3D Printer Review: Prusa MK4

3D Printing & Imaging Maker News

Manufacturer: Prusa

URL: https://www.prusa3d.com/product/original-prusa-mk4-2/

Price: $1,099

Features

  • new load cell allows for fully automatic first layer
  • New extruder design with quick swap and high torque planetary drive
  • filament sensor
  • power resume
  • wifi and ethernet connection
  • new color lcd with model preview
  • fully open source with future upgrade path
  • 250x210x220mm print area

Unboxing and setup

Setup was incredibly simple. There is zero assembly required. You pull it out of the box, plug it in, and it begins the self test. This is the only printer I have that has an initial guided setup that tests all the motors, heating elements, and sensors. It does feel nice to see it test everything and come up with green check marks. Out of the box, it has a 3d print still on the plate, which means they’ve tested it at the factory before shipping.

In Use

I selected a print from the supplied USB stick (I do like USB much more than the old memory cards the MK3 uses). The robo-alpaca printed without issue. The print was pretty much perfect. I paid special attention to the first layer as that’s where all the new magic is supposed to happen. It went down perfectly.

The previews on the screen are a really nice touch.

After that successful print I needed to print up a quick trinket to give to a guest in my office. I selected a planetary gear set and again watched as the machine made a perfect first layer. It is amusing to watch it probe only the section of the bed it will be using, as opposed to the entire bed. The print ultimately turned out perfect.

My main use for this printer will be to print parts for a charity I run, called TheControllerProject.com (which prusa sponsors) , where we supply parts to gamers who are disabled for free. My most common request is this single hand playstation controller kit by Akaki Kuumeri. There are a few finnicky parts on this, that fail if your first layer isn’t perfect. It is a very frustrating situation that means many machines I test aren’t worth the effort to use for production on that specific file as I have to babysit the first layer too much. So far, the MK4 has been spitting them out flawlessly.

Speed tests

Compared to the MK3, this machine is peppy. However, what everyone is really excited about are the yet unreleased updates that will take advantage of input shaping and pressure advance to really push this machine’s speed. A teaser online has shown this machine printing a benchy in less than 20 minutes.

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This is a bit of a frustrating situation and admittedly feels like it may be revealing a little bit of my personal bias (remember, they donate printers to my charity). Would I criticize another company that teased this but released the printer without it a little harsher? I’m not sure.

Conclusion

There is a lot of debate online right now about Prusa’s latest machine. Many expected Prusa to compete with the speed demons out there like the Bambu or Vorons and go with a CoreXY design. With the MK4 still being the “bed slinger” variety, where the bed moves in one axis, many were surprised and let down. To combat this, Prusa has shown tests where they were able to attain very competitive speeds, but have not yet released those configs to the public yet. As it is, out of the box, it is faster than the previous generation but only a little.

Their explanation for sticking with the current physical configuration is that they’ve maintained an open-source upgrade path for many years now, meaning that as this printer ages there is likely going to be a defined way to upgrade and get more performance out of it. (they released upgrade kits to turn the previous gen into one of these).

At the price of $1,099 you’ll have to weigh a few things other than just features in a list. For example, Prusa has a great customer support system and is fully open source.

Ultimately, if this machine is as reliable as my MK3s but with a perfect first layer all the time, I’m happy about it. My MK3S is still, even after years of aging, the most reliable printer I’ve ever used.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. find me at CalebKraft.com

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