Assembly Begins on my MakerGear Mendel Prusa 3D printer kit

I’ve unpacked my Mendel Prusa kit and started frame assembly. Everything in the box was well packed in mountains of bubblewrap, in individually labelled packets, which makes locating things easy. Like assembling a huge Lego model.

I’ve had a couple of moments of confusion so far in the gap between the Prusa Mendel Visual Instructions (which has excellent line illustrations,in the manner of the best car mechanics books), and the Makergear Mendel Prusa – differences from Stock Prusa. I’ve printed both documents out and punched for 4-ring binders. They sit open side by side on the desk in front of me, so I can refer back and forth. Its comforting to know that each time I mis-assemble something, the backtracking and re-assembly is increasing my knowlege and familiarity with the whole machine. Its not rocket science, but its Great Fun!

Karen Pollack at MakerGear was great to deal with, which was comforting when I was when buying something sight unseen from the far side of the world. Postage was $160, which was worth it for saving me the huge effort and expense of trying to source (possibly incompatible) parts individually. The chocolate in the box was a nice touch, as was the roll of fire-engine-red PLA that MakerGear included along with the silver and clear PLA that I ordered.

What was really nice, from my perspective as an Australian, was that the printer and 3 rolls of PLA came in at a price under $1000 australian dollars, which I believe is the customs price cutoff for charging duty. So my package sailed through customs un-tariffed in under an hour.

Somehow I have to force myself to go out and mow three weeks worth of grass and weeds now, when I’d rather be building my printer 😦

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7 Responses to Assembly Begins on my MakerGear Mendel Prusa 3D printer kit

  1. Paul Stevens says:

    Hi Andrew
    Photos of the process can be pretty informative for the Non Techies, and the more visual brain types which includes me. Liking your blog, keep up the good work.

    Paul

  2. Paul Stevens says:

    Have belatedly checked out your links to instructions, which does provide much of the visual info I was after, but hope you will be posting your own photos of your project as it unfolds.

    Paul

    • BrazenArtifice says:

      Yes, you are right to chastise me for lack of pictures. I plead obsessive printer-building, and that other people have done a better job of documenting their builds. Now that I’ve got the printer mostly working, I could perhaps take time out to take some photos. Once I get it half-way aligned I’ll be able to post pics of things I’ve printed. So far all I’ve got is two tiny twisted strings of red plastic. They represent a triumph for me, because I remember all the little struggles to get this far, but they’re not photogenic…

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi, I am looking at buying a Mendel Presa and was wondering if you could possibly tell me who you bought yours from and whether it is worth buying? It sounds like your doing well with yours and having a lot of fun. Is there any advice you could give me? Thanks!
    Sarah

    • BrazenArtifice says:

      Hi Sarah!

      Well, the post title is a hint… I bought my kit by mail from MakerGear in the USA. I’m in Australia, and postage cost me around $160. Building and using their kit is pretty much all I’ve written about on this blog, so any advice I could give is probably here somewhere 🙂

      Building a Prusa, even from MakerGear’s excellent kit, is not a trivial undertaking. It took me roughly two cautious weeks of holidays to get mine assembled, but there is a great sense of achievement when you succeed. Then you need to learn how to use it!

      Some folks claim to be able to put one together in a weekend, but only because they’ve done it before and they already know exactly what to do.

      Because people are constantly experimenting and finding new and better ways of doing things, you won’t find one single authoritative set of instructions. That might be the single most common complaint – that folks spend a lot of time searching for answers when things don’t look the way the first set of instructions suggest they should. That’s why I wrote up my own experiences and suggestions.

      If that sounds too daunting (I don’t know your skill level, obviously), you might start thinking about buying a pre-assembled printer. I’m not aware of anywhere you could buy a Mendel Prusa ready assembled, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that anyway. It’s easy to knock the frame out of alignment if you handle it roughly, and if you buy one second-hand you have no idea how much of a lemon it might be even before being tossed around in the back of a mail truck.

      Putting a printer together from a good kit is certainly an effort, but you’ll learn how to fix it when things go wrong. And you won’t be buying someone else’s assembly mistakes. I think that is priceless, because it’s not as if there’s much chance of handing a Prusa in over the counter for repairs, its all DIY.

      For pre-built printers, you might look into the UP! range which are made in China. I heard rumours recently that they are soon to release a ready-to-run printer for around $1000, but it only has a small build volume – similar to the early MakerBot cupcakes.

      I might be able to help more if you have more specific questions, otherwise see what you can find elsewhere on this blog, or follow the links in the sidebar. Also the page labelled “Assembly Notes Index” gives links to those of my posts which are most helpful to people building MakerGear’s Prusa kit.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi, Thanks so much for that! Epic reply! Well the only things I’ve really built have involved timber so I’ve virtually 0 skill level with electronics and things, but I think I’d still like to give the kit a go- it sounds like a fun challenge!
        Thanks again!

        • BrazenArtifice says:

          Heh, I’m not smart enough to answer complicated questions with short and simple answers 🙂

          There’s never been a better time to get into electronics. Lots of good tutorials on the net (try adafruit), and parts are easy to order online. And the things you can do with modern microcontrollers like the Arduino and Beaglebone are amazing!

          If you consider buying a printer kit from someone other than MakerGear, make sure you do your online research first! The #reprap channel on IRC is a good place to find out what people really think of different manufacturers. There have been some extremely shoddy folks selling kits that you don’t want to be stuck with, and some of those folks have bigger marketing budgets but lousy customer service. The reason I recommend the MakerGear Prusa kit is because I did do that research, and never found anybody with a bad word about their kits.

          There is also a MakerGear google group you can subscribe to, as well as the various forums at places like reprap.org

          Best of luck, and feel free to ask further questions as they arise.

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