About a year ago I had the opportunity to review a LulzBot Mini 3D printer. I was blown away by how easy it was to use and how reliably it printed. The ease-of-use was due, in large part, to the automated bed leveling and nozzle-cleaning processes that the printer performs before each print.
I also own a LulzBot Taz 5, which I have rated as the best consumer 3D printer currently on the market. The crazy part is that the Taz 5, despite being one of the best 3D printers on the market, did not have the auto bed leveling function that the Mini had. And, so I figured it was only a matter of time before the automated features from the Mini found their way onto the much larger Taz.
And, that’s exactly what LulzBot (Aleph Objects) has done with their brand new Taz 6.
The Taz 5 was already on par with (or better than) the Zortrax M200, Ultimaker 2, and MakerGear M2 thanks to its large build volume, open source design, support for a wide range of filaments, printing accuracy, reliability, and available upgrades.
The downside of the the previous Taz versions, though—from a beginner-to-intermediate’s perspective—was the fact that it lacked some automated features that make the pre-printing process go smother. However, with the addition of automated bed leveling before each print, printing with the Taz has never been easier.
And, it’s really just icing on the cake to what is already one of the best 3D printers on the market. Now, it’s really hard not to recommend the Taz 6 to anyone who is seeking the best consumer 3D printer on the market.
In any case, let’s take a closer look at what the Taz 6 brings to the table so you can see what I mean…
|TECHNOLOGY||FDM — Fused Deposition Modeling|
|MATERIALS||3.0mm ABS, PLA, HIPS, PVA, wood, polyester, etc.|
|BUILD SIZE||~11″ x 11″ x 10″|
|LAYER THICKNESS||0.075mm – 0.35mm|
|INPUT||.STL, .OBJ, .THING, file input|
|SIZE||~26.8″ x 20.5″ x 20.3″|
LulzBot Taz 6 Features
Now, however, with some new features, the Taz 6 is, in my opinion, the most complete 3D printer currently on the market.
It has a huge build volume, it’s plug-N-play friendly, it’s easy to use, and the bed leveling process has become fully-automated.
Ultimately, the Taz 6 isn’t a complete reinvention of the Taz 5, but rather a more polished version of what was already a top-three 3D printer to begin with.
Automated Bed Leveling
If there was any downside to the Taz 5, it was the fact that it didn’t have an automated bed leveling process. Instead, there was some occasional tinkering necessary to ensure that the bed was level.
However, as the Taz 5 (as well as previous generations of LulzBot’s flagship printer) was probably not a machine that beginners would be using, the lack of an automated bed leveling process wasn’t too detrimental, as most of the Taz 5 users had some experience using 3D printers.
With the introduction of the LulzBot Mini, though, it was clear that Aleph Objects was moving towards making the printing process as easy as possible. And, with the Mini, LulzBot had a really simple-to-use 3D printer with much of the tinkering process eliminated (but still available to those who needed/wanted it) thanks to some important automated features.
Now, those features have made their way onto the Taz 6, making it easier to use than ever before. So, whereas the Taz line of 3D printers may have been better suited to more experienced users in the past, now it is just as good of an option for beginners as any other on the market (assuming you have the budget.)
Perhaps the biggest selling point of any of LulzBot’s 3D printers is how reliable they are. I’ve now had experience printing with the LulzBot Mini, Taz 4, Taz 5, and now, the Taz 6.
Through my experience with those LulzBot printers, I’ve been able to push them pretty far and have had the chance to run them fairly extensively. And, of all of the 3D printers I’ve been fortunate enough to play with, LulzBot’s printers are definitely among the best in terms of how consistently they are able to successfully print out items, as well as in how rarely they fail a print.
I was able to run the Taz 6 over multiple days, without rest, printing small objects, large objects, and everything in between (scroll down to see some pictures and time-lapse videos). The printer didn’t hit any snags or setbacks during my testing period… including prints that were multiple days long.
Ultimately, reliability is perhaps the biggest issue dragging modern 3D printers down. But, as we’ve seen over the past couple of years, companies like LulzBot have really helped usher in a new era of reliable consumer 3D printers.
So, if it’s reliability you’re looking for, then the Taz 6 is definitely an option you should consider.
Full List of Features
|Can be up and running in about 45 minutes or less|
|Auto bed-leveling makes printing easier than ever|
|You’d be hard-pressed to find a more reliable printer|
|Print speeds are solid|
|Cura (software) is straightforward and easy-to-use|
|Print accuracy is on par with the best FDM machines on the market|
|Self-cleaning feature helps make maintenance easier|
|One of the biggest print volumes on the market|
|Outstanding design and build quality|
|Open source design allows for mods and upgrades|
|Support department is excellent|
|Supports a ton of different popular filament profiles|
Setup, Software, and Configuration
As can be expected from perhaps what is the best consumer-level 3D printer currently on the market, setup and installation can be done in well under an hour. In fact, I had the Taz 6 up and printing in a little over a half an hour or so after unboxing it.
This is a general step-by-step look at what it takes to get the Taz 6 up and running:
- Remove the LulzBot Taz 6 from the box
- Remove the extruder from the box
- Install the print bed, extruder, and filament guide
- Connect all appropriate wires and cables
- Download, install, and configure the software (Cura)
- Load and configure your first model
- Plugin and power on the Taz 6
- Load the filament
- Start printing
Again, it’s nothing too difficult. There only a few pieces that require assembly and all those really come down to are putting in a few screws and connecting a few wires and cables.
The video above also gives a basic rundown of the setup process.
Ultimately, it’s not too difficult to get the Taz 6 setup and even if you don’t have a ton of experience with 3D printers, you should be off and printing in no time at all.
And, as a really cool throw-in, LulzBot also includes a nice little bag with a bunch of tools (and a full allen wrench set), a Rocktopus print, an SD card, some starter filament, the filament guide tube, a LulzBot sticker, and all of the necessary cables.
As LulzBot prides itself on an open source design, the Taz 6 will work with most slicing programs. So, if you already have a favorite 3D printing software, you can probably stick with it. The recommended slicer, though—and the one designed for LulzBot printers—is Cura’s dedicated LulzBot software.
Printing with Cura has always been simple, especially if you use the quick-print settings. All you really need to do is load the model you want to print, open the control panel, and hit print.
It should be noted, though, that your first time through you will need to select what printer you are using and you will also need to choose the filament you are using. The cool thing about Cura, though, is how many different profiles it has for popular filaments.
So, rather than manually changing the extruder temperature and bed temperature for each type of filament you want to use, you simply select your filament from a drop-down box and it will load the necessary settings.
And, of course, if you want to play with more advanced settings, you can switch over and control things like layer height, print speed, infill, 1st layer height, etc.
All-in-all, Cura works well for beginners who don’t need to play around with every intricate setting and it also serves the needs of advanced users who want to control every aspect of their print.
Printing With the LulzBot Taz 6 3D Printer
Obviously, the most important aspect of any 3D printer is how well it prints. If a 3D printer is well-built, has great software, phenomenal customer support, and can hit insane print speeds, but the finished prints come out looking like garbage, it will have little-to-no use to anyone in need of a 3D printer.
Along with print quality, there are a few other aspects that are important to the printing process.
Print speed is paramount, because while a slow printer might produce amazing prints, if it takes forever to finish and there is a similarly priced printer that can print that same object out at the same quality in less time, obviously that would be the better option.
How much print area is also a big selling point because the more room you have the bigger the objects (or the more objects) you can print. For me, personally, I love printing out huge items that take multiple days to print, just for the thrill of it. And, I also like to print out multiple objects in one print as well (i.e. printing half a chess set).
But, with a small printer, running large prints, or multiple large objects in one print isn’t possible.
And, finally, the build quality is a huge factor in the printing experience because the better built and more durable the 3D printer is the more reliable it will be and the less likely it will be to fail.
So, with those important factors in mind, let’s see how the Taz 6 stacks up in each category.
With a modern FDM printer you will never truly be able to hit perfectly smooth objects. However, even FDM printers can produce prints that look amazing. (See some of the pictures below for examples.)
I mean, technically, for print quality, images will tell a much better story than will reading an excerpt. However, of the multiple prints I ran on the Taz 6, I was able to churn out some really amazing looking objects.
My favorite print, the Dragon Door Knocker, was done on regular settings (in the quick-print settings) and it came out looking amazing. I ran a few objects on lower layer heights as well (higher resolution) and they came out looking great, too (although, of course, they took a lot longer to finish.)
Ultimately, though, the pictures below speak to the print quality of the Taz 6. I can say, though, that of all the printers I have reviewed, the Taz 6 is on par with the best FDM printers on the market in terms of finished quality.
Of course, SLA printers like the Form 2 have better overall finished print quality, but high-end FDM machines like the Taz 6 can still get fairly close. (And, it should also be noted that SLA printers are not without faults as well—and, in my opinion, faults that still make them less appealing options than FDM printers.)
The one area where the Taz 6 doesn’t exceed its competitors is in the max print speed it offers. However, at 200mm/s, the Taz 6 is on par with top printers like the MakerGear M2 and it exceeds the Zortrax M200 as well.
Still, though, most users will never use a printer at its full speed… at least not in scenarios where print quality is important.
So, while the Taz 6 won’t blow anyone away with its incredible print speed, it also won’t disappoint either.
Print Area and Volume
The one area where LulzBot’s Taz printers have always stood out is in the build volume that they offer. The print size doesn’t change too much with the Taz 6 as it offers a ~11″ x 11″ x 10″ build volume.
To put that into perspective, of all of the printers that made it onto my “Best 3D Printers” list, only the Ultimaker 2 Extended rivals the Taz 6 in terms of print volume. And, the Taz 6 edges out the Ultimaker Extended there as well.
In the end, the only thing to really say about the Taz 6, in terms of print volume, is that, unless you want to spend over $5,000 on something more geared toward light industrial or commericial use, the Taz 6 offers the biggest print volumes among consumer 3D printers.
**It should be noted, though, that there are a few consumer-level printers out there with a comparable or even larger print volume to the Taz 6. But either I have not used them, or they have not been out long enough to get a good gauge on, or they just aren’t worthy enough to be included.
Printer Build Quality and Reliability
When we’re talking about printer build quality, we can talk about things like frame material, design, and weight, but when it all comes down to it, the biggest indicator of a well-built and reliable 3D printer is A) how often it can be ran, and B) how often it fails.
According to LulzBot’s announcement of the release of the Taz 6, they consider their newest printer to be the most reliable consumer 3D printer on the market and they back that up by informing us that their printers are running 24/7 at their Colorado-based headquarters.
Along with being good marketing material, I have to assume that their claim is accurate as I have been running the Taz 6 nonstop (virtually 24/7) since I got it a few weeks ago and it has yet to fail a print or give me any major trouble.
I’ve printed out a number of smaller objects that ranged from ~2-8 hour prints and I’ve also printed out a couple of 24+ hour prints and one 50+ hour print. The Taz 6 just keeps on going. I’ve changed filament, used all of the quick-print settings, played with some advanced settings, and the Taz 6 just keeps on chugging along.
So, how well is the Taz 6 built and how reliable is it? In my experience it is as reliable—if not more so—than any of the other top consumer 3D printers currently on the market.
LulzBot Taz 6 Timelapse Prints
Prints With the LulzBot Taz 6
I mean, what else can I say about the Taz 6 other than that it is the most complete consumer-level 3D printer I have ever used. And, if my opinion is accurate, that means that the Taz 6 would be the best consumer 3D printer ever built? I think it is… although that title will likely change hands frequently over the coming years… but it’s still fun to say.
The Taz 6 gets virtually everything right…
It has a huge print area… one of the largest among consumer 3D printers.
Operation couldn’t be easier… you can be up and printing in ~45 minutes or less and the software is easy enough for beginners to use.
Its print accuracy rivals any FDM printer currently on the market.
It’s extremely reliable, as made evident by the number of long prints I was able to finish without any problems whatsoever.
And, with LulzBot’s consistent commitment to an open-source design, you’ll have upgrade options and, perhaps more importantly, you’ll know you’re getting a machine that is built by a company who truly cares about the technology.
So, to sum it up, the Taz 6 is the best overall 3D printer I have ever used, it’s priced reasonably well—considering what you are getting—it’s beginner friendly, and it stays true to its open-source roots. My only question to you, now, is why haven’t you ordered one yet?