So, I’ve recently bought a Creality Ender 3 and most of them I’ve seen were less than $300 CAD, and I’ve also seen printers like the Prusa MK4 which look quite similar in design. My question is, why is the Prusa so much more expensive (usually around $700-$800) despite being similarly sized to the Ender 3 and with closely related design elements?
Hi there, welcome to the forum!
The Ender 3 and Prusa MK4 are both popular 3D printers that cater to different segments of the market. While the Ender 3 is known for its affordability and value for money, the Prusa MK4 boasts higher quality and advanced features that justify its higher price tag. Let’s delve into the details of each printer and explore why the Prusa MK4 is more expensive.
- Price and Affordability: The Ender 3 is widely recognized for its budget-friendly price. It offers a remarkable balance between cost and performance, making it a popular choice among beginners and hobbyists. On the other hand, the Prusa MK4 is positioned as a higher-end printer, and its price reflects the added features and quality components it incorporates.
- Build Quality and Reliability: The Ender 3 is constructed with a sturdy frame made of aluminum extrusions, providing stability and durability. However, it may require some fine-tuning and upgrades to achieve optimal performance. In contrast, the Prusa MK4 is renowned for its exceptional build quality. It utilizes a high-quality aluminum frame combined with top-notch components, resulting in a more reliable and long-lasting machine.
- Print Quality and Precision: Both printers are capable of producing high-quality prints, but the Prusa MK4 often delivers superior results due to its advanced features. The Prusa MK4 incorporates a genuine E3D hotend, which ensures better temperature control and filament compatibility. It also includes a filament runout sensor and a filament jam detection system, reducing the chances of failed prints and improving overall print quality.
- User-Friendliness and Support: The Ender 3 is relatively easy to assemble and operate, making it an excellent choice for beginners. It has a large user community, providing extensive online resources and support. Prusa Research, the company behind the Prusa MK4, has also cultivated a strong community and provides excellent customer support. Additionally, the Prusa MK4 is equipped with an automatic bed leveling system, making the bed calibration process much simpler and more convenient.
- Features and Upgradability: The Ender 3 is a bare-bones printer that offers essential features but lacks some advanced functionalities. It can be upgraded with various aftermarket modifications to enhance its capabilities. In contrast, the Prusa MK4 comes with a range of advanced features out of the box, such as a color touchscreen interface, wireless connectivity, and a power loss recovery system. The Prusa MK4 also benefits from Prusa Research’s continuous firmware and software updates, ensuring the printer stays up to date with the latest improvements.
- Open-Source Philosophy: Both the Ender 3 and Prusa MK4 follow an open-source philosophy, allowing users to modify and customize their machines. However, Prusa Research has been a prominent advocate for the open-source community, actively contributing to the development of 3D printing technologies and sharing their designs and firmware improvements.
In summary, while the Ender 3 offers great value for its price, the Prusa MK4 justifies its higher cost with its superior build quality, advanced features, and exceptional print quality. The Prusa MK4 is tailored towards enthusiasts, professionals, and those who prioritize reliability and the latest features in their 3D printing experience.
Hopefully that is helpful, if you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to reach out!
I think the best way to characterize the price differences between the two printers is that it’s a “Pay me now or pay me later” situation.
As @Matthew indicates, the Prusa is a good quality printer out of the box, the Ender 3 is … okay but I would be hesitant to say that somebody should purchase one with the goal of improving it with upgraded parts.
The Ender 3 is a good 3D printer to get into the hobby if you’re not sure and don’t want to make a major investment to start off. I’m very hesitant to recommend that you buy an Ender 3 with the idea that you can upgrade it later - I know that’s a big part of Creality’s messaging around the printer, but the controller board isn’t great (a lot more issues than just not having a touch panel), especially if you are looking to control your printer with a PC host. I know I harp on about the Sonic Pad and it’s problems, but I don’t think Creality has done a good job with any of their electronics (which are not open source).
Once you have experience with the Ender 3 and are reaching the end of its capabilities, I recommend that you look to buy a new printer (like the Prusa) rather than thinking you’ll just spend a few bucks bringing the Ender 3 up to the same level - you will spend at least as much as a better quality printer and it will be a lot of work and downtime (although, on the plus side, you’ll gain a lot of experience with building, tearing down and rebuilding 3D printers, not to mention looking for and building your own firmware).
That explains things quite well, thanks.
Josef Prusa, his ego requires it.
I have a Ender 3V2 and with all the upgrades I have made it will print at least as well as a Prusa. Even counting the future upgrades I’m planning it is still cheaper then the Prusa and the work can be done over a period of time so you don’t have to shell out big bucks up front. I would recommend the V2 or one of the newer versions over the original Ender 3. The Ender series can be upgrades, expanded, repair and modified infinity.
I was in the same boat before I bought anything. A co-worker had a Creality Ender while another started earlier with an ANet printer that cost him all of $150 to start. Each one took quite a while (both in money and time) to get to a place where either was satisfied with the prints, and honestly I didn’t want to spend that effort. I just wanted something that worked out of the box with minimal upgrades, so I decided on the Prusa Mini. Other than a dual-gear extruder everything’s stock, and 2500 hours of printing later it’s still working great. 95% of my printed parts have been less than 180mm in size so really the smaller form factor was fine, and it sat on my small workbench perfectly.
For me, the roughly $800CAD (exchange, shipping and brokerage fees add quite a bit to that initial $429 USD price tag) was worth it to me for the time saved, but for those who want to work at it a bit like the guy above, a well-upgraded Ender 3 can be just as good for less. All of these machines are basically the same mechanically so they all have the potential to be great with the right parts and time to tune it.
Just look at the Sovol SV06. Basically an MK3S clone, the prints are pretty close to it, and it’s a third of the price. Meanwhile, the SV07 is a Klipper speed-beast for less than half a P1P or K1 albeit having slightly cheaper build quality.
Over time Prusa will have to work harder to justify their price tags. Then again, people are still using their 5-year old printers to this day so that’s got to say something about longetivity and the ability to repair, while Bambu Labs still has an unproven track record with proprietary parts.
Even 4 years ago we never had this kind of selection, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.
I own a couple of Prusa and my work has I have lost count more than 20.
I have never needed to mod or alter mine, I send a print and forget it. I never wait for the first layer to start I never worry about it. I don’t spend much time messing with it.
I have been upgrading it from a MK3 to MK3S to a MK3S+ and comtiplating the MK3.5 or 3.9 or MK4.
My experience is the creality and most of the Chinese made the end user are the beta testers and R and D there is basically no tech support or it is so slow as to be non existent, my experience was 7 week for a reply. ridiculous.
Prusa runs a print farm of 300 of their printers running 24/7 they are constantly updating firmware and slicer to improve the quality and experience of the user. The reliability is from the farm running so many printers all the time if there is an issue they will find it and correct it.
My experience with tech support was fantastic they sent a replacement part in 24 hours and it took 15 mins to get a reply.
I priced a Prusa myself, all name brand parts no clones nothing inferior in any way. By the time I ordered and paid for shipping I was more than the cost of a Prusa, it is cheaper to buy from them than buy independently.
I don’t have tons of time. I can’t afford to buy a ‘cheap’ printer (again) and spend a stupid amount of time and money (2x the purchase price in parts!!!) to get it making mediocre prints.
I like some of the Prusa design features and some (like their use plastic) not so much. Folks like to diss Creality but my Ender 3 max has been a workhorse that produces very good quality prints using PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU and IGlide. I have made very minimal upgrades - orbiter direct drive extruder, copperhead heat break (newer Ender with the Sprite pretty much gets you here), dual Z and heated chamber. I was very careful to minimize the weight of the print head. I also have an Ender 5 that I totally butchered which is my experimental machine. I didn’t feel like paying 17k for a printer to do the things I wanted, so I set about setting something up one for one tenth the cost. Proper tuning and slicer settings go a long way to getting good quality prints. In a past life I raced motorcycles. I would compete against those who threw huge amounts of money at the latest and most expensive equipment but they could be beat at a much lower budget with a rider who truly understood what the bike was doing underneath him and a tuner who knew how to properly interpret that feedback to get the most out of the machine. I would have to chuckle at folks who would agonize over getting an extra horsepower out their engine when it would have been much cheaper and easier to eat a few less burgers per week and lose 10lbs … but I digress… To make a long story short, learn your machine and spend some time to get the most out of it. If 300 bucks gets you to where you need to be, why pay 700?
My Ender 3V2 worked fine out of the box. All the upgrades I did are not really necessary but I can’t help it, it’s a disease man, always needing to change and upgrade it.
Is there an AA for 3D printer modding.
Basically to each his own Ender or Prusa
Welcome to the forum, Glad you decided to join us.
These are the kinda discussions I personally love to see, Great points, I personally have a couple of PRUSA in my prototype lab but my gotos are still my Enders
I feel there is so much race to the bottom with printers. The low end is often plagued with problems, it gives the whole industry the “reputation “ of its too confusing, complicated, unreliable to be taken seriously. This does us all a huge disservice and stunted innovation and product development. Everyone is trying to make it all cheaper and RandD, reliably , and even safety all go out the window.
I want to support companies that innovate not copy. That put in R and D and quality parts and test things to death to produce reliable machines. I personally am willing to pay to not only get a reliable product but support innovation.
I think the cheap printers are the worst thing to have happen. I have looked at 2 100$ printers and it simply isn’t worth the time to attempt to get them working. The sad part is the 100$ but the crushed enthusiasm that went hand in hand with the failure.
I have been evaluating my purchasing and decision making lately. Slicers I have come to feel using only one is not getting the best of all possible results. I think in my own decisions I want to weigh other factors other than just money.
I recognize I have luxury of not only being paid a fair wage but being supported by my work to develop my skills farther. It allows me to look at a Prusa MK4 and thing hmm 1300$ ok or should I update my MK3s+.
So using your view of the printer situation, only people that can afford the more expensive printer should be allowed to use them.
I would say all of you make good points. IMO, the less mechanically inclined a person is, the more expensive/advanced of a printer he/she will need to buy in order to avoid eventually giving up in frustration.
So wherever the mechanical inclination level and budget intersect is where the cutoff point should be.
Of course, the more budget oriented printer manufacturers don’t mention that side of things at all. Undoubtedly, that results in some people buying a printer too cheap for their mechanical abilities, resulting in a lot unnecessary frustration.
My Ender 3 originals have certainly caused me some frustration over my years of ownership, but even with all the upgrades, the cost is well shy that of a Prusa. And I have learned more from them than a Prusa. That is worth something, as long as one works through it. I certainly do not regret my purchase decisions, although some of the features of the Bambu Labs X1 certainly make me drool a bit.
And the price of the Bambu labs printer may cause you to have a stroke.
Why would it “cause you to have a stroke”? That’s assuming that the person is looking for a) the “cheapest” option, b) is willing assemble, tinker/experiment and upgrade a printer on their own and c) are okay with the printer in pieces waiting for an upgrade piece of hardware and not printing.
The Carbon X1’s value statement is that you will get very good quality multi-colour prints right out of the box.
I’ve seen a number of people who end up spending more than $1,500 of an Ender 3 on various upgrades in the first year of the printer, working at getting the prints right and reliable operation. I should point out that these people are generally happy about the experience.
Going back to my original post on this thread, 3D printing is a “pay me now or pay me later” situation. You want to have something cheap up front, then you’re going to have to assemble it yourself, tune it and then upgrade to get it working the way you want it to - there is a definite out of pocket cost as well as a cost in time and effort. If you want something you can pull out of a packing crate and start working with immediately, there’s a higher up front cost but a much lower effort and parts cost.
You make it sound like that is a bad thing.
Personally I don’t have a problem modding a cheaper printer to get it running the way I like it. Maybe that is why I have a machine shop in the back yard, I like building stuff. I also like being able to repair and upgrade the printer, greatly extending the life of a printer. I have repeatably stated that the Ender 3 printers are infinitely upgradeable and infinitely repairable. Try that with a Bambu labs printer when the spares run out.
Most Ender’s run OK out of the box but there is a learning curve and many people just give up before “getting it”. Also some Ender’s are lemons but both of those situations happen to most 3D printers not just those from Creality. There are many problems reported on various printer brands all the time on this forum including people just giving up. The only solution is to drink some lemon aid and buck up and deal with it.
For you, it’s not a bad thing but for many people it is. You are willing to tinker and machine your own parts but for many people they just want something that works and prints well out of the box. You’re willing to go cheap and put in time and money getting a good quality printer. Other people will want to have something that works as soon as they plug it into the wally which means the upfront costs be higher.
There’s no right answer to this question, but it is important to recognize that with the lower purchase price 3D printers, users will have to put more effort and bucks into them than more expensive printers are good to go from second one.
I can see both sides of the argument here,
Half the hobby for me is tinkering around with the machines, that is why I like vorons and some of the more DIY printers. I love the idea of a machine creating parts for itself and to make something that actually improves the printer never gets old to me.
But I also do see the other side of the argument because not everyone is looking for something like that, hence the popularity of some of the new printers like the X1C, P1P, and K1. Many people just want something that works out of the box, unfortunately many of the printers that come in at the lower price point just don’t have this functionality and do require some tinkering. Hopefully this improves in the future, but I think right now the market is just stuck in a bit of a weird spot, for many people the upfront cost of the fancy machines is daunting, but the lower cost machines require a much steeper learning curve in some cases which can also be daunting.
Hopefully it all improves soon, but for now it is what it is
It isn’t usually necessary to mod them, they generally work fine out of the box but you can improve them if you want. They still won’t cost as much as a lot of the more expensive ones and even if they did the cost is spread out of time. For me a couple of years instead of sinking a lot of money into something I might not liked doing. For a lot of people cheap is the only option even if they did want a more expense model, it just is going to happen.
As you said it is up to the individual, it isn’t a case of right or wrong.
I think I operate on both sides. I have a production print farm going to produce my own parts. Printers are bone stock except for changed Bowden tubes and fittings after they fail the first time and Nozzles are changed when they wear. They produce perfectly acceptable prints for my purposes.
Now the printers in my house (former rec room) nothing is really off limits with these. Direct drive, Mounting systems, Belts, boards. It’s really where I do all my tinkering. It’s funny but I have 2 very different mindsets depending on the printer I am looking at.
My production ones are printing acceptable quality for the product I am making. For my other printers, I am always trying to push limits and try new stuff. Usually not time-critical items. I have much more print failures on my Rec Room printers than I do on my production ones.