Prusa machines are open-source 3D printers built upon the open hardware global initiative RepRap, which makes self-replicating and low-cost printers accessible to all
Prusa Research is a company founded by the young maker Josef Pr?ša, who started developing his first open hardware 3D printer when he was only 26. It now provides an open-source alternative to proprietary 3D-printers and its models have rapidly grown to become the most widely used internationally.
The Prusa 3D-printers derive from the RepRap printer, which is made of 3D-printed parts so that anyone can copy and make their own self-replicating machines, democratising access to this new technology. The machines rely on a full open- source ecosystem of tools and are fully compatible with software tools like such as Slic3r slicer, developed by the Italian Alessandro Ranellucci, and Cura, developed by the Dutch 3D-printer firm Ultimaker.
The company has rapidly grown from its base in Prague; it now employs 40 people and offers customer service support to users as they assemble and customise their printers. Prusa was able to grow without a sales team, through word of mouth and with the support of the international maker community.
Central to its success has been the quality of its product: they are upgradable, so that people can turn their existing printer into a new model without having to a buy a new one. Some of the technological inventions developed by Prusa are now disrupting the 3D-printing industry worldwide. Its models are direct competitors to the big names of the industry, which are based on proprietary models.
According to 3DHubs, an online 3D-printing community service, the Prusa i3 is the most used 3D-printer in the world, and is now shipped to 90 countries. You can view a map of the printers around the world here.
Image from Prusa Research
Case study date: January 2017.