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.
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.