Robert L. Read

@RobertLeeRead

Review of the LulzBot Taz 5

Bottom Line Up Front: This is a great 3D Printer.

I’m an enthusiastic fan of 3D printing, not an expert. I’ve used the PrintrBot Metal, MakerBot Replicator 2, and Replicator 1.

Unboxing the LulzBot Taz 5 is a pleasure. The instructions are clear(ish). I had no significant trouble making my first print in ABS. Beautifully, the LulzBot comes with a tookit bag that includes most of the accessories (x-acto, dental pick, putty knife, needle-nose pliers, Allen wrenches) needed not only to assemble the LulzBot to also to remove your prints.

I purchased the LulzBot Taz 5 for three reasons: the reputation of the firm as an American firm supporting all-open-source design and offering good support, the ability of their extruders to support a wide range of materials, and the fact that they offer dual-extruder heads. I have not yet purchased the dual extruder head, but plan to get the one that lets me print in flexy material, as it is quite relevant to the robotics work I am doing.

Before my filament arrived, I tried using leftover 1.75mm filament. I did not have much success with that, although apparently others have. My nozzle would extrude but then clog in the middle of a print.

My first major print in ABS came out perfectly. It is the head of Groot (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:478806) , printed at fine detail. It took 6 hours. I use Simplify3D as my slicer, and it seems to work perfectly with the LulzBot. Cura works as well. I don’t like Cura because the support structures it designs always seem very hard to tear off cleanly compared to Simplify3D.

I love the fact that the LulzBot Taz 5 with the “Hexagon” extruder can print Nylon, an extremely strong and tough plastic, such as in “Fractal Octahedra” above, which an support at least 170 pounds. I’ve been using Nylon 645. I follow the instructions and put down PVA glue on the bed before printing, and every print has been good. Sometimes there are a few strings, and sometimes there are some “burned” looking spots, usually close to the bed. However, 3D printing is always a bit of an artI expect problems like those.

One lovely thing about Nylon is that you really can dye it very easily with food coloring. The “Voronoi Elephant” above was “nylon white” before I did it “Tufts blue” for my daughter with blue food coloring, hot water and vinegar for about 1 minute.

Changing filament in the LulzBot Taz 5 is easy once you get used to it. The drive gear that impels the filament opens up quite completely, making it easy to see thread and remove the filament. The “idler” tensioning bolts are very easy to use.

There is a filament guide which is really nice — it seems to make sure that you can go reliably from the filament reel holder to the extruder head with no danger of tangles.

The heated bed seems to work perfectly. I have had zero problems with adhesion to this (PEI) surface so far.

The LulzBot Taz 5 has a large bed — — it easily printed this “auxetic fabric” in nylon.

I do have some nits to pick, which should be thought of as things to improve, not major problems:

  • The printing from the SD card works perfectly. This is very important, since in my laboratory I don’t want to constantly attach my mac to the printer and bring it back to my big monitor. However, I have not figured out from the on-board control how to raise the extruder head. I can jog it in x and y, but not z. Perhaps I just don’t know how to do it.
  • The printer is relatively noisy. I find the sound of it pleasant, but I need to turn it off when on the phone. Luckily so far the “pause” and “resume” on-board features have worked perfectly.

I think this is an excellent mid-range printer. A smaller, cheaper printer (LulzBot makes one) makes more sense for a child or a beginner. But I am very happy with my purchase so far.

Thanks to Thingiverse for making the beautiful designs I’ve printed here and thousands more freely available. Thanks to:

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