I’ve owned a CTC 3d printer (Makerbot $500 knockoff) since May, I built a Prusa i3 rework in August (About $800 as configured now), and Saturday my Taz 5 was delivered…
My CTC was a printer in a box, I had it up and running in about 4 hours and making passable prints. I had help in the form of a friend who had purchased one and had nailed all the pain points out the door, so it was very easy for me to address them. Without his help it would have been several days to get up and running, I have no doubt of that.
My Prusa was a bit of a disaster, the mish mash of parts from different suppliers, bad bearings from trying to save money and grooved rods… hot ends and extruders that didn’t do what I wanted… and ultimately a fine printer showed up on my desk with LOTS of trouble and research - and I know a LOT more now. In fact I’d wager I could buy all the components today and build a rock solid printer for about $1200 that left nothing to be desired…
So why did I buy a Taz 5? Why would I drop $2200 on a printer when I just said I could build a good printer for less?
Awesomeness: Out of the Box
My expectations were skeptical, Lulzbot has a fantastic reputation, nothing but positive reviews, but I was still wondering would it be worth it. I was not disappointed at all.
Opening the box I found a “Hey stupid read this” phamplet and managed to suppress my male-pattern-urge to toss it aside… I found well written, clear and concise instructions on how to get the printer out of the box and assembled. I could have managed this on my own for the most part, it’s all pretty self explanatory with cables that don’t fit anywhere they don’t belong… but it was nice to not have to figure it out.
Fit and Finish
This is a term used in firearms quite a lot, and as a competitive shooter it’s a term I’m very familiar with… you can buy an STI2011 for $1200, or you can buy the same MODEL of gun for $2500… the difference is that a qualified gunsmith has gone over the firearm and done EVERYTHING to it that needs done.
Why do I bring this up? Because Steve did this for my printer. (I’m making up the name, but the real name is on the checklist that was included with my printer!) Assembled, quality checked, and tested… I’m not overly happy with the nub of filament left in the machine before they shipped it out, but I understand why it’s there…
A final firearms comparison
In shooting there is a wide range of reloading equipment… you can buy a progressive press from Lee for $300 on the low end, or you can spend $1200+ on a machine that does the exact same process from Dillon on the high end. When I started reloading I went with the Lee, because it was inexpensive… ends up I could make about 250 rounds an hour with the Lee, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t. For every hour reloading I’d spend an hour tinkering, tuning, fixing, or otherwise coaxing the reloading press to do what it was designed to do.
My frustration peaked at about the same time I had a huge influx of income and I decided to sell my Lee and get a Dillon… reputation said it was better, but I wasn’t prepared for the difference. The machine did the exact same thing, you shoved bullets, cases, primers and powder in one end, pulled a lever and ammo came out the other end… but it did it better. Everything just worked. In short order I discovered that I could produce about 1200 rounds an hour with the Dillon… and in the two years I’ve had my dillon I’ve now pushed more than 10,000 rounds through it and I haven’t had a single epic failure.
Opening my Taz 5 was a similar experience in quality. I am nothing but impressed. Only time will tell if Norbert (my Taz is named Norbert) lives up to this standard in the long run, but I’ve been running him non stop since Saturday afternoon and I’m very impressed… even with the super cheap crappy PLA filament I’m using… (HIPS, SemiFlex and ABS should be here in the next day or so!)