Prusa i3 MK3S+ Should I buy the kit or the assembled printer?

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Garrett chose his University because they had a 3D printer... back when they were called "rapid prototypers". Here's how he builds Ender 3s that can print 1000mm/s for less than $600.

I have a confession.

There’s a picture of the Prusa i3 MK3S+ that’s been hanging on my wall for months – like a Pamela Anderson poster for nerdy millennials (like me).

And just two days ago I finally pulled the trigger and bought it (!!!)… after spending hours trying to answer:

Should I buy the Prusa i3 MK3S+ build-it-yourself kit or the already assembled 3D printer?

There are a lot of decent articles out there debating if you should build or buy when it comes to the MK3s+.

And the arguments are about as fierce as a political debate with Uncle Jim during the holidays… loud and without much substance.

Anyways, it boils down to:

One side says that you should buy the kit because it gives you an intimate feel for the MK3S+. They say that, since you know where every screw went (since you put it there), it’ll give you a better feel for the printer.

The other side says that it really doesn’t matter if you know where each screw goes as, if you own the Prusa i3 MK3S+, you are probably handy enough to figure it out if you need to get in and do repairs.

Plus the build time is 8-10 hours, and – if you’re a parent, working professional, or generally don’t have a full weekend free – 8 to 10 hours could mean building the kit will take you weeks.

Plus, the kit is estimated (at the time of writing this) at a 5-6 week lead time VS 3-4 weeks for the assembly.

In the spirit of staying unbiased, I’ll say that I completely agree with the “it doesn’t matter if you build it yourself camp”  and think the “get an intimate feel for the printer” camp is insane.

That’s why I bought the kit.

Wait what?! You just said that building it yourself doesn’t matter and the kit-builder argument is “insane”!

Why I bought the Prusa i3 MK3S+ kit and not the assembly

If we’re being honest, the main reason I went with the kit was money. Not the up-front cost, but the hidden costs.

As of writing this article, the MK3S+ kit was $749, while the assembly is $999.

So a $250 difference to get the printer delivered in as little as half the time and get to start using it nearly immediately? For me, that’s a no-brainer.

Until you find the catch (actually, catches)…

The hidden costs of the Prusa i3 MK3S+ assembly vs kit that you don’t see until you’re ready to check out:

  1. Prusa i3 MK3S+ Shipping costs of the kit vs assembly: The kit packs down smaller. If you’re in the US, like me, that means the shipping cost is $40 (MK3S+ kit) instead of $120 minimum (MK3S+ Assembly).So, add ~ $80 to the cost for the assembly.
  2. Differences in import duties for the MK3S+: In the United States, anything less than $800 is not subject to import taxes, anything over is. That means the kit doesn’t get import taxes, while the assembly costs an additional $32 USD. Note that most countries will have to pay an import tax on both, but for some (like Argentina) the import duty is half if you buy the kit vs assembled version.So for US residents, that’s another $32 in costs.

All told, it was an additional $112 in shipping and import duties, bringing our total difference to $362.

That means you’ll pay $790 for the base model kit (without the extra plates) if you live in the US, vs $1,152 for the assembled version… a 46% increase in the cost.


The other problem with the MK3S+ assembly – you’ll probably have to rebuild it anyway

The cost was a major deciding factor for me… but the nail in the coffin was how many people were having to rebuild or readjust the assembled version after shipping.

Which makes sense.

Prusa is headquartered in the Czech Republic (if you’ve never been to Prague, go there, it’s one of few places in Europe that survived WWII relatively unscathed and has beautiful architecture).

I don’t know about you, but my luggage barely survives a domestic 2-hour flight without some new scratch or damage.

But the Prusa i3 MK3S+ isn’t luggage, it’s a highly precise piece of equipment where millimeters (or thousands of an inch, for my fellow Americans) matter.

I found too many reports of people having issues with calibrations once the assembly arrived on their doorstep, leading to several hours of work repairing and calibrating the machine.

All that extra work and all it costs you is 46% more money than the kit!

In conclusion: Prusa i3 MK3S+ Kit VS Assembly – which one to buy?

If you missed it I bought the kit DESPITE the extra lead time, way more work, and headaches that I don’ have time for.

I just couldn’t stomach paying 46% extra if I might still have to spend many hours tweaking it to get it going.

What should you do? It’s up to you.

But if you’re convinced you need to build the kit so you know where each screw goes, I can tell you that I’ve rebuilt engines, cars, and carburetors without ever having built one from scratch.

So if you’re handy at all (which I bet you are) – the argument that you need to build it to know where things go just doesn’t hold water.

If this was helpful please comment and let me know. And good luck.

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