Taz 5 usability

Can anyone give me an idea (or point me towards a source) that will help me understand just how difficult it is to use the Taz 5 if I have never owned a 3D printer before? Lulzbot seems to really try and push first time users towards the Mini but I want the bigger build envelope and option to go to two heads.

I consider myself technically savvy and I don’t have a problem reading technical documentation and searching the web for solutions. I do my own home wiring (including 240v) and I’m a decent amateur coder. On the other hand, I don’t have any electronics experience.


Many thanks.

It depends upon how patient you are. Its hard to go wrong with Aleph, as they have great support, and the Lulzbots are great printers. That said, they are much better printers if you invest time in the actual process, which requires an understanding of how the various slicers work, and how to tweak for materials.

There are so many factors that go into getting successful prints: bed temperature, extruder temperature, feed rates, variable layer thicknesses, and so on, and this stuff takes time and experience to successfully navigate. Eventually, it will all make sense, but it can be a wild ride getting there, not to mention expensive, at least in terms of materials.

Adding to the complexity is the fact that you are creating physical objects from digital data using a manufacturing process. There are forms that are going to cause you trouble, and if you understand how to break down these forms and simplify for the process, you can mitigate those issues and get a good print. Guys like James Bruton of X Robots offer great Youtube videos that really help. Understanding that you rarely will print something complex as a single part is a great start. In fact, if you look at the whole process as printing a series of parts for later assembly, you will already be on the road to success in many cases (though not all.)

Materials choice is another topic altogether, and that is often driven by what you are intending to use your parts for. I am not a fan of PLA, for example, but it does have its uses. ABS is very sturdy as a material, and great for constructing mechanical things, but is very fussy and requires very well balanced temperatures at build time, lest the part warps and lifts at the base. Other materials have their own issues, and in some cases, require special print heads (like Ninjaflex, though some may argue that point).

Then there are the mechanics and design of the actual printer. Lulzbots are great, but in order to keep costs reasonable, precision can become an issue. We are dealing with very tight tolerances, so a very minor error in the range of a tenth of a millimeter can present problems when propagated throughout a complete part. Harmonics of the motors can cause minute ripples which may be objectionable to some, and you can see many topics here that address these and other issues. If you’re mechanically inclined, then you may have the skills already to help you deal with them.

I started with an industrial resin printer, and was not happy with the quality I was getting. I added a Makerbot Replicator 2, and after a few hundred dollars of upgrades, got it to be very reliable – however, that was only for PLA, which doesn’t work as well afterwards, as it easily melts when drilled or filed. I got the Taz5 due to what I saw Bruton doing, as he addresses many of the issues you may encounter, and offers some solutions. I knew what I was getting into by this point, and I, for one, and very happy with my results so far.

My next step is to build an enclosure to help maintain the temperature in the build envelope, and get good ABS prints with no warping (hopefully.)

Hope this helps!

Thanks for taking the time to provide such a thoughtful response. It is very helpful.

My initial needs are to produce what amount to large, sectioned “cookie cutters” - basically short (< 1") extruded line drawings with no top or bottom. I’ve been doing them on Shapeways but even a small one is expensive. Here’s an example:


I’m not picky about material - something stiff is better. These are forms for making (non-3d printed) objects so I’m also not picky about surface quality. I’d like to take advantage of the full bed size of the Taz - the Shapeways example was just 6x6" - enough to prove out how I want to use the form but I want to go bigger.

It sounds like this is something that would be reasonable to expect without too much learning curve pain.

Again - thanks.

The more surface area you have in contact with a printer heated bed, the better your adhesion is going to be. For something that is basically a thin wall like that, you are going to want to print with a removable brim layer. PLA might work better for those at first, since ABS layers tend to want to separate on long thin runs in my experiance. The Mini, with it’s built in bed leveling might be slightly easier to get set up than the TAZ. a properly leveled bed of either printer does produce excellent prints though.

It sounds like you’re savvy enough with “tech”… coding takes some patience and logic. How would you rate yourself mechanically? Build models, RC, assembling toys or kitchen appliances…

The TAZ 5 comes fairly ready to print out of the box. As folks mentioned, there is definitely a learning curve to 3D printing in general. Be ready to pull some hair out… :slight_smile:

With that said, the cookie cutters your looking to print should be fairly easy.

Stick with ABS. It seems to be the “easier” and reliable filament to print on the TAZ… more so than PLA. There is a FDA approved nylon filament (which is super expensive), but I would still recommend ABS to get familiar with printing.

The PEI print surface on the TAZ 5 is very forgiving as long as the nozzle height is set properly (per the TAZ quick assembly instructions). Leveling the bed can be frustrating, but a dial gauge can help tremendously.

Take a look at the following video from Sparkfun for a quick start (it truly is a that easy):

Take the plunge, its a great hobby!

Thanks all - your responses have been very helpful.