We recommend that your first printer should probably be the Prusa i3 MK3.
Prusa: The $1500 option that ‘just works’
Here’s why: It’s a great printer that just works. We tell people, “if you’re looking for a printer to just print cool things, get a Prusa“. The slicing software has profiles designed specifically for the machine, provided by the manufacturer. The machine has software-enabled auto-leveling to compensate for your poor assembly (haha but seriously). They have an ecosystem that, from start to finish, just works and makes it easy for you, the end user, to make great prints.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s still a learning curve! But this is the most painless way to get into the hobby, and it will do what you need it to do. Our 3D Printing store runs other machines, but there’s a reason we have 12 of this machine!
Now a Prusa will set you back about $1,500 AUS. That’s a bit of a hit to the hip pocket. We think that for most people, this still represents the best cost-benefit. You can pay a lot more and get something a lot better, but you probably don’t need to spend that.
Likewise, you might think, “These other printers are so much cheaper! Look how much money I will save!” Well, most of the time they are cheaper for a reason and they are not as polished or well thought-through. What you save in dollars you will repay in headaches.
Ender 3: a cheaper alternative with a steeper learning curve
There is one cheaper option we do recommend, however: the Ender 3. This one will set you back around $300 – $400 AUD, so it is a lot cheaper than the Prusa. If you want the cheapest possible printer, don’t waste your time with junk that pretends to be a 3D printer, get this one.
We don’t sell either of these printers, by the way. We just love it when other people love 3D Printing, and we’d love to save some people some headaches.
The Ender 3 has a steeper learning curve than the Prusa. You will need to re-flash the firmware right out of the box to have thermal runaway protection enabled (the Prusa has this enabled already). You will need to learn to manually level the print bed, because it does not have software to compensate for poorer assembly. You will have to configure your own profile in the slicing software as its not provided by the manufacturer.
Once it is printing well, the Ender 3 can be very rewarding. You will have learned a lot and you can get very good prints.
Both the Prusa and the Ender have similar size print beds (the Ender’s is slightly smaller, but the same height). They both can print with the same filament.
The Prusa will print faster, because it is more rigid, and at the end of the day it will always print better than the Ender.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose – but hopefully you now feel more informed and can make a great decision you feel confident about.
We’d love to chat to you about your 3D Printing needs. Get in touch!