With the release of the LulzBot Mini more than half a decade ago, the machine offered an attractive price and was flexible enough to print in multiple materials. It has been the Mini from 3D Systems that we have been recommending for the longest time among midrange 3D printers
In addition to that, this year’s LulzBot Mini 2 offers a number of under-the-hood upgrades, such as the ability to print flexible materials and at a faster speed. The 3D printer we tested ranks among the best.
LulzBot Mini 2 review: Looks
A spare, industrial-looking printer, the Mini 2 is more concerned with printing than aesthetics, like the original Mini. In spite of its utilitarian appearance, the Mini 2 looks clean and functional thanks to the anodized aluminum frame and 3D printed parts.
Aside from that, the updates to the new printer are mostly on the inside, so it looks very similar to the old one. In addition to the updated print bed, more flexible printheads, faster motors, and modular print beds have all been added.
The Mini 2 can handle flexible materials such as Ninjaflex thanks to E3D Titan Aero nozzles and redesigned feeding mechanisms. Due to the way the nozzle melts and heats filament differently from previous models, upgrading the printing head was necessary to print these. It is very easy to feed these filaments into the Mini 2’s printhead, despite their squishiness.
Due to the Mini 2’s modular print bed, you can print with various materials as well. In contrast to plain glass, heated print beds coated with tacky plastic adhere better to materials (like PLA used in 3D printers). With Mini 2, you can flip the glass print bed cover and remove it. The glass side is uncoated and the plastic side has PEI. Regardless of which side of the heated bed is facing up, ABS holds more tightly to a heated print bed when the temperature reaches 248 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius). Although it does take some time to undo the hex screws on the corners of the print bed, it is not at all difficult.
Each time you start a print, the printhead touches the washers that hold the print bed in place in order to detect the height of the print bed. Also, under the print bed, a piece of fabric removes stray material that might clog the printhead.
With the Mini 2, the print area is 6.3″ wide, 6.3″ tall, and 7″ high, which is slightly larger than the original Mini. Despite being large enough for most things, it can also be limited. In the case of my iPhone 7 Plus, I was unable to print a case as the print bed was too small. To solve the problem, I could either tilt the case up (wasting a lot of material for the support) or cut the print into two.
LulzBot Mini 2 review: Features
The LulzBot edition of Cura can either be controlled via the LCD screen of the printer or the free LCD touch screen of the printer.
Almost all of the printer’s controls and functions can be accessed through the LCD screen and dial on the front. When you turn the knob and press in, you will be able to access the setting menu. The filament temperature can be set, files can be loaded from an SD card, and filament can be loaded. You can therefore use the Mini 2 standalone without connecting it over a USB cable to your computer.
The LulzBot version of Cura is more flexible than the open-source Cura program, which runs on Windows, macOS, and Linux. A 3D model can be imported (.STL, OBJ, etc.) and readied for printing.
The model may be scaled, rotated, and joined together to prepare for printing at the same time. Models in the 3D view can be rotated, zoomed in, or out so that you can identify potential printing problems. Once the model is loaded into the program, a slice of the print process is shown for each layer (a process called slicing). If additional supports are needed to hold the prints in place, you can adjust this to a very fine degree when doing this process. Additionally, these supports can be dense in a variety of ways. With Cura, you can choose from 34 profiles covering a range of materials, including PLA and nylon.
LulzBot Mini 2: Print performance
It is possible to print your model over a USB connection or to save it to an SD card and print it from there. Although printing was relatively straightforward, we encountered few problems. Several models were printed in different materials and only a couple failed due to improper adhesion.
In printing, the Mini 2 makes a squeak as the printhead moves, but other than that, it is quiet. In fact, my wife thought it was a mouse, wondering whether something had gotten caught when I left the printer running.
LulzBot Mini 2 review: Print options
LulzBot’s instructions provide excellent instructions for using many types of 3mm filament with the Mini 2.
Aside from the upgraded extruder and modular print bed, this 3D printer can use flexible filaments such as Ninjaflex and PolyFlex that require different heads. (These models are extremely flexible and soft, just like rubber).
Also, the Mini 2 is able to print materials like nylon filaments and stone filaments, which require different printing temperatures and print beds.
LulzBot Mini 2 review: Print speed
It took us between 3 hours and 7 minutes to print six hours and 37 minutes to print the Thinker model that measured 4.5 inches high. To print the original Mini at its maximum quality, took about an hour; the da Vinci Nano took more than 21 hours.
By using the Mini 2, you can print at high speed and maintain high quality, saving you a great deal of time.
LulzBot Mini 2: Print quality
In our testing, we found that the Mini 2 was printed with high quality, yielded very few issues, and allowed for good detail across the board.
Our Thinker test model produced highly accurate prints in all modes even without layering in fast-print modes. Likewise, sharp edges and numerous points were present in the geometric sculpture model. Even though the print was complex and difficult, it came out smoothly and produced sharp edges. The planetary gear set assembled easily after clean-up and removal, as with our test print.
While printing, some filament whiskers remained attached to the print, causing some whiskering. Despite this material’s default settings, they were quite easy to remove, and rates and temperatures might have reduced their abrasion.
|Supports a wide range of materials||Expensive|
|The prints are fast and of good quality|
|The printer doesn’t make any noise|
LulzBot Mini 2 will certainly be an excellent successor to Mini. The printer has many advantages, including fast print speeds and the ability to work with a wider range of materials than most printers can handle.
It does come with a price, however, and that price is speed and flexibility. Compared to models like the da Vinci Nano and Dremel DigiLab, which are lower-end models, the Mini 2 costs more. If you want to print faster and in a variety of materials, you’ll need to pay more for the LulzBot Mini 2.