Maker Farm is based in Massachusetts and is somewhat of a unique company. They offer a range of products that mostly consists of parts and components for 3D printers but they offer several 3D printer kits as well, including a kit to build your very own Prusa i3 3D Printer.
They supply MakerBot and several other major manufacturers with parts and supplies for their 3D printer products but part of their mission to bring affordable 3D printing to the average consumer.
The company prides itself on providing excellent customer service and because its main business is manufacturing parts they have the technical experience to offer excellent support.
If you experience any issues or problems while trying to build your Prusa i3, you can have confidence they will be resolved without much trouble by utilizing Maker Farm’s various support systems, available via their website, email or phone.
With the few questions we did have while assembling our unit emails were returned very promptly and Maker Form never left us wondering if they would respond. Overall a very good customer service experience and that can make all the difference, especially when working with a kit-based unit.
The Prusa i3 Kit
Kits are available for sale through Maker Farm’s website and they offer multiple different styles and models in addition to the Prusa i3. Shipping time ranges anywhere from 5-10 days depending on where you live and they offer to ship to almost anywhere on the globe. Almost all of their kits are under $800 and they offer some units as low as $375.
The i3 comes as a kit which requires you to assemble most of the components that come in the kit to produce a fully functional and affordable 3D printer.
Almost everything needed comes included with the kit but users will need to use their own piece of 8 x 8 glass print bed cover and a twelve-volt power cord.
The kit comes efficiently packaged in a single box with sensitive parts susceptible to damage during shipping stored in plastic containers with hard plastic covers, keeping the parts all in proper working order. The rest of the printer’s parts and accessories are separately packed in plastic bags or similar containers making it easy to identify all the different components involved.
The only negative comment we have about the arrival of our unit is no contents list was provided for all the parts that are supposed to be included, which would have been nice. However, if you spend a few minutes reviewing the provided information you can begin to find out relatively quickly if anything is missing. In our case, everything was provided as promised.
It doesn’t take long to understand why many major manufacturers use Maker Farm as a supplier for some of the 3D printer components as all of the parts provided looked to be solid and well made. If you have any experience with hardware and working with mechanical machines then you will know right away the included parts down to even the screws and bolts were all high-quality.
Sometimes a cheap screw here or there may not make a big difference overall but it is always nice to know a company isn’t trying to get by with providing less than ideal quality.
Assembling the i3
The parts for the frame of the i3 are laser cut plywood which means they may have marks on one side or the other. This can detract a bit from the overall appearance of the unit so some users may want to paint these parts before they begin to assemble the entire unit. According to the specs, Maker Farm states you can assemble the total kit and have a working 3D printer in less than three hours.
However, if you are not very experienced, then plan on spending considerably longer than three hours. In fact, even if you are experienced with projects of this type, it is a good idea to spend extra time and ensure all components properly fit together and things are done right.
While Maker Farm does provide kit assembly instructions on their website, they mostly help with organizing all of the various components and ensuring you have everything needed. You will need to visit YouTube in order to find the complete instructions that walk you through how to assemble all of the parts together and end up with a working unit.
It is important to note, you should make sure you watch the appropriate instructional video for the exact kit you ordered. The kits come in 6, 8 and 10-inch varieties so there can be some important differenced while building the unit and how it should be done.
All components of our machine fit together nicely and we did not experience any issues with parts that seemed awkward or did not fit well together. This can be a major problem with some 3D printer kits, especially kits that are in the affordable category.
It is always a huge hassle to receive bad parts and then have to wait to assemble your printer until you receive new parts. It was refreshing to have everything fit and work well right from the start.
Printing with the Maker Form Prusa i3
All of the electronic components that came with the kit are fully flashed so you will need to download the required Arduino software that is primarily for the drivers. These drivers need to be installed on whatever computer you plan to use with your i3 as the main controller of the 3D printing functions in order for everything to work properly.
The download process is easy and can be accomplished in just a few minutes. Once installed, everything should be ready to go once you power on the unit and connect it to your laptop or desktop.
Depending on how you order you i3 it is capable of printing with ABS, PLA, PVA, HIPS and many other materials that require higher temperatures. The type of nozzle you order will determine what type of materials you can use.
Some nozzle choices are available at no additional cost, a few cost extra and one choice even reduces the price of the kit by a few dollars. You will also have a choice of a wood bed or aluminum bed as well as the type of extruder that you want.
There are various options for different upgrade packages and adjustments that you can make to your i3 3D Printers such as adding another extruder and other options.
These upgrade packages vary quite a bit in cost so it all depends on exactly what type of performance you need and how you will be using your unit. Be sure when ordering your Prusa i3 Kit to review all of the options available and think about what you want today and what you might want a year from now after a bit more experience.
Half the fun of buying an i3 kit is actually going through the building process and then customizing your unit the way you want. Some may find it frustrating if they are not prepared for the entire process or have little experience with completing this type of project.
However, if you enjoy the process of building and customizing your own unit, then the Maker Form Prusa i3 Kit can be a great choice. It provides a lot of customization options and above average 3D printing capability without spending a lot of money.
Additionally, if you are looking for a budget unit that is inexpensive that you can add to over time improving the performance, then this kit is a perfect fit for your requirements.