Assembly vs buying pre assembled

I have never assembled a 3D printer before. Before buying this machine, should I pay the extra $200 for pre assembled or try to assemble it myself?

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The kit comes well packaged. Everything inside arrived intact. There is an excellent thick assembly manual included, with a lot of details and color photos. You are guided step by step through various sub-assemblies, and the parts are pre-owned in labeled bags. This is definitely the best documented kit I have ever built.

With that said, it I still had a few snags, which I think were minor, but this may help you decide:

1) despite following directions closely, twice I realized I did something wrong, and had to undo and redo about 15 minutes of assembly work each time.

2) about 3 times I found it difficult to mate up fasteners, and took about 5 extra minutes each.

3) one small screw broke off because threads in the metal had paint and probably should have been re-apply first. The kit includes a bag of spare fasteners (including that one), but I needed extra tools to get the broken screw out and tap the hole.

4) The whole time I built the kit, I was concerned about whether it was squared up correctly and accurately enough. I got lucky and managed to pass the self calibrations the first time, But I believe it will tell you if it's not good enough and you can adjust it if needed.

The kit actually includes all tools required for assembly, and I used them for most of it, but I eventually started using some of my own tools (screwdriver with allen tips) because they made it a bit faster and easier.

The free online version of the manual is great because you can zoom in on details to see them better. I used an android tablet to play music and follow the manual, and it was much easier than keeping the book open to the right page.

I did the assembly over several days, but total time to the self check starting was under 6 hours, including unpacking parts.

I decided to buy the kit because:

1) it was the best way to really understand this printer, and make it easier to upgrade or repair in the future.

2)save $200 bucks I could use towards the 4 filament upgrade.

3) I had concerns that shipping it assembled might damage it in shipping.

If you don't have the time, or don't like assembling kits, it makes sense to buy one prebuilt. This was not one of those kits that has 3 sections and 6 screws and you're done, this has a Lot of pieces. With the great manual and well organized parts, if you are up for a project, even without experience in electronics or mechanical assembly, you should succeed if you take your time. I can't say that about a lot of kits (mostly electronics, not 3d printers) I have built in the past.

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I had (until yesterday) never built a 3d printer and I'd consider myself to be mechanically incompetent (I am however an Application developer and I theoretically have a degree in Electronics but that was a long time ago) .

I successfully built the printer, passed all self-tests, calibrated it (all square) and was printing successfully in ~6 hours.

  • The instructions are excellent but read all the comments before starting each step, there are some excellent tips on the trickier sections.
  • Buy a set of digital calipers and use them carefully when building the y-axis and setting the spring loaded screws on the extruder
  • Buy a 3mm tap and clear each hole in the frame before screwing any M3 screw (I broke a few and have one I couldn't get out).

I bought the kit because it saved $200USD (much more in CAD), I could get it faster and I wanted to learn about how 3d printers work

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Thanks for this info, the extruder is definitely one part I did not focus on, did you see any areas on adjusting the springs or tension on the extruder? Also I had seen one blog on the digital calipers, I will definitely get one tomorrow. I did find a great drawing on all measurements/distance on the y Axis. That definitely helped ensuring the Y axis frame was squared and at proper distances with the X Axis. Did you use the Digital Caliber in measuring the P.I.N.D.L.E height in relation to the heating bed or print head. Thanks for the info, all information is greatly appreciated

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I eyeballed the height of the sensor vs the nozzle and then adjusted by -0.9mm in the settings using the live Z adjust, it's printing perfectly. I did my first 18hour print (the castle on the SD card) and it worked really well

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Question: When you did the Z Adjust did you start at the Auto Home position and us e the Z adjust measure at different points on the Heat Bed? Thank you for the info, appreciate you the info :)

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I didn't I printed the calibration 'zig zag' print on the SD card and adjusted the Z until it stuck to the bed properly

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That's what I did also, and it worked well for me. System passed all calibration and self tests, so I ran the zig zag calibration print. First pass I noticed it was not sticking to the bed well, especially at corners, so i uses the z adjust setting to verry slowly lower it. Then I cleaned off the bed with isopropyl alcohol and ran ot again. Theres a page in the book with pictures of the filament as it prints, and it shows that it should look slighly flattened from being perfectly round. Get that adjusted and write down the z adjust number. Seems to remember it even after powering down, but nice to have it. I dont know exact height of my pinda probe, but I set it a little higher than the tip figuring if it was lower it might drag through the prints and mess them up. Also used paper during firsr few calibrations to help protect the bed from the nozzle if it was set wrong.

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It's worth getting assembled. I been having issues assembling it since I got in mid November this year.

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1st let me state this opinion is from a Novice 3D Printer person, but I have been a technician for many decades: I purchased the I3 MK 2 kit, only because time constraints, I would have had to wait an additional 4 to six weeks. I found the parts labeling excellent, the manual was excellent to a point. What I am seeing is a lack of precision measurements and this appears to be critical, the only real precise measurement was the power supply portion placement on the Y Frame. I did come across a later drawing with precise measurements of the Y Frame in relation to the X axis and various parts of the printer, this helped greatly. The Y axis alignment with the X axis is also not very precise look down from the top at the lines on the heating bed? I believe PRUSA, the last portion lacking precision is the PINDLE distance for the heating bed, this has major impact with both printing and calibration, I believe I came across .45mm to .75mm, although did run across one tech who said he set his to 1mm. Having the PINDLE wrong can drive the print head into the bed, or cause the printer to not find the calibration points. Adjusting the Y axis frame can cause the frame to be out of square and skew the X Axis. I ran into this trying to correct the X axis alignment to the Y Axis. Here is what I think needs to be fixed in the procedures and the design of the PRUSA I3 MK 2 printer:

1st: Include the drawing that shows the exact distance measurements to reference the y axis, X axis and printer parts.

2nd: The X and Y axis alignment. Very simple, drill two small holes in the X Axis Frame (one on each side of to the inside of the X axis frame towards the heating bed, include a straight metal bar that can be snapped into the holes in the frame, this metal bar will show provide an exact reference to align with the lines on the heating bed and will assist in aligning the X and Y axis.

3rd: This is highly critical: Provide an exact measurement for the PINDLE and print head distance from the heating bed, this would also require moving the print head/PINDLE unit by moving them in the z axis, perhaps this could also be a new calibration point for the Z axis and the Heating bed.

4th: Put it in black and white: adjusting the distance between the PINDLE and the Heating Bed. If the print Head is hitting the Heating bed, Increase the distance, if the system is not finding the calibration points decrease the distance....

5th: More emphasis should be placed on having the Y axis Frame square and leveled. I used the thread count on the Outside nuts on the Frame and using the Diagram showing the exact measurements.

6th: Procedures suing the z axis point adjustments and the bed alignment adjustments need to be provided, made clear. Also ramp up the You-Tube videos.

I must reiterate I am definitely a rookie 3d Printer, to this point on multiple occasion my I ran the firmware upgrade from the computer via the USB Connection, my system has passed the self-test, the X,Y and Z Calibration. The V2 Calibration states the X, Y and Axis are okay, however during the printing the 1st layer, parts don't stick. I have adjusted the PINDLE, this helped to a point. I still am having issues with this and am unable to print any projects as they don't stick to the bed. Cleaning the Heating bed or putting glue on Heating bed from the Glue stick is inadequate, even though the Heat bed temp also passes test. I have also found a blog where one person stated using a specific plastic based hair spray worked for him.

That being said by the assembled unit.

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Buy the assembled unit

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What is your driving factor? Interest in 3D Printing to the point you want to dig in and learn it. Personally I started not really that interested in learning the technology, bought the printer because of its reviews on both the printer and the company, bought the kit because of the time constraints. Now I find my self learning more and more as I can't quite get the layer 1 right. Being a techie though I as others do have the never ending desire not to stop until we fix it. If you are someone that wants a 3D printer more for generating parts and not having to figure things out. Probably buy an assembled/calibrated. The PRUSA customer support is very responsive to all customers. To me I would say if you have the interest and drive make this a passion, there is no better way than building the kit, learning as you go, troubleshooting problems, hitting the blogs, you-tube, the internet and other 3D printing sites/forums.

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Do you want a printer that works out of the box and have little interest in understanding how it works?

Go with the Pre-assembled version.

Otherwise, are you mechanically inclined and familiar with building other types of kits? (models, IKEA furniture, etc)

Do you want to know how it works and potentially build copies of it yourself or make custom modifications?

Go with the Kit.

Don't base your decision solely on the price difference if you don't have the skills. At the very least watch some assembly videos on Youtube and see if it is something you are willing to try with a good degree of confidence. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_q...

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After building one, I think you could probably get the builds down to 5 hours each if you were putting lots of them together... faster if you were assembly line preparing the parts.

Even faster with power tools...and all the spare parts you need at hand in case there is a screw up. :-)

As I see it, they are paying me $200 to experience the fun of putting it together.

Remember to follow the online manual and read the comments in each step. Me and others have made comments that will smooth out some of the confusing bits.

Seriously, you got this. It's not rocket appliances.

The most important thing is that when inevitably you have to replace a part, you'll know how.

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I could have gone the extra $200 but since it was coming from the Czech Republic figured the odds on it making it here to the US undamaged were slim no matter how well they packaged it, plus I wanted to build it myself so as to be better able to service it myself, 3d printer repair shops being thin on the ground here and all. Plus, this is a big investment for me at least. Starting to think I've overestimated my abilities...

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This option is not (as it would first seem) an issue of the value of you paying someone else $200 to save you the time and effort of the build; first, it's a six to ten hour build (ten being if you're God's Own quality assurance guy, and insist on four digit accuracy everywhere!), so the time is negligible in the overall scheme of a lifetime of owning it; second, and most important, you get the chance to become intimately familiar with the hardware, so when you're troubleshooting, you'll have a clue where to look and what to start with; and, third, you DO get the chance to be God's Own QC guy - the time and trouble you put into it will ensure long life, and great utility;)

So, unless you're hopelessly clumsy and don't know which end of a screwdriver to hold, spend the $200 on filament samples, and roll 'yer own!

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If you order the pre-built version and you never have to adjust things or fix something then you will be very happy. If or when something goes wrong and you have to really dig in then you will be unhappy because it will be very foreign to you. However if you get the kit you are paying yourself to learn the ins and outs of this printer. My build was nearly perfect. However I had a lot of difficulty with initial alignment and the X axis binding up. Once I figured it all out I was very please and please with myself. This unit is so amazing in the quality and consistency that I can not believe it sometimes.

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Hopefully, the rest of us will be so lucky. There are a lot out there are not so lucky. I have done the calibration, played with the live z adjust, cleaned the be with isopropyl alcohol, many times and still have yet to get past the 1st layer. Buy the assembled kit.

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Krampus will be eternally grateful.