Monday, October 1, 2012

The Prusa i3

This is a time-delay posting. Joseph Prusa has developed the Prusa iteration 3, which has been published for at least a month now. The i3 is the apperent sucessor to the Prusa Mendel, arguably the most famous, and most sucessful RepRap in the history of the project. The Prusa i3, pictured below, is a quantum leap fromthe Prusa Mendel in my opinion, and this post will explain why I think that. You can find all source material on GitHub here.

1. Simpler design. The huge deal with the Prusa Mendel was that, compared to the origional Mendel, designed by Ed Sells, the Prusa was vastly more simple mechanically. It introduced a Z-axis driven by 2 stepper motors, and actually the Series 1 took a page out of the prusa book, and has a Y-axis driven this way. In addition it was so much more easier to build than the origional so-called 'Sells Mendel'. The i3 takes a step further, taking ideas from the Mendel 90 and incorperating it into this design. The brace on the top of the machine (where it says 'PRUSA') is something that has also been seen the the RepRap Wallace, and some design elements, such as the location of the Z-Motors have also been seen in the Ronthomp Mendel and the Printrbot.

2. TALLER!!!! YEAH!!! The i3 appeares to have a printing evelope as tall as it is long and wide, which is a massive improvement over the Prusa i2 (The last version of the Prusa Mendel) The first machine I had access to was a Makerbot CupCake CNC, and then my own Prusa, and in both cases I was annoyed that I couldn't make tall things. (Although the move from CupCake to Prusa was in and of itself a quantum leap for me.) I've been spoiled by a room full of Series 1's lately, but I'm delighted that beginners will now have a good option for good sized prints.

3. Here are some other small improvements I want to mention that make me smile. (a) The X-axis, (which on a 3D printer conventionally holds the entruder, and travels from side to side) uses smooth rod oriented vertically, which improves stability and rigidity of the machine. More rigidity can mean faster feedrates, so more can be printed in less time. (b) this picture suggests an imcorperation of linear bearings in the main design branch of the machine. At long last. I have to say, other motion systems like bronze bushings, (admitatly the ones I used were not self-sligning) PLA bushings, and other types of bushings have never worked out for me. (c) Less threaded rod: I think we should be able to make some kind of 3D printed PLA truss to do away with all threaded rod, which when I was a beginner was the bane of my existance. (d) more descrete Y-axis. This one is hard to explain to anyone who hasn't made a RepRap or isn't a mechanical type, but this makes me so happy the the motor isn't in my face, and doesn't take a century to replace the mount.

Having only seen one in real life, I'm not sure if there are any known issues, but I'm looking forward to making the upgrade as soon as I can logistically and economically do so.

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