Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Prusa i3

My friend and now house-mate Ben originally introduced me to the wonderful world of 3D printing, supplying plastic parts, know-how and remarkable patience as he helped me assemble a RepRap Prusa Mendel. Ben remains my superior in all things projecty even to this day despite the time I've spent tinkering around. I thoroughly recommend that you check out his blog.

My Prusa Mendel served me extremely well, however around December 2012 I decided it would be fun to upgrade to Josef Prusa's newest addition to the printer scene, the Prusa i3. With a lot fewer parts than the Prusa Mendel, I was seduced by its simplicity and significantly larger build volume (the maximum size of part that can be printed).

In retrospect, fun isn't the first word I'd use to describe the process. Since the Prusa i3 is still in development, I later discovered that I'd have to redesign many parts myself to fit the components from my Mendel. The other challenge was sourcing the main frame, a large, precision cut piece of aluminium. Fortunately, working at a university has its perks, and I was able to coerce a not-to-be-named department into constructing the frame for me in exchange for a 5 litre mini-keg of Bath Ales Gem.

The Prusa i3 now works at least as well as my old Mendel, with the added advantage of being able to print nice big parts. I've already printed something that pushed it to it's limits, size wise. Here's a shot of the i3 on my 3D printing workbench, along with the Inspiron Duo which controls it and a rather sad looking chilli plant.