Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3

  • Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3
  • Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3
  • Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3
  • Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3
  • Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3
  • Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3
The Short Version

The HICTOP Prusa i3 is a great tool for learning the ins and outs of 3D printing. It can be challenging to assemble and calibrate, but users will be rewarded with an in-depth understanding of the device and a high quality of printed output.

User applicability*

  • Best for Enthusiasts and Educators
  • Not appropriate for Casual Hobbyists and Pragmatists

*See related article, What kind of 3D printer user are you?

The HICTOP Prusa i3 is based on an open source design that came out of the RepRap project. If you’re unfamiliar, RepRap is a community project with the goal of building a machine that can produce other machines — in other words a self-replicating manufacturing machine. RepRap has spearheaded a movement to provide low-cost, open source 3D printers to hobbyists.

The HICTOP Prusa i3, from Chinese manufacturer HIC Technology, has been on the market for well over a year as of this writing. It has sold well and, since it based on an open source design, it has a large base of community experience and support.


PROS:
  • Excellent print quality at this price point
  • Based on open source design, extensive community support
  • Great learning tool to understand how 3D printing works
  • Ability to upgrade and customize

CONS:
  • Acrylic parts can be brittle and prone to warping
  • Assembly instructions are insufficient
  • Uses uncommon motherboard with limited community support
  • Some power supply issues have been reported

Click here to see what others are saying.


It is important to know up-front that the HICTOP Prusa i3 is a kit that requires assembly, as opposed to being a fully assembled, out-of-the-box 3D printer. This is good for the 3D printer enthusiast because it allows them to understand in-depth every aspect of their 3D printer. By assembling the device, you will literally get to know your printer inside and out.

It is not good for the casual hobbyist or the more pragmatic 3D printer buyer who just wants to print their first part without a lot of bother. But that’s okay, because the device isn’t meant for this type of buyer.

Having said that, the assembly instructions could be much better. The provided instructional video has no voiceover and moves fast. You will find yourself pausing and rewinding frequently. Users have reported spending between eight and twenty hours getting their HICTOP Prusa i3 up and running.

However, once you’ve gone through that effort you will not only understand the function of every piece of your 3D printer but you will also be rewarded with a device that can reliably print high quality parts. At a price point under $600 the level of quality that can be achieved is uncommon.

The build envelope, or maximize size object that can be printed, is quite large compared to other 3D printers. At 27 x 20 x 17 cm (10.6 x 7.9 x 6.7 inches), the Prusa i3 is on the upper end of desktop 3D printers in terms of print volume. This provides a lot of flexibility as you consider the things you can create.

The printer comes with Cura, an open source software package for preparing 3D models for print, although this fact is not advertised by HIC. Cura originates from another 3D printer maker, Ultimaker, and is easy to use yet still provides enough advanced functionality to satisfy the enthusiast user.

Being an open source variant, the HICTOP Prusa i3 is highly customizable. Users are free to adapt, improve and upgrade every element of the machine. Many of these upgrades can be made by printing parts on the machine itself. Again, the extensive community support will provide many ideas along these lines. The motherboard even supports adding a second extruder to the device if you are so inclined.

See Product Specs

The HICTOP Prusa i3 has some drawbacks in addition to the assembly challenges. Many of the parts are acrylic and have a tendency to break under pressure (for example, over-tightening of screws) and to warp either during shipping or after being continuously exposed to heat. Many users have reported poor quality in some of the parts, especially nuts and bolts that are poorly threaded and defective linear bearings.

Additionally, the power supply is under-powered for the demands of the device and some of the wiring is not of adequate gauge to handle the current flow. These are things that can be easily upgraded, but unless you are aware they do present a safety hazard.

Leveling the print bed is a challenge. This is true of most 3D printers today, but in the case of the HICTOP Prusa i3 the plastic printer bed makes it even more difficult due to the tendency to bend and warp during the adjustment process. You should consider replacing the plastic bed with glass or aluminum. The bed is heated, which is a nice feature, but that also contributes to the deformation of the plastic bed.

Conclusion

The HICTOP Prusa i3 is a great device for those who want to build and understand every aspect of their 3D printer. It produces exceptional quality output at a very low price point. While there are some quality issues, it is easy to upgrade and customize the Prusa i3 to overcome these challenges if you are willing to invest the time and effort.

Product Review: HICTOP Prusa i3
The HICTOP Prusa i3 delivers high quality 3D printing at a great price, but not for the faint of heart.
8.5 Total Score
HICTOP Prusa i3

The HICTOP Prusa i3 delivers high quality 3D printing at a great price, but not for the faint of heart.

Design & Functionality
8
Performance & Reliability
9.5
Ease of Setup/Ease of Use
6.5
Value
10
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HICTOP Desktop 3D Printer, Black

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Last update was in: September 21, 2017 11:15 pm

$ 499.99

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