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Unboxing the Lulzbot Taz 5

A few weeks back we ordered a Lulzbot Taz 4 from Aleph Objects Inc. As luck would have it, we ordered just as they completely sold out of stock. Happily, they sent us one of their first Taz 5 units instead!  Given the success of the Taz Mini launch, we were excited to see some of the upgrades on this new, larger-format 3D printer. Below is a gallery of what we saw, sprinkled in with our observations about the setup process. If there are additional shots you’d like to see, write a comment!

We previously unboxed a MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation and were impressed with the fit and finish of the packaging. Aleph systems stepped up their game for the Taz 5 with packaging that made a very simple and smooth out-of-box experience. The box is adorned with Lulzbot logos and a “Made in Colorado” sticker, which also clearly labeled which side was up. The first thing you see when you open the box is a very thorough Quickstart guide. Remove the foam underneath and you see all accessories packed cleanly and securely in foam-covered plastic tray.  Each Taz 5 comes with cables, an SD card with test models, printed documentation, a test print, the power supply, a very thorough set of tools, and the gorgeous new all-metal hotend (the first major difference from the Taz 4).

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The documentation and toolkit bear special note. We received a complete checklist outlining the build and test steps, along with documentation of firmware settings in case we needed to return to stock.  The toolkit was nothing short of magical, containing literally everything you’d need to maintain and repair the printer, in a handy bag with the Lulzbot logo. This includes tweezers, pliers, a strong scraper, exacto knife, measuring tool (for truing the X axis), allen keys, and even a little brush for removing powdered plastic from the hobbed bolt. Impressive.

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Underneath the accessories, the Taz 5 is lightly packaged in two separate pieces encased in protective foam. You’ll be instantly greeted with the PEI-coated glass bed (the other major revision to the Taz 4). We saw bits of the glue flaking off the sides of the platform. Be careful to follow the directions in lifting the assembly from the box, or you might scratch/damage the sliding rails on either assembly. Simply stand the unit on one foam piece, then remove the other piece and tilt out the bed. Remove four thumbscrews to assemble the unit, undo some cleverly designed red clips (also 3D printed), and remove lots of blue tape to prep the printer.

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I was lucky to have my friend Steven Osborn assist with this unboxing. He owns a heavily modified Taz 4 and brought over his hexagon all-metal hotend he recently received from Aleph. We took some comparative pictures to show you what the upgrade looks like next to the assembly bundled with the Taz 5. In the photos below, the Taz 5 bundled extruder is on the left and the upgrade on the right.  The first thing we noticed is that the plastic parts were all 3D printed and very heavy. The finish was exceptionally smooth, as if printed on glass. Note the yellow and blue paint marks on the bundled version’s wiring connectors. The Taz 5’s extruder harness had matching marks, to prevent wiring mistakes. The upgrade lacked these marks entirely. We noticed on another unit that only one connector was marked in yellow. The upgrade included a barcode sticker, presumably for individual sale. The kit included a new wiring harness for the extra blower fan cooling the hexagon extruder’s heat sink, along with a larger conduit. We took a peak inside the control box to see where the fan might route through and discovered it connects in the bottom right of the Rambo board. Along the way we discovered we had v1.3L of the Rambo board 🙂

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The Taz 5, being an open hardware printer, comes with complete design files and a few extras to encourage development of new upgrades. We noted a second port for dual extrusion setup, which was pre-wired for the all-metal hotend’s secondary fan.

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The Pronterface LCD is identical to the Taz 4, but the firmware identifies this printer as a Taz 5, firmware 2015Q1. We love that this LCD is mounted high on the printer, so you don’t have to crouch down to use it.  We also love that the SD card slot is located on the control panel, up high, where debris can’t fall in (cough, cough MakerBot). We didn’t see any standout new features in the firmware on first glance, but had one major gripe- the UI reverts to the home screen FAR faster than we expected it to, which required a lot of navigating when we were calibrating. Unfortunately, there didn’t appear to be a setting to fix that.

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Z-axis calibration was straightforward, but 100% manual. We didn’t follow the instructions exactly and actually bound up the z-axis. Fortunately, recovery was as simple as moving one side of the axis by hand.  We were disappointed that the Taz 5 didn’t include the auto-leveling or nozzle wipe features from the Taz Mini, but we suppose they have to save something for Taz 6!

We used Repetier Host v1.03 with the fine ABS profile for Slic3r from Lulzbot’s website. Printing was very straightforward both from the SD card and from the host PC.  The Taz 5 takes 3mm filament and Lulzbot provides profiles to prep for ABS, PLA, and HIPS. The additionally support slicer settings for many more. We used a generic silver ABS we had in inventory. Our previous attempts to use this filament produced mediocre results, but the Taz made this stuff shine (literally)! Check out our test print below.  You might notice that we didn’t use any tape in that print. We are big fans of BuildTak and were eager to try it on the Taz 5. We found, however, that it was wholly unecessary- the PEI surface stuck to every print we threw at it like glue, whether heated bed was turned on or not. We were seriously impressed by its performance.

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Overall, we were pleased with how easy this printer is to set up and use. Though we wish it had a few more creature comforts such as auto-leveling, LED lighting, WiFi, or a camera, the Lulzbot Taz 5 is amazing at Job #1 – smooth 3D prints.  We’ll be updating the blog as we get more pics and video uploaded, but we wanted to get these out there as soon as we could. Please leave us a comment if you’d like to see something specific!

 

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