Manufacturer: Bambu Labs
Price: $399 for only the printer, $559 for the printer and AMS combo
Bambu’s latest entry into the budget market is the mid-sized A1. Touting all the features that Bambu has been garnering praise for, this one comes in at under $400 for the printer itself.
- Full-auto Calibration
- Multi-Color Printing
- Active Flow Rate Compensation
- 1-Clip Quick Swap Nozzle
- Active Motor Noise Cancelling
- 256*256*256 mm³ Build Volume
- 300 °C max extruder temp
- 100°C max bed temp
Unboxing and setup
The A1 requires slightly more assembly than the previous models from Bambu. You have to attach the vertical gantry to the base using the included tools. Unlike many printers which use only screws through the end of the vertical braces, this printer’s vertical assembly is a closed square, meaning that after assembly it will be much sturdier than the other methods. After putting in the hand full of screws and clipping a few wires into place, you’re ready to print.
Booting up the printer the first time you are presented with a list of self tests it wants to do. These are calibration for the motors and even some noise cancelling tests. I always liked it when my Prusas did this and I see that Bambu has taken another page from the Prusa playbook, and they’ve done well with it.
I hopped right into printing some parts in PLA, the material I use for nearly everything. Print quality of the first prints was pretty much perfect, exactly as you’d expect from Bambu at this point. First layers went down smoothly and evenly. No big surprises here. The machine is surprisingly quiet for how quickly it is working.
Using the AMS to print different materials is as easy as ever. You can simply select the corresponding slot in the slicer, and those prints will use those materials. For doing multi-color prints, you can paint on different areas of an object to select different filaments. It really is extremely simple. The only big problems with that process are the fact that there are going to be tons of “poops” as the system purges between colors and the fact that a print will take much, much, longer when doing multiple colors. The results are fantastic though.
I have a couple tests I really like to use on new machines to see how they perform. One is a simple tolerance test, in this case the tolerance maker coin. The A1 passed with flying colors, printing every single piece movable (often cheaper machines fail to print the final and tightest tolerance freely – .10mm).
I also like to print a one-handed gaming controller kit for my charity www.thecontrollerproject.com. This kit by Akaki Kuumeri requires incredible precision and reveals a few things about these printers that the typical benchmarks miss. If everything is perfect, the kit assembles and all the parts move perfectly freely, with out any resistance. Cheap printers fail miserably but the Bambu printers, so far, have done pretty well. However, they do suffer a tiny bit of friction due to the very aggressive filtering they use, causing internal corners to be ever so slightly rounded, something you’d miss with the naked eye. This machine performed admirably, coming close to, but not quite reaching, the quality of my Prusa Mk4.
I recall a time when Bambu said “no bedslingers”, and now they have two bed slinging machines on the market. Regardless of that, I have to say that this machine performs amazingly. It is light years ahead of any ender I’ve used, and easily comparable to my Prusa Mk4. I do wonder if a bed slinger, going this fast, will suffer if you print something that is both tall and top heavy. Though my brain says this is a concern, I have yet to actually see this be an issue on any of my bed slinger machines.
What really makes me feel spoiled is the AMS. This system holds 4 spools, and can load any of them into the extruder on the fly. It’s not only great for multi-color prints but even just for filament management. I load my 4 most common onto the machine and now I can just select whichever I want in software. It’s great. I’m totally spoiled and wish all my machines had this capability, I love it.
I would absolutely recommend this machine for people looking for something this size with ultimate print quality out of the box. I’d also recommend that you spend for the AMS when you do it. The whole experience is pretty great, and ultimately it’s the experience that sells these printers. You may be able to find something cheaper that technically has the same specs, but Bambu has really put them together into a machine that is easy and pleasing to use.
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