3D-PRINTING WITH LULZBOT TAZ4
Finally it is here. The dream to get a 3d printer to make boxes around my electronic project became true.
After some enquiries, I decided not to make my own printer, but to buy one. The printer review made me select the Lulzbot TAZ4 printer.
Open source software drivers, near 30x30x30cm print volume and open Hardware (all details, parts drawings etc available online) made me chose the TAZ4 printer....
Not the cheapest, but US magazine reviews where positioning it at the top of the printers 2014. The construction of the printer, solid frame which is key for precision, very flexible in filament choice, 2 color option available soon made the selection easy!
Ordering it was easy, payment over PayPal quick and simple, filament can be ordered at the same time than printer etc....
It came surprisingly after 5 working days, shipped from UK warehouse. Great surprise delivery was that quick.
Packaging was very well made, all printer parts where packaged in customized foam. Despite the excellent packaging, one plastic connector (connecting the alu-profile frame) was broken. Lulzbot replaced it with express shipment, great support job!!. Also if something would break later one, it would have been easy to make as the drawing of the connector and other parts are available online.
Putting the printer together was also easy, one video on YouTube explains it very well, the X-Z axis are part of the main frame, only the Y-axis with printer bed has to be put in place. Screws and position lockers are making the task very easy. After mounting the extruder and connecting all electric cables, installing the power-supply, the printer was ready to be connected to the PC. One last task before printing was to level the printer-bed. The bed needs to be aligned very precisely to the printer nose. The procedure is well described inside the quick startup manual. This was done easily and the 1st part was also ready to be printed.
Picture shows TAZ4, comes with nose ventilator, everything ready to print!
Printing the first parts with ABS
I did not immediately notice the wrong temperature for ABS in the manual, correction was noticed in the forum, that was to use 230degC for the extruder and 85degC for the printer bed. Once this was correctly setup the 1st parts for boxes were made and my electronic projects received boxes. Great experience !!!! I also used HIPS filament, did not yet manage to get it as easy as ABS. It feels great like Teflon, the white material allows LED's to illuminate across the material, interesting to make toys or lamps etc..
It was a bit more tricky to make boxes with walls, but surprisingly, there is a parameter adding BRIM (small border around the 1st layer) in the Slic3r that solved the issue. It basically increases adherence of the box, avoiding walls get unlaminated at higher layers, which happend on my 1st prints. So I started to read the manual Lulzbot delivers with the printer in more details ;-). Quickly, my pending projects where finished.
Above picture shows: Openpicus Flyport in a box (red), my Revox digital counter (silver) and my PIC32/FreeRTOS WIFI weather station (blue/black). That last case is just missing a plexi front panel.
Overall TAZ4 does a great job, and with some CAD background, it is very straight forward to implement. The multitude of features and parameters accessible over the slicer may look complex, but they allow the printer to adjusted to every kind of situations, all kind of prints that you may want to do!
Big thanks to Lulzbot for a great printer!!!
Also I can recommand to use DesignSpark Mechanical, it does a great job for simple and medium 3d models. It is not as flexible as Solidworks or similar tools, but much much easier to use !!!
rz, July 2014
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