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Prusa steps into engineering materials with new Pro HT90 3D printer

The company that more than any other has kept the RepRap dream alive is taking this expertise to new (temperature) heights

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To say that Prusa Research is moving toward industrial 3D printing with the launch of the new Prusa Pro HT90 would be reductive and ultimately incorrect. All you need to do is look at the company’s 3D printing farm located inside its Prague HQ to understand that very few companies in the world have similar additive production capabilities. Hundreds of printers, all working at the same time and producing end-use parts for more printers as well as many other types of final parts. What the HT90 represents for Prusa is an opportunity to move to the next level in terms of high-temperature, high-strength, engineering materials. All at an ultra-competitive price and without sacrificing the quality that has made Prusa printers a fan favorite for over a decade.

To officially launch the next HT90 3D printer, Prusa invited a selected group of journalists from leading trade media publications – a strategy that we at VoxelMatters strongly support and recommend – to visit its headquarters in Prague. The tour was organized down to the smallest detail by CMO Rudolf Krcmar and his team and it enabled journalists to visit the facility, meet and exchange a few words with founder and 3D printing celebrity Joseph Průša, see up close and learn everything about the new HT90 system and enjoy the beautiful Czech capital.

No better place to begin our visit than the famous Prusa factory.

Discovering the Prusa Pro HT90’s potential

I have to admit that I was skeptical about the full potential of the Prusa Pro HT90 as a machine that could penetrate the already crowded industrial material extrusion 3D printing market. My impression was that Prusa had been reaping the fruits of the company’s unique approach to the maker market, and its ability to build the most solid and dedicated community of “printers” – as in printer users – in the world, by offering very high-quality desktop and prosumer level machines and even affording the luxury of sharing their technology with the open source community. Something that Prusa’s early rivals, including MakerBot, Ultimaker and Lulzbot all failed at, for different reasons. However, I was unsure about the company’s ability to apply this approach to the industrial material extrusion hardware segment.

This uniqueness gave Prusa the strength to resist the invasion of low-cost Chinese-made systems until recently when Bambu Lab introduced a similarly priced but much more competitive series of machines. Without getting into the specific disagreements between Prusa and Bambu Lab, and looking only at current market strategy, it made sense for Prusa to leverage its expertise and take it to another level. In doing so the company could add a new revenue stream by entering the more industrial AM market and compete with companies such as INTAMSYS, Roboze and 3DXTECH on parts and materials that require higher temperatures and a sealed chamber: not an easy market to compete in, especially with a late start.

After seeing in person all the “firepower” that Prusa can use to back the Pro HT90 project I am much more convinced of its potential.

Prusa steps into engineering materials with new Pro HT90 3D printer, taking RepRap expertise to new (temperature) heights
Prusa Pro HT90 specs. Nozzle: 300 °C (high-flow) / 500 °C (high-temp); Quick-swappable. Heatbed: 155 °C; Removable magnetic PEI sheet. Print volume: Ø 300 mm (X, Y) × 400 mm (Z), 28 liters. Chamber: Active heating up to 90 °C; High-pressure turbine cooling; Closed-loop HEPA filter (no exhaust); Insulated print chamber with separate electronics. Extruder: Direct drive; Optimized for FLEX. Additional features: Integrated monitoring camera (easily removable); stop button; High-powered 48V motors; Full offline mode; Best-in-class PrusaSlicer

Building on strong foundations

First of all, Prusa didn’t just launch the HT90 project now, in 2024, out of the blue. It all goes back to 2021, when Prusa Research acquired TriLab, a Czech company located a couple of hours outside of Prague that was working on an industrial delta architecture system, targeting the corporate sector. TriLab was founded in 2016 by Vojtěch Tambor and Michal Boháč. Speaking to VoxelMatters during the event, Tambor explained that “if we were to expand into more markets and accelerate our growth, we needed a strategic partner. After months of negotiations with many foreign companies, we came to a somewhat surprising conclusion: the best solution is to join forces with another Czech company.”

Trilab develops and produces 3D printers based on delta kinematics. Trilab’s machines feature an extruder controlled by a trio of arms arranged in a triangular shape. This design enables the use of a lighter extruder, which leads to higher printing speed while retaining a high level of accuracy and print quality. Trilab’s printer, which is now the Prusa Pro HT90, features an actively heated print chamber capable of reaching 90 °C, making it the most affordable system able to create small to medium-sized parts from engineering materials such as PEI or PEKK-CF, along with other key innovations that make it suitable and convenient for industrial use. These include replaceable print heads and print sheets, with ED3 Revo swappable nozzles for different sizes and materials.

Working together with Prusa, the TriLab printer was further developed to support some of the industry’s highest-performance materials, such as PEI and PEEK. The Prusa Pro HT90 now has a High Flow and a High Temp printhead. With High Flow, it can print up to 300°C for materials such as PLA, PETG, ABS, ASA, PA and PC, at a speed of 20,000 mm/s², with a deposition rate of up to 1kg in 8 hours (for PETG or ABS). With High Temp, the machine can print up to 500°C for high-performance materials such as PEI, PEEK, PEKK and PSU.

Prusa steps into engineering materials with new Pro HT90 3D printer, taking RepRap expertise to new (temperature) heights
TriLab founder Vojtěch Tambor presenting the Prusa Pro HT90.

For corporate desktops at a killer price point

For Prusa Research, the acquisition of Trilab represented another step toward expanding its business-oriented portfolio, which was already being explored via a fully automated 3D print farm called Prusa Pro AFS. However, as mentioned earlier, Prusa was already an industrial 3D printing company before that. Its printers are used by makers all over the world but many industry professionals also use them for prototyping and tooling (and even some part production) in some of the world’s top companies and organizations.

If you need further confirmation, in 2022, VoxelMatters AM Focus Automotive eBook featured an interview with Czech automaker Skoda, about their internal use of Prusa machines (see the article on page 25). In addition, during the HT90 launch event, the company revealed that known users of Prusa systems include giants such as Tesla, MIT, Boeing, Honeywell, Facebook, Volkswagen, Space X and even CERN. “The idea with the HT90 – Vojtěch Tambor explained during the event – is to enable these existing users to print with the higher performance materials they need in their work so they can expand the range of applications possible.”

Prusa steps into engineering materials with new Pro HT90 3D printer, taking RepRap expertise to new (temperature) heights

Samples showing the size of parts that can be made using engineering materials with the HT90. The quality and precision of the parts is clearly visible.For these professional users, the higher price point of the Prusa Pro HT90 compared to existing Prsa systems is not a major obstacle. The idea of investing just around €10,000 to be able to proficiently print small and medium-size PEI or PEKK parts, with Prusa’s guaranteed quality, is a no-brainer. In many cases, the investment may occur at a corporate level but in many other instances, it may even be a personal investment. There are many stories around the industry of AM engineers taking their work “home” to their personal Prusa systems.

The Prusa way

As a further demonstration that Prusa is one of the most consolidated and mature companies in the AM industry, very few of its competitors can be transparent about their sales results. Because it has no major investors to report to, the company can set its own strategies and can be very candid about the fact that, to date, it has sold over 500,000 printers worldwide in 165 countries. The strength of the company’s brand is also demonstrated by the over 30 million yearly visitors to its website, 250,000 YouTube channel subscribers and over 180,000 Instagram followers.

Although the Prusa Pro HT90 will not be a completely open source system, by entering the industrial market Prusa will continue doing what it does best: focus on high quality down-to-earth products and applications. The Prusa factory, which we had the opportunity to visit, is a marvel of networked AM engineering but it is not “out-of-this-world”. It just does what all 3D printers should do, optimizing run time to have all the machines work concurrently and constantly, reliably and quietly.

Prusa steps into engineering materials with new Pro HT90 3D printer, taking RepRap expertise to new (temperature) heights
In the photo gallery above a selection of parts shows the quality that can be achieved on the Original Prusa 3D printers, even working in multiple colors. Below, is a shipment of filament materials. Prusa goes to extreme lengths to produce its filaments in-house and guarantee the highest dimensional stability. Oh, and did we mention they make great honey too?

When it comes to ensuring the quality of its products, the tour showed us how the company goes to extreme lengths to produce all its filaments so that they can guarantee dimensional stability (which makes Prusa one of the largest companies for polymer 3D printing material revenues as well, according to VoxelMatters’ data). It has several industrial filament extrusion machines operating and plans to add several more. To support the HT90, Prusa intends to produce its own filaments for high-temperature materials as well, which will add a new level of complexity.

In terms of market strategy, the Prusa Pro HT90 intends to follow in the same footsteps, by offering a highly optimized, quiet system that can print small and medium parts using high-performance materials, at a highly competitive cost. What it doesn’t do is “3D print castles in the sky”, by promising large industrial parts that would – at this point in time – require much more expensive hardware.

Prusa steps into engineering materials with new Pro HT90 3D printer, taking RepRap expertise to new (temperature) heights
The Prusa AFS, on display at the Metronome Music Festival

Keep on rocking the market

The Prusa Pro HT90 launch event showed that the Czech company is ready to step into a new dimension of 3D printing without abandoning its roots. All existing 3D printer projects – from the Original Prusas to the SL1 resin 3D printers are set to continue to grow, with the factory likely to expand further and the AFS systems helping others benefit from Prusa’s experience in farm printing. This tour helped us get a clear understanding of the company’s strategy and potential. To top it all off we got free access to Prague’s largest annual music festival, the Metronome, which Prusa sponsored and was located just minutes from the Hotel and the company’s HQ.

It was a very well-organized event, which is not something to be taken lightly, in an industry where most small and mid-size companies are still learning how to present themselves and their products to the world. It made a very strong case for the Prusa Pro HT90’s industrial material extrusion market potential. The VoxelMatters databases look forward to seeing how it performs.

Research
Consumer Products AM 2024

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