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Folger Tech 2020 Prusa i3

By Matt Stultz / Feb 14, 2017

Folger Tech 2020 Prusa i3

The Folger Tech 2020 Prusa i3 is a sub $300 printer you can order today, and not have to wait for all the fun that comes with a crowdfunded printer. As they say though, you get what you pay for. In this case, it’s not quite a complete printer.

Minimalistic Kit

The 2020 Prusa i3’s name is a take on the classic Prusa i3. Sporting an aluminum frame, the majority of the parts are metal, with only a handful of printed parts specific to 3D printers. This helps create a rigid but still very modular and hackable platform for users.

To help keep the cost down — and I’m sure in some cases to make shipping easier — Folger Tech has omitted a few items from this kit. You will need to supply your own build surface to help cover the standard RepRap heated bed that it ships with. If you plan on printing with PLA, a print-cooling fan is desperately needed as well.

Thanks to its simplicity, assembly is fairly straightforward and quick. If you’ve never built anything using aluminum extrusion before, don’t rush to tighten down all your screws until after the construction is complete. It will be easier to square up the machine once everything is in place.

Minor Tweaks, Major Results

One big win for this machine is its inclusion of a heated bed, a rarity at this price point. This opens the door for this machine to be used with a much larger collection of filaments, not just PLA variants.

While the print quality was lacking in our tests, this issue is easily solved. A novice user is most likely to use the settings recommended by the manufacturer and might not know they could do better with different settings. The defaults for the 2020 Prusa i3 are its biggest detractor. Our scoring reflects the prints made with their settings, but I saw a huge improvement on the machine by simply opening Cura and using a default i3 profile with no other changes except for filament diameter and nozzle size.

Low Cost Competitor

I think Folger Tech is onto something with their 2020 Prusa i3. While the price point will undoubtedly attract those interested in getting started with the hobby, it might not be the best machine for those jumping into the waters on their own. For an expert-lead group build though, this is a great consideration and with the right upgrades, the 2020 Prusa i3 could keep up with machines five times its cost.

Specs
2020 Prusa i3 Folger Tech
Manufacturer:Folger Tech
Price as Tested:$270
Build Volume:200×200×150mm
Bed Style:Heated bed (no surface supplied)
Filament Size:1.75mm
Open Filament:Yes
Temperature Control:Yes, tool head (230ºC); bed (120ºC)
Print Untethered:Yes (SD card)
Onboard Controls:Yes (LCD with control knob)
Host/Slicer Software:Repeteir with slic3r
OS:Windows, Mac, Linux
Firmware:Open Marlin
Open Software:Yes, both software and firmware
Open Hardware:Yes, no license given

How this scored

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Why to Buy

This is a super affordable option that gets you 90% of the way to what you want. While I think a few upgrades are in order, you are not paying for a ton of parts you are just going to throw out anyway.

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Pro Tips

If you have access to another printer, make some of the upgrade pieces (like a print-cooling fan) found on sites like Thingiverse before assembling this machine. As a very bare-boned kit, they’ll prove useful if not necessary.

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