In an industry packed with more 3D printer options than anyone could even try to keep track of there has always been one constant industry leader: RepRap. Back in 2005 when Adrian Bowyer first founded the RepRap Project it was just a loose collection of makers pitching in to develop an inexpensive 3D printer that could replicate most of its own components. But in the eleven years since, it has grown into a massive global project that has spawned technology that in some way is used by almost every single brand of 3D printer on the market. And combining all of the user-made RepRap designed 3D printers makes RepRap the most widely used model of 3D printer on the planet.
While there are dozens of different open-source designs and modifications of RepRap 3D printers around, one of the most consistently popular models is the Original Prusa i3. This week Josef Průša and Prusa Research are announcing an all new generation of the successful Prusa i3 design, the Original Prusa i3 MK2. Since the the release of the Original Prusa i3 kit, as a company Prusa Research has grown 10 times in size and is now a team of more than 30 people printing and assembling over 500 3D printer kits a month. The MK2 is an evolution of the features that made the Original so popular with a whole bunch of fantastic upgrades.
“We had plenty of time and a few thousands printers to collect all the feedback on the already awesome Original i3. We decided to push it even further. This is not just a simple upgrade. This is a new generation with completely new or highly upgraded features. We’ve created the ultimate i3 design,” said Průša.
The MK2 kit includes the new MK42 heated bed, which has three power zones at each corner that heat the bed a few degrees hotter than at the center, forming a shield of warm air at the edges of the printing bed. This finally solves the “cold corners” problem, and opens the entire bed up for successful edge to edge 3D printing. The glass printing bed was also upgraded to Ultem PEI, and the bed surface itself is 31% larger at 250 x 210 x 200 mm (9.84 x 8.3 x 8 inch). And the new printing bed will fit into the same size frame, so the printer’s footprint isn’t any larger. Prusa Research also added a great, hassle free auto-leveling full mesh printing bed that has nine built in calibration points for excellent repeatability.
Construction of the frame on the Original Prusa i3 MK2 kit also has been redesigned and upgraded, leading to more stability and making the printer easier to transport. The new kit also added an improved electronics cover with an easy access door and a reworked LCD cover. The hotend has been upgraded from the E3D V6Lite to the E3D V6Full, so printing speeds are much faster, and the maximum hotend temperature has increased to 300°C (572°F). That makes a ton of new 3D printing materials available to users, including advanced polymers and nylon blends.
Prusa has also made a bunch of improvements to the Marlin firmware, making it easier and more intuitive to use, and added in several new software functions. The MK2 has a new printer self-test feature that allows it to self-diagnose any potential problems once the kit is assembled, and it will even guide you in fixing them right on the printer’s LCD screen. The firmware now includes printer statistics, so users can track how much filament they’re using, how long the print has been going and how much time is left.
If you’re one of the thousands of users who already has an Original Prusa i3, don’t worry; the new MK2 features are fully upgradable with previous iterations so there is no need to buy an entirely new printer. Prusa says that the complete MK2 kit will also be fully upgradable for any future developments, so you’ll never be stuck with one generation behind the current model. The new Original Prusa i3 MK2 kit is now available for pre-order for $699 (€739) and will start being shipped worldwide this month. Are you fan of the Original Prusa i3? Thoughts on the new kit? Let’s talk about it over in the Prusa i3 MK2 Kit forum thread at 3DPB.com.