The Prusa i3 is an open-source fused deposition modeling 3D printer. Part of the RepRap project, it is the most used 3D printer in the world. The Prusa i3 was designed by Josef Průša in 2012 with the Prusa i3 MK2 being released in 2016 and the MK2S being released in 2017. The Prusa i3's comparable low cost and ease of construction and modification has made it popular in education and with hobbyists and professionals. Due to the printer being open source there have been many variants produced by companies and individuals worldwide, and like many other RepRap printers the Prusa i3 is capable of printing some of its own parts.

prusa i3

The Prusa i3 is the third printer design by Josef Průša, a core developer of the RepRap project who had previously developed the PCB heated bed. The first iteration was the Prusa Mendel produced in 2010 followed by the Prusa Mendel (iteration 2), in 2011. The printer was named Prusa Mendel by the RepRap community rather than Průša himself.


History




Prusa Mendel



The first Prusa Mendel was released in September 2010 with the aim of simplifying the existing Mendel design, including reducing the time needed to create the 3D printed parts from 20 to 10 hours and 3D printable bushings replacing regular bearings.


History

Prusa Mendel (iteration 2)



The second Prusa Mendel was released in November 2011 and with upgrades including snap fit parts, reduction of the number of tools needed to construct, maintain the printer and improved belts attached to the stepper motors and use of LM8UU linear bearings.


Prusa i3



In May 2012 designs (produced in OpenSCAD) for the Prusa i3 were released, it was a major redesign from previous versions and other RepRap printers. The design replaced the triangular threaded rod frame construction with a water jet cut aluminum frame, had a food-safe hot end called the Prusa Nozzle, and used M5 threaded screws instead of M8. The design focused on ease of construction and use rather than maximising the number of self replicated components. In 2015 Průša released a version which he called the Original Prusa i3, selling through his company Prusa Research.


Prusa i3 MK2



In May 2016 the Prusa i3 MK2 was released, it is the first printer with automatic geometry skew correction for all three axes and includes a larger build volume, custom stepper motors with integrated lead screws, mesh bed levelling using a non-contact inductance sensor and a rewritten version of the Marlin firmware. Other new features include a polyetherimide print surface, Rambo controller board and an E3D V6 Full hotend. The Prusa MK2 became the first RepRap printer to be supported by Windows Plug-and-Play USB ID.


Prusa i3 MK2S



In March 2017, Josef Prusa announced on his blog that the Prusa i3 MK2 was now shipping as the Prusa i3 MK2S. Enhancements cited include U-bolts to hold the LM8UU bearings, improved LM8UU bearings, smoother rods, an improved mount for the inductance sensor, improved cable management, and a new electronics cover. While new shipments of the MK2 will automatically receive the "S" upgrades, an upgrade kit is available to bring these improvements to earlier purchasers.


Recognition



In 2012 Josef received honours from the governor of the Vysočina Region in the Czech Republic for his accomplishments in technology. In February 2014 he was featured on the cover of Czech Forbes magazine as one of the 30 under 30 list.

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Capabilities




Self replication



Like other RepRap printers the Prusa i3 is capable of creating many of its own parts, which are usually printed in ABS plastic; the standard Prusa i3 has 26 printed parts.


Printable materials



Depending on the hot end and heated bed installed, the Prusa i3 is capable of printing many materials including Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polylactic acid (PLA), high impact polystyrene (HIPS), polypropylene and nylon.


Components




The Prusa i3, like many RepRap printers, is made from a combination of self-replicated 3D printed parts and off-the-shelf components which commonly referred to as "vitamins", as they cannot be produced by the printer itself.

Components

The vitamins used on the Prusa i3 are a combination of common components including threaded rods, smooth rods, screws, nuts, 5 NEMA 17 stepper motors and more specialist equipment including a controller board, heated bed and hot end.


Variants



Due to its popularity the Prusa i3 has many variants produced by different companies and individuals around the world including different styles of frame and extruders.


Frames



Frames

The main variant in designs of the Prusa i3 are different frames used, these include a single sheet frame cut from steel, acrylic (laser cut or CNC milled), medium-density fibreboard box frames and Lego.


Extruders



Extruders

There are a range of different extruders used on variants of the Prusa i3 including 1.75 mm and 3 mm filament extruders and other tool heads including a MIG welder and a laser cutter.