AMS Spring 2023

New Kickstarter Wants to Upgrade Your Prusa Mini 3D Printer

6K SmarTech

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Czechia-based Strojtools is an engineering firm that primarily works in the car industry; however, its employees are big 3D printing fans, and want to use their skills to get you to upgrade your Prusa Mini 3D printer. The team is in the midst of a Kickstarter which aims to take your Prusa to another level.

Strojtools Upgrades for the Prusa Mini 3D Printer

The team is offering a selection of parts that you can print, as well as others that they will ship to you, that should improve your Prusa. One aluminum component reinforces the X axis, providing greater precision, while a Z-axis reinforcement is meant to improve accuracy. Other pieces include an X-axis extension and stops to enhance overall printing and surface quality, as well as the ability to handle more load, such as a direct drive extruder. Overall vibration can be mitigated through the frame, with some feedback loops will be minimized. All in all, Strojtools’ items will make X-, Y- and Z-axis adjustment more precise. The team also supplies surface-treated stainless steel build plates featuring honeycomb and brick patterns for improved adhesion.

All parts are made in the European Union as additions to the printer, meaning that you don’t have to dismantle and completely alter your Prusa Mini for this to work. So, if you’d like to adjust or remove the parts, the process is reversible and easily done. In the campaign video the Strojtools team demonstrates the assembly process, which seems super doable. The total kit is around $110, with discounts for early birds and such.

Little Kickstarter Risk

It seems like a sensible set of upgrades to a popular printer. I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t try to make upgrades for the Prusa i3, but that could happen if this project does well. Also Strojtools’ claims seem believable and straightforward, but the team doesn’t have well documented “before” and “after” pictures of parts to really show the improvements. This isn’t some whizz-bang, multi-million dollar campaign, however. It seems like a group of sensible engineers coming up with some logical parts that could make your Mini run better.

For a fairly doable, well-priced project that doesn’t entail a lot of complexities, there seems to be very little Kickstarter risk here. The team is also looking to raise a very modest $3,000 in total. Some upgrades are already being done by the community at large, which you can get for free, but the team seems to have leveraged its own engineering capabilities to get the build platforms and reinforcement components made.

The Desktop 3D Printer Aftermarket

There is currently very little in the way of commercial businesses that are actively improving printers. Of course, we have E3D, Bondtech, and Dyze Design for nozzles and print heads. Kai Parthy makes develops filaments and process upgrades, as well. There are also a lot of resellers and parts sellers on Amazon and Ali Baba. However, given the huge installed base of desktop 3D printers, we would expect more commercial businesses designed to enhance 3D printers.

The potential in spare parts, upgrades and extensions for 3D printers is huge. It’s a tricky market, though. What improvements would people pay for? What parts could be organically developed by the open source community itself? And who gets to be a free open source innovator and who gets to base a business on the concept. I really hope that the Strojtools team is successful in this Kickstarter and parlays it into starting a business that improves the printers that we have on offer today. Check out the Kickstarter here.

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