TAZ 3 or Lulzbot Mini for first time hobbiest?

Hi all,

New to the boards. I’m getting ready to get into 3D printing for the first time. I have done a bunch of research which has lead me here. Due to a limited budget in going to be getting a refurbished or used unit. I have an opportunity to get either a Taz 3 with PEI bed and extruder fan upgrades or stock Lulzbot mini for basically the same price. I’m really hung up on what to do.

I am a guy with 2 jobs, a wife, and a 4 year old. I can tinker with the best of them but time is valuable so that’s part of a lean towards the mini. It’s automated cleaning, leveling, and general less finicky nature is appealing. On the other end I may eventually want to print large props and cosplay pieces so the larger print bed is very appealing with the 3 as well as the ability to do upgrades like duel extruding.

I’m stumped and would appreciate any owners of either comments or just general advice on pros cons and what you might do. Thanks for any advice!

The Taz 3 has the older style X axis plates. the 4 and 5 use a stiffer offset aluminum plate and leadscrews. There is a plastic replacement part in the Taz mods thread (https://forum.lulzbot.com/t/comprehensive-list-of-taz-modifications/1971/1 ) (specifically this one- https://forum.lulzbot.com/t/taz-3-1-4-0-stiffened-x-ends/784/1) that will let you mount the 4/5 style leadscrews. The leadscrews do help the accuracy over the threaded rod.

The autoleveling and nozzle cleaning on the Mini are nice, but can also be added to a Taz. if you have the room for it and a willingness to upgrade parts, the Taz would probably be my reccommendation. If you can find a Taz 4 for a bit more it would be worth that over the Taz 3 just for the metal x end plates since those are very rare and hard to find otherwise. You can make a 4 into a Taz 5 for about $120. A taz 3 to a Taz 5 costs about $350.

I wish I could find a Taz 4 in my budget. I narrowly missed one this weekend. Perhaps I should just be patient and see if I can get lucky over the next few months. Print quality wise without any further upgrades wound the mini be fairly superior to the Taz 3? Can I get the lead screws to put into those plastic upgrades fairly easily?

The Mini would probably be a little better initially, but just incrementally and you would be limited to the size. You can ignore the auto leveling in making your decision really. The taz might take a bit to level once, but once it is leveled you won’t have to move it much. The leadscrews can be sourced from mitsumi. the part number is in the forum somewhere, there should be a link containing it inside the stickied Taz modification thread down at the bottom under the “upgradeing a taz 3 to a taz 5” post. The process involves printing several pieces, some wiring, a firmware update and about $90 worth of hardware (the leaadscrews are about $40 each if I remember right, and that’s not counting the metal plates) It took me about a day to upgrade mine, but I was lucky enough to source the metal plates from a former poster here who was selling a limited number of them.

If someone gave me the choice, I would probably pick the Taz, but I really like to tinker with things so I might not be the best role model to help you make that decision heh.

Edit: Here is the 5 hotend. You would need to do the wiring and print the necessary parts, but that would give you the same print head as the 5 or the mini. You would need to do some firmware tinkering if you still had the 3 style threaded rod, but it would be doable.

There are also a bunch of “how to” picture diagram assembly guides here:
https://ohai-kit.alephobjects.com/ some of those specifically detail upgrading a 3 to a 5 hotend, etc.

If you are in the market for used Lulzbot printers, IT Works is our only official refurbished uni reseller. It will not come with the full year long warranty, but IT Works does include a 30 day warranty incase anything is amiss.

As for a recommendation, both are great printers and it is really about how much you want to modify your machine.

The TAZ is much easier to change/upgrade/modify, and there is a great list of some user mods you can do here

I hope this helps with the decision!

I went with the mini, I decided the ease of use with the bed leveling and the general feedback was good enough for me. Plus a local boardie made me a great deal on his with an equally great offer to help me learn the ropes. So yay! Lulzbot 3D printing community, I am in you now!

Welcome to the 3d printer ownership club! We have member badges, but you have to print your own.