Full Disclosure: Free Radical Labs has not received any compensation from Aleph Objects for this review. This review is based solely on our opinion and our month of ownership.
After about a month of playing around with our Lulzbot Taz 5 3D printer we can honestly say that we are extremely pleased with the machine. With the exception of the Christmas break, we have tried to print something every day and we're only about half way through the kilogram of HIPS filament we purchased. We are not printing crazy huge objects just yet, but its become surprisingly useful in making objects we needed on the fly.
I don't think its any secret how much we love our Inventables X-Carve, so as far as return on investment the Lulzbot had big shoes to fill. In short, I cannot think of two pieces of equipment that are more complimentary for a makerspace, classroom or hardcore maker's personal inventory. The price tag may be a bit much for many individuals, however this is a perfect addition to a makerspace where the cost can be spread out a little more.
We were printing stuff to make our X-Carve experience better in no time.
Our first print using the Taz 5 3D Printer
I'd read a few negative reviews from earlier in the year about Cura, the program you can you to control the Taz if you are running tethered. Honestly, we haven't done any printing straight from the provided SD card because it was just easier for us to connect via USB. We have not had any issues running prints in Cura, and it has worked really well when we had to shut down some prints (mostly due to user error).
The ultimate question comes down to is the Taz worth north of $2,000? In my opinion, yes, it is worth the money. The service after the sale is good (we had to call them because we can't read manuals clearly when we are tired) and a year warranty is pretty good for an open source product. I stand by my previous statements that 3D printing has not "made" it yet. The Taz has re-affirmed this belief in that there is quite a bit that goes into making something to print. Yes, you can pull models down from Thingiverse but if you want to make something worthwhile, you will have to learn to use something like 123D design, Tinkercad or our new favorite, Fusion 360. This adds another layer to the process but its not impossible. Much like I said about the X-Carve, you have to own it.
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