Lulzbot Mini 2 Desktop 3D Printer Review

LulzBot Mini 2 Desktop 3D Printer

8/10
Our Rating

The Lulzbot Mini 2 desktop 3D printer hit a sweet spot for people looking for a serious machine but don’t want to spend a fortune.

Description

Tech Specs

Filament size

3mm

Extruder

1

Supported Materials

PLA, Natural and Metal PLA Blends, TPU, ABS, PETG, nGen, HIPS, Polyamide, Nylon, Polycarbonate, PC

Build Volume    

7.1 x 6.3 x 6.3 inches

Layer Thickness

0.05mm-0.4mm

Connectivity

USB Serial and Included 8gb SD Card

Print  Speed  

300mm/s




So, here is the conundrum - spend money on a premium 3D printer and you risk overstretching your budget; spend money on a cheap brand and you risk missing out on quality features. 

Sometimes you need to opt for a mid-range printer that will offer you the optimal balance between budget and quality !

The Lulzbot Mini 2 desktop 3D printer hit a sweet spot for people looking for a serious machine but don’t want to spend a fortune. For this reason, it has proven to be a favorite for mid-range buyers. 

So, what makes this printer tick, and where does it disappoint? Keep on reading to get your questions answered in the following unbiased Lulzbot Mini 2 desktop 3D printer review!

Design

This 3D printer comes with a 24 x 18 x 13-inch black steel frame that weighs 26.5lbs to make for rugged and long-lasting construction. The open-frame design doesn’t have a front door, top, or sides, meaning you can access the prints easily.

With a build area measuring 7.1 x 6.3 x 6.3 inches, the unit is 20% larger than what you find on the Lulzbot Mini but slightly smaller than the Dremel Digilab 3D45. 

The Lulzbot Mini 2 closely resembles its predecessor, the Lulzbot Mini. However, it is an upgraded version that features an increased build volume and integrates three extra features; an LCD, an improved extruder head, as well as quieter motors.

Another interesting aspect about the printer’s design is the placement of toggles, buttons, and switches. Typically, most 3D printers in the market position the power button at the back while the LCD panel is usually in an odd position. 

The Mini 2 goes against the grain and places its power button right at the front where it is readily accessible with the LCD on the top right front corner of the unit for easy tweaking of settings. 

Unpacking and setting up this machine is also a straightforward process that shouldn’t take much of your time. The printer makes use of the Cura software (Lulzbot Edition), which you will have to download to your PC then connect the power cable and included USB cable. 

LulzBot Mini 2 Desktop 3D Printer
Overall, the rigid frame of the Lulzbot Mini 2 3D printer, as well as the open-source 3D printed parts and open source Marlin firmware, work together to make for a machine you can easily fix on the fly if need be.

My only grievance is that the open frame exposes you to the risk of getting burned if you clumsily manage to get your finger on the print or extruder when the machine is still running.

Printing

In short, this is a serious machine that delivers quality prints you can work with! The Luzlbot Mini 2 offers you the freedom to choose between a High Detail quality setting and a Standard setting for your prints. 

I printed a couple of test objects at both the High Detail and Standard settings to see what the difference is. My conclusion is that the Standard quality produced subtle enough prints that I’d be hard-pressed to use the High-Quality setting, considering that it takes much longer to print. 

Unless there is a very good reason to change the setting, the Standard print setting works just okay for me! Overall, the quality of prints was pretty decent but nothing out of the ordinary. The test prints I used had geometric shapes and texts raised out of an almost vertical surface. 

The result was a mixed bag! While most of the shapes came out reasonably well, I could not make out some of the thin vertical surfaces and the quality of text printed was below par. 

I also noticed a lot of whiskers of thin filament that were left attached to the models after printing, but I must admit that these were relatively easy to remove.

LulzBot Mini 2 Desktop 3D Printer

The open frame of the machine provides you with an unobstructed view of the models while printing, as well as easy access to the print bed. The issue with open frames is that there is a potential for you or someone else in the room to touch the hot extruder end and suffer a burn.

On the bright side, the extruder nozzle extends just a short distance from the extruder assembly, so it's highly unlikely that someone would manage to touch it for longer than a second. 

Another aspect is that some filaments tend to emit foul odors- a common thing with ABS- and this is also the case for open frame 3D printers like the Lulzbot Mini 2. I could not help but notice the same with the PolyLite PLA filament I used for testing. 

Compared to the original Mini, one area that I observed a notable improvement is the noise profile. You barely hear anything when the machine is running and this is due to the manufacturer using quieter motors on the Mini 2. 

Features

Being an upgraded unit, the Mini 2 comes with an array of hardware improvements to make for refined efficiency. For instance, this printer incorporates Einsy RAMBo electronics to go with Trinamic 2130 stepper motor drivers that do a great job of reducing the sound of the device during operation. 

Although the Mini 2 is just about the same size as the original Mini, the printer still manages to provide a 20% increase in the build volume. The Mini has a 152 x 152 x 158 mm build volume whereas the Mini 2 is slightly larger at 16 x 160 x 180 mm. 

Perhaps the most significant upgrade feature on the Mini 2 is the newfound capability for standalone 3D printing. The first iteration needed to be tethered to a PC before it could print, which was pretty limiting at times. 

However, the new model is fully independent and comes with an onboard LCD and SD card reader for easy standalone printing. 

Additionally, the Mini 2 features a belt-driven Z-axis that enhances the travel speed and accuracy of layer alignment without compromising the print resolution. 

The manufacturer decided to fit this new Mini with an array of high-grade accessories that were only available as separate add-ons in the original offering. For instance, you can now find a lightweight Aerostruder Tool Head designed around the E3D Titan Aero extruder. 

This delivers a more limited filament path resulting in improved compatibility when it comes to flexible filaments. 

The other noteworthy feature is the Modular print bed system, which comprises of a two-piece replacement for the usual Lulzbot heated print plates. This split up the heater from the surface, ensuring that the build plate is much easier to remove. It also means that you can switch between the standard PEI bed and the raw glass surface in an instant, which offers an opportunity for more printing materials. 

LulzBot Mini 2 Desktop 3D Printer

Finally, the belt-driven X-axis promotes excellent layer stacking. There is an integrated circuit board, which acts as a brake to prevent the Z-axis from failing once disconnected from power. 

Cost

The Mini 2 3D printer is a worthy successor to the first Lulzbot Mini. You can credit this to the faster performance without sacrificing the quality of the prints when using both PLA and ABS plastic filaments. 

Not to mention that it can accommodate a wider range of printing materials compared to most printers. 

However, improved flexibility and speed comes at a cost! You’ll have to cough out something in the range of $1500 to get your hands on the Lulzbot Mini 2, which is substantially higher than what you pay for budget options like the da Vinci Nano. 

All in all, you get your money’s worth with the improved performance thanks to various newly upgraded features found on this 3D printer.

Support

Aleph Objects Inc. offers convenient support to customers in case you run into an issue when using the Lulzbot Mini 3D printer. You can access technical support by phone or email at any time of the day and the lines remain open throughout the week. 

Furthermore, when you buy the printer, there is a 1-year limited warranty attached to the package, ensuring that you can take back the machine for free repairs in the event of premature defects and malfunctions.

Summary

Overall, the Lulzbot Mini 2 3D printer offers you exactly what you’re looking for at this price level. It is a serious printer with improved capabilities that allow you to create high-quality prints at a faster rate and is more efficient. 

Aside from the isolated safety issue of being an open frame printer, the Mini 2 is an impressive machine that will favor hobbyists looking to upgrade from their first-time printer to a more improved device!

Last update on 2020-11-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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