Alpha firmware brings a huge speed boost to Prusa’s MK4 3D Printer

Alpha firmware brings a huge speed boost to Prusa's MK4 3D Printer

The Prusa MK4’s latest firmware alpha delivers major upgrades to the 3D printer

Last month, Prusa released their MK4 3D printer, promising users an “always perfect first layer” and the promise of support for features like Input Shaping and Pressure Advance with future firmware upgrades. Now, thanks to alpha firmware release, and a beta release of PrusaSlicer, MK4 owners can now enjoy a huge boost in printing speed, albeit with the risk of some bugs. 

With Prusa’s new MK4 firmware being in alpha, there is a chance that users may experience unexpected issues when using it. That said, a list of known bugs are available to view on Prusa’s firmware GitHub page.

What do these new firmware/feature upgrades add?

In short, Prusa’s new MK4 firmware offers users of Prusa’s latest 3D printer new features that enable greatly increased print speeds. For instance, there have already been users that have printed a 3D Benchy (a popular 3D printer test part) in 12 minutes. That’s crazy fast. 

Input Shaping and Pressure Advance are features that are designed to increase the quality of 3D prints, but a side benefit (and arguably more beneficial benefit) of these new features is that it allows 3D printers to print parts faster without lowering print quality. These features can help reduce print times by as much as 70%, allowing users to print parts faster without a loss in print quality. If you are printing parts commercially, these features can increase the productivity of your print farms significantly. 

    The 5.0.0-alpha1 firmware comes with three new major additions – Input Shaper, Pressure Advance and Precise Stepping.

Input Shaper is a feature designed to reduce ringing (also known as ghosting) by cancelling resonance vibrations. It works by analyzing the printer’s movements and applying a filter to the input signals. Thanks to faster travel speed and accelerations, it can also minimize stringing. It also enables faster printing.

Pressure Advance is another important addition to the firmware’s set of features. This function aims to improve the quality of printed parts by compensating for the pressure changes in the nozzle during printing. It works by extruding extra filament during accelerations and retracting the filament during deceleration to maintain a consistent pressure inside the nozzle. Pressure Advance together with Input Shaper enables printing of better-looking models, reducing ringing, overshoots and issues with inconsistent filament extrusion. They also enable faster printing.

Precise stepping is a new implementation of the stepper routine, that allows precise timing of motor steps. It was a necessary prerequisite for both Input shaper and Pressure advance.

Alpha firmware brings a huge speed boost to Prusa's MK4 3D Printer

To utilise Input Shaping and Pressure Advance, Prusa MK4 users will need to download the company’s 5.0.0 Alpha firmware (or newer) and download the latest beta of PrusaSlicer (currently version 2.6.0- beta2). At this time it is unknown when this firmware version will exit alpha and become a new and fully stable firmware for the Prusa MK4. 

With Alpha firmware 5.0.0, the Prusa has now delivered on its promises with their MK4 printer. Now, the Prusa MK4 can offer users the ultra-fast printing speeds that were originally advertised and a real reason for users to upgrade from their MK3 printers. Let’s hope that this firmware can exit alpha soon, allowing these benefits to be enjoyed by all MK4 users. 

You can join the discussion on Prusa’s MK4 supporting input shaping with its latest firmware alpha on the OC3D Forums.