Inov3D speaks to the designer of the new Parrot 3D printer, a new take on the Original Prusa i3 FDM design.
History of the Prusa 3D FDM 3D Printer
Back in 2010, Josef Prusa released the open source Prusa Mendel. It simplified the original Mendel design for a 3D FDM printer. Two years later he launched the Prusa i3, which has been one of the most successful printers worldwide. And it inspired many clones like the popular Ender series by Creality3D.
However, the Original Prusa i3, which is the name of the version sold by Prusa Research, is not a cheap printer. So many manufacturers have taken inspiration from his design and found ways to cut some corners to produce cheaper variants. And some of these clones are superb value for money. And just as importantly, provide an affordable low barrier of entry to the 3D printing hobby.
A few others have taken the open source concept, but looked to improve the design by adding their own twist to it. So rather than stripping back the Prusa to bring its price down, they are looking for ways to make a great printer even better. To name a few, there is the Bear and the Zaribo. Both add more rigidity with sturdier frames, and in the Zaribo case, they also add extra height – up to 420mm in the Z direction.
Enter the Parrot 3D Printer
But there is now a new kid on the block. Parrot 3D is its name, and Narasak Mansurang is the person behind it. Looking over his FDM design, the two most prominent features are: linear rails on all axes, and replacing a lot of the printed parts with lightweight, precision-cut carbon fibre. It’s a different take on progressing printers forwards, and different from the Stacker3D printer that is also coming soon.
An interview with Narasak Mansurang
So we thought we would jump on Facebook Messenger and ask Narasak Mansurang about his Parrot 3D project, and his take on improving the already great Mendel/Prusa design.
Mark Allen: Hi Narasak Mansurang, it’s great to meet you. Can you tell us a little about your background in 3D Printing?
Narasak Mansurang: I have had my first 3D printer since 2014, because I wanted to make RC airplane parts at that time. After that I bought the Enter 3, Ender 5, Ultimaker 3 and Prusa i3 Mk3S + MMU2S. They all have both advantages and disadvantages, and I very enjoy them.
Mark Allen: Both the Bear and the Zaribo are using the same rod design as Prusa. Although Zaribo have a version that replaces the 8mm rods with 10mm rods for rigidity. What sort of change can people expect by moving to linear rails on the Parrot 3D FDM printer?
Narasak Mansurang: we widely use Linear rods in many 3D printers. The advantages of linear rods are a cheap cost, and user friendly. But also they have disadvantages with durability, they can bend and get twisted.
For many 3D printers it is necessary to use at least two linear rods for the extruder and heat bed carriage. To use more than one linear rod you must align them to be perfectly parallel, otherwise they will not be smooth, and will be noisy. And finally, they can get scratches on the rod that will affect print quality. This is difficult for a newbie and general user, so the solution is to use lower tolerance bearings for easy alignment between the two linear rods, and this will decrease the print quality.
Linear rails are widely popular, and most commonly used with the CoreXY design. The advantages of linear rails are the precision, tolerance, strength and stability. They are difficult to bend or twist (compared with linear rods). But it’s expensive, and if you use over one linear rail in the same axis, there’s the importance for alignment to be perfectly parallel. It’s more difficult than linear rods because of the tolerance itself.
We need the most precision, smoother, and easy to assemble and set up for users. So, we used single linear rails on the X and Y-axis. By using a single linear rail on both the X-axis and Y-axis, it provided simple setup, alignment, silence and accurate movements. This cure of the problem of the alignment, and the precision of linear rails, is the reason for print accuracy and the excellent quality printed results. We are satisfied with the results.
Mark Allen: You are reducing the number of printed parts on the Parrot 3D printer by replacing them with CNC machined carbon fibre. Is this for precision and weight? How does it help FDM printers?
Narasak Mansurang: Carbon fibre is ultralight and super strong. It can greatly reduce X and Y-axis weight so you can print faster with the same printed quality.
We use more high-quality CNC machined carbon fibre and less printed parts because 3D printed parts can crack and are less reliable. It’s an extreme increase in precision because of the Parrot 3D machined parts. And this can reduce maintenance time and increase reliability very much.
Mark Allen: You have released the Parrot 3D printer as an open source project on your GitHub. Are you intending for others to join in, and if so, what help are you after?
Narasak Mansurang: I’ll be very glad if there are people who are interested to join Parrot 3D to improve it together. I also have many surprising plans about Parrot 3D for the future.
Mark Allen: If someone wants to try out the Parrot 3D printer, how and when can they get their hands on one, and what will it cost?
Narasak Mansurang: Because the Parrot 3D is an open source project, people who are interested in the Parrot 3D printer can have a look in Parrot 3D GitHub directly. It includes a bill of material, CAD file, firmware and user manual.
Anyway, we also manufacture and sell the Parrot 3D. For anyone that wants to support my work to keep developing, or don’t want to find the equipment by themselves, you can buy from a distributor or from the official Parrot 3D website. The price of the Parrot 3D Full Kit (E3D Hemera) is $1,360 USD, the Parrot 3D Standard Kit is $760 USD, and the Parrot 3D Basic Kit is $515 USD. We will start shipping the first batch in September 2020.
Mark Allen: You are just starting your journey with the Parrot 3D FDM printer. What’s next?
Narasak Mansurang: I’m very exited to get the Parrot 3D feedback! I never thought there would be many people who like this. But I also have plans to make the Parrot 3D Pro version and the Parrot 3D Tool Changer in near future.
Mark Allen: That’s amazing to hear. I think the quality of your prints speak for themselves. I’m super excited to see how the Parrot 3D printer develops over the coming years. Thank you for your time speaking to us.
Want to learn more about the Parrot 3D Printer?
If you want to follow the progress of the Parrot 3D printer, Narasak Mansurang hosts a Facebook group where you can stay up to date with the latest news.