Comparing print quality between the Original prusa I3 MK2 and the ultimaker 3

This very first post (And video) is about the print quality of the original Prusa I3 MK2 and the Ultimaker 3. For the comparison I have done several prints, in several different layer heights. First of all, lets start with some basics about each printer. All information in this post can also be found in the video below.

Original prusa I3 MK2

This printer is a pretty affordable 3D printer, with quality components made by Prusa Research in Prague. For 739Euro you get a kit based printer, with single extruder. There is a multi extruder variant coming later this spring.
The printer comes with a modified slic3r version, which includes a printer profile as well. The standard profile has support for several material types and several layer heights.

Ultimaker 3

The Ultimaker 3 is a much more expensive machine, designed by Ultimaker in The Netherlands, made in The Netherlands or in the USA. The price is 2995 excl V.A.T., so around 3600 euro. The Ultimaker 3 comes, by default, with two extruders and support for PVA or for two coloured prints.
Ultimaker makes it’s own slicer, named Cura, and of course this comes with the printer.

The test

To compare print quality I have printed the same model on both machines, with the same layer height. The settings used in the slicer were not changed (Except for 1 model, see below), so this is what you get basically out of the box. For the Prusa I3 I used filament from plasticz.nl, for the Ultimaker I used the originally Ultimaker PLA.

The following models have been printed:

  • The Low-poly Pikachu. This has been printed in 100 micron. (Normal quality in Cura, Detail in Slic3r). No other settings have been set
  • A low polygon print, based off the one from Makers Muse. The model can be downloaded here. This was printed in Vase Mode, so several settings are changed from the default by enabling this settings. Besides that, I modified the number of bottom layers by hand, so it would only print 1 bottom layer. This has been printed in 150 micron (Fast quality in Cura, optimised in Slic3r).

Note: Print quality can be improved really well by changing the slicer settings based on the model. However, for this comparison, I don’t think that will be fair. Depending on your printer and your slicer settings you might get different results.

The results

High quality photo’s of all models can be found here. Some of them are also in the video shown above. In all photo’s at first is shown the Prusa I3 MK2, and after that the Ultimaker. All photo’s of the models are at the end of this post.

Lets first have a look at the Pikachu. The Pikachu is printed on 100 micron on both printers.

As you can see the layers are clearly visible on the prusa I3 MK2. However, to be honest, I think this is actually the type of PLA I have been using here. To be sure I printed the Pikachu on a Edgeworks blue PLA as well, and the results were much better, with no layer lines at all. Otherwise, the printed Pikachu does really look well. To make sure it was actually the printer, and not the printer I re-printed the Pikachu in a spoolworks blue PLA and that actually looks much better:

And now lets have a look at the Ultimaker print

Looking at ultimaker we see it wasn’t able to properly print the chin. For some reasons the overhangs were too much for the Ultimaker. It also had some issues with printing the second ear. In general it seems that it printed a bit too fast for this specific model,If you compare the print time between the Ultimaker and the Prusa, it shows that the Ultimaker printed much faster. When enabling support in Cura it actually showed that it wanted to use PVA support on both the tail as well as the ears/chin, I guess when printing this with supported enabled on the Ultimaker it would come out much better. However, the model itself has been made to be printed without support, and all my other tries on different printers shown that the quality of the print can be much better as what the Ultimaker produced this time.

 

The second model was something I made up myself. This was made to be printed with vase mode with 1 bottom layer and a 150micron layer height.

First things I notice is that the layer lines are again pretty much visible. As seen with the reprint from the Pikachu a different plastic kinda solves it, so I ignore this for now. The print itself seem to be printed very well, with sharp corners and a pretty good to point. As Slic3r increases the layer hight not at 1 step, but over the complete length of the print, it gives a nice seamless print. There are no layer changes visible at all in this print. The top of the print is visible, however this is something you will see probably with nearly all 3D printers due to the way how a FDM machine works.

Now lets have a look at the Ultimaker prints:

The first thing to notice is that one of the corners is not as sharp as the rest of the corners. The reason for this that the Ultimaker does have 1 spot for a layer changes, and that is what basically shows up. Otherwise, it is a very nice looking print, with again a bit of visible stringing on the top.

For both printers, the model was really thing, but still pretty sturdy. You was able to make a small dent in the plastic, but that will go back to its original printed position.

Conclusion

Both printers printed the models, in general, pretty well. Of Course there are issues when you are using the default print settings for a small model like the Pikachu. To get a proper Pikachu you will need to modify the default print settings so it at least prints a bit slower. It also shows that the actual material used does have influence on your actual print quality. If you compare the white Pikachu with the blue Pikachu, printed both on the Prusa I3 MK2, you see a lot of difference, while they are both printed from the exact same gcode file.

The Low polygon cube came out, in one of the corners, pretty bad. But that is something that is solvable in the slicer.

So in general, it is not just the printer that makes the end quality of you print. The slicer settings, and the actual quality of the plastic, do make a lot of difference. With every printer you will need to learn on how to use the slicer and what your printer can actually do. Both the Ultimaker 3 as the Prusa I3 MK2 are great printers, but I don’t think you can really compare them, as they are made for something completely else, the Ultimaker is a machine that has a much more professional usage as the Prusa, and due to that it has some features, like printing over network and a build in camera, that the Prusa has not by default. But, you pay for these “extra’s” as well.
Depending on what you actually want to do with your printer, you should make a decision on what printer you should get. They have both, if configured correctly, great print quality, but have different usages. From this, relative small, test there is no real winner. Both end up equal in my opinion, and both require configuration.

Original Prusa I3 MK2 Photo’s

Ultimaker 3 Photo’s

5 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great video, i was actually looking at both of these printers, despite their big price difference.
    I do have a couple questions though:
    What print speed were the two printers set to for these prints?
    Could you try the prusa at the same speed as the Ultimaker to see how the print turns out when it’s printing at the same speed?

    Thanks!

    1. I would need to lookup the exact printspeed, however it is the default setting for both. My goal was to have a good, kinda out of the box, experience with both printers. They should have proper default settings for small/normal sized (Which these two are), and as such I used that.

      Changing the printing speed will involve doing some testing to see when both have a good result, which will require quite some time. I have been using both machines for a while, and both are able to give you proper printing results.

      To be honest, I would more look how you want to use it. Is it for a hobby? Then I would definitely go for the Prusa. Is it for a company? Then the Ultimaker is the better choice due to the support Ultimaker provides and the materials they provide.

      1. You wouldn’t need to test multiple speeds, just test the same higher speed that the Ultimaker was using on the Prusa and see what the result looks like.
        Anyway, i finished assembling my prusa mk2 yesterday, it’s working great.

  2. Wouldn’t it be better to test the Prusa i3 with Prusa PLA? Given that the blue print looks much better than the white it does not seem like a good comparison to use the Plasticz.

    Then you get the “out of the box” experience, the other idea would be to test both printers with the same filament.

    1. Yes, you are right, however I can’t warrant the price for the roll of filament + shipping from Prusa when you can get filament a lot cheaper here in The Netherlands. I didn’t have enough filament left to do both prints.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *