I Bought a Sovol SV06 3D Printer

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I can’t believe I did this. I am not entirely sure why I decided that I had to pull the trigger. I suspect it was the price of the refurbished Sovol SV06 that made me do it. How could I not snag a wannabe Prusa MK3 for $169 shipped?!

I started 3D printing nine years ago. I have had my Prusa MK3S for more than two years now. Aside from some trouble getting prints to stock at the extreme edges of the PEI sheet, my Prusa MK3S is working just as well as it was when they ran a test print on it at the factory. Did I really need another printer? And should I really be writing about the new printer before it even ships?

I am writing this to help keep me honest. I am going to be telling you why I decided to order the Sovol and what I am expecting from it. We will see how close reality gets to my dreams here.

Is the Sovol SV06 a Prusa MK3 for less than half the price?

These are not easy experiences to compare. You can get the Prusa MK3S+ kit for about $650 plus shipping, and you will receive a package with a few hundred parts that you will spend hours or days assembling.

You can spend $899 plus shipping for a fully assembled Prusa MK3 that is ready to print right out of the box. That is what I did. When I bought my fully assembled Prusa MK3S, I paid about $110 in shipping, which is more than half the total cost of my refurbished Sovol SV06. I was printing on the Prusa within fifteen minutes of opening the box. I even had my first successful TPU print going within the first hour. It was fantastic.

NOTE: Brian and I are for sure going to need to record an episode of The Butter, What?! Show about my Sovol SV06 and his new Bambu X1C.

The Sovol SV06 needs to be assembled, but you only have to bolt three or four large pieces together. The retail price of the Sovol SV06 is $299. It is currently on sale for $239 on their site, and I paid $169 for a refurbished SV06. Shipping is free.

Both the Sovol and the Prusa have the inductive probes for automatic bed leveling, direct-drive extruders, silent stepper drivers, and PEI build plates. The Prusa’s build plate is a little bigger, but they are both in the same league.

The Sovol SV06 has a 32-bit microcontroller that seems to be running Marlin. This could be a huge step up over the Prusa MK3’s 8-bit Einsy controller. I am looking forward to eventually messing around with Marlin’s new input shaper on the SV06 because I can’t do that on my Prusa MK3S.

I won’t miss the filament runout sensor

I have had to open up the extruder to sneak the filament out of my Prusa MK3S the last two times a spool of filament ran out on me. There’s always a little kink in the filament where it attaches to the end of the spool, and that little kink gets stuck at the top of the extruder.

If I am not there ahead of time to cut a clean end onto the filament before it runs out, then I am going to have to work hard for the filament swap.

If I have to be there anyway, why would I wait to swap the filament? I am just going to do it right away and save time.

Will what’s on paper match reality?

The Prusa MK3S and its predecessors are proven workhorses. My Prusa worked perfectly when it arrived two years ago. My Prusa works today. I expect my Prusa to continue to be working just as well two years from now. I have never had to do any significant work to keep my Prusa going. It just keeps going.

3D Printed Dudes

I could literally buy a farm of six refurbished Sovol SV06 printers with the $1,111.31 I spent on my Prusa MK3S, and I would have almost enough money left over to buy a spool of PLA filament to hang off each of those Sovol printers. I realize that this is comparing apples and oranges, but that is probably what makes this so interesting to me.

The Sovol SV06 is comparable to a Prusa MK3S, but it costs less than a Prusa MINI+.

The printer isn’t the hobby for me

I know there are a lot of people who enjoy assembling, tweaking, tuning, and troubleshooting their printers. I know that some of these folks really enjoy the day a Prusa kit arrives and they get to spend the afternoon building a printer from scratch.

That is not me. I am glad that I had to tear down and rebuild so much of my first printer because it taught me a lot about how these printers work. I don’t want to have to do it again.

Designing and printing things is my hobby. Sometimes designing and printing things augments my other hobbies. I just want the printer to show up, and I want to spend as little time as possible getting it up and running.

Known issues with the Sovol SV06

I have come across two potential problems with the Sovol SV06. There’s no strain relief for the high-amperage cables running to the heated bed. I already printed a strainirelief part to install on my new printer when it arrives. If the Sovol SV06 is your first printer, you can print one as soon as you get it up and running.

3D printed brackets for Tindie

Some folks are having trouble with the Sovol’s automatic x-axis calibration. This would be a bummer if I never used a 3D printer before, but calibrating the x-axis manually looks easy enough for me.

Inductive bed probes are old and busted

Load cell sensors are the new hotness. The Prusa MK4 and Prusa XL have a load cell sensor in the hot end to detect when the nozzle physically touches that build surface. The Bambu P1P and Bambu X1C both have load sensors on the bed to detect when the nozzle physically touches the bed.

This is a huge improvement. If you regularly print things that take up most of the area on the build plate, then you should definitely be looking at one of these printers. As far as I know, these are the only popular printers using load cell sensors.

The induction probe on the Prusa MK3 and Sovol SV06 doesn’t actually know where the PEI surface is. It is sensing the steel sheet underneath that plastic layer. If there are any imperfections in that layer of plastic, the induction sensor won’t be able to adjust for it.

Induction bed leveling is still quite good!

My Prusa MK3S uses an induction sensor for bed leveling. It has trouble getting a good first layer within the last 10 mm or 15 mm of the edge of the bed. The probe can’t even reach the left side of the bed.

Even so, Prusa’s PINDA probe and automatic mesh bed leveling are a massive upgrade over manually leveling the bed. I also prefer an inductive probe to something mechanical like a BL Touch probe simply because it means fewer moving parts.

The Sovol SV06 ticks all of the most important boxes on my checklist

There were three features that really stood out when I upgraded from my ancient MakerFarm Prusa-style i3 to the Original Prusa MK3S: the PEI build plate, automatic mesh bed leveling, and the silent stepper motor drivers. You can print without these things, but all of them improve the day-to-day operation of the printer.

The Sovol SV06 has all these things that the Prusa MK3 had.

Isn’t the Prusa MK3 old news now?!

The Prusa MK4 looks like a really nice upgrade over the Prusa MK3S+. The new bed leveling that promises a perfect first layer on every single print looks amazing, and a bed-slinging 3D printer shipping with preconfigured input shaping that allows acceleration of 8,000 mm/s² that can print a beautiful benchy in less than 20 minutes is astounding!

I get annoyed when I need to print something large, and my Prusa MK3S doesn’t manage to get good adhesion close to the edges of the bed, but I don’t print large parts all that often. It would be nice to fix that problem, but I wouldn’t spend another $1,111.31 for a fix.

Two guys unboxing an imaginary 3D printer

Printing faster would be nice. I believe the Sovol SV06 runs Marlin. If it doesn’t ship with Marlin, it can definitely be flashed with Marlin. Marlin has a working input-shaping feature now. I am excited about trying the latest Marlin features out on my Sovol SV06.

Do I think the Sovol SV06 will reach the same speeds as the Prusa MK4? Absolutely not. It is obvious that Prusa has beefed up many of the parts in the transition from the MK3 to the MK4, and the Sovol SV06 doesn’t look as rigid as my Prusa MK3S. It will be fun seeing how fast a $169 refurbished printer can go!

There is no official support for Marlin on the Prusa MK3’s Einsy control board.

We’ll see how it goes!

I have already cleared some space on my 3D printer workbench for a second printer. I even have a concrete paver in place for the Sovol SV06. I haven’t even gotten my tracking number yet.

I keep talking and thinking about the Sovol SV06 as if it is a $169 3D printer. I have been saying that it looks like a steal of a deal even at its full price ever since I saw the first review of the printer from Maker’s Muse. The Sovol SV06 compares quite favorably to the Prusa MK3 while being priced lower than a Prusa Mini.

When the new printer gets here, I will be sure to let you know how it goes.