The Sintron Prusa i3 is a build it yourself Prusa i3 kit which is one of the most popular 3D printer on UK Amazon. Sintron has the same printer listed twice, one with Amazon Prime delivery and one without. The one with Prime delivery is about £20 more. Both seem to be the exact same printer. The printer is similar to other Prusa i3 variation. It features a heated bed, MK8 extruder which is direct drive, 0.1 to 0.3 mm layer height with a good sized 200 x 200 x 180 build volume.
Assembly – sintron prusa i3
The assembly of the printer was surprisingly easy and straight forward. I emailed Sintron and they sent me a link to password protected Dropbox files of instructions. These were very clear and mostly easy to follow with basic electronics knowledge and some common sense. One problem was that the endstop switches for the Z,Y and X axis were not documented very well, however Sintron was happy to send my pictures and written instructions on how I should connect them. This is my first 3D printer as well as my first 3D printer build, I managed to get the printer built within a few days. Like I said I do recommend a very basic knowledge of electronics as well as the ability to solder, although 90% of the electronic assembly is done with plugs. Like any Prusa i3 build you will need some initiative to complete the printer but the instructions will cover just about every step.
The Frame – sintron prusa i3
The frame is made out of laser cut acrylic and the standard metal rods as well as 3d printed parts. The frame has two main parts: the acrylic frame with the X and Z axis and the metal rod base joined by 3d printed corners which holds the Y axis. The Y axis is very sturdy and heavy, it is all constructed by metal threaded rods. The Y Axis is held on by 2 smooth rods attached to the base. The Y axis is a heated bed which I am able to get to about 80*C, you are required to cover it in painters tape, kapton tape or but some glass on it. On the other hand there is the acrylic half of the printer. This side of the printer is a bit more flimsy than the Y axis. It holds the 2 Z axis stepper motors and the X carriage, the acrylic frame has several pieces which join by small bolts and nuts which are very fiddly to screw in. One problem I have noticed is how the two parts join together: The acrylic frame slots onto a pair of the threaded bars on the base of the printer. This is supposed to be held in place a nuts and fender washers, however I didn’t get any fender washers in my kit so I used regular washer. This makes for a flimsy joint which allows the acrylic frame to sway back and forth, this means you will have to secure it some how so it doesn’t interfere with printing. Another problem I encountered was the fact I didn’t place the acrylic frame perpendicular to the y axis, this caused the printer to print circles in a weird oval shape, the problem is mostly my fault as it was my first printer and I had no prior experience with 3D printers, let alone building one. Other than these 2 issues which are an easy fix the frame is (in my opinion) looks professional and strong.
The Electronics – sintron prusa i3
Like just about every reprap printer this Prusa i3 uses a ramps 1.4 board which slots on top of a Sintron made ‘arduino’ mega 2560 which comes programmed with the firmware. The printer runs of an LCD interface using just one dial and an emergency stop switch. The LCD screen is clear and bright as well as easy to navigate. The LCD display also houses the SD-card reader which means that the printer does not need a computer to run it, however you can plug it into your computer if you so desire.
The cable management is up to the builder, there are holes cut into the acrylic which allow you to run wires neatly. Saying that, it is very hard to get the cable management to a good level and you will have to incest some time into doing this as it will make repairs and general use in the future much easier. The cables going to the print head are attached loosely and I recommend either fitting some kind of cable management sheath or printing out a cable chain which was what I did.
The electronics are reliable as long as there are not any user made short circuits. With the ramps 1.4 board I received in my kit the polyfuse (a polyfuse is a fuse that can be used multiple times without a need to replace it) installed in the heated bed circuit, this fuse was faulty and would trip every time I tried to heat the bed. This meant that I could not use the heated bed. I once again emailed Sintron about this and they were happy to send me 2 new fuses for free and they even covered the shipping cost.
In the package you get a generous amount of jumper wires to aid you in the wiring which I found very helpful and I still have plenty left. One part of the electronics I do not like is the endstops for the axis’s. The switches are physical switches which is not good for the accuracy of setting the Z axis height. If the Z axis home height has to be accurate otherwise the hot-end will drag across the heated bed or the first layer will be too high up and will not stick to the bed causing a massive mess of plastic. However there is a more manual solution to this problem which is far from ideal but it does work: You need to turn on skirt and set it to at least 2 perimeters, by doing this your printer will extrude a out line of the model you are printing about 1cm away from it. What this allows you to do is to is to pause the print on the LCD controller and change the Z height and adjust it to first the correct home position by using a piece of paper then to set it to the correct first layer height (which may be different to your main layer height) mine is usually 0.3mm. This should solve the issues with the Z axis home position.
Customer service – sintron prusa i3
One major advantage to buying this printer is the outstanding customer service. It is the best customer service I have ever seen. I was in a long chain of emails to someone called James who answered every question I had as well as sending me parts if they were faulty. I had problems some issues with my printer and they would send me out a part whenever necessary, they even sent me a new mega 2560. I would highly recommend buying from this seller, you can get their email on their website.
Print Quality – sintron prusa i3
The prints I have achieved with this printer is amazing. With much tinkering to my printer I have been able to print precise, accurate models. With this printer printing printing non-mechanical parts and basic models are a breeze. Printing mechanical objects can be a bit more tricky, I have been able to print objects with moving parts inside such as a rotating scuba hose holder, a Geneva drive model (a mechanism that changes continuous motion into intermittent motion) and recently a ‘mostly’ working adjustable wrench. I recommend playing around with extrusion multiplier to get the best prints ( I use 90% in Cura for PLA). With this printer, like any you will get failures and this will happen more likely than a pre-built machine. However the knowledge you gain from the failures is invaluable as the best way to learn is to learn from your mistakes. The printer is able to preform well in PLA, ABS, PETG and flexable PLA from my experience.
Overall the printer is really good: It can print complex shapes and figures as well as complex mechanical parts if you tinker around a bit. The fact you have to build it and make it work well, as well as giving you satisfaction, gives you knowledge on the ins and outs of your machine and how it works, how to make it better and how to fix it. The print quality I have achieved with the printer is very good as you can see from the image above, but I feel like it’s unfair to compare it to a printer like an Ultimaker because those kinds of 3D-Printers go into the regions of £1000+ at least and for about £ 270 and some time and effort you can achieve similar results to a high end printer like that. So whether you are looking for your first printer or another one for your fleet the Sintron Prusa i3 should be put on your short list.