I know its been beaten to death but here I am.
I am buying a 3d printer today! No more putting it off! But I just cant decide between the Makergear M2 and the lulzbot Taz 5. I’ve heard amazing things about both.
I’m mainly planning to build prototypes for some designs/inventions with maybe some commercial side work for a little extra cash (but that is for another day) thus I really want something reliable that prints well. I’ve got a full time job, a wife and toddler with another one on the way. I want to keep tinkering and repairs to a minimum - Something I hear is questionable on the Taz 5? Its not that I cannot manage to tinker and repair, I’m a mechanical engineer (I tinker enough at my day job), I simply do not have the time. What precious time I do have I would like to spend bringing my ideas to reality. Out of the box printing (while not reality from what I have read) is what I am aiming for. I’ve read some things that say the Taz 5 is not as good at this? Confirm or deny?
The Taz 5 with its extra print size very tempting. But on the flip side the Makergear community is either drinking the cool-aid or the printer is seriously the one to rule them all! How can I ignore 138 reviews on amazon with a 4.9 rating… Seriously, not a single 1 or 2 star review out of all of those for the M2?
On the Taz 5, out of just 28 reviews, 15% of them are 1 stars… But thats not to say that it still doesnt have 4.5 stars. There seems to be a few complaints about the Taz 5 and needing to constantly “tinker” with the leveling ect. Honestly I’m leaning more towards the M2 because some of the negative reviews on the Taz 5 are scaring me away. But then thats why I’m here.
Here are my questions:
How often does everyone use the larger print size, how often do you print something larger than 8-10 inches? My current parts/designs are 1"x10"x1" so I am already pushing the build area of the M2 and I cannot say in the future if I will need the extra size or not. I may end up getting the Taz 5 to never use the extra envelope.
I’ve tried to find info on the dual extruder but I’ve only found minimal. I’d like to keep my options open for the possibility to use soluble support material. Anyone have any experience with the dual extruder on the M2 vs the Taz 5? Does anyone recommend the dual extruder even or is it not reliable?
Is the Taz 5 truly reliable or are the negative reviews true? Are the negative reviews due to incompetence? But then why does the Makergear M2 community not have a single bad review while the Taz 5 consistently is rated just below it (among the websites I found, I understand its subjective, not trying to argue one way or another. I just want to hear Taz 5 users response to these).
P.S. - This is my first 3d printer and I have no experience (lots of research though). However this isnt really a concern for me. I was also originally looking at the airwolf HD2x since it comes all setup for dual extrusion but I have since realized I’d probably be over paying for nothing of value.
The bed leveling will likely need some initial adjustment out of the box, but after that, it will be pretty solid and only need adjusting a minor amount once a month or so. Earlier Taz units before the Taz 4 had a smaller Z endstop target on the motion axis that would work it’s way loose over time. The 4 and 5 units do not have this issue. Repairs are not an issue on the Taz. You may end up needing to replace the extruder gears after months of printing, as they will wear over time, but you can print those yourself as well. The larger gears on the Greg Wade style extruder the Taz is equipped with mean that it will feed a bit better than some of the direct drive extruders due to additional mechanical advantage. The M2 uses a direct drive system.
I use the larger print size fairly often. I printed the frame to my mini ROV with it. http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:451236 If you are printing with ABS, regardless of the printer, you may need an enclosure to get good layer adhesion. That is going to be a common theme regardless of which printer you choose though. You can also however print things smaller and glue them together into larger assemblies. ABS glues well, with plastruct plastic weld model glue
Don’t consider dual extrusion at all when looking to purchase your first 3d printer. Soluable support material sounds great in theory, but its one of those features that people go back and forth and obsess over, and then rarely use. If you want it, you can add it to any of the higher end 3d printers at a later date. If adding a dual extruder is something that seems too complicated or time consuming, learning to operate and use it properly is even worse, so take that into consideration. If you truely want a dual extruder, there are updated dual extruder files in test under devel.lulzbot.com for use with the hexagon hotend and cooling fans. You would have to build it at this point though.
A taz is a pretty solid printer. The rails on the M2 X and Y give it a bit of a resolution advantage, but the frame design of the Taz gives it a bit of an advantage over the m2. Some of the bad reveiws are going to be either incompetence or people unfamiliar with how to use a large print bed printer. With a very large spring supported bed, it is going to need an initial adjustment before it will print levely out of the box. Many people go from a smaller printer with auto leveling to a Taz, expect it to work without setting it up properly, and then are dissapointed when one of the corners won’t stick properly even though it’s their own fault.
Other people expect to be able to print giant ABS things without accounting for ABS thermal contraction and lifting. You can print very large things without an enclosure on a Taz, but it takes skill to set the printer up properly to do so. Since it has a much larger bed than other printers, I think people have an unfair expectation that printing very large things is somehow going to be magically much easier on a Taz without learning about proper bed adhesion and fillament temperatures and the like.
The stock Taz nylon rod bearings and rods do have a small amount of play in them out of the box. My experiance is based on a Taz 3 that has been upgraded to 4/5 spec so the bearings they use on the newer ones may have better tolerances. Thats one area where the M2 does perform better on X and Y anyways due to the rails they use. You can equip a stock Taz 5 with rails as well but it takes some time and effort and funds to do so. You’ll have to ask yourself if a +/- 0.01mm Z variance is more important than the larger print area.
The taz does also have a Stand alone printing LCD controller included stock. If printing in autonamous mode without a computer powered on is a feature you might need, it’s there already on a Taz. you would have to add it to an M2.
One area where the Taz is going to stand out is that Lulzbot support on the taz is amazing inside the warranty period. The staff is responsive, they fix problems quickly when they infrequintly come up, and I’ve not encountered many people who weren’t happy with them.
I think the Taz has a larger user community and more aftermarket modifications created for it.
You may also want to take a look at the mendelmax 3 kit.
Hope that helps!
Wow thanks for the awesome response! Exactly the info I was looking for.
I know initial set up will be required. It also seems that the trend is that it will take dozens of prints and a month or more to get good at getting solid prints, I’m ok with this. The multiple 1 star reviews on amazon saying that the printer needed to be leveled, and aligned by spending 30+ minutes before every single print and coupled with a “higher” rate of failure sounded like a nightmare I’d just as soon avoid.
I definitely plan to print in ABS 95% of the time and realize that I will need to build an enclosure no matter what printer I buy. Also something I’m ok with.
Dual extrusion is not something I plan to attempt for quit some time because I understand I wont need it 99% of the time. However I like having the option there in case I find it is something I absolutely require. At which point I have no problem adding the modification (provided it only takes a day and not a week to install). If it came to this, I would be willing to learn the ins and outs of it.
I am more curious as to whether or not it actually works well on the Taz 5? (provided you’ve taken the time to learn and do it correctly). I’ve read some things that pretty much say dont even bother trying (but that applies to all printers in this price range).
If you take a look through James Bruton’s YouTube channel you can find several videos of him using dual extrusion. He is using ABS and Ninjaflex on the original dual extruder but it will give you an idea of the possibilities.
I think most of the dual extrusion I saw was in this playlist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lDbgHRv3Xw&list=PLpwJoq86vov-U0lQYB6evHsyzOBR3aJ0d
I think the biggest reason new printer owners think that printers need to be leveled every print, is they don’t process the fact that the nozzle itself heats up and expands. They level it with the nozzle either cold, or at temperature but not yet fully expanded, then next time the nozzle height is different. Thats one of the reason I think the automatic bed leveling with the Mini is so successful, because it doesn’t matter if the nozzle is at full heat expansion. That sort of issue is going to be common to most printers to some degree. I will say that anyone who is spending 30+ minutes before every print to level their bed is either doing something horribly wrong, or is a plant review. No successful printer that is still on the market takes 30+ minutes to level before every print. Period.
I have a dual extruder setup on my Taz. It has the older Buddaschnozzle hot ends in it, because I haven’t had time to swap over to the new style hotends. Once you get it dialed in, it works, and it works well. Dissolvable support is really pretty much useless, because the interface between that plastic and the real plastic you are printing basically ends up looking mangled. Where it really shines for me is printing solid and flexible material in assemblies you wouldn’t otherwise be able to create (ball sockets with integrated torsion spring bushings of flexible material, etc.) The only problem is the flexible materials are sooooo expensive. I installed it on my Taz after the fact. You can see the installation instructions in the online instructions repository: https://ohai-kit.alephobjects.com/group/add_ons/ Took me about a day to get it working.
The Taz 5 uses the new hexagon all metal hotend. That hotend requires an always on cooling fan on the extruder barrel. In order to make it work with the dual extruder you will want to look at development projects “icefish” and “javilin” from here http://devel.lulzbot.com/TAZ/accessories/ or wait for the likely production release.
If you have strong design skills, dual extrusion can be rewarding. Otherwise it’s mainly a novelty at this point, mainly due to the learning curve.
I thought Lulzbot had released a dual extruder upgrade? Is it not available for the Taz 5? Either way I’m not looking to do it anytime within the next 6 months to a year.
I am a mechanical engineer using SolidWorks on a daily basis. So I should have the needed design skills… I hope, lol.
I think you guys have convinced me to go with the the Taz 5. From what I can tell, it really comes down to the skill of the user over the actual hardware (not to say hardware doesnt matter). Also considering I made this same post in the Makergear forums and I am still waiting for the admin to approve and post it… Strange considering everything I have read says they have just as strong of a community and customer service as Lulzbot…
There is a released dual extruder, and it can be used on a Taz 5. The tricky part is that the firmware for the Hexagon hotend that comes stock on the Taz 5 and the older Buddaschnozzle 2.0c that was included on the released dual extruder aren’t the same. Specifically the heater core and thermistor are different, so those values need to change to go back and forth. The main limitation of the Buddaschnozzle is it can’t print the higher temperature materials, like polycarbonate or nylon safely. The new version of the dual extruder that will support two hexagon hotends is in development. I would guess they will probably release it in that 6 month timeframe, but thats just a guess. You could print and build one from the prototype files right now if you wanted though. The hexagon is a better hotend than the Buddaschnozzle in pretty much all reaspects, so most people would not want to downgrade to a less capable extruder. The dual extruder does weigh more than twice as much as a single extruder, so when you aren’t using it, most people will put the single extruder carriage back on just for the faster printing ability.
I have a Kittaz, which is a Taz 4 minus the LCD panel. I’ve upgraded it to the equivalent of the TAZ 5 by adding the LCD, upgrading the nozzle to the Hexagon, and adding a PEI sheet to my bed. I love it, and would not hesitate to recommend it. But one of the items you said that is leading you to the TAZ with it’s larger bed size may not be an issue for the other printer.
You said that you needed to print an object that was 1" x 1" x 10 ". If changing the orientation of the object does not adversely effect the strength and finish, you could fit the object diagonally across the bed on a printer with a smaller overall print area. Of course, having the larger bed allows you more options in orienting the object to better maximize the properties of 3D printing to improve strength and finish.
I had the same debate when purchasing my TAZ 5. I think the M2 has a better frame and rail system and should be more stable and accurate as a result. But print area is larger on the T5 and it uses the Hexagon hotend and nozzle which you can purchase anywhere. The M2 has a proprietary hotend. The heated bed on the T5 is a better design than the M2.
So its kind of a toss up, I doubt if you will ever use or need the dual extruder, but on the TAZ its an option. Oh the other deciding factor I have lots of 3 mm filament and the M2 uses 1.75.
The M2 frame is a boxed structure, but it’s also a side offset structure. You’re going to have a little bit of excess moment arm torque at the far right travel section of the frame. That’s the main reason I would give the frame advantage to the Taz. the point could definitely be argued both ways though.
Thanks for all the great responses guys!
I ended up going with the TAZ 5, just got my tracking number.
In the end it was a toss up so the larger print bed won it for me. Although I don’t need it right now, having the option is nice.
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I looked at the M2 very hard before I bought my TAZ 4. I still think M2 a good printer but I am not sorry I got my TAZ 4 (upgraded it to a 5 now). The TAZ seems a little more open structure so you can make many different modifications as the technology grows. And I wanted the larger build platform though now I rarely use all of it but when I do, it sure comes in handy.
And I just was not crazy about the Z axis on the M2 being driven by 1 lead screw on 1 side.
I don’t think you would be disappointed with either choice in the end though.
The M2 frame is stainless steel either powder coated or painted. Kind of like the Mini. The TAZ 5 seems solid enough but how much strength do you need to hold up a pound or two of plastic filament?