The RepRap Prusa Mendal 3D Printer is a great kit that you can easily build yourself to inexpensively discover the future world of 3D printing in your home.
This 3D printer comes as a kit and you will have to build it yourself. Build time is a few hours and it's not difficult to construct. It's also a lot of fun to build this machine.
3D Printing PrimerIf you are new to 3D printing, get up to speed before reading my reviews. I have also created a 3D Printer Buyers Guide so you can easily compare all the different models and choose the right one depending on your budget and requirements.
My RepRap Prusa Mendel 3D Printer Kit Review (Iteration 2)
The Prusa Mendel is the most common 3D printer from RepRap and is a great choice for those that want to get started with 3D printing.
Iteration 2 of this 3D printer contains all the latest parts and upgrades for the Prusa Mendel.
The kit contains everything you need to build you own RepRap 3D printer and it has great support.
With a build envelope of 7″ x 7″ x 5″ / 180mm x 180mm x 125mm, it can build loads of small and medium size models. The vertical accuracy (Z plane) is 0.1mm to 0.3mm and it's horizontal accuracy (X – Y plane) is between 0.01mm and 0.02mm.
One thing to note is that all the nuts and bolts in this kit are metric. That's great because metric is much superior to SAE measurements.
Building the Kit
This kit was ordered directly from NWReprap and I received a very well packed shipment in a few days.
The kit is easy to build because complete video and illustrated instructions are available on-line. It helps if you build the kit as you watch the video and read the instructions. It's a lot easier that way.
Since a number of improvements have been made to the design, this can get a little confusing since some of the videos and instructions are out of date. But a quick read of the RepRap forums and some common sense will help you through the rough patches so you can build the kit quickly.
The quality of the parts provided in this kit are very good with few exceptions. The kit went together smoothly, and the final steps of downloading the software and making the necessary changes and additions, resulted in a fairly complex machine working properly the very first time. I'm impressed!
Make sure to go through the calibration steps carefully as presented in the videos.
Software Drivers and Input Files
There are free open source programs available for every aspect of 3D printing. This kit can utilize Sprinter or Marlin for it's firmware, Arduino for the driver, Pronterface for the printer controller, and Slic3r for inputting STL files.
The printer prints GCODE files which are creating with a slicing program such as Slic3r or KISSlicer. Slic3r and KISSlicer can input STL files which can be created with many 3D modeling programs such as Google Sketchup (with plugin), Solid Works or OpenSCAD.
It's also possible to convert many 3D files with available open source programs. If you don't want to design objects yourself, you can always download STL files from Thingiverse.
RepRap Prusa Mendel Iteration 2 Complete 3D Printer Kit Gallery
Use ABS or PLA Filement?
I recommend that you start with PLA since it's easier to print with. After you can successfully print PLA, you can move onto ABS or other materials. This printer uses 1.75mm filament and a small sample comes with the kit.
I've found that putting blue painter's tape on the heat bed glass fixes many issues. The glass I got with the kit was slightly warped so I replaced it with a small piece of flat glass.
Also, the thermistors are tiny and fragile so I replaced mine with larger REPRAP thermistors. This required drilling out the hole on the J-head hot end.
You'll always have a few issues since 3D printing still in the early stages. I still recommend this kit, just be aware you will have issues no matter which 3D printer you buy. You will have to work through them which can be half the fun.
Support for my printer was through NWRepRap and they are very helpful. They provide a 90 day warranty on everything and if a part or component breaks or if you break it on accident, they will ship a replacement as quickly at no charge. Support was free and they can be contacted via phone or email during business hours.
Even though I ordered the kit right before the holidays, it still managed to arrive within a few days. Whilst building the kit I called support a few times and someone always answered the phone in a friendly manner. Even when I requested a replacement part, it was sent to me overnight.
Some of the components included in this kit:
- Fully assembled ramps 1.4 electronics
- 5 NEMA 17 stepper motors
- J-Head hotend
- J-Head aluminum mounting plate
- 30mm 12v fan
- GT2 Timing belts
- GT2 aluminum pulleys
- MK1 PCB heatbed
- Tempered glass print bed
- LM8UU linear bearings
- Hyena hobbed bolt
The support for this printer was excellent. I am impressed, and would recommend this kit to anyone looking to get started with 3D printing. Thanks to the videos, support, and quality parts my printer is up and running better then I could have ever expected.
This printer is under $800, upgradeable, open source, and an amazing buy for anyone.