Looking for Reassurance

So about a year ago I purchased a Solidoodle 3 printer. After some months of fooling around with it I was able to produce some marginally acceptable parts. I also had to adjust my definition of what “acceptable” was. A week ago today the extruder became very inconsistent, rendering the printer unusable.

I got a 3D printer because I just wanted to make some simple plastic parts; I really wasn’t looking to get into a relationship.

I spent a few hours trying to repair and then decided to search around for a better printer. Long story short is that I wound up at the Lulzbot site. Ordered a TAZ 4 on Friday. My second choice was the Ultimaker 2. Multiple and interesting print materials, plus the ability to upgrade were big drivers in picking the TAZ, but I think the biggest one was that this printer seems to have evolved from earlier models. My guess, and hope, is that this implies a somewhat mature design that is fundamentally a good and reliable one.

Although I should have done this before ordering, I would really appreciate it if some of you folks on this list could tell me that I’ve made a good decision and that it is unlikely I’ll have to spend hours upon hours doing calibrations and fixes and re-calibrations and re-calibrations.

Best Regards,

Hello Paul,
I have a TAZ 3, and I think you’ve made a great decision. The fact that you’ve reached out to the forum here is a good start. I’ve spent a lot of time reading through forum threads, and I’ve learned a lot from the many smart, experienced, and determined users here.

But your first real steps will be with the LulzBot Unpacking and Quick Start Guide, and then the User Manual. Even though I was anxious to print, I followed these guides very carefully when I was getting started, and the great documentation helped me to understand the printer, to properly prepare it for printing, and to avoid making some serious mistakes.

After the formal documentation, this forum is a valuable resource. Read through it, and you’ll discover a lot of tips and learn from others’ experiences. For example, if you’ll be doing a lot of PLA printing, you might want to consider the alternative fan shroud design in this thread https://forum.lulzbot.com/t/improved-taz-fan-duct/658/1 which gave me greatly improved success in printing PLA.

Additionally, your TAZ is backed by a knowledgeable team at Aleph Objects. One of the first pieces of advice I received was to avoid some potential problems by using quality filaments, and I still live by that. Also I’ve had to contact support for a few technical issues, and they have always been responsive, quickly resolving an issue in one case, and providing useful suggestions and advice in another case.

I don’t know exactly what your issues were with the other printer (and I’ve never used a 3D printer other than my TAZ) but I was making some nice quality prints immediately after setting mine up. As I progressed to some challenges of more complicated parts, I was able to get some tips from the forum, as well as do a bit of experimentation on my own to improve a few print quality issues. But the important thing is that the TAZ is a solid, robust design, which is an important starting point for you. If you do need to make some tweaks and improvements for your particular needs, it’s made easier by the community here on the forum, Lulzbot support, and the open source RepRap community in general.

Hello jebcom,

Thanks for your reply! I’ll accept your advice proceed deliberately through the process when the TAZ 4 arrives.

I tend to read and search forums for help but rarely post unless I truly run into something for which I can’t find an answer. This particular topic not withstanding of course… There seem to be many talented people who post here and I wouldn’t want their time wasted answering the same noob questions over and over.

For what precious little it is worth, here is a short list of the primary issues I ran into with the “bargain” printer:

  1. Print bed was warped, unevenly. Spent many hours lapping the aluminum bed without enough improvement. Ended up mounting a thick piece of glass (standard thickness glass followed the warping too much) with a puddle of ABS slurry to fill in the gaps.
  2. Loose y-axis travel. Hard (for me) to find since it didn’t manifest all the time. It actually showed up as the extruder bouncing up and down.
  3. Mediocre z-axis travel. I think this was just the particular piece of ACME rod in my machine. I like that the TAZ 4 has an actual lead screw.

It truly isn’t my intention to knock the other manufacturer. You get what you pay for, and I am aware that some with that same unit are able to make beautiful parts. I got some decent parts out of it–certainly parts I’ve been able to use–just never reliably or aesthetically good. I’ve also gotten quite familiar with calibrating and the finer points of Slic3r. Within about a week of of receiving it I suspected it would have cost less if I purchased a more expensive printer. The extruder going terminally fritzy was my final excuse/justification for a new one.

Anyway, enough out of me already! Thanks again for your response and I’ll go back to waiting for delivery and (mostly) lurking.

Best Regards,