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After the initial smooth-as-silk homing sequence, I knew that I should buckle my seat belt for one incredible joyride. Prusa Research has raised the bar for consumer 3D printing platforms while not breaking the bank. And with its total score of 36 points — more than any machine we’ve ever tested — the Prusa i3 MK2 became the machine all the testers wanted, and more than one of us went home and immediately placed an order.

The MK2 boasts an E3D all-metal hot end, a next-generation heated bed with PEI print surface, bed-leveling compensation, and a 31% larger print volume over the previous i3. Available as a kit, assembled printer, or upgrade option for the original i3 model, the MK2 offers beautiful prints across a multitude of plastic filament options.

BED UPGRADES

I was drawn to the new MK42 heated bed, which compensates for cold corners by using three power zones to warm the bed’s corners slightly more than its center. The X and Y dimension markers on the bed aid in visualization of available printing surface. And the icing on this cake is the PEI film, which effectively eliminates the need for glue, ABS juice, or painter’s tape as surface adhesion enhancements. It also allows for nearly edge-to-edge printing. Auto leveling is performed using a specialized set of 9 calibration points on the bed.

EXOTIC FILAMENTS

Inside of the deceptively simple X carriage, both an E3D v6 hot end and an inductance probe sit behind the cooling fan. The direct drive extruder and all-metal hot end allows the MK2 to use high-temperature and exotic filaments, including polycarbonate, nylon, and flexibles. The test probes looked fantastic, and the overall printing time was faster than average as compared to the rest of the printers reviewed.

EVOLUTIONARY SUCCESS

It was surprising to see the abundance of improvements that the MK2 brought to the table since the original i3 was already a respectable open source offering. While some users may not like the RepRap aesthetics, others will applaud the advanced capabilities offered along with the support of the open source community behind it. The MK2 is aimed at a broad spectrum of end users, from RepRap enthusiasts to the average home user. The MK2 is a performance leader and a tremendous value for the price.