#myprusastory tldr; My first 3D printer was free because a friend couldn’t get it to work. I wanted to try a better printer but $750? Then the Prusa Mini was announced! 2 years later and now we have 7. We take them to events where we teach people how to model->slice->print.
I got a free 3D printer from a friend that just wanted to throw it away to avoid thinking about a $400 mistake. It was a Monoprice Maker Select Plus and I had it working over a weekend. Generally speaking it printed just fine to me. I didn’t know the difference! Eventually I got into the “3D YouTube Community”. I couldn’t help but think that a Prusa was better but $750?
On YouTube NO ONE WAS TALKING about the printer I had. When I searched for it the reviews were from many many years before. And most of the time it was either “meh” or that it’s got problems. Everything on Youtube was all about the Ender 3. Endless content about the Ender 3. And while I consider myself a tinkerer . . . the effort people were putting into an Ender 3 to “make it good” seemed crazy to me. Why not spend more and get a Prusa MK3?
In October of 2019, the Prusa Mini was announced! I was nervous to buy it because it looked so . . . fragile. But then the reviews came out and it was generally positive including the fact that the prints were really high quality. I finally ordered it in December of 2019 but the wait was 5 months!
In the meantime, I learned a ton about the Ender 3 and Creality just from watching YouTube. During the time from December of 2019 to May of 2020, Creality put the CR-6 SE on Kickstarter. It seemed to be everything the Prusa Mini was but with a way bigger print area (even bigger than a Prusa Mk3!) and it had all the features that people were adding to the Ender 3 (dual Z motors, auto bed leveling, better extruder and hot end, etc.). I got caught up in the Kickstarter hype (thanks alot Joel!) and ordered that too.
They both arrived within a few months of each other. While on paper the only big difference was that the CR-6 SE had a glass bed and the Prusa Mini had a spring sheet, everything else beside build volume was supposedly the same. But it SOOO WASN’T. The firmware for the CR-6 SE was never updated. Once again, thanks to YouTube, I found out that it was best to use the “Community Edition” of the firmware. One I installed that the printer was pretty reliable but I still hated switching the filament and the glass was just a horrible decision and I would avoid printing anything with too big a print surface because it would be impossible to remove. Sometimes it would cool and the part would pop right off and sometimes it was back to the old scraper.
I never had any of those issues with the Prusa Mini. Changing filament was so easy. And so was popping stuff off the bed. Eventually it was the only printer I would use unless I needed a bigger build volume. I ordered another one a few months later. The mini wasn’t PERFECT and if I switched out filament types, like PETG back to PLA, then I would end up clogging the printer and it took me several hours over several weeks to figure out how to clear out those clogs. The issue manifest itself as the extruder clicking and I spent a long time thinking that was broken. But that didn’t happen often and it wasn’t all that hard to fix once I figured it out.
During all this time, I was still tinkering with the old Monoprice. I even bought another one because they were on sale for less than $200 (and then were canceled shortly after . . .damn you Monoprice!). I put on these cheap removeable beds. I added Raspberry Pis. I changed out the extruder handle for a metal one. I tried all metal hot ends but they were forever clogging up so I put the old ones back in. I added a BL Touch after updating the firmware to the excellent firmware ADVi3++ which revealed it had a color touch screen the whole time! I was able to do “tuning” on the printer so much easier. They printed okay but always had what I call “shaky lines”. And nothing that had moving parts would print well either. I heard that was cooling so I printed a Cii cooling fan shroud (using PC Blend filament on the Prusa Mini) and got a new way powerful fan. After installing that now I can’t print at all because of heat issues after the first layer. What? Anyway, one more thing to fix. But I did make it way easier to use with just the removable beds. The BLTouch . . . I’m not sure that’s been worth it although I do like that I just need to adjust the z-offset sometimes and I don’t have to level the entire bed all the time.
Meanwhile, I just kept ordering a new Prusa Mini whenever I had a little more money. Two years later and now I have 7. Two of them we leave at my wifes’ school and she teaches the kids there about them.
We took them all to Southwest Maker Fair and that was so fun. The model->slice->print idea was a huge success. And we also teach at my wife’s school at an after school program. Everyone gets so much joy out of seeing something they made come to life (even if it’s something simple like a 2 color name plate!). And of course, I print out stuff for around the house or for school projects or just stuff we think is interesting. It would be cool to find a way to make money with them so we can at least pay for filament . . . but they total bring me $400 * 7 amount of joy, that’s for sure.
I always wanted to get an Original Prusa MK3 but they had been out for SOOO LOOONG . . are they really that good still? The only have 8 bit boards and speak and spell like screens. Seems like such a downgrade. Once again Joel changed my mind on them when he bought like 30 of them to open a shop. That said I never was able to pull the trigger. But I kept seeing them on Aliexpress and the like . . . could the parts really be that good? The MK3S+ printer is completely open source and has been out for over 5 years so by now they must have it figured out, right? For $350 I decided to give a shot! Once I got it working it seemed FLAWLESS (especially after I ordered a real original Prusa spring sheet . . . the knockoff one is horrible). Will it last as long as a Prusa? Probably not. But how could I know for sure unless I got a real Prusa MK3S+ right? Maybe I’ll win one with the #myprusastory contest!