I’ve had my eye on a 3D printer for a few years. I kept saying that I would wait for it to get cheaper and easier to use. At the same time, my wife is constantly telling me that I never buy anything fun for myself. So for my birthday this year, I pooled my Christmas money, birthday money, and some savings and pulled the trigger and entered the world of 3D printing.
My research kept pointing me back to Prusa Research. I was looking for something with good quality prints and that was reliable. They weren’t the cheapest printers on the block, but after years of waiting, I opted to go big or go home. I chose the Prusa i3 MK3S printer. Some of the selling points for me included:
- Safety features
- Multi-material potential
- Included software and support options
So as I hinted at, I’m kind of a tightwad so to save $200 I bought the printer as a kit. I figured this meant bolting some things together and attaching pre-built parts. I was wrong, but that’s ok because I learned a lot. Some assembly required is an understatement. True to its roots as a printer that could be created with a set of hardware and 3D printed parts from another printer (RepRap Project), the MK3S comes as a set of boxes of 3D printed parts, motors and a whole lot of screws, nuts, and other hardware.
Thankfully the designers also designed a wonderful set of instructions and an ordered way to ship the product. Each step had its own bag of 3D printed parts and a separate bag of hardware. They also provided a printed (to scale) cheat sheet to compare the parts to as you work. When you have 10mm and 12mm screws in the same step, this is crucial! Prusa also included a bag of Haribo Gummy Bears to keep my strength up during the assembly process along with a guide of how many to eat for each step. The rewards were needed, I kept going for the bears.
All tolled I probably spent 20 hours assembling the printer. Your mileage may vary depending on how much “maker” experience you have. The instructions and the related comments on their website are awesome. My tip is to read ALL of the comments for each step before trying to accomplish the step. There were several times that I didn’t do this and spent over an hour trying to assemble something only to find a quick answer in the comments that made the entire step easy to do. My other assembly tip is to add some tools to the kit provided. I used a pair of side cutters and a small screwdriver kit that had allen wrench bits. While there are places that you have to use the provided allen wrenches, a lot of other places your fingers will thank you for having a small screwdriver.
Phase One Completed
After several interrupted days of assembly, I finally succeeded in having a 3D printer that I could power up. Even then though, there was more adventure ahead, but that’s another post.