The LulzBot mini is an open source desktop printer that offers quite a lot where any printer is concerned. This printer is robust, reliable, easy to use, prints extremely well, and does most of the setup work for you.
What’s in the Box?
The LulzBot mini comes with just about everything you need to run the machine except a computer to run it.
The printer is well packed so it won’t be damaged in shipping and comes with a quick start guide to help you get started as well as a small tool kit. The tool kit includes a 2 mm allen wrench, tweezers, a metal bristle brush, a dental pick, replacement fabric pads (used by the printer to automatically clean the nozzle), and an oyster knife that is usually indispensable at removing parts when finished.
The mini also comes with a small test part that was printed before shipping (the ‘rocktopus’) and the necessary cables to hook it up to power and computer.
Detailed Review of the Lulzbot Mini
|Print Envelope||152 x 152 x 158 mm|
|Max Print Speed||275 mm/s|
|Layer Thickness||.05 – .5 mm (50 – 500 microns)|
|Filament Size||3 mm|
|Max Extruder Temperature||300 C|
|Max Bed Temperature||120 C|
|Nozzle Size||.5 mm|
|Printable Materials||PLA, ABS, HIPS, PVA, Wood Filled Filaments, Polyester, PETT, Bronze and Copper Filled Filaments, Polycarbonate, Nylon, PETG, Conductive PLA and ABS, UV Luminescent Filaments, PCTPE, PC-ABS, Alloy 910, and more.|
|Weight||8.55 Kg (18.85 lbs)|
|Dimensions||435 x 340 x 385 mm|
The LulzBot mini comes with the free program Cura with a few customizations. It is possible to use many other programs to run the Mini, however the custom Cura settings include the g-code used in the auto leveling process so you need to find that code if you want to use it in other programs.
The Mini is otherwise easy to use. Simply load the 3 mm filament of your choice, load your model on the computer and adjust a few simple settings, and then hit print. The printer automatically clears the nozzle (by dragging it along the previously mentioned fabric strips located behind the build plate), levels the bed, and prints away.
The LulzBot Mini has a pretty impressive set of capabilities. While it only supports a single extruder, that extruder can safely reach 300 C and print just about any 3 mm filament on the market today. LulzBot warns against using any filaments containing carbon fibers as the fibers can damage both the nozzle and hot end.
The Mini’s 152 x 152 x 158 mm print envelope is on the smaller side (hence the name Mini) but should be large enough for most users’ jobs. The Mini can also print at a resolution of just .05 mm (50 microns) where most printers on the market can only achieve .1 mm (100 microns) and has a reported top speed of 275 mm/s (at a layer height of .18 mm or 180 microns)
The Print Bed
The heated print bed of the Mini can reach a maximum temperature of 120 C, but that is not its most impressive feature. The bed’s borosilicate glass surface is covered in a PEI print surface specifically designed to have plastic adhere to it when heated and be easily removed when cooled. It lasts longer than the tape most other printers use as well, as it just needs to be wiped down before a print with some alcohol.
The LulzBot Mini’s most impressive feature is perhaps its auto bed leveling. Using the washers on each corner that hold the build plate in place; the printer will touch the print nozzle off on each one, making an electrical contact that tells the printer how to exactly level itself before every print. Yes, every print. Users report this working exceptionally well, and only fails if the nozzle has too much plastic left on it, which is easily removed with tweezers or the previously mentioned auto nozzle cleaning fabric.
Ease of Use
The Mini is extremely easy to use. Once out of the box one merely has to plug it into the wall and your computer, download the software and select an object to print and at what quality. Using the automatic features with Cura one can have the printer running within half an hour of opening it. The mini will continue to work reliably with little maintenance and tweaking on the user’s part.
Open Source and Adaptable
Unlike many printers on the market, LulzBot is an open source printer; meaning that it was developed collaboratively and nothing about it is secret or proprietary.
The printer is also set to print most materials on the market and many more that have yet to come. Since most filaments melt in the 180 – 240 C range, the 300 C hexagon hot end will be more than enough for any filament you want to try.
While the Mini boasts a largely metal frame, a surprising amount of it is made from parts that have themselves been 3D Printed. These printed parts are just as robust as the metal ones, so don’t think that they hamper the Mini’s impressive performance.
The LulzBot Mini is a very impressive, compact printer. It prints exceptionally well and is ridiculously reliable. The Mini’s auto bed leveling is an impressive feature that not only helps maintain its print quality, but significantly reduces the amount of work the user has to do to get printing. The only issues you may find with this printer are the higher pitched noises it makes, the fact that it needs to be tethered to a PC at all times to run, and the fact that the USB port is mounted on the front – all very minor issues. If you are considering a small desktop printer for your home or office, the Mini is for you.
- Ease of Use