Aleph Objects never ceases to impress. Having started off in the days of RepRap printers (with mostly 3D-printed parts), they have gone to improve their designs and tailor their products for the mass market.
If you arean advanced 3D printer enthusiats, we recommend you check the Lulzbot TAZ 6 printer.
Lulzbot Mini Review
In this review, we will cover:
- Introducing Aleph Objects Lulzbot Mini Printer
- Features of the Lulzbot Mini
- The Lulzbot Mini: Ease of Use
- Software Specifications
- The Bed Setup on the Lulzbot Mini
- What Needs Some Improvement?
Introducing Aleph Objects Lulzbot Mini Printer
The Lulzbot Mini is made of standard parts and frame, and Custom 3D printed parts thrown in every other part. The Mini’s printed parts are easy to modify and reprint them whenever you feel like. You can also easily personalize your printer with the parts, which work just as good as other molded parts.
Aleph Objects is one of the top 3D printer companies. They actually have a world record printer farm of 109 Lulzbot TAZ printers. The company has also embraced open-source solutions. They not only release design files for their products, but also actively support the free/libre projects that their printers and most others are based on. This means you can access and modify every single thing in the Lulzbot printers.
The spirit of sharing information about printers and how to solve challenges that occur is continually fading as more and more manufactures push into the market. So this is a really big plus on the part of Aleph Objects.
Features of the Lulzbot Mini
The Lulzbot Mini features a metal frame and uses drag chains and IGUS bushings. Its build area is cubed and slightly bigger than 15cm or 6 inches while its heated bed is created around a borosilicate sheet of glass. The bed has a silicone heater and a PEI tape for adhesion. The Mini also has an all-metal Hexagon hotend with a 0.5mm nozzle.
The Lulzbot Mini is an out-of-the-box-use printer. The 3D printer comes pre-assembled and pre-tested. Therefore, all you have to do when you get your shipment is unbox it, plug it in and begin your printing.
When you print your first model using the included sample filament, you will happy with the Lulzbot Mini.
Ease of Use
The Lulzbot Mini is everything you want for a first 3D printer. This is a high-quality and detailed 3D printer for beginners.
Let’s start with the electronics compartment of the Lulzbot Mini. At its core, you will find a Delta power supply and an Ultimachine mini RAMBo. Aleph Objects set out to impress here by using a high-quality power supply unit instead of going for nameless Meanwell clones often used by other manufacturers.
You will also see huge ferret cores on each motor output and on the mains input. This is important as it prevents stray electromagnetic interferences which have a tendency of causing complicated issues with endstops.
Then there are the drag chains. While the chains are expensive, they make the wiring more professional rather than having some random wires. These wires have been placed in tubes (cable tubes?) in all places that don’t require their movement for safety purposes.
The Lulzbot Mini 3D printer also has a Hexagon hotend that works perfectly for various plastics, including PLA, HIPS and ABS. Even when we set the speed to twice that of the stock 50 mm/s, the hotbed still maintained it’s cool.
Another notable feature is the grip area or handle. While this may not really be a feature to advertise, it shows how much attention the manufacturer put on this printer. The printer also fits well on the Printrbot Play in the exact same spot.
After a print, the Mini drives the bed all the way to the back and then waits for it to cool before moving it back towards you to indicate that it has cooled enough and is safe to touch. You can then safely and easily remove the print.
The 6 inches size of the Lulzbot Mini is good enough. The size makes the Mini move and accelerate faster. As a result, prints are finished faster and you get cleaner results on the rim of a part with pointy corners. Moreover, the size makes the printer easier to handle, especially when it comes to warping.
The Lulzbot Mini uses Custom Cura. A USB thumb drive that contains the firmware’s source code, a branded version of Ultimaker’s Cura, a few 3D models and design files are included in the package.
The Curs version is a skinned, green version of the classic Cura. The software includes profiles for PLA, HIPS, and ABS, each one in three quality grades. There’s actually no need to tweak the Cura settings since they work pretty well at their default settings.
You can also use stock Cura 15.04. With this, you will get the predefined print settings and printer profile for PET, PLA and ABS and an additional “Ulti” quality setting. However, you cannot use the 16.06 with the Mini because it only supports Ultimaker computers for now.
There are a lot of predefined profiles for the Mini that you can download for both the skinned and the stock Cura versions. And we’re talking about any material that can come to your mind. Moreover, depending on the profile, you can use Cura’s expert mode and tweak the settings as you like.
Cura’s versatility and simple mode will make you feel that you have everything. Cura is also fast and the clean prints are a sure deal. However, if there’s a feature you need that’s not in Cura, you can get it from Slic3r or any of the other standard slicers.
Bed Setup on the Lulzbot Mini
You cannot ignore the bed setup of the Lulzbot Mini. The printer has a sensor that probes the bed in a few spots, although you shouldn’t expect to see it at the carriage. The bed has four metal washers or shims at its corners. The washer hold the bed down onto NinjaFlex spacers. Each of the washers is then gently and perfectly held in place by an all-metal hotend.
When the hotend touches down, it closes a circuit between it and the bed carriage. Since these are precision-machined washers, the firmware has calculates the exact distance that the bed will be when down. The software uses the best fit between the four points to estimate from where it should start printing. This arrangement is accurate and is used as an endstop by the firmware.
The small size of the Lulzbot bed and the flexible spacers under it makes it ideal to have the four mounting points. In fact, it impossible to tell if the bed tramming was manually adjusted or is an automatic feature that comes with the software. The printer works efficiently to mount the sensor with a specific offset and easily readjusts that in the software.
For this working efficiency to be maintained, the Mini comes with a specific start-up procedure also found in the Cura profiles. Specifically, it homes itself towards the top, then gives some time for the hotend to cool down and finally cleans the nozzle.
The extra cleaning step ensures that there are no issues incurred with the autotramming procedure as a result of bits of plastic residue. The cleaning is enhanced by the small replaceable strip of hard-foamy type stuff. One side of the stuff will last for two kilograms, after which you can flip it over and use the other side. You will be given five replacements of the stuff. However, you can always buy more from Lulzbot when the need arises.
What Needs Some Improvement?
Although the Lulzbot Mini seems perfect, there are a few areas it could be improved on. The first is the lack of an SD card reader and an LCD. Some people prefer OctoPrint on a networked Raspberry Pi. Moreover, you could easily add one since two of the unused mounting holes match the ones on the B plus model.
Moreover, if the nozzle is set a bit low for your printer, the first few millimeters of each print would get squabbled down and bulge out to the sides. The support team at Aleph Objects says the low-set nozzle is meant to help with bed adhesion.
However, we question this since the nozzle was set way too low. When we raised (by 0.15 millimeters or near half the first layers thickness), the bed got good adhesion. Moreover, bed adhesion is always good with PEI tape. HIPS and PLA have a more perfect stick and peel off when cold while ABS will require some force to get it off the bed as it sticks more rigidly.
The price of the Lulzbot Mini, even with its wonderful features, is a bit on the high end in comparison to even the large Prusa i3 kits. But it’s in the same price bracket with the likes of Ultimaker 2 Go, so maybe that’s not a show stopper
The Lulzbot Mini, being a fully open source printer is worth every penny. It’s a really premium machine and you get it within one-day shipping if you purchase it from Amazon. I’d say this is true value for money.