HICTOP Prusa I3 3D Desktop Printer Review

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If you’re currently trying to decide what’s the best 3D printer to buy on the market at a lower budget, look no further than the HICTOP Prusa I3 3D Desktop Printer. Before making this purchase, I literally spent hours on-end looking through every option. Reviews form other customers were an integral part to my decision-making process. When reading reviews, make sure to take your time, because they are all accurate in a way. This printer is for people who are comfortable with learning something new and challenging themselves, and tends to be a predominant theme with other customers purchasing the same printer. If you do it right, you can get the print quality to be superb, and I highly recommend this printer to any teacher, student, or someone looking to gain a new hobby in the field.

Print Quality

You may notice that when you first open the printer, the quality of the prints may not be that great. That’s because you have to automatically adjust the printer settings to get it where you want to be. The HICTOP Prusa I3 3D Desktop Printer came with the Cura software, which isn’t bad, but I prefer to use Reeptier. After messing around with the exrusion speed, printing speed, and fill densities, I noticed that it made a big difference in the quality of my prints. After adjusting Repeater settings, I managed to print moving parts that are key to structural integrity of certain products. This is definitely a 5-star printer for anyone who is a do-it-yourselfer.prusa-i3-5

Assembly

This was a bit of a concern for me, especially given the fact that it’s my first time ordering a 3D printer. I noticed many comments that stated that the instructions were poor. The video that shows instructions are incredibly fast and come with no words, only making the assembly that much more stressful and difficult. However, in the midst of all of this, the building and tinkering process was definitely the most enjoyable part of buying this product. For visual learners, it’s not difficult to rewind and pause at certain points of the instructional video. Doing so, it was easy to learn that the support structures of the z-axis movement work best when one side is left without the vertical support rod. If both supports are in, it’s possible that the motor becomes jammed up.
It’s possible to build this machine by yourself, but if you have a friend nearby, it’s not a bad idea to have him help you out during the installation of some larger parts. If you’re wondering how long it actually took me to completely assemble, I spent three days on it with 5 hours each day, for a total of 15 hours. The main reason for taking such a long time is because I made a lot of mistakes having it been my first printer, and thus I had to go back and correct them. However, this was a LOT of fun and totally worth it. Spending so much time on something that can be used for both instruction and fun is definitely worth it.

Software And Motherboard

The HIC company is kind enough in the fact that they consider everything that you need to get your printer going, and therefore place it in one box. As mentioned above, the software that’s included is called Cura and comes with a nice slicer to make your 3D prints exactly how you like them, but I definitely prefer to use the Repeater software so that I can obtain manual control of the different axes. The motherboard that’s included is not a common one (MKS Base v1.2). While some of you might consider this a small speed bump, if you know how to code using Arduino software, it’s completely compatible (Firmware for motherboard can be found here).

prusa-i3-3-3My one negative comment is that the HIC Technology Company doesn’t come with a configuration.h file, the file that tells the board exactly what to do. I had to mess around with a config file, but afterwards rendered the board as inoperable due to my frustration. I emailed the company and told the my dilemma, only to be met with excellent customer service who will be able to help you troubleshoot problems if you’re patient. Fortunately, a kind person who bought this printer was able to give me a working configuration.h file that I was able to edit for my own preferences. Overall, I give the motherboard 4 stars. I don’t rate it at 5 stars due to the fact that it’s not mainstream and they didn’t include a configuration file. Other than that, no complaints. DO NOT let this deter you from purchasing this product if you’re looking for the best 3D printer out there for your budget.

Future Use

They did a good job in making the Prusa I3 3D Desktop Printer completely customizable and upgradable. There were some things that I would’ve liked to change, and I found out that I can simply purchase different parts. For example, the Y-axis endstop. I noticed that it doesn’t make contact with the printing bed, meaning you have to manually stop the bed while homing the printer. For me personally, I plan on developing my own printing part that will allow the bed to auto-home, and I’m going to use this printer to make it. Definitely 5 stars for the printer’s adaptability. Furthermore, it’s possible to install an additional extruder if you’re willing to buy the parts – the motherboard has plenty of room for that.

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What Can You Make?

The bed is a nice, large size, especially for an introductory printer. My Repeater software thinks the bed has a size of 200x200x170, but the printer can definitely make things that are much larger. All you have to do is adjust the configuration, endstops, and software and you’ve got yourself a top-shelf machine. The other printer that my company uses costs about $15,000 (Tech Printer).With that being said, I’ve had friends show me their phone case projects along with other printed objects, and this printer makes projects that are highly comparable. While this one doesn’t come with all the fancy bells & whistles, you’re still getting something that can make products that are just as good for only a fraction of the price. I’ve made gyroscopes, toys, printer parts, office supplies, phone cases, and I don’t plan on stopping there. I plan on designing some printing disks this weekend. Another 5 stars for its potential and performance.

prusa-i3-2Final Thoughts

Based on what I’ve stated in this review, I have to give the HICTOP Prusa I3 3D Desktop Printer a 4.5 star review, and it has a total user rating of 4.67 on Amazon. I highly recommend reading all other reviews before you purchase, as understanding that this is a learning tool is key to avoid frustration with this product. While learning can be a bit stressful, it definitely makes the reward that much more satisfying. The software & motherboard can use some improvement, yet you can find all of the resources that you need at no cost. Print quality is incredible, but you have to remember that this depends completely on the user. Get this printer to hone your skills in the new 3D realm. Customer service is great, so don’t worry if you see any negative reviews on this end. If you’re looking for something that’s both a learning-tool and a powerful workhorse, you’ve defintiely chosen the right printer.

For those of you who are intelligent and optimstic learners with a passion for improving and driving the scientific progress of life, it would be a huge favor to yourself to treat yourself to this experience, which I cannot fully express in words. After my purchase, I can’t possibly be happier, as it’s EASILY the best $400 I’ve ever spent. I hope this review helps you in your 3D Printer purchasing process. Highly recommended.

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3 Responses so far.

  1. Andreas Gludsted says:

    did you manage to get the software for the board? i’ve bought the printer about a year ago but still havnt been able to use the full bed 270*200*170mm… and did you have problems with oozing,dripping or stringing??? if so i would like to hear about it

  2. SOS says:

    Andreas. Are your belts and clearances good enough to go that far? The firmware is configured to 180mm in height. (not 200). I set mine up so I get the full range (removed springs on bed).
    is your Y axis also not correct?

    You can check by auto home. Then move all axis to [100,100,100]. Unplug the unit. Plug it
    back in. move the axis until right before it hits an end.

    Which MKS board do you have? Describe your printer. (I bought one in Oct 2015)

  3. Russell Parker says:

    the link for the firmware file is not working.


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