There are a bunch of desktop 3D printers out there in the market. But there is this new printer which is perfect for almost anyone to use. It is called the LulzBot Mini. It’s perfect for home users, makers, designers, engineers, architects, and anyone looking for an easy-to-use desktop 3D printer.
A Design That Works Well.
The LulzBot Mini shuns the DIY-looking extruded-aluminum frame of its larger siblings. Instead, it goes with black rolled steel. It shares the same open-frame design, exposing the hot and finger-squishing parts.
The large red power switch and USB port are on the front. The placing is convenient if you are regularly swapping out the controlling computer. The Mini must be tethered to a PC during the print process. But this would pose as a trouble if you wanted to permanently tether the computer and printer.
The Mini’s extruder moves left to right and up and down. Most printers use a fixed print bed, with the extruder moving in all three directions. The LulzBot design works well. Even tall items easily print without issues.
Supports A large Variety Of Printing Material.
A large variety of printing materials are supported by the LulzBot Mini. Other options include high-impact polystyrene (HIPS) filament. It is a new, lightweight material that is proving to be popular. That’s because the material is easy to print. It adheres to the print bed at lower temperatures and it’s very durable.
Profiles for printing nylon, t-glase, polycarbonate and new filaments are also there in the Mini’s software. This is partly due to the wide range of temperatures supported by the extruder and the heated print bed. Any 3-mm print filament can be used. There are no locks or proprietary cartridges.
There is a small piece of fabric on the back, which is an interesting design touch. The Mini uses it to clean the printhead before each project begins. When a stray piece of filament sticks to the print head, then catches on the job in progress, the whole process can be ruined.
Extremely Easy To Set Up.
The Mini is easy to set up. Just unpacked it, downloaded and installed the software. It is then ready to print in about 25 minutes. The Cura software automatically loads a test model for the first print once it is installed.
The Mini automatically checks whether the print bed is at level. It is when by touching the print head to four washers on each corner of the printing area. The printer automatically compensates, if it isn’t. This saves you from having to make manual adjustments. This is another design idea that works very well.
Clear And Intuitive Controls.
The Cura software imports 3D models. It sets them up for printing and controls the printing process. The printer has no SD Card slot or physical controls. This means you need to keep your computer connected and turned on during the entire print. It results in a more consistent and simple printing process.
Cura is simple to use. It comes with a clean, logical interface. It allows you to load 3D models in a wide range of file formats. You can then scale, shift and move them before printing. You can load several models to print at once. But you can’t edit or change details on the models.
Great Print Quality.
LulzBot Mini give prints that are clean, smooth sides and a great level of detail. The Mini has no problems with printing. It handily creates and prints the complex support structure required during the print. This is easy to remove afterward. The edges are sharp. But you will find a few whiskers of filament between the tips. This is caused by small amounts of plastic still coming out of the extruder. These are easy to trim off.
The layers of the print are definitely visible, like most 3D printers. This happens especially in the subtle curves on the top of the head and shoulders. The layers are less pronounced than those you will see from most printers.
A Good Print Process.
Print times ranged from about 2 hours to just under 7 hours depending on the size of the model. The Mini is a little noisy while printing. It has no enclosure or shielding to block the sound. The motors that move the print head left and right produce a rather irritating high-pitched whine.
The Bottom Line.
LulzBot Mini is easy to set up and use. It is capable of high resolutions. It comes with a self-leveling print bed and can print with a variety of filament types. And also accepts third-party filament spools. The printer easily works with Windows, OS X, and Linux and supports open-source hardware and software. It is also easy to remove finished objects from print bed. But the printer has inconsistent print quality and only includes a small sample length of filament. Also, the open frame increases risk of burns from a hot extruder. The LulzBot Mini 3D Printer is a great printer overall.