Last week we received our long-awaited Prusa XL. Immediately after the announcement on November 18, 2021, we pre-ordered one. Due to the global shortages during that period, it was conservatively estimated that the first pre-orders would be shipped in Q3 of 2022. The first single-tool XLs were shipped from Prusa in Q1 2023. As an apology for all delays, Prusa Research ships two extras with all pre-orders: a textured print bed and a Nextruder V6 nozzle adapter. The large XL also comes with a large barrel of large Haribo.
Although XLs with a single toolhead have now found their way to their owners, Prusa still had to overcome several hurdles for the multi-toolhead units. Prusa indicated in March 2023 that several more months are needed to have the first multi-toolhead units ready for shipment. At that time, units still had to be sent to external beta testers, and then another month was planned to incorporate all feedback from the tests into the final design.
The Original Prusa XL is faster and, above all, considerably larger than our current go-to printers; the Original Prusa i3 MK3S. Since we had been reaching the limits of the MK3S in terms of size and materials for some time, the choice for the XL was a very easy one. Even though we have equipped one of the MK3S printers with an MMU (multi-material unit), printing with multiple materials is not ideal. The XL makes this a lot easier with its multiple toolheads and with a much better result. In addition, the XL no longer requires a wipe tower, which saves enormous amounts of material if you use many different colors or materials in a single print.
We could have printed large, fast and with multiple colors much sooner if we had, for example, purchased a Bambu Lab X1 Carbon. But while Prusa makes everything it develops open source, this is unfortunately not the case with Bambu Lab. We think open source is very important, and so brands like Bambu Lab were quickly dropped in favor of waiting for the Prusa XL and sticking to our old Leapfrog printer for prints that cannot be split into multiple smaller prints. The Bambu printers have proprietary components, including key components such as the hotend and extruder. For some parts, such as the bearings, the entire printer must be sent back to Bambu for repair. In addition, Bambu Lab has been vague and unclear about which parts of their printers and software are really open source and which parts are not, not to mention patents...
The extruder of the Prusa XL has been completely redesigned and distinguishes itself from other direct-drive extruders. Prusa has called it the next generation extruder, or 'Nextruder'. It promises to be one of the most advanced extruders in 3D printing and is packed with several features aimed at improving overall print quality.
The Nextruder uses a load cell sensor embedded in the heat sink. With this sensor, the nozzle can be used as a leveling sensor and an external sensor is no longer required. The Prusa XL achieves this by measuring very small pressure variations that act on the nozzle as it hits the print bed.
Prusa claims that the load cell sensor results in a perfect first layer every time and that no manual calibrations are required during leveling such as the 1st layer calibration. The Live Adjust Z for every other print bed is also a thing of the past. Since this takes a lot of time every time, we are very happy that this is no longer necessary. The sensor can also detect heat creep and partial and complete blockages by measuring the pressure differences in the nozzle. This helps prevent printing errors and reduces the chance of damage to the hotend.