Most 3D printers for beginners are built to be affordable. However, for professional 3D printers, the priority is usually on stability rather than price. One of these printers is the LulzBot Mini 2, which is an upgrade of the previous LulzBot Mini.
The Lulzbot Mini 2 comes with various improvements and updates, including a large build volume. While the printer is strikingly similar in look to the previous version, its performance and updates make it quite different.
Coming at a price of about $1500 (check current price on Amazon), this printer is designed for small businesses and professionals that want a professional-grade workhorse.
In this LulzBot Mini 2 review, we delve into the specs, features, and performance of the printer.
Features & Design
The LulzBot Mini 2 comes with a number of hardware improvements. To start off, there is the Einsy RAMBo electronics that helps to keep the printer silent during operations.
The printer also has a 20 percent larger build volume than its predecessor, without increasing the footprint. This new unit has a build volume of 160 x 160 x 180mm, while the original Mini’s build volume is 152 x 152 x 158 mm.
Another new feature in the Mini 2 is standalone 3D printing capability. With the original Mini, you had to tether it to a PC to print. This was quite limiting, at times. With the Mini 2, you can print your models without tethering the 3D printer to a PC. The printer is not only fully independent but also comes with an SD card reader and an onboard LCD screen.
The LulzBot Mini 2 also has a belt-driven Z-axis that ensures accurate layer alignment and increases its travel speed without compromising the print resolution. An integrated circuit board acts as a brake to prevent the Z-axis from failing in case of power disconnection.
The printer comes with various upgrades as standard that were available as upgrades in the original Mini. These include the E3D Titan Aero hot end extruder and a lightweight Aerostruder Tool Head.
We also noticed the Modular Print Bed System, which replaces the standard LulzBot heated build plates. The new print bed system splits up the heater from the printer surface, making it easy to remove the build plate. Therefore, you can switch from the standard PEI bed to raw glass surface easily when you want to experiment with different types of filaments.
The LulzBot Mini 2 maintains the familiar compact design of its predecessor but performs better.
However, there is an issue with the new tool head. We experienced some trouble when trying to change the filament. We found that the filament would, sometimes, get stuck below the extruder hobb (see image below), which is supposed to rotate to either insert or extract filament from the tool head.
To solve this problem, we simply maneuvered the tip of the filament to get it out without a lot of effort. In a few cases since then, we’ve had to disassemble the tool head, remove the filament tip, and then reassemble the tool head again to print.
Unboxing and Assembly
The LulzBot Mini 2 comes in a 26.5 lbs. box. Most of the weight is from the stout, which comes already pre-assembled.
This unit is a “plug-and-play” 3D printer. The printer comes fully assembled and ready to print. All the necessary tools, components and instructions are also included in the box.
Inside the box, you’ll find the tool pouch with the following items: nozzle cleaning pads, replacement wiping pads, glue sticks, knife (for print removal), nozzle cleaner, small ruler, tweezers, hex keys, X-acto knife, pliers, wire cutters, and an SD card.
The LulzBot Mini 2 is also shipped with two filament samples; one from Polymaker and the other from Verbatim.
Other items you will find in the box include a LulzBot sticker, various documentations, power cables, and ziplock bags.
Finally, there is a 3D model of Aleph Objects’ Octopus mascot. The sample you will receive is printed with the exact printer in the box.
We love how detailed the Quick Start guide is. The guide contains a lot of images to help you with the unboxing process, parts, installation instruction, adjusting the tool head, changing the filament, navigating Cura slicer, filament settings, cleaning and maintaining the printer, and more.
We tested the LulzBot Mini 2 by printing the 3DBenchy in both the default settings and the ‘High Quality’ settings. We used the Polymaker filament for this first test.
While there were some differences between two Benchy models, it was not as much as we expected.
In the High Quality setting, the printer did great, save for some minor layering issues that appeared on the hull of the ship.
On testing the High Speed setting, the surface quality of the Benchy was nearly identical to that printer on with the High Quality setting.
Apart from the minor layering issue, the 3D prints from the LulzBot Mini 2 were impeccable and of decent quality.
We also tried printing with MakeShaper’s Yellow PLA/PHA filament. For this next print, we went with the Articulated Butterfly model available on Thingiverse. This print came out flawlessly; all the joints were moving straight out of the print bed.
We also decided to print this pineapple model found on Thingiverse. The print was also impressive.
While the LulzBot Mini 2 has no support structure, it handles the chimney, windows, and extruding door without any difficulty.
We also printed some models with the Pastel Blue PLA from Pri-mat3D. We printed some Benchy models with this filament and experienced the same minor layering issues as we did with the models printed with Polymer.
We also printed Mr. Meeseeks model and it came out great, apart from some minor flaws on the head area.
We also wanted to see how the LulzBot Mini 2 will perform with exotic filament. For this test, we got the Prim-mat3D Bamboo filament. This time, we printed this Pen Holder model from Thingiverse. The pen holder is quite complex, with slots for holding two SD cards, three USB sticks, and a number of pens. The model has difficult angles for 3D printing and the card slots must be printed accurately.
The pen holder came out accurately. There were no layering issues with this model.
We took the experiment further, this time printing the Waving Groot. Again, despite the model’s intricate details, the Mini 2 created a high quality print without the need of any support structures.
Finally, we decided to put the LulzBot Mini 2 to a difficult test; print the NinjaFlex.
NinjaFlex is a TPU material that most 3D printers struggle to print. How will the Mini 2 handle the material?
Finally, we tested the printer with some ABS filament. For this session, we used Fillamentum Metallic Gray ABS Extrafill to print the Fillenium Malcon model from Thingiverse.
The printer brought out the intricate details of the Star Wars ship easily. The model did not war or crack, and the details were obvious.
LulzBot Mini 2 Software
The LulzBot Mini 2 runs on a new version of Cura LulzBot Edition. The slicing software has been updated with a new interface, faster load time, and dozens of new slicing options. The printer’s interface allows you to navigate and monitor the print settings.
You can set models to be printed High Speed, Standard, or High Detail on Cura LulzBot Edition. The software comes already set for printing. There are also some default profile types and materials on the software. When you get your unit, you can send your model to be printed in seconds.
You can tweak the default software settings to what you like. Everything is tweakable, from the support structures to temperature, experimental settings as well as special modes. The improved Cura LulzBot Edition drastically reduces the time it takes to slice a model.
The printer’s settings allow you to easily action such as turning the monitors on or off, leveling the X-axis, wiping or cooling the nozzle and other settings involving pre-heating and extrusion.
LulzBot Mini 2 Specs
|File types supported||.stl, .obj, .x3d, .3mf, .png, .jpg|
|Recommended software||Cura LulzBot Edition|
|OS compatibility||GNU/Linux, Mac, Windows|
|Supported filaments||PLA, Natural and Metal PLA Blends, TPU, ABS, PETG, nGen, HIPS, Polyamide, Nylon, Polycarbonate, PC|
|Minimum positive feature size||0.5mm|
|Maximum print bed temperature||Up to 120°C|
|Print surface||Heated Borosilicate Glass/PEI|
|Nozzle temperature||Up to 290°C|
|Nozzle material||Nickel-Plated Copper Alloy|
|Extruder/hotend||E3D Titan Aero|
|Stock tool head||LulzBot Mini 2 Standard Tool Head|
|Connectivity||USB Serial and Included 8gb SD Card|
|Maximum travel speed||300mm/s|
|Print area||160mm x 160mm x 180mm (6.30in x 6.30in x 7.09in)|
|Print technology||Fused Filament Fabrication|
What We Like
- Has automatic bed leveling feature
- Intuitive user interface
- Comes ready to print out-of-the-box
- Prints relatively fast
- Has a larger build volume than its predecessor
- Compact and sturdy design
- Reliable professional 3D printer
What We Don’t Like
- Limited build volume
- Quite expensive
- The print quality varies depending on the material used
- You may experience some issues when changing the extruder or filament
Without a doubt, the LulzBot Mini 2 is better in all aspects than the original LulzBot Mini. The new features, such as the LCD display and the GLCD Controller, provide more freedom than its predecessor.
With this compact and reliable 3D printer, you can insert a SD cart and start printing. You can control the settings of your prints from the simple interface. With its predecessor, the adjustments and tasks had to be controlled from Cura LulzBot Edition.
The LulzBot Mini 2 also features a redesigned print bed that works like charm. You won’t experience any issues related to warping or adhesion with the print bed, regardless of the material that you are printing.
However, we experienced an issue when it came to changing filaments. We also had some minor layering issues with some of our prints set to ‘High Detail’ mode. These are the only qualms we had with the printer.
The LulzBot Mini 2 is a workhorse printer that is easy to use, reliable, and can handle materials that are usually difficult to print (e.g., ABS, wood filament, NinjaFlex, etc.).
If you are a small business, engineer, designer or prosumer looking for a dependable 3D printer, the LulzBot Mini 2 will not disappoint you. This machine pumps out high-quality 3D models fast. Moreover, it is more affordable than competing desktop 3D printers.
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