We’re big fans of Prusa here at HPI, and it’s exciting to see yet another upcoming launch from Prusa Research. The MK3S has been kicking around for a while as the go-to mid-level printer in the market and there’s little argument to say it isn’t going out of date. We’ve since had the AFS announced, designed for hardcore 3D printing production lines, but nothing for the advanced hobby user or small design space/industrial setting. Currently, those target customers are left to the likes of Ultimaker and Makerbot.
We regard the brand-new Prusa XL as Josef’s first entry into the pro-sumer market – a highly anticipated one at that.
At a base price of nearly £1,800 it’s fair to say that the XL isn’t a budget option, but it is packed with features that both upgrade Prusa’s offering and expand upon it.
It’s in the name – XL. The printer boasts a pretty big build area at 36x36x36cm, perfect for larger prints that industry might call for. It’s difficult to suggest what that might be, since 3D printing possibilities are endless, but we’re thinking car parts, larger product prototypes, architectural models, cosplay helmets/props, etc. Big buildplates are awesome, but not exactly hard to replicate. The £300 Creality Ender 3 Max is almost as big for a sixth of the price.
However, the XL is in its own league with some of the other features it boasts.
The built-in load-cell promises to deliver zero need for live-z adjustment or bed levelling. It looks like the P.I.N.D.A sensor (and its many siblings) has done its time and things are beginning to move on. Although once dialled-in printer beds generally stay that way for a while, I really hope this technology can make its way down the ranks to an affordable level in years to come. This should be one of 3D printings biggest bugbears solved. It’s also important to note that the load-cell allows for clog detection too, and a thermistor in the heatbreak detects heat creep – plenty of prints will definitely be saved from failure with this tech!
Modular bed design is something I haven’t seen before and I’m not too sure how I feel about it. The printer is able to heat up its buildplate section by section using a matrix of sixteen mini heatbeds. Supposedly this will reduce the amount the buildplate warps while heating up. The theory is there to support it, but the average user is unlikely to be too worried about the bed deflecting and minutely changing the shape of the bottom of a part. However, for precision applications, perhaps it is worth having. The modular bed is also sold as energy saving as only the used part of the bed is heated, but 3D printers aren’t really gas guzzlers anyway – maybe more so when you’re running over 600 like Prusa do. Saving the planet one heatbed at a time, I suppose.
Multiple hotends are a big win, though. This really opens up the possibilities. Printing in multiple colours has always been possible on the MK3S (and others of course) by using an MMU2 or similar, but it’s well-known that these colour changing systems cause many headaches before they work smoothly. They also waste filament while colour purging due to sharing the same hotend. Separate hotends for separate colours rids of all of these troubles.
Furthermore, the extra hotends can be loaded with water-soluble materials to make for super easy print support clean up or, theoretically, different nozzle sizes can be used in the same print.
This is also where the XL really ramps up in cost, however, with each hotend (up to 5) averaging over £300 a piece. Taking full advantage of the printer’s arguably biggest feature will almost double its cost to £3,400 (and that’s if you refuse to pay Prusa £400 to assemble it for you).
Much like any product the Prusa XL has many features that, individually, can be picked up at a much better price elsewhere. Bigger print? Easily available from Creality. Easy nozzle changes? E3D Revo. So on and so forth. It’s the combination of so many features in a single package that makes it special, and we all know that a product from Prusa will be both a pleasure to use and well supported. That’s generally what justifies Prusa’s prices, and why print farms around the world trust MK3S and Mini – we do too.
Such a powerful bit of kit comes at a big price, but if you’re a super-hobbyist or looking for commercial printing, the Prusa XL powerhouse is a big investment with huge potential.
We’ll be looking to get one, we just need to sell some more nozzles to our great customers first ;)
For a full list of features, check out the Prusa blog or pre-order pages: