One in all our most continuously requested questions right here on the weblog is: what’s the perfect newbie 3D printer? Whereas there’ll most likely by no means be a single proper reply to this query we attempt our greatest by reviewing printers that seem like they’ve the potential to be nice newbie machines.

Extra…

One machine that appears promising on this respect, is the LulzBot Mini. This 3D printer has acquired rave critiques by 3D Hubs and Make: Journal. Sufficient cause for us to pay money for machine to see if it actually lives as much as expectations.

What you’ll be taught on this weblog put up:

  • My expertise in attending to the primary print (trace: it’s very easy)
  • How the LulzBot Mini handles totally different materials varieties
  • What’s nice and never so nice concerning the LulzBot Mini
  • Why the LulzBot Mini is suited to inexperienced persons in 3D printing

Fast Abstract for the Busy Reader:

The LulzBot Mini is the entry degree machine of the LulzBot line of 3D printers. In our exams, the printer carried out strongly on print high quality and scored excessive marks resulting from its automated print mattress leveling characteristic. Factors are being deducted for noise when printing and the shortage of on-board controls.

Execs

  • Plug and play printer
  • Good print high quality
  • Automated print mattress leveling & nice print mattress adhesion
  • Handles a variety of filaments
  • Group & assist boards

Cons

  • Noisy in operation
  • No printing in untethered mode
  • 3D printed printer elements may have alternative over time

Our score:

From: $1250

Aleph Objects – The Firm Behind the LulzBot

The LulzBot Mini and its larger brothers from the LulzBot line of printers are designed and produced by Aleph Objects Inc. The Loveland, Colorado, USA primarily based firm is without doubt one of the 3D printer producers that’s staunchly dedicated to the open-source motion.

Which means that the {hardware} and software program created by Aleph Objects is free to be copied or modified by all customers. All software program source-code, plans and materials lists for every one of many LulzBot 3D printers are made obtainable on-line at no cost. In return, Aleph Objects advantages from the enhancements that the group comes up with. These are fed again into product growth and included into the subsequent era machines.

Based in 2011 by Jeff Moe, Aleph Objects in the present day has greater than 80 workers and was on monitor to generate 12 million USD in gross sales for 2015.

LulzBot 3d printer farm

LulzBot 3D printer farm. Picture © 3dprintingindustry.com

LulzBot Mini Specs

The LulzBot Mini is a moving-bed design printer, with a direct drive extruder, a full-metal scorching finish, and a heated print mattress. The powder coated aluminum chassis has a medium-sized foot print 43 x 34 x 38 cm that makes for a construct quantity of 3650 cm3. The printer has an open body design, making it comparatively mild and transportable with a complete weight of 8.55 kg.

The machine feeds on 2.85mm filament and its open format filament system mixed with its working temperature vary of as much as 300°C permits it to print a variety of supplies. The construct plate is fabricated from Borosilicate glass lined with PEI print floor and reaches a most temperature of 120°C.

LulzBot Mini - front view

LulzBot Mini 3D Printer. Picture © Lulzbot

Connection to the PC is through USB, there Mini doesn’t have any on-board controls or SD card slots. An fascinating element is the wipe pad behind the construct plate which the printer makes use of to wipe the nozzle earlier than beginning a brand new print. Additionally noteworthy is the truth that, in true RepRap spirit, fairly a couple of components of the machine are literally 3D printed.

The LulzBot Mini retails for $1250, a worth which is definitely in the direction of the higher finish of the size for an entry degree printer.

Right here is an summary of the entire LulzBot Mini specs:

Value as examined:

Dimensions:

Weight:

Construct Quantity:

Layer Thickness:

Print Untethered:

Filament Diameter:

Nozzle Diameter:

Nozzle – Working Temperature:

Heated Mattress – Working Temperature:

Print Supplies:

Host Software program:

Slicing Software program:

OS Supported:

$1250
€~1144

​435 x 340 x 385 mm
17.1 x 13.Four x 15.2 in

8.55 kg
18.85 lbs

​152 x 152 x 158 mm
6 x 6 x 6.2 in

50 microns

​No

Three mm

0.5 mm

180°C – 300°C

50°C – 120°C

ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, Polyester, PETT, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PETG & specialty filaments

Cura LulzBot Version or Slic3r

Cura LulzBot Version or Slic3r

Home windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux

Unboxing & Setup

The LulzBot arrived in a cardboard field with loads of foam padding to guard it from injury throughout cargo. Shipped with the printer is a quick-start information, the facility and USB cable, and a helpful poster explaining the important thing components and options of the machine. Additional, you obtain a print removing knife, a flathead bristle brush, a dental choose, tweezers, a 2mm Allen wrench and 5 alternative wiping pads.

Unboxing the LulzBot Mini

The LulzBot Mini ships with loads of foam padding

The fast-start information walks you thru the steps to get the printer up and working: you first take away any remaining packaging foam then set up the Cura software program (extra on the software program under) and configure it. Within the Configuration Wizard you merely choose the radio button subsequent to LulzBot Mini and you might be carried out.

You then plug within the energy cable, the USB cable and energy up the machine. As a primary print, LulzBot recommends that you just print the rocktopus, LulzBot’s mascot within the type of an octopus.

The rocktopus is meant to load routinely the primary time you run the software program. This was not the case for me such that I downloaded it right here. With all the required preparation in place it was time to warmth up the print head and get all the way down to melting some filament!

Printing the rocktopus

Printing the rocktopus – LulzBot’s mascot

Listed below are a couple of extra impressions of the LulzBot and a few of its 3D printed elements:

Loading the Filament

The LulzBot Mini ships with a tiny little bit of HIPS filament left over within the device head from high quality management. You must take away this earlier than continuing to your first print. So as to take action, you warmth the new finish to 240°C utilizing the Printer Interface window. You then launch the hinged loafer by compressing the springs that maintain it in place. This releases the filament which might now be pulled out of the device head.

To put in a brand new filament spool, the filament holder is flipped into an upright place which secures it to the body of the printer. You then merely slide the filament spool onto the filament holder and push the filament into the feed gap till a small quantity of molten materials comes out of the tip of the nozzle. The filament is then secured by snapping the hinged loafer again into place.

Altering filament on the LulzBot is simple, you typically simply need to fumble a bit to get the filament into the feed gap. You may’t actually see the feed gap properly as it’s considerably hidden behind the hobbed bolt loafer.

LulzBot Mini - changing filament

Altering filament: the filament feed gap is a bit hidden behind the hobbed bolt loafer.

Notice: the Lulzbot Mini ships with none filament. You must order this individually when shopping for your printer. Apparently, Lulzbot recommends HIPS filament. That is considerably stunning as HIPS shouldn’t be that generally used as main printing materials. Being soluble in limonene, HIPS is often used as wash-away assist materials somewhat than a stand-alone materials for full prints.

For inexperienced persons I’d suggest to begin with PLA as HIPS can create points with layer adhesion and cracking. However, I get forward of myself, extra on supplies is coming under.

Construct Platform Leveling

The LulzBot makes print mattress leveling a breeze for the reason that automated bed-leveling sequence takes care of it for you. When launching a print, the printer will first begin heating the print head to 160°C, then wipe the nozzle clear earlier than probing the bed-leveling sensors. As soon as that’s accomplished the device head strikes right into a holding place ready for the print head to hit the specified printing temperature. In the meanwhile that’s reached, printing begins.

LulzBot Mini - bed leveling process

The nozzle homing in on one of many bed-leveling sensors throughout the automated bed-leveling sequence.

The whole start-up sequence takes round 4 minutes. As nice because the automated bed-leveling is, it additionally get a bit annoying over time because the printer at all times rigorously follows its routine. If you should cease a print throughout the first layers and need to relaunch it instantly afterwards, it may’t be carried out. The machine will first calm down, wipe the nozzle, re-probe the bed-leveling sensors earlier than setting off on a brand new print.

Host Software program & Slicer – Cura LulzBot Version

In step with their open-source philosophy, Aleph Objects has chosen open-source Cura as their host and slicing software program. You do nonetheless get a LulzBot flavoured model referred to as the Cura LulzBot Version.

I downloaded the newest model of the software program from right here. I put in it with none points apart from the truth that the interface got here in German. Now, that is most likely resulting from the truth that I run a German model of Home windows. I’d nonetheless have appreciated the choice to modify it to English somewhat than the software program making that call for me. As a aspect remark, the German translation of the totally different slicer settings shouldn’t be full as some are nonetheless proven in English.

Any person of Cura will acknowledge the acquainted settings, the interface simply seems within the model particular lemon-green tinge and the software program is pre-configured for the LulzBot vary of 3D printers.

There’s not that a lot to be stated concerning the Cura LulzBot Version. It really works with the identical benefits and downsides because the common Cura. For a newbie it’s definitely useful to begin off utilizing the Fast Print settings. When you get a bit extra expertise although, it pays to modify to Full Settings which provide you with extra management but additionally require a bit extra information. In the event you actually need to dig into the superior settings, I’d suggest that you just obtain the person handbook which describes every slicer setting in fairly some element.

Cura - LulzBot edition

Cura – LulzBot version (click on to enlarge)

For the extra superior customers it is likely to be fascinating to know that I additionally ran the LulzBot Mini utilizing the Simplify3D software program (a premium, closed-source slicer and host software program bundle). This labored completely nice, the Mini’s startup sequence with wiping, preheating and auto-leveling was included out-of-the-box. There was no have to manually paste this into the g-code.

All in all, the LulzBot comes just about plug and play. It was an actual pleasure to unbox and arrange the machine. Indubitably even a untrained newbie could be up and working in a couple of minutes solely. The fast-starter information is properly illustrated and gives clear step-by-step directions, I fail to spot how one may go improper by sticking to it.

The Simplify3D machine control panel

The machine management panel inside Simplify3D (click on to enlarge)

LulzBot Mini – The First Prints

On the time after I began working with the Mini, Halloween was approaching. Thus, I made a decision to throw it in on the deep finish and see the way it carried out. Let me clarify: I sometimes begin off by testing a printer with PLA, a cloth that’s comparatively straightforward to make use of. On this case, I had a spool of glow-in-the-dark ABS laying round which I had tried unsuccessfully on one other printer earlier than.

I used to be in a short time impressed by how properly the LulzBot dealt with the ABS. It churned out print after print with out the slightest hiccup. The prints caught to the mattress, not a single one got here lose nor did I expertise any warping.

Part of 3D printed skull

Cranium – 3D printed with glow ABS

Listed below are a couple of extra impressions of the primary prints that I ran:

LulzBot Mini – Printing Efficiency

To gauge all features of the Mini’s printing efficiency, I used the check protocol from the Make 3D Printer Shootout. Printing the identical probes on totally different printers permits me to match efficiency between totally different machines.

All exams have been run utilizing PLA, at a print velocity of 40mm/sec and at a layer decision of 0.2mm. The probes are then evaluated on a scale of 1 to five with 5 being the utmost rating.

Right here is how the LulzBot Mini carried out on these fashions:

Dimensional Accuracy
The dimensional accuracy probe measures how a lot backlash a printer produces. The probe consists of six super-imposed discs, every with a lowering diameter. As soon as the print is accomplished, the diameter of the second disc from the underside is measured. This has a goal diameter of 20 mm, the Mini’s probe confirmed deviations of not more than 0.2 mm. Rating: 4/5.

LulzBot Mini - dimensional accuracy probe

Bridging Efficiency
The bridging efficiency check is designed to probe a 3D printer’s capability to surmount distances with out assist materials. The probe has 5 distances to be bridged, starting from 20 mm to 60 mm.

The LulzBot dropped a few perimeters on the 4th and fifth bridge. A superb however not an ideal outcome. Rating: 4/5.

LulzBot Mini - bridging probe

Overhang Efficiency
The overhang efficiency check merely measures the angle at which the printer begins battling finishing overhangs. The probe has 4 angles at 30°, 45°, 60° and 70°. The LulzBot managed the 30°, 45°, 60° and 70° angles to perfection, with none drooping perimeters. Rating: 5/5.

LulzBot Mini - overhang probe - front

LulzBot Mini - overhang probe - back

Destructive House Tolerances
The unfavorable area tolerance check is a measure of a printer’s capability to create nice unfavorable (or empty) areas ensuring that two separate components of a mannequin don’t fuse collectively the place they aren’t speculated to. The probe is a block with 5 pins, every with a lowering unfavorable area round it starting from 0.6 mm to 0.2 mm. The variety of pins that may be eliminated on the finish of the print determines the rating.The Mini displayed a median efficiency, solely Three out of the 5 pins may very well be eliminated. Rating: 3/5.

High-quality Constructive House Options Efficiency
The nice optimistic area options check basically gauges a 3D printer’s retraction efficiency. The probe is a plate with 6 conical spires that skinny out in the direction of the highest.
The LulzBot managed to finish the spires however with some connecting filament strands. Rating: 3/5.

LulzBot Mini - fine features probe

Mechanical Resonance Check
Two of the check probes measure the mechanical resonance within the XY gantry and the Z axis respectively. As resonance is troublesome to measure quantitatively, it is a binary check which signifies that the check probe is both assigned a „move“ or „fail“.

Mechanical Resonance in XY
The XY-resonance probe turned out nice: there isn’t a noticeable rippling on the corners nor on the inset of the print wall. Rating: 2/move.

LulzBot Mini - xy dimensional accuracy probe

Mechanical Resonance in Z
The CraftBot mastered the Z-resonance probe with none points. The outcome exhibits a uniform layer sample that doesn’t change wherever alongside all the top of the probe. Rating: 2/move.

LulzBot Mini - z probe

Articulated Makey Robotic
The articulated Makey is a particularly difficult print that mixes many components of the above efficiency exams right into a single probe. The articulated limbs have a niche of simply over 0.3mm whereas the arms have overhangs of 65°, a difficult print for any 3D printer.

The robotic produced by the LulzBot Mini turned out good however not excellent: the limbs did present some indicators of getting fused with the physique of the robotic. Whereas I managed to pry all of them unfastened, this appears to verify that the machine has some points with dealing with unfavorable areas.

Head and physique floor: some ringing is seen across the giant “M” on the entrance of the robotic’s physique. The pinnacle additionally has a few smaller blemished because the printer didn’t handle to utterly shut the highest of the dome and likewise left a small hole in one of many eye sockets.

Curved head floor: Rating: 3/5.
Physique floor: Rating: 4/5.

LulzBot Mini - Maki Bot

Listed below are a couple of extra impressions of the Mini in motion:

Utilizing Supplies apart from ABS

Clearly, I printed much more than simply the Make check probes on the LulzBot. I attempted to print a mixture of sensible and ornamental prints, in quite a lot of supplies, to be taught extra concerning the strengths and weaknesses of the machine.

Printing with PLA

As described above, opposite to my standard method of continuing I solely began utilizing PLA after I had used ABS. As anticipated, the LulzBot handles PLA properly, a average print mattress temperature of 50°C makes certain that prints stick nice.

I did run into a difficulty although that’s not directly associated to PLA. Learn extra on that additional down.

Printing with CorkFill

CorkFill is a PLA/PHA filament compounded with cork mud, produced by ColorFabb. Following the producer’s recommendation to extend the stream charge by +5% and having tweaked retraction a bit, I used to be in a position to get prints with a very nice floor end. I skilled completely not one of the nozzle clogging that may include printing wooden primarily based filaments.

Printing with nGen

Simply as I used to be testing the LulzBot, ColorFabb come out with a brand new co-polyester referred to as nGen. I used to be in a position to safe a pattern simply earlier than the product launched put it to the check.

I received some actually nice outcomes utilizing nGen which is each testomony to the print high quality of the LulzBot and the benefit of use of nGen. I discovered that nGen labored properly when printed at 235°C, the print mattress at 75°C and at a velocity of 40mm/s. Learn a extra detailed assessment of nGen right here.

Printing with NinjaFlex

With the LulzBot Mini having a direct drive extruder, I used to be eager to see how properly it will deal with versatile filaments. Whereas the printer managed the primary few layers properly, all my makes an attempt to print with flex filament failed in some unspecified time in the future. Even at very low printing speeds, the filament would buckle ultimately, thereby stopping the extruder from being fed correctly.

Notice: in October 2015, LulzBot introduced an new extruder to the market. The so-called FlexyStruder is particularly designed to allow the Mini to work with versatile filaments corresponding to NinjaFlex and SemiFlex. The FlexyStruder device head has a thicker extruder physique and a 0.6mm nozzle permitting for quick and dependable prints with versatile filament.

Flexystruder

The non-compulsory FlexyStruder device head makes the LulzBot match for printing with versatile filament.

A Couple of Different Observations

Put on & Tear on 3D Printed Components

One factor I seen after utilizing the Lulzbot for some time was a nice layer of of mud across the prime of the device head. Taking a more in-depth look, I noticed that this have been materials particles stemming from the drive gear. As you may see from the under image, the perimeters of the drive gear put on out over time and the drive gear will want changing in some unspecified time in the future.

LulzBot Mini - worn extruder gear

The drive gear exhibiting indicators of age.

In direction of the tip of my check, after many hours of printing, I additionally seen that the block which holds the loafer retainer screws had cracked in two locations. Whereas the printer was nonetheless working nice, this additionally wanted fixing since this half performs a crucial position in placing stress on the filament to ensure that it to be fed into the extruder correctly.

LulzBot Mini - broken 3D printed part

The higher a part of the device head developed some cracks after many hours of printing.

Now, fixing these points shouldn’t be that troublesome for the reason that LulzBot is an open-source printer which signifies that all of the manufacturing components could be downloaded and re-printed. Nonetheless, the 3D printed components are the weakest elements of an in any other case solidly construct machine.

Mattress-Leveling Failure

A clear metallic floor on the nozzle is crucial for the automated bed-leveling course of to achieve success. Due to this fact, the printer at all times first wipes the nozzle on the wipe pad earlier than continuing to probe the 4 mattress leveling sensors positioned on the perimeters of the construct plate.

I had a few instances the place the mattress leveling failed fairly badly: when autoleveling, the nozzle didn’t appear to acknowledge when it hit the bed-leveling sensor and stored pushing downwards, bending the print mattress. Looking for an answer within the LulzBot discussion board, I got here throughout a couple of threads the place customers complained about this very situation.

The discussion board did additionally present the answer: the issue stems from a nozzle that isn’t correctly cleaned throughout the wiping course of. The answer lies in growing the cleansing temperature of the nozzle. I merely edited one line of gcode whereby I elevated the temperature from 160°C to 170°C. This settled the problem.

Serious about when these failures had occurred, it was every time after I was printing with PLA. As a consequence of PLA’s decrease printing temperature, the relative temperature throughout the nozzle wiping course of can be decrease. In different phrases, it isn’t ample to correctly clear the nozzle which then fails to make contact with the bed-leveling sensor. So it is a downside that may get solved with a easy tweak however judging by the Lulzbot discussion board that is one thing that fairly a couple of individuals are battling.

That being stated, throughout on a regular basis the place I labored with the Mini, I had not one single failed print resulting from delamination which proves that the mix of the print mattress leveling and the heated print mattress works completely. An enormous plus for the machine!

Conclusion

  • An entire bundle: the Lulzbot Mini is an entire bundle that delivers straight out of the field. The printer could be very a lot plug and play, one thing many producers declare however few actually ship.
  • Skill to deal with a big number of supplies: one facet of the LulzBot that I actually love is the truth that it really works so properly with all kinds of filaments. The working temperature vary of each the new finish and the print mattress is vast sufficient to cowl supplies from PLA to Polycarbonate. One other massive plus is the open format filament system which ensures you the liberty to discover supplies from all types of various producers and doesn’t lock you into having to purchase your alternative filament from a single supply.
  • Print bed-leveling: regardless of that snag that I bumped into with the auto-leveling print mattress, this nonetheless is a really robust characteristic of the printer. Anybody with a little bit of 3D printing expertise is aware of {that a} good print begins with a superbly degree construct plate. God is aware of, I’ve spend numerous hours making an attempt to degree print beds manually on varied printers. With the LulzBot Mini that’s all taken care of, a bonus to not be underestimated, particularly for inexperienced persons.
  • A robust producer & group: Aleph Objects is an organization with a monitor file and one which’s prone to be round for the foreseeable future. LulzBot machines have carried out persistently in varied 3D printer exams over time and the corporate retains on creating and upgrading their product line. Additional, there’s a robust LulzBot group. Simply go and take a peek into the boards, you’ll discover many fellow LulzBot house owners which are very prepared to assist with any questions or issues that you could have.
  • Noise ranges: the LulzBot Mini is kind of a loud printer. Like lots of the ‘desktop’ 3D printers, you don’t really need it to be sitting in your desk, printing, when you are making an attempt to focus on one thing else. Given that you just can’t print in untethered mode, the printer should be intently positioned to your PC and it’s a must to take care of the noise.
  • Construct quantity: as its identify signifies, the Mini is restricted in dimension which additionally signifies that it has a construct quantity that’s not enormous. I needed to scale down a couple of prints with a purpose to match them on the print mattress. Nonetheless, until you intend to repeatedly print very giant objects, the construct quantity is an acceptable trade-off in view of the whole lot else you get with this machine.
  • Put on & tear of 3D printed components: on the machine I examined, among the 3D printed components confirmed indicators of damage. Now, the excellent news is which you could print your individual spare components however then you definitely additionally should be comfy with dissembling the printer to suit them. It will definitely assist if the 3D printed components have been made out of a cloth apart from ABS; nylon which extra sturdy looks as if a greater different.

Our Suggestion

With the LulzBot Mini, Aleph Objects had made a really stable extension to their product line. Whereas the corporate could traditionally have been recognized to provide machines that enchantment to hardcore Makers, the Mini is a 3D printer that may enchantment to inexperienced persons and Makers alike.

With its ease of operation, dependable print outcomes and adaptability in filament selection, the LulzBot Mini makes for a terrific 3D printer. If you’re in search of purchase your first 3D printer, the LulzBot Mini needs to be on prime of your prospect record.

LulzBot Mini Assessment – Abstract

A well-designed, entry degree machine for the 3D printing fans who can afford to spend a bit more cash. Fast to put in and dependable to function, the LulzBot Mini appeals to a large viewers from hobbyists and designers to varsities and libraries. Comes with the pliability of an open-source machine and processes a terrific vary of filaments.

Whereas not error-free, the automated print mattress leveling eliminates numerous the primary layer woes, a definite plus. The shortage of on-board controls and the noise ranges are the one drawbacks of the machine.

Our score:

LulzBot Mini - front view

From: $1250

If there are any fellow LulzBot Mini customers studying this, I’d be very to listen to your ideas and opinions. Be happy to go away a remark under!