There was a bit of controversy earlier this month when Prusa Research announced the fabulous new Prusa i3 MK3 desktop 3D printer.
Not because of an issue with the MK3, but because there was no clear upgrade path from a MK2 or earlier machine to the highly capable MK3. At the time, Josef Prusa explained:
Let’s talk upgradability now. We have over 30 000 MK2s in the wild now. We’ve been offering upgrades to the latest version in the past. Everyone who bought our Prusa i3 2.85mm could upgrade to MK1, then to MK2 and then to MK2S. Do you know any other company that would care so much about their products?
Unfortunately, a full upgrade is not possible (and we have really discussed this extensively) due to the new frame and switching to 24V. We tried really hard, but basically, all parts would end up replaced.
And all this is quite true: “upgrading” a machine by replacing almost all the key parts isn’t really an upgrade, it’s a replacement. Prusa was wisely transparent on this issue.
However, it seems that the vast audience of Prusa i3 MK2 owners thought otherwise. The company announced the following change:
You have asked for it, and we have always listened. Even though almost all the components are needed to be replaced, it will be possible to upgrade from MK2/S to MK3. Unfortunately, the price is not very upgrade-friendly and you could practically build a second MK2 from the leftovers. But you have the option, and that’s important.
And that price is USD$499 for the MK2 to MK3 upgrade. That USD$499 is about 67% of the price of a brand new MK3 kit. To put it another way, you could spend USD$749 new MK3 and have TWO 3D printers, or spend USD$499 and end up with one MK3. That’s a different of USD$249, which to me sounds like a better deal. You could likely sell the assembled and working old MK2 for more than that. However, the customer is always right!
For those not so ambitious, Prusa also offers what they call a “MK2.5” upgrade, which is a collection of features that are more easily integrated into the older MK2. That costs only USD$149, and is probably a worth the money.
This situation illustrates the dilemma facing any hardware company: eventually you have to abandon a previous generation of product because the new generation is so utterly different it doesn’t make financial sense to upgrade. Every company producing hardware has this problem, but in Prusa’s case they set the expectations of their customers by continually providing upgrades. That’s great, until they can’t.
For MK2 owners, I’m not sure this is that much of an issue, as the MK2 is a truly excellent desktop 3D printer in any case, and would certainly serve one well for years.
It reminds me of the common situation you might find yourself in when considering a smartphone upgrade, or a computer purchase: should I wait for the next-best-thing, or should I buy now?
My rule of thumb on this is straightforward: if you need new function now, buy something now. If you don’t need new function right now, wait.
But in this case, Prusa has all options covered.
Via Prusa Research