P3Steel from Poland – A tale of despair, dismay and woe

Preamble

Don’t get me wrong, I think that the P3Steel 3D printer is a very good design/derivative of the Prusa i3. However, the version of the frame that I purchased is somewhat lacking in finesse, and the supplier, from whom I obtained it, leaves something to be desired, when it comes to pre-sales and after-sales care.
The frame that I purchased was the Frame Prusa I3 P3Steel v4.0 +RODS, from a supplier based in Poland.

See also

Alternative Suppliers/Printers

There are other suppliers, with slightly different designs of the P3Steel, and I would recommend those over the frame that I purchased. In particular, there is a supplier based in Lithuania, pilvytis / m.rut3d, who is very helpful and the design is superior, although (around 50%) more expensive. For pilvytis, see P3Steel Lasercut All metal kit for v2 v2.5 v4 Frame Prusa i3 3D Printer RepRap. For m.rut3d, see P3Steel V4 200×300 Lasercut Frame Prusa i3 3D Printer RepRap Mendel Metal.
A Spanish supplier, gonzalo8455, sells XL 300 x 300 mm printers, which are very good indeed, and competitively priced (especially, if you can get one for a reduced price of 300 euros). See KIT IMPRESORA 3D P3STEEL XXL GRAN FORMATO 300 x 300mm x 300mm.

Kit contents

Frame P3 STEEL v 4.0 made on basis of a draft from the reprap.org/wiki/P3Steel.
+ metal elements for X-Axis  made on basis  :  www.thingiverse.com/thing:1528308

Material: structural steel S235JR,  3mm thick laser cut.

  1. 1x P3Steel v4.0 Frame laser cut+metal elements for X-Axis
  2. 70x M3x12 stainless steel bolt
  3. 70x M3 self-locking stainless steel nut
  4. Smooth stainless steel rods:
    • 2x Ø8×410 mm for X-Axis
    • 2x Ø8×320 mm for Z-Axis
    • 2x Ø10×520 mm for Y-Axis
  5. Threaded stainless steel rods:
    • 2x M5x300 mm

Kit documentation

P3Steel issues

Assembly gotchas

  • Long thin rod orientation  (see Stack Exchange, Orientation of long thin rod on P3Steel v4)
  • X idler smooth rod missing/ difficult to source  (see Stack Exchange, Is the 8mm x 20mm bearing axel for the X-axis idler (of a P3Steel) a custom part? and The search for the elusive X-axis idler rod)
  • RAMPS Controller 2004 LCD display holder is a poor fit, additional 15mm spacers are required, the hole for the rotary knob is too small
  • Hard to tighten one of the X-axis assembly GT2 bolts, when the LM8UU bearings are in place
  • Y-axis stepper motor mount plate is flimsy – it is missing the additional triangular  brace/support (see Design Flaws below).
  • Why are there two Y-axis stepper motor mount plates?
  • No spare M3 12 mm bolts (insufficient bolts supplied), and/or additional M3 8 mm bolts required (see Lesser Niggles: Parts Supplied below)
  •  How does the X-axis GT2 belt holder secure?
  • The M3 nyloc nuts need to go in hex side first, into the Y-axis and X-axis GT2 holder plate, from the side opposite to the side where the gripper is placed – in the case of the:
    • Y-axis, into the top side of the holder/grip base plate, while the gripper (plate) goes on the underside
    • X-axis, the hex end of the nyloc nut goes into the bottom side of the holder/grip base plate, and the gripper is placed on the top.
    • Note that they go into the holder/grip base plate – not the gripper, but the holder/ grip base plate that the gripper screws into.
Y-axis GT2 belt grip base plate
Y-axis GT2 belt grip base plate
Y-axis grip plate
Y-axis grip plate
  • M3 x 8 mm bolts are used for the GT2 belt holders on the Y-axis and X-axis. 10 mm may be too long, and 12 mm are definitely too long.

Idler issues

  • X and Y axis idler design is poor – there is no mount for springs, nor holes for an adjuster screw;
  • Y-axis idler sides are the wrong width for just washers and bearing;
  • Y-axis idler big wheel hole is 4 mm, as are the two grooves in the Y idler sides, but the top two holes of pivot are 3.5 mm;
  • Y-axis idler sides bottom holes are 3 mm but the pivot bottom hole is 4 mm (the PDF guide, manual_p3steel_xl, suggests using M3 bolts, but these are clearly too small/narrow, for the pivot bottom hole). So there is a mismatch between the Y-axis idler side’s bottom hole (M3) and the bottom hole of the pivot (which is M4).
  • NOTE: If the pivot is used upside down, then the 4 mm holes (in the pivot, wheel and Y-axis idler side grooves) and the 3 mm holes (in the bottom of the Y idler sides, and the pivot) line up – but that leaves the middle hole in the pivot out of line with the lower of the Y idler side grooves).
  • The X-axis idler is fixed, and there is no way of tensioning it.

This image shows one of the Y idler sides, the pivot, bearing and the big wheel (in that order):

Y idler
Y idler

Lesser niggles

Customer service:

  • Pre-sales communication poor
  • After sales care poor.
Design flaws:
  • Threaded rod Z axis tops are not secured, unlike v.2 (see Stack Exchange, Z axis top brackets, of P3Steel, differ between v1.x/2.x and v4)
  • No circlip grooves for ends of x, y and z axes smooth bars
  • Steel bed heavy
  • Y axis flexes
  • No extruder mounting holes, unlike the video
  • No PSU mounting holes
  • No RAMPS 1.4 controller mounting holes
  • No reel holder is supplied, nor are there grooves to fit one
  • There is no adjustment possible of the X-axis idler
Parts Supplied:
  • Not enough M3 x 12 mm bolts (10)
    • 2 hot end
    • 2 X-axis GT2 belt holder (in fact M3 x 8 mm could be better)
    • 4 +2 Y-axis GT2 belt holder (in fact M3 x 8 mm could be better)
  • No M3 x 18-20 mm bolt
    • For the Y-axis idler (bearing holder)
  • No M3 x 12 mm bolt
    • For the Y-axis idler (tension lock bolt)
  • No M3 x 10 mm – see image of Y-axis idler above
    • For the Y-axis idler, hinge
  • No X-axis idler bearing axel, (as well as circlip, and washers), see also The search for the elusive X-axis idler rod.
  • Z-axis smooth rod imperfections – the LM8UU bearings stick at a certain point, on one of the M8 rods, about two thirds of the way up, resistance can be felt and additional force is required to push the X-axis assembly up.
  • Spacers are required to offset the y-axis plate GT2 belt holder, so that (a) the GT2 belt is level, and (b) to give room to tighten the two bolt ends that actually squeeze the GT2 belt ends.

Thoughts about the frame

Frame seems to be a mix of various designs. Parts of the frame are similar to the frame in this video, I3 Steel CORDOBESA con extrusor/with extruder:
  • The X-axis certainly comes from there);
  • The rear plate is different though and has a flimsy motor mount, as it is missing the right angled triangular horizontal lower brace);
  • Also, it lacks the extruder cut out, and mounting holes on the right hand Z-axis.

Guides and videos

Additional parts

M3 x 12 mm

M3 x 8 mm

  • blah
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