Prusa Research finally shipped the Original Prusa XL 3D printer, but this is far more than just a printer launch.
For many months — 16 to be precise — we’ve been waiting the delivery of the Original Prusa XL 3D printer.
Now, after the long wait during which Prusa Research engineers fine tuned the design, they have begun shipping the initial orders.
CEO Josef Prusa writes:
“Finally, the first production units of the Original Prusa XL are ready to leave the company and head to their new owners! Today, we sent the first batch of e-mails with instructions on how to switch XL preorders to regular orders. Right now, we can fulfill only the orders from the first few minutes of the pre-sale, because the interest in the XL was crazy. The first shipped batches will be smaller, but we’ll gradually ramp up the production.”
The device was first announced in November 2021, and surprised many in the community who expected Prusa Research to announce a successor to the now-aging MK3S+ desktop 3D printer.
There was no MK4 3D printer announced — and it still hasn’t been announced. Instead we have the Prusa XL, quite a different machine.
This device has a far larger build volume, the possibility of using five different materials using a tool-changing system, advanced thermal management, sophisticated print surface, different motion system (coreXY), advanced extruder and considerable calibration automation.
And there’s one more thing that is quite different: the price. Rather than the sub-US$1000 price point used for the company’s prior equipment, the Prusa XL starts at almost US$2,000 – and that’s for a kit you assemble yourself. More complex versions can cost as much as US$4,000.
If you’re thinking that this device might be out of your price range, you wouldn’t be alone. Individuals that can afford a US$700 3D printer may not be able to afford a US$4,000 3D printer. Prusa Research will sell fewer of these units, but at a higher margin than their lower-cost units.
But that’s the key here: the Prusa XL is NOT meant for DIY hobbyists, as the MK3S+ has been. The Prusa XL is really targeted at a different market: professionals. These are folks that would use the device not as a hobby, but as a money-making tool in their business.
The characteristics of the Prusa XL fit very well into that customer profile, as there is significant emphasis on reliability, quality and automation.
The announcement of the first Prusa XL shipments are the first steps of Prusa Research into that new market. There, Prusa Research will compete against different 3D printer manufacturers.
That’s what I think this is all about. Prusa Research has extremely stiff competition at the low-end of the market from inexpensive Asian equipment that now has largely caught up to the capabilities of the Prusa MK3S+ design. These competing machines are available at rock-bottom prices, far lower than the MK3S+, making it increasingly difficult for Prusa Research to compete in that market. Prusa Research will no doubt find it even more challenging in future years, it’s not going to get better for them.
That’s why I believe the company has not released a MK4 device, and also why they have emphasized the new Prusa XL: they are moving into another market to escape the competition.
While plenty of MK3S+ machines continue to be sold, at some point in the near future that run will begin to tail off due to increasing competition. When that happens, the company had better have another source of revenue, and that could very well be the Prusa XL and its successors.
Because of this, the launch of the Prusa XL is a critical milestone for the future of Prusa Research. I’m hoping they’ve worked out all the bugs and it finds a welcome home in the new professional market.
Via Prusa Research