The 3D printing community is rippling with discussion today as Prusa Printers announced their new flagship 3D printer, the MK4.
To hit the major points quickly, this newest machine boasts:
- A new 32 bit main board
- updated Nextruder
- Input Shaper
- Pressure Advance
- quick swap nozzles
- remote printing
- higher precision stepper motors
There’s actually a lot more to it, which you can read about on their blog post. The retail price of the MK 4 is set at $1,099. As usual there are upgrade kits so you can take your previous versions up to the new standard and everything is fully open source.
Some thoughts on the current market
Before I talk about what the market is doing, I want to disclose that Prusa sponsors my charitable side project www.thecontrollerproject.com, so I may be biased to think they’re wonderful. However, these observations will likely be the topic of conversation for the next few weeks online.
The market for 3d printers has changed drastically over the past year or so. As you may have read in our recent issue of Make Magazine, the pressure to make a faster 3D printer is strong. Bambu labs, Anker, and the Voron project have all brought attention to how fast a desktop printer can go, and we’re seeing that speed is one of the main selling points people are discussing right now. Creality is marketing a new printer coming in a few weeks based purely on promises of speed.
However, as people discuss these printers, it seems like they tend to compare them all to the Prusa MK 3s, which was released in 2017… over 5 years ago. While those others may be faster, the print quality seems to be about the same (in my opinion), and reliability is yet to be seen. The MK4 seems to boast some improved speeds but it doesn’t appear as though Prusa jumped through any last minute hoops to try to directly compete on those grounds. Again, the push seems to be on reliability and quality.
The big question is: Will this be enough? An MK4 is $1099, a Bambu p1p is $699. That ~$400 difference is a lot to many people. Does the Prusa reputation and customer support increase the value that much?
The multi material question
Another area we’ve seen improvements recently is in multi material. The Bambu system has shown some really impressive results with a fairly easy interface. Prusa also announced that there is a new version of their multi material system; the MMU.
The new system allows up to 5 different colors on a single layer, it integrates fully with the machine this time instead of feeling like a separate accessory. One feature that is particularly interesting to me is that the Prusa software in conjunction with the MMu3 allows you to use all that waste material (multi color printing on any filament based printer requires purging between colors and produces tons of waste) to print an actual model. This means that if you don’t care how ugly a part is, you could reduce your waste to nearly zero and just end up with a pretty multi colored model and a 2nd ugly model of your choosing. I love that feature.