For a while, I’ve been thinking about building a new printer. I’m pretty happy with how the Prusa has worked out, but I’m becoming keenly aware of its limitations.
One of the main limitations that I see with the Prusa is that it looks like it’s made by amateurs. It doesn’t have that ‘Polished’ look that makes it look like it’s being designed by an industrial designer. That makes it hard to keep inside the house.
The other limitation is the print quality. Whilst you can get excellent prints with the Prusa, I think I’m definitely at the point of diminishing returns, where I’ll have to put in exponential levels of effort to get small improvements. A superior printer design should get to a higher level of printing quality with less effort.
I haven’t quite decided what printer I’m going to build yet. For a while, I was settled on building a MendelMax printer. The problem that I see with the MendelMax is that it’s inefficient with its use of the aluminium extrusions. While replicating the Prusa frame has its advantages, I think that its structural elements are overkill, and still don’t solve the Mendel’s issue of having little support along the X-axis.
But then I saw two new printers, namely the Quantum Ord, and the ‘Aluminum Mendel’. The Ord bot looks fantastic, looks also good enough to be a commercially-made device. It’s very minimalist, and uses the Makerslide as a structural element, not just as a sliding surface.
I love the design of the Quantum Ord, but MakerSlide at the moment is highly unobtainable. I’ve been signed up for the Makerslide shop for a few weeks, but every time he releases a batch (at about 12-1am in the morning here), it’s sold out by the time I wake up and check my emails. To make matters worse, I didn’t even receive the email when Barton announced he was selling some Ord bot kits, so I missed out on them as well. I’m also considering a merge-build. Use Makerslide for the axes movement on a MendelMax. However, this seems to be extremely wasteful usage of the Makerslide, since it’s strong enough to be used as a structural element by itself.
Since the Makerslide is so hard to obtain, I’m thinking of going for the ‘Aluminum Mendel’. I really like this design. It’s much simpler than any other design, with the exception of a Printrbot, but uses Aluminium extrusions for strength and rigidity. One feature that I particularly like is that all the components of the printer are inside the frame. Nothing hangs out, not even electronics or the power supply. Extremely clean. One thing that annoys me however is the ‘Mendel’ tag. It’s not a Mendel in any way, in my opinion. Mendel printers should have the ‘raised A-frame’ design. It does have a suspended X-axis, like the Mendel, but that’s about the only similarity.
I’m still deciding at the moment. I’ll post again when I’ve made my choice.