshop and makerfarm.

Like Uncle Bob said, Colin at Makerfarm has phenomenal support.

I use his kits in a 3D printer build class I teach. The only issues I have ever had was a few
parts missing once which Colin got out to me next day mail as soon as I called.

The Makerfarm kit is also very complete. All you need is a PC power supply and some glass.
Colin has a great set of build instructions and videos you can follow.

Also, Colin is constantly tweaking and improving little things about the design. In the
last batch I bought he included bed leveling kits and has improved the adjustability of the
Y-axis end stop.

I do recommend staying with the J-Head hot end initially in his kit. While, the kits
I teach with I upgrade to the magma all metal hot-end - I am there to work with the students
to resolve any cooling issues.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 02, 2014 02:11PM
That is good news that the diy tech shop kit is good! As I said previously, while everyone really likes the maker farm kit I like the look of a metal frame. I Also appreciate the larger build volume of the tech shop model. Can anyone recommend a detailed video guide on youtube for how to build the i3? I found one, but it wasn't as detailed as I would have hoped, but I guess that the build instructions in a kit would be much more detailed. Anyway, thanks for all the help! grinning smiley
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 06, 2014 07:45PM
I have come across another question. I notice that the diytech kit does not include a power supply. I have am wondering how many watts do I need in a power supply. The extra power supply I have is a corsair cx430. Is 430 watts enough for the average printer? I only ask because I saw a printer using a 600w power supply. I just figured I would ask because I know from my computer building back round that 600w is a lot of power able to power a lot of power full hardware with power to spare and it just seems like overkill for just an arduino, ramps, 5 stepper motors, and a tiny fan. Anyway, just thought I'd ask.

Also what kind of filament would you recommend? It seems like 1.75mm filament is easier to find, and I just want about 1kg. Has anyone tried makerbot filaments with their printers and how does it work? I know filament is a kinda sorta important (obviously a very important) part of the printer. I am looking for decent filament for around the price of $50 or less with decent quality. can someone recommend anything? Thanks a lot!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/06/2014 07:52PM by mac hacker.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 07, 2014 11:50AM
Here is a thread for your reference on the power supply: [forums.reprap.org]

Best of luck!
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 08, 2014 06:26PM
Can anyone recommend a good filament? I am still deciding between 1.75 and 3mm filament. Can anyone help?
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 15, 2014 08:22PM
After digging around for awhile, I found this SainSmart filament. [www.amazon.com] the reviews make it seem pretty good, but has anyone used this before?
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 16, 2014 06:40PM
You have to decide what size filament you want to use before you buy your hot end! If you go with a 1.75mm filament, I would get a .4mm nozzle while we use a .5mm nozzle on our i3Prusas We love the metal frame Prusas! Have 13 of them built so far.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 20, 2014 06:37PM
I have decided to use 1.75mm filament. does anyone have any experience with sainsmart filament and how it prints? I have heard different printers print better or worse with different filaments, but what is normally a good filament to start with? Thanks for all the help!
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 26, 2014 04:49PM
I'd recommend the makerfarm i3. Colin's communication and support is second to none. I've corresponded with him at 10pm before.

Implement auto bed leveling, though, as leveling a big bed and keeping it in level is nearly impossible. I installed auto bed leveling and it's absolutely awesome.

Colin's j-heads are built to the proper spec and are very good.

I bought a 30amp led power supply for 30 bucks. Most pc power supplies can't supply enough amperage on the 12v rail to power a hot end and a big heat bed. For instance, a 450 watt atx psu power supply will only be able to put out about 11 amps on the 12v rail.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/26/2014 04:55PM by umdpru.
Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
January 28, 2014 05:09PM
Hi everyone
I just read this thread and think both the Makerfarm i3 and the new I3 Alpha from diytechshop looking good.
But it seams to me that the Makerfarm in wood is not at the same quality as a printer in metal.
There are some difference in price of this two machines, and I is confused that the Makerfarm i wood is more expensive than the I3 alpha in metal.
And even more confusing is that the old Prusa V2 is a lot more expensive ? Have I missed something ?

I also looking at the RepRapPro Mono Mendel and that one is also more $ and the two others, but it look cheaper in my eyes.

Can anyone explain if i missing something in my research for a good printer at a good price.

Does anybody tried the new Alpha yet ?
There are nearly no info on the page yet about the new version, I just send them a mail with some questions.

Re: Prusa I3 questions/advice/build (?)
February 02, 2014 02:54PM
going back to filament, what does everyone use brandwise? PLA seems like the best material for me and I think I want to go with 1.75 mm filament, but I don't know the advantages and disadvantages of both 1.75 mm and 3 mm. Thanks for all the advice!
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