The Prusa i3 3D printer may be something of a dependable warhorse in the maker field, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.

Local maker Dave O’Brien and creator of Totilly3d – a 3D printing service based in Amanzimtoti – agrees and has taken to making his version of the i3 better.

After redesigning many parts of the printer and replacing them with his own 3D prints, O’Brien still wasn’t happy.

My main concern was the noise, smoothness (or roughness) and the flexibility of the linear bearings and smooth rods used on the X and Y axis. When printing at 50mm/s, these are quite stable. But when you start running at double that speed and above, the inertia created by the moving parts exerts a lot more force on the axis bearings and rods. So my final solution (for now) was to replace the bearings and rods with a more rigid solution.

His solution is the extruded rail system MakerSlide which, yes, is distributed in South Africa. MakerSlide is a simple way to make movement in CNC machines and 3D printers smoother and faster.

After some modifications including cutting up gantry plates and the addition of a drag chain for the wiring, and the upgrade was done.

The result? The “new” machine, dubbed the “i3-ob1”, had its Z axis (how tall of a print can be created) increased from 20 centimetres to 35 centimetres, but O’Brien is confident that this can be pushed to 50 centimetres.

If you want to do a similar upgrade, O’Brien is selling upgrade kits of existing Pursa i3s for between R3 900 and R4 900 depending on the version of the printer. Alternatively, R16 500 will be you a completed i3-ob1 with no assembly required.

If that sounds good to you, or you want more info, check out the Totilly3d Facebook page or email O’Brien directly at info [at] totilly3d [dot] co [dot] za.

Check out the images below to see what the upgraded printer looks like.