Prusa Research is now shipping an upgrade kit for their popular MK3S+ 3D printers.
The intent of the upgrade is to integrate some of the more advanced tech from their new MK4 device into the older MK3S+ machines. After the upgrade the “new” MK3S+ will have more functionality, but not as much as a true MK4.
This upgrade echoes what Prusa Research has done in the past for older machines: offering an upgrade path to maintain the device a bit longer. This was done for the MK2 machines when the MK3 came out, and it looks like they’re doing much the same with this upgrade.
Prusa Research also hinted that they’re in the process of shutting down production of the MK3S+ machines, although they promise to maintain spare parts going forward.
What does this upgrade do for you? Quite a bit, actually.
The major benefit is that the upgrade MK3S+ will print approximately 2X faster due to the integration of input shaping and pressure advance technology. However, results will vary with smaller objects gaining less speed than larger items.
There’s also a new color LCD panel to replace the now prehistoric alphabetic display. However, it’s not a touch screen, and there’s still a knob to twirl when selecting items.
Under the covers there is a new controller board, which, among other things, allows the upgraded MK3S+ to use Prusa Connect for remote management.
The speed is enabled by changes to the extruder, heat bed, electronics and more. Prusa Research explains:
“The upgrade process is completely straightforward, so you don’t have to worry about taking half of the printer apart. We estimate it takes around 2 hours to install it.”
Is it that simple? I took a look at the upgrade instructions. I found the instructions to be of outstanding quality — there are plenty of step by step images, color-coded labels, and much detail. Prusa Research has gone to great lengths to ensure one can make their way through the steps without issue. If there’s one thing Prusa Research does better than anyone else in the 3D print industry, it’s their fantastic instructions.
Unfortunately, the upgrade process is not going to be straightforward for everyone. While the instructions are very detailed and well-written, by my count there are literally 171 steps to do.
For sure, many of them are simple, but my goodness there are a lot of them.
Because the controller board is being swapped out, this means that almost every single cable in the system must be detached, re-run and plugged into new points.
I am certain that a chunk of MK3S+ operators will take a look at the lengthy instructions and decide it’s too much for them. For those familiar with building 3D printers and electronics, it should be no problem.
However, the MK3S+ was a very popular machine, selling well past the DIY market and used by many consumers. I suspect very few of them will take on this upgrade, and they may consider going directly to the MK4, which is a better machine.
For the DIY folks, the upgrade is a terrific idea. It enables the possibility of squeezing a bit more life out of the MK3S+ before retirement and avoids a cash layout for a new MK4.
Will Prusa Research offer a complete upgrade kit to convert a MK3S+ into a MK4? It sounds like they will not unless there is significant demand. This was the same situation during the MK2->MK3 switchover, so we’ll see what happens.
Meanwhile, MK3S+ operators must make a decision: keep running as-is, upgrade, jump up to a MK4, or something else.
Via Prusa Research