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SIP06-LulzbotTAZ

Aleph Objects / lulzbot.com

Price as tested $2,195
Print volume 11.7″×10.8″×9.8″
Heated bed? Yes
Print materials ABS, PLA, PVA, HIPS, and Laywood
OS supported Linux, Mac, Windows
Print untethered? No (1.0), Yes (2.0)
Open-source hardware? Yes
Open-source software? Yes
Printer control software Printrun
Slicing software Slic3r with SFACT profiles

Two questions I always hear when demonstrating 3D printers to the public are: “Can it print faster?” and “Can it print bigger?” The LulzBot TAZ feels like it was created by people who wanted their answer to be emphatic.

Solid Hardware, Huge Build Volume

The TAZ print area is 11.7”×10.8”×9.8” for a whopping build volume of 1,238 cubic inches, the second biggest of any machine we tested this year. You could print a life-sized basketball with room to spare. The footprint is substantial — it’ll fit on your desk, but not much else will.
The TAZ also had the most 3D-printed parts of all of the machines we tested — brackets, knobs, enclosures, even two-color printed company logos. (LulzBot maintains an army of printers to keep these parts in production — so they definitely know what it takes to print working parts in volume.)
The frame is black anodized aluminum extrusion with 3D-printed connectors; the mechanics are exposed. Cabling and electronics are well managed; there are no loose wires or exposed connections, and the main electronics are in a vented, 3D-printed case.

Exceptional Documentation

One of the overriding themes in last year’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing was that 3D printers needed better documentation, and LulzBot has come back with a vengeance. The TAZ manual is not only the most thorough, nicely bound, and well-designed in the bunch, it’s also a great primer to 3D printing, path generation, tips and tricks, and tuning. This book would be useful to anyone using a 3D printer, and I hope they offer it for sale; I’d buy one.

Similarly, LulzBot included the best set of tools — everything you need to tweak, tune, tighten, remove prints, and do regular maintenance. This is just attention to detail at an epic level.

Some Printing Snags

Our test unit didn’t print great with the stock profiles from the website, and required tweaking before it was printing as we expected, but LulzBot support was helpful in ironing out our toolchain and configurations. We tested the unit with 3mm ABS filament provided by the vendor; it should print PLA just as well.

We noticed the print bed was significantly hotter in the center than at the outer areas. This temperature gradient didn’t cause problems for us but it needs to be watched with larger ABS prints, as it could cause issues with first layer adhesion.

SIP06-LulzbotTaz-robots

Fast and Quiet

The TAZ printed quickly and quietly; stock settings were faster than average, and it’ll go even faster if you’re willing to do some tuning. The software toolchain was the common RepRap-centric open source combination of Slic3r and Printrun.

The TAZ also has a very nice integrated spool holder and filament management system with adjustable tension. Our prints ran reliably, with no failed jobs or extruder jams.

The TAZ 1.0 doesn’t have an SD card slot, so all our prints needed to be done over USB. With a build area this large, some prints could go out past the 30-hour mark; for a user with a laptop, that would mean leaving it tethered the whole time. We’re glad to report LulzBot is remedying this with their upcoming 2.0 model.

Sneak peak: LulzBot TAZ 2

Sneak peak: LulzBot TAZ 2

New Model: TAZ 2

Since our testing, Aleph Objects has upgraded to a TAZ 2 with an improved hot end and a new LCD screen and controller with an SD card slot for untethered printing. It’s slated to go on sale in mid- October; look for our review online at makezine.com/review.

Conclusion

LulzBot goes out of its way to support open hardware and software initiatives, even helping to fund development of Slic3r, the path planning software used by many printers. Plans for building a TAZ are freely available, and scratch-built versions are showing up online from enterprising hackers. However, we suspect you get more for your money by buying the official TAZ. The LulzBot total package is greater than the sum of its hardware parts.

Primo features

  • Really big build volume
  • Glass heated print bed
  • Best manual, doubles as an excellent primer for 3D printing and path generation
  • Best set of tools and accessories

Who’s It For?

  • Makerspaces
  • Tinkerers

Pro Tips

  • Add a DIY retractable Z-probe for automatic bed leveling. You might void your warranty but you’ll never manually level again! thingiverse.com/thing:117957

Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014This review first appeared in MAKE’s Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014, page 82. Check out the full issue for more!

 

Craig Couden

Craig is an editorial assistant with MAKE, and among other things enjoys video games and light up clothing.


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