use the highest quality precision 3D printer that you can
obtain for printing your parts. I’ve tried many 3D printers
for this purpose, and I can save you a lot of time, money,
and irritation. The toughest pill to swallow is a simple
statement of fact: With 3D printers, you get what you pay
for. In other words, don’t even waste your time or money
buying any printer that costs less than $1,000. Yes, that’s a
lot of money, but your projects will show the result of
skimping on the purchase of this valuable tool.
I have reviewed no less than nine different sub-$1,000
models, and they were all a major disappointment. Heck, I
even designed and built my own 3D printer in search of this
Holy Grail goal of instant robot parts (see SERVO Magazine,
May 2015, “Build Your Own 3D Printer with Actobotics”).
After months of expense, evaluation, and crushing defeat, I
finally found the hands-down BEST 3D printer for creating
robot parts (and, just about anything else, too).
The LulzBot Mini by Aleph Objects of Loveland, CO
( lulzbot.com and alephobjects.com) is now the de facto
standard for 3D printers. Priced at $1,350 with a full one
year warranty, the LulzBot Mini can be ordered directly
from Aleph Objects (see Figure 1). It will be the first and
the last 3D printer that you will ever need to buy. Yes, it
really is that good.
In fact, you know that you’re getting a different kind
of printer when you open the box and find an enclosed
incredibly complex and detailed 3D print of an octopus
(model by yeoldebrian) that was printed by the machine
that you just purchased. If you’ve ever handled or made any
3D printed models, your examination of this octopus model
will leave you speechless.
This printer is built like a US Army tank, yet it weighs a
svelte sub- 25 pounds (that’s the shipping weight, including
box and foam). Even more remarkable, just four pieces of
packing foam need to be removed from the printer prior to
making your first test print.
Like most 3D printers, the LulzBot Mini includes a one
meter length of yellow 3 mm diameter High Impact
PolyStyrene (HIPS) filament for making your first test print.
Unlike other 3D printers, however, the Mini’s first print is
the “rocktopus” model (by Kent Johnson) as shown in
Again, this is a fairly detailed model and is one that the
Mini prints with aplomb. The best part of Aleph Objects
selecting “rocktopus” as the first print is that you can
actually compare your newly printed test model to the
octopus model that was shipped with your printer. This is a
clever “apples to apples” evaluation that will convince you
that the LulzBot Mini is a powerful precision instrument.
In addition to the one meter sample of HIPS filament,
there are a couple of extra supplies that are included with
the LulzBot Mini. First, and foremost is the modestly labeled
This extremely sharp-bladed knife is similar in shape to
a cross between a butter knife and an oyster shucker knife.
As such, it takes just a simple insertion and a gentle pry to
pop your model off the heated borosilicate glass bed. That
is, after the entire bed and hot end have cooled down
The proper cool-down sequence is programmed into
the special Cura LulzBot Mini Edition (see Figure 3)
configuration profile that comes on a USB drive that is
included with the printer. Alternatively, you can download
the same software package from lulzbot.com/Cura.
SERVO 01.2016 45
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Figure 1. You know something great is inside just by
looking at the outside.
Figure 2. The first test print: rocktopus (left), surrounding