Lulzbot TAZ 6 3D Printer Review

lulzbot taz 6 reviewThe Lulzbot TAZ 6 has a square 300mm (12 inches) bed; 280mm of which is usable, and prints up to 250mm tall. The 3D printer is, by all standards, one of the biggest machines in the market.

But does this open source printer have what it takes to be listed among the best 3D printers in the market? This Lulzbot TAZ 6 review will delve into everything you should know about this printer.

Lulzbot TAZ 6 Review

In this review, we will cover:

Unboxing and Setting up the Lulzbot 6

We ordered the Lulzbot TAZ 6 printer from Amazon and it arrived in about 3 weeks. The first thing we noticed is that the printer comes with a fully loaded tool bag.

We opened the box and took out the mainframe and the Y-axis subframe. We then screwed these up together with four thumbscrews and added the printhead. Finally, we plugged in the printhead and the bed.

The custom Cura version that’s included in the package has a pre-tuned printer and filament profiles. After we installed it, we loaded some filament into the machine and we were good to go.

lulzbot taz 6 assembly

After unboxing the Lulzbot TAZ 6, you can start printing in less than 5 minutes.

If you are a newbie who has no idea where to begin, you can quickly go over the unboxing and assembly instructions and the operation manual to know the steps to take to print your first model.

The operation manual and the assembly instructions have been excellently put together and are made with libre (free) software. They have all the information that you need for a successful first print.

If you want to change anything, you can find directions on how to do that from the FULL manual. This is basically a full guide on servicing your printer and tweaking each Cura print settings.

lulzbot taz 6 manual

However, you may never use the full guide, especially when it comes to the Cura settings. The branded Cura version of the printer is preconfigured with a boatload of filament profiles. Moreover, it has covered all types of materials. You can use the profiles with the exact type and brand of filament configured for them. If you wish, you can also take each profile into expert mode and then change the setting as you prefer.

In most cases, the type of material that you will be using will determine the profile to choose, whether “strong”, “fast” “high detail” or standard. You can follow the cues that Cura will provide on the display to make the right choice. For instance, since most materials work straight onto bare PEI surface, if you need to apply glue stick on the PEI bed, Cura will advise you appropriately.

Design of the Lulzbot TAZ 6

Aleph Objects’ printers are famous for their excellent make both on the surface and in the inside. The Lulzbot TAZ 6 does not disappoint. Every feature of the printer is perfect. Even the electronics compartment, with its Raspberry Pi mounting whole pattern, is not a letdown.

Every Lulzbot TAZ 6 connector has a matching mate and every wire has a crimped end (even those that would naturally not need one). There is a star grounding point and heat-shrined ferrite beads on the important cables.

The power supply has an independent fan on top of the air inlets at the bottom of the compartment. There is also a small fan at the top of the compartment that is always on. The independent fan doesn’t really make a big difference on the noise produced by the printer; you can actually hear it when you turn it on.

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 has a wire harness hub with a single detach point for every cable. It also has a pre-wired connector for a second extruder on its back. Moreover, Aleph Objects provides a very straight-forward dual upgrade set that you can install.

lulzbot taz 6 raspberry pi

Lulzbot TAZ 6 Specs and Features

The massive build of the Lulzbot TAZ 6 is partly because it’s built from aluminum machine profiles and partly because of its metal brackets and printed parts. The printed parts are attractive feature and make the Lulzbot more user friendly. The printer’s design, especially the metal parts, make it is steady and durable. The only negative thing about the TAZ 6’s massive structure is that prints per piece will take longer to produce.

Every printed part of the Lulzbot Taz 6 printer has threaded brass inserts. When we say every part, we are referring to any section that needs a metric thread. IGUS self-lubricating bushings and 12mm round linear rails are used in all axes. The Z-axis uses a massive trapezoid spindle while the X and Y axis use a standard 2mm pitch GT-series belts. Quite impressive.

lulzbot taz 6 rails

The 3D printer uses a glass bed that has a silicone heater mat on the bottom and a sheet of PEI on the top. Precision-machined washers hold the parts down and are also used for automatic bed compensation. In a way we can say that this is just a ‘big’ Lulzbot Mini, since the setup is almost similar.

Coming to the hotend and the extruder, Aleph Objects has created the hexagon hotend version. However, the extruder is the tried-and-true Wade’s extruder. There are three fans on the hotends carriage. Two of the fans act as part cooling fans from one side while the remaining one is for cooling the hotend. The fan arrangement allows more cooling on one side of the printer than the other. However, this is common on most of the printers that only have a fan from one side.

The hotend and the extruder are located on a quick-swap carrier that is held in place with only one screw. This makes it easy to swap in a dual extruder setup or the Lulzbot Flexystruder if you are printing with flexible filaments.

All the electronics are held in an aluminum enclosure on the left side of the Lulzbot TAZ 6. The show stopper in this enclosure is the Ultimachine Rambo. This is basically a classic board with an integrated Arduino Mega. The RAMBo also has an SD card reader hooked onto it and a simple graphical LCD screen. It also has a massive 500W genuine Meanwell supply that powers the whole machine.

lulzbot taz 6 rambo

Basically, that’s everything about the Lulzbot TAZ 6 features and specs. If you want a more detailed description, check out the information on Aleph Objects website. There, you will find 3D models files, documentation, testing instructions and production.

Aleph Objects is a member of Creative Commons. Therefore, the TAZ 6 is largely open source and nearly everything about it is in available to the public. Even the files for the Lulzbot TAZ 6 were in the public directory before its release.

Printing With Lulzbot Taz 6

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 and its profiles are made with ‘quality over speed’ in mind. The printer has a slow acceleration setting. The maximum print speeds are about 45mm/s, which is not so bad.

One thing we appreciate about the printer’s settings is that you don’t have to spend time playing around with the settings to get the perfect prints. While some people might be turned off by the speeds, you can be sure you’ll be happy with your product after it prints.

lulzbot taz 6 buddha printing

The print quality of the Lulzbot, especially on “high detail” setting, is impressive. We used Verbatim PLA, INOVA-1800, and the Eastman Amphora polymer with our first test print. On consecutive prints, we used e-Sun HIPS, Taulman 910 nylon, and no-name ABS. All the prints that we did were with the provided profiles.

We can’t complain much about the output we got. That is apart from the overhangs, which were somewhat disappointing, especially the parts near the heated bed. The red HIPS print also had some layer splits even though our studio isn’t cold. Finally, the Amphora print that we did with 5% infill had some gaps. We suspect the infill is what brought about the mess.

We used high detail setting on the 3DBenchy prints and loved how they turned out. We also had no issues with adhesion. Therefore, our previous problem with the heated bed was probably due to its configuration. Perhaps we configured it a little hotter than should be the case?

lulzbot taz 6 benchy

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 printer also has an auto bed leveling setup. The feature has been set up such that when the washers around the bed and the hotend touch, they close a circuit. The printer can detect this circuit and determine the exact height of one corner. However, the nozzle should be clean for the detection to be accurate. The good news is that the Lulzbot TAZ 6 and the Mini have cleaning pads next to the hotbed. Therefore, before the probing process begins, the nozzles will vigorously rub on the pads to get cleaned up.

The TAZ 6 has a physical switch that the Mini does not have. This switch allows you to use hotends with a different length without the risk of crushing anything. Therefore, you can get more filament profiles and consequently, your hotend will be kept from oozing out through the measuring process. This is an excellent feature and would also have been perfect for the Mini. We actually tried converting the physical switch on the Mini to 1.75mm filament and used a longer hotend and the results were fantastic!

Overall, Aleph Objects out-of-the-box Lulzbot TAZ 6 is one of the best 3D printers in the market. The printer offers solid print quality, has an auto-leveling feature and a straightforward setup procedure. Who wouldn’t love a no-calibration and no-guesswork printer?

Some Bugs with the Lulzbot TAZ 6

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 is intricate such hat every single detail feels like it’s in the right place. However, there are a few details that could have been better. We think most of these can be fixed with a software update or a new printed part.

To begin, the belt path for the X-axis is the first real drawback of the Lulzbot printer. The belt rubs on the belt clamps of the carriage and is misaligned in several directions. This is not great, even though you wouldn’t really notice it in day-to-day use.

However, this flawed design can easily be fixed by clamping the belt differently and also moving the stepper motor a little further down.

lulzbot taz 6 belt

Another downside is the slightly slanted printer frame that results from poor handling during shipping. The underlying issue here is lack of enough torque on the bolts in the corners of the frame. This is probably the same reason why the X-axis also gets somewhat skewed as indicated by the occasional binding on the spindles. This problem can be easily fixed by a small amount of blue lithium grease.

Thirdly, the featured micro SD card in this printer is enclosed in an adapter. Therefore, removing it from the printer is somewhat challenging. Moreover, the SD card is not just loaded with sample prints, but all the design files, documentation, and all other Lulzbot TAZ 6 files. You’ll probably need to format the SD card for it to be read by the printer, which makes the storage device useless.

lulzbot taz 6 sd card

Finally, navigating the Lulzbot TAZ 6 printer’s menu drags because of the clickwheel configuration. The physical clicks and the software clicks don’t match. Therefore, you might find yourself physically clicking even up to three times to move from one menu point to the other.

Other things that are not necessarily a deal-breaker but are worth noting are:

  • Lulzbot TAZ 6 uses 3mm filament. This is pretty unique to it since most of the printers out there use a 1.75mm filament
  • The huge size of the bed consumes a high amount of power since it produces a lot of heat. This is especially the case with longer prints (with HIPS or ABS) where it ends up heating past 100°C. The 230 gram sprint uses up to kWh of power, which will increase your power bill.

Be ready to an extra dollar on top of the material costs. While this does not drastically increase the operating costs, especially for prints on the fast “profiles”, but a smaller printer is definably a better preference to keep your power bill low.

Check the video below for a review of Lulzbot Taz 6 printer

Conclusion and Recommendation

The Lulzbot TAZ 6 sells for  (check current price at Amazon). Therefore, it’s in the price range of high-end printers. The price is justifiable, seeing that this printer has a lot of goodies.

Lulzbot TAZ 6 is an ideal printer for newbies in 3D printing. Since it comes installed with Cura, even people with only basic computer knowledge can use it. Everything about this top-notch printer is licensed, it has great documentation and it produces authentic prints.

Overall, except for the few bugs that I believe Aleph Objects will soon address, the Lulzbot 6 is the best out-of-the-box printer in the market.

 

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