My first 3D printer was a makerbot r2. Before I bought it I did a ton of reading and found out all the weak points and bought the upgrades when I bought the printer. I never printed a single object from that printer as stock. As a result the R2 I have is nothing short of amazing. I get near injection mold quality and the size is better than .2mm tolerance, everywhere on the part.
I needed a larger print volume and wanted to explore dual extruder. I bought the AIRWOLF HD3D printer and returned it immediately. The reseller recommended the Taz 5 so I went with that.
Out of the box it was better than the airwolf, just about anything would be. But I was really disappointed with the speed, and the controls, basically requiring a computer be connected to the printer to handle typical printing operations is a huge pain. Over time I have gradually gotten the Taz 5 to make prints that are pretty close to what my R2 does and also have it printing with fairly reasonable speeds and accelerations. But it took quite a bit of research and additional money.
What you need to fix to make the Taz 5 the awesome printer is should be:
The bearings and shafts on each axis have too much play. All linear bushings and the shafts they ride on need to be replaced with linear bearing and harder shafts. Stock you can wiggle each axis by hand noticeably. Why does this matter? It limits the speeds and accelerations you can use and still get decent print quality.
The extruder. The extruder has too much play in terms of rotation about the x axis. Use the stiffened extruder mod to allow for faster printing and better surface finish.
X axis sag. The extruder is heavy and because the x axis rods are small in diameter relative to their length, the sag when the extruder is in the middle of it’s travel in x, is significant. This effects the first layer and may also lead to other problems especially on wide prints. This is one area that is quite a job to fix and I have not addressed it yet.
No enclosure. You need an enclosure to make large ABS prints. Also you need one for your health, especially if you print with exotic materials. But even PLA and ABS give off nanoparticles which can seriously hurt you over long term exposure.
The bed. The bed is a disaster. The PEI either sticks way too well or not enough. Leveling is a ridiculous chore and requires frequent adjustments because you are often wrestling to get parts of the bed. It also has mounting points that can collide with the extruder.
Esteps calibration. The method outlined in the manual is not precise enough to get good surface quality because it is too difficult to measure the length of filament used during the process accurately enough. Instead, I print a square thin flat object, e.g. 40 x 40 x 3mm at 20% infill and 4 or 5 solid layers for tops and bottoms and adjust esteps until I just barely get a solid outer top layer. Often, using the esteps calibration method outlined by lulzbot leads to extreme over extrusion which results in poor surface quality, dimensional problems, and vertical wall issues. ps If your slicer supports it I recommend about .3mm of coasting.
The control box. It is cumbersome to use and lacks a lot of functionality. Essentially you have to have a pc or hand held device of some kind to adequately control the printer movement. Jogging from the control box is slow and cumbersome. Also, The fact that connecting or disconnecting via usb causes the firmware to reboot is also quite irritating. Stopping a print at the control box leaves the nozzle either buried in plastic or early on buried in the bed. Sometimes when I stop a print on long extrusion passes, the printer just keeps going until the head or y axis crashes, so the only alternative is to power off. At a minimum the box firmware needs to move the nozzle up a few mm in Z when a user interrupts printing at the control box.
Anyway this post may come off as a bash of the Taz and it isn’t. I love my Taz 5 now. The promise of the Taz 5 is amazing. I am getting great prints after addressing most of these issues. But out of the box, as is the case with 99.9% of the consumer grade 3d printers, the Taz needs a lot of work.