My Rating: 9.2 out of 10
In my opinion, nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a 3D Printer. More specifically, the Lulzbot Mini! That’s right, I was VERY fortunate and I got a Lulzbot Mini for Christmas! Its only been a few days since Christmas, but my Lulzbot has already gotten a lot of use. In this review, I am going to be giving you all my first impressions on my new printer, the Lulzbot Mini.
Unboxing and Setup:
As for the packaging of this printer, I was very impressed. The box arrived in so-so conditions, but the printer didn’t even have a scratch. This is probably because the printer was packaged so well!
Once I had pulled the printer out of the box, it still had some more packaging. It had lots of foam around the extruder, and it had foam blocks around the X, Y, and Z rods. It also had a nice safety message on the build plate.
Also included in the box was a nice set of tools. These included a wire brush, a pointy thing, an Allen wrench, a knife, and an extra set of nozzle cleaning pads (will get to those later).
Once I had finished unboxing this printer, I now had to set it up. On most 3D Printers, this is a very time consuming and painful process. However on the Lulzbot Mini, I hardly had to do anything! All that I really had to do was remove the packaging, plug the printer in, install the software (Cura), complete the installation wizard, and print! This whole setup process only took about 20 Minutes! Well, that and the 40 Minute Print Time 😦 However without tweaking any settings whatsoever, I 3D printed a decent Rocktopus! (An octopus that is doing the rock symbol).
Obviously, I may have to tweak a few settings, but overall I’m pretty happy with this print.
What does it mean to be open sourced?
What is really unique about Lulzbot and Aleph objects is that they are open sourced! This means that Lulzbot shares all of their files with everyone! So if you wanted to make your own printer, you totally could. Another nice thing about Lulzbot’s printers is that they all use some 3D printed parts, so if you already had a printer you could easily print another one! For more information on being open sourced, you can check out Lulzbot’s website here.
Speaking of settings, I’m also very happy with the software for this machine. This software is called Cura. However because Lulzbot is open sourced, you can actually print with about any software you choose! (Lulzbot just recommends Cura). Another interesting thing about Cura is that it was created by the popular 3D Printing company, Ultimaker. All Lulzbot did was tweak a few settings so it worked with their printers. I really like Cura because it is simple enough for beginners, but it lets you have access to lots of advanced settings for experts. Another nice feature of Lulzbot’s edition of Cura is that it has something called quick print profiles. Basically all you have to do is choose a low, medium, or high quality print and Cura takes care of all the settings. For example, when you do a high quality print, Cura turns down the layer resolution and slows down the print speed. This also works for filaments! You just have to choose what type of filament you are using, and Cura sets the print temperature, bed temperature, extrusion speed etc. The final nice feature of Cura is that it acts a slicer and a controller. On most printers you have to use two softwares (Like Slic3r and Pronterface).
So what is the point of a good printer without good printing features? Well luckily, Lulzbot has their bases covered when it comes to features. By far the coolest features of the Mini are the Auto Bed Leveling and the Nozzle Cleaning. On most 3D Printers, leveling the build platform is a big hassle. It sometimes takes hours of turning tiny knobs to get a half decent print. On the Mini though, it only takes about 5 minutes. The way the Lulzbot Mini does this is by lowering the nozzle to touch the washers on the build plate. This then sends an electric signal back to the software which makes adjustments. This way you end up with a perfectly level print bed before every print! Another nice feature of the Mini is that it has a self-cleaning nozzle. On some printers, you have to go in with some tweezers right before the print starts to try and grab excess filament. Well not on the Mini! Before leveling the bed, the nozzle goes to the back of the build platform and rubs itself on a piece of cloth. So by far the Mini has one of the coolest startup GCodes I have ever seen!
However, what is a cool startup without good print quality? Well luckily for us, the Mini has that too! The Lulzbot Mini has a minimum layer resolution of 50 Microns! This means you can get prints with hardly any lines visible (if you have your Mini perfectly calibrated).
Another nice feature of the Lulzbot Mini is that it has a Hexagon Hot end. This means the hot end can heat up to 300 degrees Celsius! The Lulzbot Mini also features a heated PEI bed. Because of this, the Lulzbot is capable of many different types of filament. Including but not limited to HIPS, PLA, ABS, Wood filled filaments, Polycarbonate, T-Glase (PETT), Nylon, and more! The PEI on the bed is definitely a nice touch, as you don’t need any glue/hairspray/painters tape. All you need to do is press print, and the filament will stick to the bed! Then when the bed is cool, it will come forward and the print will pop off! Yes, the print will pop off! I have never had this happen with any other printer.
Unfortunately, there are three downsides to this printer. The first is that it is pretty noisy. It isn’t drive you up a wall loud, but it definitely makes some high (and low) pitched whines during printing. The second downside is the lack of enclosure. This is pretty common for printers that move the bed for the move along the Y axis, as you would need a funky looking enclosure. Still, some cold drafts could warp your ABS or HIPS print. The only other problem is the connectivity options. The only way you can connect to the Mini (by default) is by connecting a USB. This means that the print relies solely on your computer! This can be a problem in many ways. The first is that if you computer crashes or shuts down, the print will be ruined! The other downside is overnight prints. Because your computer is driving the printer, it has to stay on all night! This means you have to either start with a full battery, or plug in your computer. These downsides aren’t terrible, but they are definitely a pain.
Is it worth it?
So the final question, is it worth it?
YES!! YES!! YES!! I honestly couldn’t recommend this printer more. Although I haven’t had this printer for very long, I have had a great time with it. I have had zero problems and I can’t recommend this printer enough! The only cons are the lack of enclosure the noise, and the connectivity. However, other than that this printer is great! From its awesome print quality, to the time-saving auto bed leveling, this printer is packed with tons of great features! Because of this, I know this printer can create lots of epic 3D stuff.
- Auto bed leveling
- Self nozzle cleaning
- Good print quality
- Compatible with lots of filaments
- Includes Heated build plate and Lulzbot’s Hexagon Hot End.
- Great Value for your Money
- No Enclosure
- Not great connectivity options
- A bit pricey for some people