Did you know that the RepRap Prusa i3 is the most popular 3D printer in the world? It’s more widely used than machines made by Ultimaker, BCN3D and other big hitters of the desktop 3D printing world.
At least, this is the picture according to the latest 3D Hubs trend report, where this RepRap 3D printer stands top of the pile for print quality, above some 600 other 3D printers (that have accrued more than 300 print quality reviews from 3D Hubs users).
How is this possible? Two words: “open” and “source”.
Developed for the RepRap project by Josef Prusa, the i3 — short for iteration 3 — is a fully open source 3D printer. The design of this FFF (fused filament fabrication) 3D printer is versatile, reliable and, crucially to this list, openly available for replication and iteration. That and pretty much all of its non-3D printable components (or “vitamins”, in 3D printing parlance) are cheap and easily sourced.
As a result, a veritable explosion of Prusa i3 clone kits is available to buy. Some are better than others, and most are scraping out the bottom end of the market competing for the thrifty dollar.
Below we list the wealth of Prusa i3 clone kits available for under $1,000, together with pricing and details on where they can be bought. In fact, the majority of them can be purchased for less than $500.
Though we’ve got to say, there’s a reason the Original Prusa i3 MK2 ranks so highly everywhere you look. It’s a damn good printer.
And with the Mk2S now standard — printing bigger and quicker than before — there’s a compelling argument to spend on the official thing. If you can stick the long lead times (7 weeks, at the time of writing), that is.
Here we go.
Important Note: These RepRap Prusa i3 clone kits are ranked according to price (with the exception of the Original Prusa i3 MK2, which sits at the top). Their position in the list is not indicative of their quality.
(Main Image Credit: Prusa Printers)
The place where it all began. The Original Prusa i3 MK2 kit comes directly from the company founded and owned by Josef Prusa — Prusa Research — and this machine adheres to his exact specifications and quality assurance. The recently upgraded MK2 — now the Mk2S — features a raft of improvements over the standard Mk2, including a 31% larger build volume, auto mesh bed leveling, e3D V6 hotend to name but a few. But most importantly, by buying this RepRap Prusa i3 kit you will be supporting its continued development. It’s not only the best Prusa i3 kit but it’s one of the best 3D printers on the market right now.
Prusa i3 Kit Review: Original Prusa i3 MK2 Review: Best 3D Printer Kit 2017
As the name suggests, this mini RepRap Prusa i3 kit printer is geared towards people just starting out with the idea of building a 3D printer. In actuality, the STARTT is a Tronxy XY-100, a now difficult to find Prusa i3 kit. Offering a print volume that beats out the popular MonoPrice Select Mini, but lacking the likes of a heated bed and limited to printing PLA only, this Prusa i3 clone is a bare-bones machine that comes in under the magic $100 mark.
The Anet A8 is held together with a piano-black acrylic frame. All rods, gears, bearings, and connectors are made out of stainless steel. This is important for the stability of this Prusa i3 clone to ensure smooth operation. The print volume of 220 x 220 x 240 mm is rather generous and unconventional for an i3 rework. Other features include a heated print bed and an LCD screen interface.
Prusa i3 Clone Review: Anet A8 3D Printer Review - High Potential for $200 or Less
Confusingly, the Anet A6 is a model upgrade over its wildly popular sibling, the Anet A8. Despite a raft of improvements to its frame structure and makeup — including switching the x-axis carriage rods from one on top of the other, to side-by-side — it is still entirely a RepRap Prusa i3 kit. Additionally, a larger LCD screen paired to a rotating knob gives a different, and supposedly easier experience navigating the printer’s menus.
With a simple and sturdy construction, the TEVO Tarantula is a Reprap Prusa i3 kit that’s easy to assemble with good performance and quality. Optional extras include automatic bed leveling and bigger build volume. The auto-leveling version uses a proximity sensor to detect the aluminum print bed, whereas the normal version of the printer uses a microswitch to detect the end of travel for the Z-Axis movement.
The FLSUN is a sturdy machine with an aluminum frame. Last updated in June 2016, there are now two cooling fans to cool the extruder and filament. The build volume of this Prusa i3 clone is 200 x 200 x 200 mm and features a maximum resolution of 100 microns and a heated print bed. Available upgrades include an LCD control panel and an SD card reader.
With a sturdy acrylic frame and an LCD screen, the Alunar Prusa i3 kit promises fast and easy operation. The maximum build volume is 200 x 200 x 210 mm, it can print in both ABS and PLA filaments, and it can be operated from either an SD card or by USB cable connected to the PC.
The I3 X is a new addition to Geeetech’s line of RepRap Prusa i3 kits. With a low-cost design, this Prusa i3 clone emphasizes usability and quality. The frame is made out of piano black acrylic, and features include a build volume of 200 x 200 x 170 mm, a maximum print resolution of 100 microns, an LCD screen, a heated print bed, and connectivity via USB and SD card.
Folger Technologies has an elegant but affordable variation of the RepRap Prusa i3 kit, with a frame constructed from laser cut acrylic plastic. This Prusa i3 clone kit comes with mostly everything you need to build your own machine, with the exception of an 8″x 8″ glass surface for the print-bed. An LCD screen with an SD card reader is also available as an optional extra. The same company offers another kit with an aluminum frame that’s not so pleasing to the eye (but it is easier on the wallet).
The Geeetech i3 Pro C is another dual extrusion RepRap Prusa i3 kit on our list, and it offers a bit more polish. Most obviously, it has the onboard control panel as standard, where users can manage print jobs and general settings like build platform calibration. This RepRap Prusa i3 kit also displays the temperature of the extruder heads and the build platform, as well as the progress of a print job. What the GeeeTech is lacking is an auto-bed leveling feature, which would have been nice to have; perhaps something to explore as the next DIY project in your 3D printing odyssey?
The JGAURORA has nearly all metal parts, which makes for a nice and sturdy quality design. The build volume of this RepRap Prusa i3 clone 200 x 200 x 180 mm and it features a heated print bed (so printing with ABS material is also possible). A maximum print resolution of 100 microns is pretty standard. The LCD screen interface allows the printer to be operated using an SD card only, without the need for a computer in close proximity.
The Sintron features an acrylic frame, which blends nicely with the steel rods to create a simply constructed, nice looking piece of machinery. The print area of 200 x 200 x 180 mm is typical for Prusa i3 printers. An LCD 2004 controller is the interface by default, which includes an SD card slot for easy offline access. Other features include a heated print bed and a maximum print resolution of 100 microns.
This HICTOP kit features an auto-leveling print bed, so you’ll never need to trial and error the calibration to nail a perfectly flat bed. One other respect that makes it special is the huuuuuuge build volume of 269 x 210 x 188 mm, the second biggest on this list of Prusa i3 clone kits.
RepRap Guru are offering a complete Prusa i3 kit that doesn’t require altering, drilling, soldering or cutting. Included with this complete kit is a square plate of borosilicate heat bed glass (something that’s missing from the Folger Tech i3 kit, for example); fully soldered MK2B heat bed with all the necessary wires; fitted connectors to all wires; and longer motor wires for better wire paths. With these carefully considered upgrades, you should be able to eke out some better quality prints.
This RepRap Prusa i3 kit offers two choices of frame, the standard piano black acrylic or transparent. The latter – pictured above – costs $10 more.
Available in 8″, 10″ or 12″ sizes, MakerFarm’s successor to the i3v boasts quicker print speeds and a sturdier frame. Add to that the rapid build time (MakerFarm claim approximately 3 hours to assemble this printer) and you’re looking at a tempting alternative to the other Prusa i3 clones on this list. The smallest of its 3 sizes features a print bed measuring 200 x 200 x 180mm.
It’s important to note that some tools and materials to complete this Prusa i3 kit’s construction are not included in the box.
This RepRap Prusa i3 kit makes a leap over others with the ability to print three different filaments through the same print head (three nozzles). For a remarkably affordable price, you get the ability to print multiple colors, provided the software you’re using can handle such complications. This Prusa i3 clone has a maximum resolution of 50 microns, an LCD screen and a build volume of 200 x 280 x 200 mm. And thanks to the heated bed of this RepRap Prusa i3 kit, it’s possible to print with different materials like ABS.
The name of this RepRap 3D printer is misleading; there’s no such thing as a Prusa i4. Or, at least, Josef Prusa hasn’t gotten round to designing one. Sunhokey are guilty of being over-excitable in trying to distinguish their Prusa i3 clone from the rest of the pack. Which is a pity, because the machine itself looks like a neat refinement, with a heavy metal base and a unique X-axis rotation design with the motor mounted to the extruder housing.
The ION has been designed entirely by ThingiBOX and has undergone a process of continuous improvement since 2012. This RepRap Prusa i3 kit includes everything for the construction including screws, electronics, cables, connectors, heatshrink tubes, kapton tape, cable binders, USB cable, clips, and more. The frame, the base, and almost all the components are developed and manufactured in white and transparent methacrylate, making the design elegant yet robust.
Laser cut from sheets of aluminum, the Psique Aluminum is an imposing machine. It looks like a 3D printer from the era of steampunk. The benefit of using aluminum over, say, steel is that it has all the strength whilst being significantly lighter. Also, it won’t rust if you leave it out in the rain. But then again, why would you do that to your poor 3D printer?
The word “Mejorada” is Spanish for “Improved”. This RepRap Prusa i3 kit includes a powder coated steel frame, an LCD screen, and can be configured at purchase from 8 different hotends (including the ever-popular E3D v6). It also has a heated bed, and a build volume of 210 x 210 x 210 mm. Pretty much everything you need to build your first desktop 3D printer.
The Steel Pro is another metal-clad remix. It has a stronger frame laser cut from galvanized steel and is simple to assemble. However, though more compact and easier to transport than the Prusa i3 that inspired it, it’s significantly heavier. What else? Oh, this RepRap Prusa i3 kit tends to rank high on the 3D Hubs monthly trend report, sitting pretty in the top 20 for the past three months.
The helloBEEprusa is designed with the education sector in mind. The quick-start manual that comes with this RepRap Prusa i3 kit, has all the components are in numbered and labeled boxes, and there’s a series of videos to guide you through the assembly process. This Prusa i3 clone kit has a generous build volume of 185 x 200 x 190 mm, plus a dual extruder (ideal for printing with a soluble filament as support for more complex parts), and a heated bed for a better adhesion of print jobs.
The Rework 1.5 is a remix of the base i3 design by RepRap France. This RepRap Prusa i3 kit has a 6 mm thick aluminum frame and a Y carriage for a platform within 200 mm stops. The Hexagon hotend is a fully machined metal nozzle that can accommodate several diameters from 0.3mm to 0.5mm. The RAMPS 1.4 controller can support up to two nozzles and is capable of layer resolutions up to 100 microns.
All the 3D printed parts on the Achatz Edition were fabricated in ABS plastic at low speeds on ReprapUniverse machines, guaranteeing the highest possible quality of parts. And if a part breaks during the assembly of the Prusa i3 kit, they’re happy to send you a free replacement. They have also made some improvements to the base design, like Aluminium Z Motor Couplers, a Trespa Y Carriage Plate, and enhanced frame rigidity using High-Quality Trespa (HPL). Optional extras not included in the base kit are an LCD screen for SD card connectivity and a fan upgrade for the extruder.
The Hephestos 2 is the new and improved version of the predecessor model from BQ, the Hephestos 1. It’s very clearly based around the Prusa i3 open frame design, but with a carefully considered approach to assembly and features, including an auto-leveling sensor probe and a powerful hot-end that’s perfect for printing with flexible filaments. There’s no heated bed, however, so high-temperature filaments like ABS and Nylon are not an option. Most impressively, BQ claims this RepRap Prusa i3 kit can be assembled in less than an hour.
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