In mid-October 2019, Josef Průša surprised all users of amateur and desktop 3D printers in the world, presenting unexpectedly and without any previous announcements a completely new device of his own – MINI PRUSA. The 3D printer was based on a design different from previous models and was offered at an unbelievably low price for a European manufacturer in the form of just €379. Shipments of the first 3D printers to customers have been going on for two weeks, meanwhile Josef Průša revealed what new functionalities we can expect in them after the new year …
Although the name of the 3D printer is “MINI”, its working area is by no means as small as it may seem. It is a solid 18 x 18 x 18 cm, which with the current standard among amateur and desktop 3D printers (about 20 cm in XYZ axes) makes it quite ordinary. The biggest controversy in this device is the suspension of the printhead in the X axis attached to only one arm – there are justified fears as to the issue of stability of the structure and the occurrence of possible backlash. So far, no one testing the new 3D printer has made any comments in this respect, so it remains to be hoped that the engineers of PRUSA RESEARCH have thought through this matter carefully …?
Another important element of the 3D printer is the new 32-bit control electronics and new firmware. Thanks to them, device operation is much simpler than in the case of Original Prusa Mk2 / Mk3, however, its most important feature is the ability to remotely operate the device. In a recent article on his blog, Průša announced what MINI users can count on after the new year … At the turn of January and February 2020, a new firmware will be available for download that will allow you to control the device from a web browser.
The software called PrusaConnect will allow you to control the selected 3D printer, create a print queue, create project libraries, or create clusters of 3D printers – in short, everything that has similar systems that are used by professional desktop devices such as Zortrax, Ultimaker, BCN3D, or MakerBot. The novelty, of course, is that a similar system will go to amateur class devices that cost as much as 2-3 rolls of specialist, engineering filament for special applications.
To what extent can 3D MINI printers equipped with new software and firmware, enabling the creation of super cheap 3D printer farms, affect the situation on the 3D printer market? Contrary to appearances, manufacturers of desktop class devices should not worry too much about this – Prusa MINI is still a simple and cheap 3D printer, after which you can see at first glance what is the reason for such a low price, so industrial customers will probably skip it quite quickly. In turn, Chinese manufacturers of cheap clones of original Prusa may already have a problem here, because if they are always able to go even lower from the price, the issue of creating an efficient and reliable will not get around so quickly.
It seems, therefore, that Josef Průša’s goal was first to solve the “Chinese problem” and to guarantee for years a strong and unwavering position on the market of amateur 3D printers. The professional and industrial sphere – at least at the moment, seems to be completely outside his area of interest.