Thoughts and Comparisons

After much consideration and further research into 3D printing technology and practices as a whole, I’ve come to compare two options for a printer. I thought that perhaps those of you with more experience that actually own and have used a printer on a more regular basis could provide some insight into your personal experience and, considering the wide range of knowledge and talent we have here, any thoughts on general mechanical design and physics.

I used to be of the Monoprice Maker Select Plus group, thinking that I had decided on this being the printer to get… some time later I found the MPCNC and it turned out to be the more desired project. I love it so much - technology, making, everything in an affordable and accessible package. Everyone I show it to is impressed and all I can say is that some guy that graduated from SDSU came up with the idea and plans; all I did was buy the stuff and build it (San Diegans gotta rep their fellows - sorry Ryan if this description offends you, but there is only so in depth an explanation you can give to people in passing).

That being said, while the MPCNC hits the multipurpose points, I don’t think an extruder on conduit is quite precise enough for 3D printing, therefore the MP3DP seems great. It is designed by Ryan and supported by several members here, not to mention it’s RepRap as well. I’ve been searching and pricing components, ready to build it (gotta focus on college), when I began doing some more research on Reddit (and the most popular 3D printers - the Monoprice Select Plus and the Creality CR-10 being the main focus) and was shown a new model from Creality called the Ender 3. It is nearly identical to the MP3DP in every way, save the frame being aluminum extrusion, the control board, and the power supply (I think 24V, good for faster heating of the bed); the overall price is around $200, give or take, whereas the MP3DP is about $300, give or take.

So I now come to you, community who seems more trustable and experienced than a group of Redditors - is there something I’m skipping over? Given equivalent build volumes, both with heated beds, similar form factors…

  • Is there an advantage to the v-slot/extruded aluminum frame over a milled wood/mdf/aluminum frame (MP)?
  • Is 24 volts for a power supply really that much better or does it just heat the bed faster (seems like not that big of a deal, maybe 10-20 mins at most to heat the extruder and bed)?
  • Control board - how things change. I have the pleasure to do some 3D printing work for a summer school program and I have been calibrating some unknown printer. I can't find what board it is for sure without taking it apart (cannot do), but I believe it is a rebranded Makerbot Replicator Dual Extruder model (its name is Imaginator 3d). The options for configuration using the 4 arrow button and center selection button are very limited. It offers a five point guided bed leveling (front, back, sides, and center) for the four screw bed, which is kind of nice, but other than temperature, other options are extremely limited. Acceleration can be ON/OFF; all files on the SD card must be in a proprietary .x3g format (see Makerware). Slic3r and Repetier (read: open-source, as far as I know) are so much nicer - so many options to fine tune prints, use supports, rafts, etc. - this is locking all of those options behind a board which I tried to flash with any other firmware but found it useless as they aren't personal, though I got the bed leveled using a business card and appropriate resistance and turned out good calibration prints, so they aren't bad printers.
    • Pardon the rant, but overall, I was having a hard time deciding whether I wanted to go with a mini-Rambo (no reason to go full size like I did for the MPCNC, I figured, or I could swap the boards if I really saw the need), or cut costs and use a RAMPS 1.4 (and read horror stories about fires and open up a world of needing MOSFETS and any other bunch of stuff; I like learning things but there's only so much iceberg to look at). Even more, if I wanted a safe, proven, feature-filled board, maybe a Smoothieboard or Duet Wifi/Ethernet would be an option. However, the Rambo series is vetted by Ryan. Ultimachine is also Prusa's choice. These are two valuable recommendations. Thoughts?
I could probably go on. It would be easier if I knew someone that had a little experience with this - maybe at university.

tl;dr: Want a 3D printer. Originally decided on a Monoprice Select Plus. Then found MPCNC, which seems a little too large for 3D printing details (am I wrong here? ultimate cost savings - attach extruder and buy heated plate; adjust firmware; 3D printer for <$100; downside, only 4" Z-height), especially once I expand it a bit.

MP3DP then seems like best option. While pricing components, came across Creality again (it now seems further vouched, especially the CR-10 with its 300x300x400mm build volume, by average users and not just Youtubers with free printers). Seems more expensive for size I may not need. Found new Creality printer (new to me), the Ender 3. Great price, same build volume as MP3DP, 12864 screen. It is pretty well recommended, and has aluminum extrusion frame. Can’t decide between price and several other factors. Don’t mind building things (sourced and built MPCNC, fun). Why is a mostly built printer with nearly all the same specs as the MP3DP being sold cheaper than I could build it DIY, not to mention with a heavier style frame (I’m really not trying to be a shill, it’s just perplexing to me)?

Thanks for reading, you’re awesome.

For reference, I printed a screen door handle. It came out pretty well. 230C PLA, non-heated bed (I know, 70C is good, but it used rafts, and with the proprietary model slicer, I’m just glad the printer with default settings turned anything out this well. I spent 5 hours earlier today with a second one of these and couldn’t get the calibration rectangle model included on the SD card to print properly, heated bed. The flat layers, bottom and top, would drag. I think it was a leveling problem. In this picture, I leveled with a business card and checked for some resistance instead of being able to very freely move the piece of paper).

The ender 3 is far from nearly identical (Single Z motor, bowden extruder, 24v electronics), but it is a very good printer for the price. I just got 2 of them to add to our workspace.

  • Is there an advantage to the v-slot/extruded aluminum frame over a milled wood/mdf/aluminum frame (MP)?
It's cheap and easy to source. The bed also rides on Vslot wheels instead of dual rods.


  • Is 24 volts for a power supply really that much better or does it just heat the bed faster (seems like not that big of a deal, maybe 10-20 mins at most to heat the extruder and bed)?
It requires less current for the electronics overall, and the bed requires the most current. The original monoprice maker select printers were notorious for having proper mosfets and burning up. The ender also heats up the bed and maintatins the temperature fairly well, it sits like a rock at 110 when I tested some ABS. Also, it enables the resume on power loss function which is quite nice when our UPS runs out.


  • Pardon the rant, but overall, I was having a hard time deciding whether I wanted to go with a mini-Rambo (no reason to go full size like I did for the MPCNC, I figured, or I could swap the boards if I really saw the need), or cut costs and use a RAMPS 1.4 (and read horror stories about fires and open up a world of needing MOSFETS and any other bunch of stuff; I like learning things but there’s only so much iceberg to look at). Even more, if I wanted a safe, proven, feature-filled board, maybe a Smoothieboard or Duet Wifi/Ethernet would be an option. However, the Rambo series is vetted by Ryan. Ultimachine is also Prusa’s choice. These are two valuable recommendations. Thoughts?
I've fried 2 RAMPS boards in a printer I've built, and I have no realy clue as to why, but I put a mini rambo there and it's been going at least 3x as long. What I spent on the 2 RAMPS boards and Megas, I could have just bought one mini rambo and be done with it. My pair of MK2S printers also run all day long, never had an issue with the rambo board. Not saying the ramps boards aren't useable, far from it, but I like the simplicity of the rambo, digital potentiometers, drivers cooled correctly, etc.


There’s a hypercube/hbot style printer on thingiverse that uses conduit for the frame, seems like it would be extremely rigid in that format, might be worth looking at. it’s called the uconduit, and another user has added some improvements to it. I’m currently playing with making it run corexy configuration.


Buying your first printer isn’t a destination, it’s just the first step. Don’t worry too much about it. These are all good options and they will all lead to a bunch of fun and frustration. :slight_smile: . Many of the parts can be reused, or you can find a friend that wants to get into it and see them your printer to pay for a new one.

The MPCNC is a very capable platform for 3d printing. But the dimensions for 3D printing aren’t very compatible with milling. If you look at the massive printer Dui made from his MPCNC, you’ll see that it is definitely possible.

I have a wanhao duplicator i3 and besides the steel frame, there’s nothing special about it. It is a solid work horse for me. I don’t like the extruder (mk10) but that might just be whatever motor they installed. It has a melzi board, but not enough flash for Marlin 1.1.7+. It won’t hold temps well at around 230C, and I blame the thermistor. But, it still prints great. I will say that having 500 you tube videos about the printer made it way easier to start this hobby.

I have made two MP3DPs now and I am very proud of them. Not because they work hard, but because I can spend time on them, change anything (I have chosen completely non-Ryan parts and they all fit), and I know I cut it the parts myself. The only problem is that it’s so tempting to change things, it’s always on some stare of experimentation, but maybe that’s just me.

That’s my whole experience. I’ve never tried the cr10s or ender 3.

The only printers I can’t stand are the proprietary ones like the one you described. Any prusa style, marlin compatible printer is going to be a big step forward for you.

Keep in mind that not everyone’s needs are the same. Ryan sells parts he makes on his printers. I want to spend an hour working on my printer and sometimes print something for another project. Some people make things that have to look good, some people just need something that work and gets printed fast. If you’re thinking you need something for school projects then speed might be important for you (midnight before it’s due). If you want to spend some time with your machine when you get home and spend your spare change on parts from banggood to try something new, then you want a printer that’s flexible.

But still, any of the printers you are thinking about will do all of that.


I’m pretty much in agreement, almost any of the Prusa design printers will be great as a first printer. I built my MP3DP using the Mega2560/RAMPS combo and have never burned out a board, though I did melt the power connector once. I started with the stock setup, then moved my spools up on top, then pulled off the MK8 extruder and put an E3D v6 with Bowden tube on. I’m currently planning on swapping that to a Chimera dual head system sometime soon. I’ve mostly assembled another printer with a larger bed for a friend (who’s been too busy to finish up the wiring for way too long) and have the parts on hand to build a third with the Diamond three way hot end (I’ll put a Rumba on it). I also have a FLSUN Cube that I’ve assembled and am tuning. Once you’ve built one from scratch and gotten it working well you can move around with most any of them really easily. I do think the Prusa design is the best for a beginner, the deltas are pretty finicky and the cubes and CoreXYs also require a lot more tuning to get working well.


Aaron - thanks for vouching for the printer. After reading multiple threads from everywhere, I definitely understand the benefits of buying a better board at first instead of replacing several cheap boards, should they fail. The H-bot and CoreXY configurations brought some more information, but overall seem pretty similar aside from belt and motor management. I hope you get your UConduit working as desired.

Jeff - you are very correct about the journey. I don’t think I wrote anywhere in my post that one printer would be my final printer… there are so many designs out there that I could easily see building others, so changing my dilemma from two specific Prusa style printers to deciding between any other mechanical arrangement. I suppose the real desire is that I want a machine that I know I can get to turn out quality prints, even if it means tweaking settings (that I have access to). Speed would be nice, but again as you said, settings that can be changed to get good prints at a reasonable pace is completely acceptable.

Bill - daring to go with a FLSUN import printer. What sort of modifications have you had to make, if any, to make it safer? Or am I wrong in thinking that it is similar in quality to the Anet A8? Really cool to hear about your branching projects. Dual extrusion seems advanced enough, let alone three way!

To all of you - thank you very much for your input. Any particular extruder you prefer? The most common I see are the all metal MK8 style, Titan Aero, and e3d V6 (that’s the Prusa type, right?).

My first, and only printer is a delta Rostock Max from seemecnc, running with an e3d hot end. I’ll parrot what the other guys have said, delta’s are a pain in the ass to get running, but once they are working, holy crap they can print fast. I mainly got this one because it’s more fun to watch printing. I’m currently lusting after e3d’s new multi-extruder design, but we’ll see how much that puppy is going to cost once they release it. Just like IBM, you can’t go wrong with a Prusia.

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I went with a Prusa clone for my first printer too.

Whichever one you go with, read the reviews and see what problems others have had. Don’t go into it thinking you’ll be the ‘lucky’ one that has a 100% perfect QC’d printer… that’s rarely the case.

As an example… I went with the Geeetech Prusa i3 Aluminum. I chose this printer because the price was right and because the frame was all metal. I planned on enclosing the printer (for sound mostly) and didn’t like the idea of having plastic parts in the enclosure that were part of the frame.

Reading the reviews, they all mostly said the same thing… the board was limited in what it could do, and the rods are typically slightly bent or over/under sized. Sure enough… most of my rods were slightly bent and one of them was larger than 8mm. I ended up purchasing hardened steel rods from Amazon at nearly 1/4th the cost of the printer again.

A few months later, I ended up replacing the board at again… 1/3rd the cost of the printer. I went with the RADDs board. It’s not one that’s talked about very much, but the things been rock solid for me.

At this point, I could have bought a more expensive printer from the get go. But… I learned a lot from the fixing of the printer that I wouldn’t have learned from just purchasing a nicer one.

I keep thinking about building a larger core xy machine, but just haven’t done it.

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The FLSUN hasn’t been too bad. The kit was missing one of the parts but they shipped me a replacement fairly fast. The chimera clone extruder is tough to get the two nozzles exactly level, because the set screws tend to create tiny divots that want to hold them where they were last time you tightened things. The heat bed is going to be under powered, it’s much bigger than the typical 200x200 yet the heater doesn’t draw more amperage, so no ABS and maybe no PETG. I printed a different mount for the bracket that holds the inductive bed sensor because theirs didn’t look like it was going to hold well. I haven’t tested yet but it looks like that sensor will work even after I have a peI sheet in place, which surprised me. I also had to flash everything with more current firmware than supplied but that all seems to be working now.

You can’t go wrong with the Titan Aero. You are mixing extruders and hot ends there. The E3D v6 is a hot end, used with many different extruders. I like the latest revision due to the silicone heat insulator and the more robust temperature sensor. I like the shape of the nozzle more with the MK8, the E3D nozzle is flatter and is more likely to build up a bead of plastic when starting a print.

Ah, I did mix up the hot end. All the abbreviations and terminology get confusing. I’ll revise my question to direct or Bowden? Your MP and the FL, which looks to be Bowden, suggests you prefer Bowden, though either style seems to be acceptable for the Prusa or core style.

Bowden will have issues with flexible filaments.

Just wanted to add, a flat nozzle/nozzle-end tends to print a better top-layer (surface). If there is a little excess printing material it will be smooth down by the noozle. This is a good thing, I’d take this advantage over the disadvantage of a bead of plastic (I’m not experiencing this btw).

Looking at those FLSUN thingies I highly recommend you go build a P3Steel TE ( This is IMHO the best printer available right now (similar to the latest original i3 Prusa for like 1k$).

Pricetag is about 100$ more then a 200ish FLSUN but it will be worth it. I’m in the process of building one right now as a 3rd printer with direct drive (just building it for printing TPU actually).