Why I bought a Taz 5

After weeks of research and discussion, pulled the trigger last night and ordered a Taz 5. They went on sale at Amazon for $1870… Amazon seems to have spot sales like this, and I wasn’t ready/missed the last time, so I went for it. I know it must get boring for those who are already knowledgable to take the time to answer the questions of yet another newbie, so I want to express my appreciation to this community for taking the time to educate me and answer my queries. I’m writing this, for what it may be worth for others, who are going through the process of buying for the first time. I know there’s a ton of information out there, and it’s often dated because 3d is a very dynamic technology. ry

I started out with a list of 6 printers, Ultimaker 2+ extended, Makergear M2, Zortrax m200, BCN3D Sigma, Lulzbot Taz 5 & 6. Things that were important to me were:

  1. Support community, and customer support. To me this is important part of not only buying a 3d printer, but owning and using one. I’m a scientist (healthcare), so I appreciate the critical brainstorming process involved in examining current methods/technology, problem solving and improving them. For me Lulzbot and Makergear scored highest on support and vibrancy as a community. All of the printers have communities, but not all are not as populated by curious and involved people on a day to day basis. Both companies also have stellar customer support from what I have been able to glean.

  2. Printer quality/reliability, print quality and warranty. This was probably the most difficult and interesting part of the process for me to navigate as a newbie. I kept discovering what I don’t know and I’d have to take time to get a little familiar (support community was really helpful here, both answering questions and reading existing info). In an emerging technology, there isn’t always a clear cut, superior answer when it comes to what’s in the box. For instance, when I started out, a self leveling bed seemed like a must have for me, but the more I learned the less important it became because I was able to see it as an infrequent process on well built/stable machines. I read of plusses and minuses to Bowden vs direct extruders, 1.75 vs 3 mm filament, type and size of print bed, and on it goes. Then there is quality of parts and construction. A printer might start out great, but poor parts/construction might equate to “wobble” after hours of use resulting in poor outcomes. Not sure how good my process was in weeding through all this, time will tell, but the factors that weighed in for me were long term stability as evidenced by consistency of quality prints, minimal print failures and repair history over time. Quality of print was more important for me personally, though again I learned that speed can be a reflection of quality build/machine stability.

My final choice became a process of elimination. I tried to get as much objective info as possible, but the decision was ultimately subjective. Here’s my order of elimination and why I marked them off my list. I do want to qualify that this was not an easy process for me. I do not think, even with my limited knowledge, that any of these are ‘bad’ printers… indeed they all have strong followings and great qualities.

  1. The Zortrax was first the first to be eliminated from my list. On the pro side, it got high marks for excellent print quality, consistency, reliability. On the con side was it’s proprietary attributes, apparent poor customer support, and limited filament support. On the Zortrax forum I read stuff from customers who loved the machine but were frustrated with lack of company support when needed. Those three things took it off my list pretty quickly.

  2. The Ulitmaker was the second off my list. Honestly, I didn’t spend much time investigating the machine because of price. At 3k it was the most expensive printer and I couldn’t discern any justification for the higher price. The acrylic frame vs metal also made it less appealing.

  3. The BCN3d Sigma was the third to drop off. This was a tough one. I really like this machine, but I didn’t find the community to be as strong as I’d like. The internal housing for the filament reels is limiting and I’m edging towards direct drive over Bowden. I’ve seen some mods that put the filament external, but the wasted space inside the printer framework that results kind of violates my personal sense of true upgrade. Also concerned about part availability, there only seems to be one company selling them in the US. Still, a really cool machine though.

  4. The Makergear was the fourth to fall off my list. This one was also tough. For me the friendliness and vibrancy of the support community was neck and neck with Lulzbot. The CEO frequents their forums and they strike me as an excellent company. It wasn’t lost on me that had almost 10x the reviews on Amazon that Lulzbot has, and they are almost all positive. The quality of their machine and support were unquestionable for me. What ended up eliminating them in a very close race at this point was a few things. They only have a 6 month warranty. I get the impression that their customers believe in them more than they believe in their selves. I think they assert, appropriately, the quality of their printer, but I do not see that confidence reflected in a 6 month warranty (especially when everyone else on the list has a 12 month warranty). LCD and slicing software are both add ons, adding another $300+ to their price tag if they’re going to be compared with the other printers on the list. They seem a little slow to innovate to me, which makes me think they’ve maybe been a little reliant on their already great product and haven’t kept up with the competition when it comes to stuff people are looking for and expecting from the current 3d printers in this price range.

  5. Taz 6. This one dropped off my list solely because of the price difference between it and the Taz 5. It was a tough decision when I was comparing a $300 difference between the two, but when the price on Amazon dropped to $1870 yesterday, the $630 price difference made the decision for me. The Taz 6 was discounted on Amazon a few weeks ago to 22something. Had the 6 gone on sale again instead of the 5, I would have bought it. So, I bought the Taz 5 yesterday along with 3 spools of filament (eSun red ABS, eSun semi transparent PETG and eSun Black PLApro).

The adventure continues :smiley: , looking forward to it.

great info, I was doing pretty much the same comparison and widdled it down to taz 5 vs taz 6. Prior to the price drop I went with the 6 for two main reasons auto leveling and being able to purchase locally from microcenter. Just in the event of something going wrong like shipping damage, returns are a PIA with mail order. Would I still make the same choice with the price diff being 630? Hard to say but probably yes. Ask me again when the price drops a little more and Im not so sure my answer would be the same.

Hey sealfab,

Thanks for commenting. I know the info I wrote may not be relevant for experienced people. I wrote it more for people new to 3d who are slogging through all the info out there and are involved in the decision making process. Info that others have been kind enough to share helped me, so I’m adding to the stack.

I looked for local places to buy, but none exist near me for the printers I was interested in. I had the same concerns about shipping, I’ve read so many horror stories about mishandled shipping. I’m in Oregon and it turned out that my Amazon purchase shipped from Washington… not to bad, even got here a day early. I’m studying for a profession related test I’m taking tomorrow, so I have only unboxed and not actually played with the printer yet, but I seems to have not suffered any mishaps during shipping. The packaging was impressive, very detailed and thoughtful. If the packaging is any indication, I’ve bought a well engineered machine lol. I was pleasantly surprised by the sample print quality of the rocktopus that came with the printer and is presumably printed on my machine. Also impressed by the fit and finish of the printer, especially all the wiring (I built a printer last fall, and there’s a lot of wiring!). Lots of attention to detail.

I like that the power source is all part of the machine on the 6 as well as the structural enhancements they made. For me, the auto leveling seems more geared to beginners (which I am) than experienced printers? Fear of always having to tweak and level the bed was its appeal for me anyway. However, the more I read the more it seemed to me that leveling is an infrequent process with well made printers? The geek in me wasn’t thrilled by the idea of leveling with a piece of paper, so I bought a digital gauge for that purpose and actually kinda look forward to tuning the printer using it. Time will tell if I made the right decision in that respect.

The one thing that would have swayed me to the 6 is if Lulzbot had upgraded it to an open rail system (like piercet designed, he did a fantastic job). That’s a sweet system and seems to be one of the more important refinements that can be made in 3d printing, effecting stability, reliability and ultimate print quality. That will likely be one of the first upgrades I do to my printer once I have some experience with it and am more familiar with its personality.

All things considered, at this point I’m still confident I made the right choice for me. Overall I am very impressed with Lulzbot and their product and with the Lulzbot community.

Thanks! Glad you like it

Good choice, you won’t regret it. The indicator will make it a really quick and easy task to level. The bed doesn’t really move, unless I have a particularly stubborn part I’ve hd to fight with I routinely check mine over once a month or so and its usually ever only out by about 0.02mm max at any corner. It’s nothing to bother worrying about.

The z end stop is similar, start off doing it to a business card so that you can just slide it under the nozzle without putting any pressure down on the bed. Once you’ve got familiar with 3d printing you’ll find yourself just doing it on the fly without having to put anything under the nozzle, you’ll see immediately by the way the first bit of extrusion goes down if you need to change it.

You’re welcome piercet, I think you’re a great asset to this community.

idiot, I think it was your input that enlightened me about using a gauge for leveling the bed, makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for the that.

got the printer, played with it a little today. Apparently there’s an issue with the latest Apple (El Capitan) operating system and my computer doesn’t recognize the printer when I connect them. I tried homing the XYZ using the LCD and the Z axis got within 3 inches of the bed and made a grinding noise. I’ll investigate further tomorrow.

First thing to check is proper levelling of the x axis. A small amount out can cause binding.

Hi idiot,

I did check the the level of the X axis and was also advised by Lulzbot to do the same, it’s level, but I can imagine it could bind from several different alignment issues. I’ve checked squareness between the parallel Z rods as well as between the opposing side Z rods. They also had me adjust the “v max Z” setting, which didn’t fix the issue. Another issue and that’s that the Taz 5 Cura software doesn’t actually work with the latest Mac OS (El Capitan), so I have only been able to work using the LCD, which is how I discovered the Z binding when I tried to auto home. I go back to work for a week (13 hour shifts), so looks like I won’t be printing any time soon.

Check if the top of the leadscrew is flush with the top of the bearing in the top plates. It is possible for the lower Z motor mount to have moved down inside the otherwise square frame in shipping causing that binding issue. If that’s fine, measure from the top of the lower leadscrew bearing to the bottom of the leadscrew nut and verify both sides are the same. If that’s the same on both sides, move to the right hand side and loosen the X axis rod retention bolts and try running the Z axis up and down again. If it still binds, check the small setscrews on both Z motor couplers. Those small screws can work their way loose in shipping as well and fall out, or just not engage so the motor shaft can slip inside the coupling. Also check for a potential broken coupling.

if you can, upload a video showing the whole x axis and both motors after that if it is still doing it so we can see what is going on and help you from there.

Good luck on the binding. I spent two hours yesterday and around two today fixing a printer that was binding on the right Z axis rod. I did get working so do not give up.

Thanks Kmanley57,

I’m a little disappointed that I’m not having a Disneyland experience lol, but I’ve done enough stuff to understand that stuff happens. The packing list on this printer dated to a November 2015 build date, got it through Amazon, so I figure this printer has some miles on it, the box passing through many hands before it got to me. When talking about mm tolerances, I can see a bunch of possibilities for binding that are not readily visually apparent because we’re talking mm’s. So, I guess this will be a learning experience.

Did my first print today, used eSun abs @ 240/110. Totally blown away by the details. It’s a rook chess piece i found on thingiverse ( http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1005110 ) that has a double helix up the center and a spiral staircase. The detail on the bricks, clean openings. I’m very impressed with what this printer can do.

About your z-axis binding issue. I’ve just started having the exact same problem with mine. We’ve had it for over a year and only today when it homes does it make that grinding noise (within about 3 inches of the build plate, as you said). If I go through the LCD menu and move the z axis up and down, I don’t get the noise, only when it starts the print or homes. The prints made all look fine, no slanting or anything, so I don’t know if it’s the x axis.
How did you eventually solve your binding problem?

Check both leadscrew couplers for missing setscrews or broken couplers. Thats usually the culprit. it can also be debris in the bearings on the rods or the leadscrews. Rarest failure would be a broken motor shaft or a failing motor.