Manufacturer: Bambu Labs
Price: $459 as the combo kit with printer and AMS
The A1 Mini is Bambu’s most affordable printer. It still retains the ability to use multi material. To strike the price point that they’ve targeted, they’ve gone with a small build plate, but big features.
- 180mm cubed build volume
- Full-auto Calibration.
- 4-Color Printing with AMS lite.
- Under 48 dB Low Noise in Silent Mode.
- Full-metal Linear Rails and Bearings.
- Vibration and Flow Rate Compensation.
- built in timelapse camera
- wifi enabled
Pulling this thing out of the box, it is almost completely ready to go. You do have to remove a bracket that was placed to keep everything from sliding around during shipping. You also have to attach a filament holder and plop the ptfe tubes into place but these things only took me about 30 seconds.
One thing that stands out here is that even though the printer is quite small, the unit with the AMS (automated material system) will still take up a considerable amount of desk space, very similar to the larger machines offered by Bambu. This is because the new version of the AMS is free-standing and sits next to the printer instead of on top of it.
Printing is as easy as you’d expect from Bambu at this point. The card has some files pre-sliced on it, so you can easily hit go and start printing. One thing I immediately noticed and liked is that the machine prompts you to select which filament from the AMS you’d like to use before it begins printing. That is very convenient.
From the first print onward, I had no print issues whatsoever. The prints came out clean and pretty. The machine does do a calibration sequence before each print, which takes up time, but I’m willing to let that happen in order to get good prints.
I personally dislike cloud software or even attaching my printers to a network. I tested to make sure this functioned, it did – you can send a file to your machine via wifi – then I disconnected it. I prefer to use the card.
This little printer is surprisingly fast. You’ll want to place it on a sturdy surface so it doesn’t walk away. However, even on a wobbly table I didn’t notice any print defects from the speed.
Using the AMS
The new AMS system is quite nice in my opinion. The open layout of this version resolves some annoying issues the previous one had, such as broken filament getting stuck down inside the unit, sandwiched between other parts.
I really like this implementation of a multi material system. I rarely use it for multi-color prints, but rather as just a nice system for dispensing my filament. I have 4 different colors loaded at any time to be able to select and print from. That’s nice. I can change that in the slicer or at print time on the machine. I can even set the machine to swap to another roll when the one I’ve selected runs out. That’s so nice.
For multi-color printing, the AMS works great. As you can see in my fat shark model, the colors are crisp and clear and the print quality is not effected. However, there is a lot of waste.
This machine has to purge the extruder each time it changes colors. To do this, it spits out a glob of filament and then flings it away from the printer. Yes, it has a little spring mounted mechanism, which is quite amusing to watch, that flings it away. The amount of “poops” the machine makes during a multi0-color print can be substantial.
Another thing to keep in mind is that multi-color prints take much longer than single color prints. Each time they need to shift color (often multiple times per layer), there is a lengthy process of purging and loading. This can mean that your print time blows up to 5x or more what it would have been with a single color.
This is a fantastic printer so far. The price is really hard to beat. I don’t feel like there is anything on the market that competes with this if you’re looking for multi-color. I would highly recommend the A1 mini for those starting out. So far, it has been extremely easy to use and the quality it puts out is very nice.