The i3 Prusa 3D Printer by Maker Farm is supplied as a 99% complete kit. The purchaser only has to provide an 8 x 8 sheet of glass to cover the heated print bed, and a 12V DC power supply capable of providing more than 16 Amps.
Purchase and delivery:
I purchased my unit over the internet and requested delivery by UP PS Global Priority. The unit was shipped on the day I ordered it, and arrived in Australia 10 days from having been accepted by the Post Office. This 10 day period between making a purchase from the US and having it arrive is quite normal.
The unit was sensibly packaged in one cardboard box. It came through the delivery undamaged. Delicate parts such as the electronics and extruder head came in hard plastic lidded boxes and were wrapped in padding before being placed in the box. All the nuts, bolts and screws were in once plastic bag. The steppers were in a padded bag.
The only negatives about the packaging were that the laser cut sheets of ply containing the frame parts could have been packaged between supporting sheets of cardboard. During transit pieces dislodged from the sheets, and on unpacking, these items looked like a half finished jig-saw puzzle left over from last Christmas holidays.
It would have been good to get a list of contents to check that everything which was supposed to be in the box, was in the box. (Everything was there)
The components supplied were of a very high standard. A lot were commercially available items ( electronics, steppers, linear bearings, extruder etc) I was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of the hardware supplied. Having been involved in aviation hardware, I could tell that the nuts, bolts and screws supplied were not el cheapo Chinese rubbish. I'd say they were high standard, made in the US of A products.
The frame parts are laser cut from birch plywood. As a result the wood has burn marks on one side. This does not distract from the integrity of the components, but unless they are given a coat of paint, the aesthetics of the finished machine are reduced. I bought a cheap can of spray paint and painted everything (except the cut edges) before I started assembly.
The Maker Farm says that you can assemble the machine in 3 hours. You can - if you are "He who made us all'. I suggest that you take your time and double check all assemblies.
You need to download the Build Instructions in pdf format from the Maker Farm site. However, all these instructions can help with is collecting all the components for each sub-assembly. I suggest that you get some small plastic bags to hold the sub-assembly components before they are required. That way you will know that you have everything that you need.
The rest of the build instructions can be found on YouTube. You can find them here: http://www.youtube.com/user/elderfarrer
There are a couple of things to watch out for. Be careful that you are watching the video for your machine. The 6" differs from the 8" in some areas - especially the length of the toothed drive belts. Also, the videos are shot from the point of view of a person sitting in front of the demonstrator, so what has to be in your left hand is in his right hand and vice versa. Be prepared to watch each video several times before committing to a build action.
While the laser cutting of the plywood was very accurate in plan view, it seems that the laser cutter had been knocked a few degrees off vertical, so that the cuts through the ply were off line. Once noticed, it only took a few swipes with a flat file to obtain a good fit. This matter was brought to the attention of the manufacturer who has since began to monitor the angle of the cutter. Otherwise, the machine fell together.
There may have been a change in materials supplied at one stage because the plywood pieces that hold the Y-axis bed linear bearings had too large a space cut out. This resulted in the rods rubbing on the Printer bed and jamming. A quick email to Maker Farm had a new set of pieces in the mail to me the same day.
Any questions I had regarding assembly problems were sent by email and answered almost immediately (bearing in mind time zone differences). Parts replacement was efficient.
Calibration and Software.
The electronics come already flashed. The only thing I had to get done was to download the Arduino drivers and install them in my controller computer. Since my son is an IT Systems Engineer, this took a lot of begging before it was done - a little like the plumber's wife and the leaky faucet. However this task was easily accomplished (eventually) and things moved when the power was turned on.
A person named Zennmaster has posted a three part review of the Maker Farm printer on YouTube. Here is the link to Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkPcoWVvpNw
Old Man Emu