My final choice for a new 3D printer is the original Prusa i3 MK3S, which I have purchased in kit form. If I can build it properly, should be great.
So, I bit the bullet and bought a new 3D printer. My final choice was the original Prusa i3 MK3S in kit form. A bit more expensive than my target budget, but it should last me for a while.
I found the Prusa i3 MK3S was probably the best reviewed 3D printer in 2019. You can find tons of videos online describing it in detail, such as this one Thomas Sanladerer.
Why did I buy an original open source machine rather than a clone? Two reasons. First, better quality parts should provide better reliability over time. Second, I did something to support Josef Prusa, who has made huge contributions to the 3D printing world over the past ten years.
Perhaps the most popular feature of this new printer is the shift to a spring steel print bed coated in PEI. This provides great adhesion, and makes it easy to remove final prints. I have wasted too much time over the past five years experimenting with blue painters tape, glue stick or kapton tape surfaces for printing.
Shifting to a 24 volt power supply means the extruder and bed will heat up much faster. Amazingly, I discovered that the original Prusa i3 MK3S comes with printed assembly and user manuals, a rare thing these days. It should take me a day or so to assemble the unit.
Original Prusa i3 MK3S – Smarter Firmware
Both machine and firmware continue to be open sourced. My new Prusa’s firmware contains some very advanced features.
First, it monitors stepper motor performance in real time. By monitoring some advanced motor drivers over an SPI bus, the firmware can make on the fly adjustments for jams, skipped layers and proper torque. It even does away with mechanical end stops.
Second, it monitors and adjusts cooling fan performance in real time. Finally, Prusa not only provides automatic bed levelling but compensates for temperature effects of print bed expansion and contractions.
You will find all this smart firmware crammed into an 8 bit microcontroller board. If you follow these things, the firmware is an advanced fork of Marlin.