The background or The Why
Ok, I have gone and done it. I purchased a Prusa Mini and now I have committed sacrilege and purchased a clone. I built it and I am posting my experiences here. So, why did I buy it? I wanted to know if they actually work and if they were worth the price.
As a disclosure, I am very pro Prusa. My review may be colored by my experiences with my previous purchases. I own a eight MK3S printers with one being a Triangle Labs Bear Kit purchased off AliExpress and 6 being purchased from folks who sold them on eBay. I also own an Original Prusa Mini and have another on the way (waitlist for 6 weeks). I also own a modified Creality Ender-3, Creality CR-10s Pro, Anycubic Predator, and Anycubic Chiron. I am happy with all but will likely never buy another Reality but that is a different story for another time.
When people hear the words “clone”, they’re often dissuaded because they think they are robbing the designer or they will be poor quality. Clones usually conjure up terms like inferior quality but they can actually be superior if the copier makes improvements on the design. Let’s face the facts, China is well know for it counterfeit products that are of poor craftsmanship and infringe of patents. So, why did I buy this printer. I wanted to test those preconceived beliefs and see if this Prusa Mini Clone was with he cash or if was another rip off.
I began looking around for a mini clone printer because Prusa does not offer a kit and the wait time is so long for the Mini. It was not nefarious. I have nothing against Prusa and love their printers. They are fairly priced and superior quality to just about anything I have owned. I am very choosy and I want to see what was out there and post a review for all to see. I heard the horror stories relating to these Clones and wanted to know if they were real or just colored by bias. Many of the reviews on Reddit make it sound like the printer would exploded into flames after bring plugged in the wall socket.
So, why did I want a kit? I have build many printers in the last 3 years. Some for myself and some for family and friends. I find the build therapeutic and educational. There is no better means to learn how printer works and how to fix than to assemble it yourself. Unfortunately, Prusa has elected to not offer the printer in kit form. Their mistake will be you gain, because I will be able to show you the quality or lack there of in this blog post. To be honest, if Prusa or Triangle Labs offered a kit, I would have gone with what I know.
I research prices on AliExpress, Gearbest, eBay, and Bangood (yes that is a real shopping site and not what is sounds like). The search continued by browsing Reddit threads, Discord, searching the Maker-verse, hours of YouTube videos, and the gradually it came down to two makers that caught my eye. The mini kit from FYSETC or a AVD. With a little research, I found bother were made by FYSETC. During that time, I found a return for sale for a discounted price. I jumped on it.
I order the FYSETC Mini Clone with a 3.2 inch display and a MeanWell Power supply. This kit would set you back $249 if shipped from the US. Shipping is also available from China.
My next post will review the quality of the parts. My goal is to post a review of the parts, build, and print quality over time. Stay Tuned.
The bottom line: I purchased a clone to learn more about the minis and how they work. The only way to do this is to build it or take it apart. I elected to build one because my mini works well and why mess with something that is working. Like I said above, if Prusa offered it, I would not hesitate and would have never gone down the clone road.
A printer is a sum of its part…Quality is the key to success. Shortly before I made the purchase, I reviewed several online communities such as Discord, Facebook, and Reddit. A lot of folks in those groups were not very happy with their Clone Prusa Minis. It made me very concerned about making a purchase.
A quality printer is easy to build. I have to build many printers and the challenge of a top-quality printer starts with the build. Good manufacturers have easy to follow the documentation that starts with written instruction and expands to videos as makers build their own kits. I encourage anyone who plans to buy this