For the past few weeks I’ve been mulling over which 3D printer to purchase. To be honest, getting a 3D printer wasn’t something I had planned. I originally wanted to get a CNC router first and then a 3D printer later on. But given the current world situation and the resulting limited space and resources available to me, I decided to go with the 3D printer first.
3D printers make a whole lot less noise and mess than CNC router, which makes it easier to use in my apartment setting. The biggest factors for me in selecting a 3D printer were noise, build volume, cost, and performance (i.e., the ability to print successfully and beautifully). After a bit of research, I settled on two final candidates:
Creality Ender 5
Full Item Description
From my research, Creality has been producing high quality 3D printers in recent years at a very affordable price point. You get a lot of bang for your buck and that was immediately attractive to me.
|Price||$350 (often on sale for $320)|
|Build Volume||220 x 220 x 300 mm|
|Print Speed||40-80 mm/s|
|Print Accuracy||+/- 0.1 mm|
|Layer Height||0.1-0.4 mm|
|Noise Level||Can be fairly noisy from fans and motors|
Original Prusa i3 MK3S
Full Item Description
The cream of the crop of < $1000 printers is the Prusa i3 MK3S. Receiving many awards from Make: and other 3D printing media outlets, the Prusa has been producing excellent quality printers for the past few years.
|Build Volume||250 x 210 x 210 mm|
|Print Speed (Max)||200 mm/s|
|Layer Height||0.05-0.35 mm|
|Noise Level||Very quiet in normal mode and whisper quiet in silent mode.|
On paper, the Prusa has the Ender 5 beat in every category except price. The question for me was: Could I mod the Ender 5 to make it as quiet and perform as well as the Prusa and spend less than the cost of buying an actual Prusa?
Being in an apartment and knowing there will be long print times ahead, noise level is of the utmost importance. Based on my research, I learned the fans and stepper motors on the Prusa enable it to operate at a whisper. So quiet, that you would be hard pressed to realize it is even running without going right up to it. Aside from getting the same or similar fans and stepper motors, the Ender 5 just wasn’t going to be as quiet. This factor alone put the Prusa out ahead of the Ender 5 by a mile.
Other features on the Prusa, such as, auto bed leveling, a multitude of sensors, a removable magnetic spring steel bed, and a highly integrated ecosystem with attentive support sealed the deal for me. In the end, while I could have modded the Ender 5 to be very similar to the Prusa and save myself a hundred or so dollars, it was the total package offering from Prusa straight out of the box that makes it that more valuable.
So, I ordered the Prusa i3 MK3S with black parts and double sided spring steel build plate. The unfortunate news is that it is on back order and will take 4-5 weeks before it arrives. The good news is that this lead time will let me prepare for it by sourcing materials to build an enclosure and get more familiar with Fusion 360 and PrusaSlicer.
Until next time…