Prusa Printer Update – 1 Year Later

It is hard to believe it has been a year since I bought my Prusa i3 MK3S printer. I have used it a lot. I am completely satisfied with its performance. I would estimate I have burned through about 8 rolls of filament. Along the way, I learned a few tricks – many of them the hard way. Here is the list:

  1. Completely clean the print bed between prints. This is super important. Everyone seems to have their favorite method, I prefer to use acetone to wipe down the bed. It should be as clean as a surgery room floor.
  2. Make sure the extruder nozzle area is spotless. When you have a print fail, it is often because the print object did not stick to the bed. Depending on when you discover this, you could have quite a mess on your hands. Before you start a print, make sure the entire areas around the print nozzle is clear of debris. If there are any remnants of melted filament from the previous print, it will surely mess up your current print.
  3. Invest in better filament. I have used both PLA and PETG filament in my printer with excellent results. As I said in a previous post, I am not a big fan of the Prusa filament. I also had pretty miserable experiences with the Inland brand of filament sold at MicroCenter and on Amazon. It is cheap – so I guess you get what you pay for. I have had excellent success with the 3D-Solutech and HatchBox filaments, and highly recommend them. HatchBox seems to be a favorite among Prusa users. I also bought a roll of pink PLA from TecBears and it worked great.
  4. Store filament in airtight plastic bags with a desiccant bag. Living in southern California does not put a lot of stress on 3D filament. If you live in an area with high humidity, beware – filament breaks down quickly when it is around moisture.
  5. Clean everything up after a failed print. You will have prints blow up on you. In many cases this will make quite a mess. Most of my failures occur because the print object is not oriented correctly. One time, I failed to clean up the mess completely, and some hair from the failed print got stuck in the print fan. This caused the thermal sensor in the print head to shut down the printer.
  6. Keep your printer firmware up to date. I use the Prusa slicer to prepare my prints. The slicer puts a notification file on the SD card that tells the printer there is a new firmware version available for the printer. It only takes a few minutes to upgrade the printer firmware using a laptop coputer.

Prusa i3 MK3S 3D Printer Kit (Part-4)

This is the final entry in the 4-Part blog posts re. my Prusa i3 MK3S printer. The previous posts can be found here: Part-1, Part-2, Part-3.

Once I completed assembly of my printer, I followed the instructions to do a self-test and calibration. The self-test failed while performing the “Loose belt pulley test” on the X-axis. The manual said to be sure the motor pulleys are not loose, and to be sure the screws are tightened against the flat part of the pulley shaft.

First, I checked all the pulleys and they were not loose. This was puzzling to me, because I could not get rid of the error. I finally decided to re-tighten the X-Y belts. This fixed the problem. I was quite surprised how tight the belts had to be in order to pass the self-test. If you run in to this same situation, check your belt tension.

The next challenge I had was getting the print head depth calibrated correctly. I followed the instructions using the ‘sheet of paper’ method, but the hard part for me was getting the “first layer” calibration correct. This involves getting the perfect Z-axis height at the beginning of the print. The instructions really did not provide a lot of help – they simply describe, in general, what the thickness of the print layer should be.

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