Choosing a 3D printer

Choosing a 3D Printer that is Right for You

Here at Print Your Mind 3D we are adamant about offering you a select amount of 3D printers to optimally serve your needs. Our view is that consumer-level desktop machines will suffice in most cases and in a very competitive market we opt for the most trusted brands. All of our 3D printers all have an excellent build construction, reliable electronics and great support and community backup to ensure that you can use them for the long term. As an official Lulzbot and Ultimaker distributor, we are eager to show you what these machines can do.

Which 3D printer is right for you is determined, besides budget, mainly by your target applications and usage environment:

Visual Models

If your focus is on the visual quality of your models, all of our machines will perform great. Printers capable of dual extrusion with dissolvable support material however will be capable of more complex shapes and internal channels which are not possible on a single extrusion machine. In general, items which are purely aesthic with simple geomitries are best suited for printing in PLA filaments as it is economical, easy to print, and able to be printed on all of our machines.

Robotic component product development with 3D printing
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Mechanical parts

If your focus is on great mechanical quality, the Lulzbot machines as well as the Ultimaker 2+ and Ultimaker 3 are capable of handling advanced engineering grade materials. If you opt for the TAZ 6 you benefit from the largest build volume, and Ultimaker offers extended versions allowing you to build tall objects. If you are looking to print in more advanced materials such as ABS, PETG, Nylon, CPE, Polycarbonate, Polypropelyne, or Flexibles then you want to make sure the printer has a heated bed and an extruder capable of reaching 240-270C. 

Niche uses

Check out our guide below to find out which printer suits your specific needs. Some printers allow specific uses such as the portable Ultimaker 2Go. The Ultimaker 3 and Lulzbot TAZ 6 offer dual extrusion capability which is great for uses such as sculptural or architectural models where dissolvable supports save you a lot of post-cleaning work, and functional integrations such as flexible polypropylene parts creating hinges or snap-fits on concept models. For truly flexible material such as Ninjaflex, Lulzbot offers a dedicated Flexystruder tool head for both the TAZ 6 and the Mini where as the Ultimaker line can only work with semi-flexible materials like their TPU95A due to it's bowden style extruder.

 

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Ultimaker and Lulzbot are currently leading brands in the 3D desktop printer market, both trusted with great online community, support and spare parts availability. Yet the machines are built with some noticeable differences. Think of the Lulzbot as a swiss army knife, very versatile with the capability to modify components and use most available materials, whereas the Ultimaker brings you unbeatable print quality.

Extruder type

Lulzbot machines are based on direct drive extrusion, where the driving gear feeding the filament into the nozzle is integrated into the tool head. This construction is slightly better for using different types of filaments but comes at the cost of surface quality and print speed because the extruder is heavier and exerts more momentum. It also makes tool heads interchangeable to install for example the Flexystruder or larger MOARstruder. Ultimaker machines keep the print head lightweight for accurate movements and high speed, while the bowden style extruder does struggle with very flexible filaments.

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Direct drive extruder with the motor driving the filament located directly above the heated nozzle

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Bowden style extruder with the motor driving the filament located on the back of the printer

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Print Volume & Print Bed

 It is always important to consider the size of objects you will need to be able to print. You can compare a printers print volume to get a sense of the max size objects the printer is capable of. Smaller printers like the Lulzbot Mini can print about 6" in every dimension, while larger printer like the Lulzbot Taz 6 or Ultimaker Extended versions have dimensions of up to 11". 

 

Lulzbot machines come with a PEI print bed surface, which adheres well to most filaments without the use of additional glue or tape. Another nice-to-have is that because its construction allows it, it has automatic bed leveling built in which automates the calibration process for you. This is a great feature for those just getting started and looking for more ease of use. This automated calibration process is a feature that the Lulzbot printers share with the Ultimaker 3 line. 

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Lulzbot printers use an open style but have available upgrades like this enclosure to control temperature

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Ultimaker printers are closed on 3 sides which helps to control temperature inside the printing area

Housing

It is important to match your printer to the specific application you are looking to use it for. One thing to consider in this context is an open vs closed frame. Lulzbot printers have a very open frame which can be present challenges for some engineering materials or if you have many curious hands in a classroom environment. Ultimaker printers are more closed in their design which helps to control the airflow within the build area. Ultimaker devices are especially compact and allow a closed-box setup more suitable for the office and educational use.

Lulzbot Mini

Print volume 152 x 152 x 158 mm

Build plate <120 °C Heated PEI

Compatible materials 2.85/3mm PLA, ABS, PVA, woodfill, T-glase, PETG, PCTPE, TPU Max. Build Speed 34 mm3/s Layer height 0.05-0.50mm

Extruders Single direct drive extruder

Max. Temperature 300°C

Connectivity USB Printer bounding volume 435 x 340 x 385 mm

Printer weight 8.55 kg Chassis Steel + Aluminum Sound level 57 dBA

Applications Education, mechanical parts, handheld prototypes

Versatility ☆☆☆

Durability ☆☆☆☆

Ease-of-use ☆☆☆

Print Quality ☆☆☆

Budget $$

The Lulzbot Mini is a very versatile 3D printer that can handle a wide variety of materials. It is easy to use and has an open frame build which makes it perfect for demonstrations and educational settings. It is user friendly enough to use together with young students.

Lulzbot Taz 6

Print volume 280 x 280 x 250 mm

Build plate <120 °C Heated PEI

Compatible materials 2.85/3mm PLA, woodfill, PP, PVA , ABS, CPE, PC, nylon, PETG, PCTPE, TPU, Ninjaflex Max.

Build Speed 25 mm3/s, 144 mm3/s with MOARstruder

Layer height 0.05-0.5mm

Extruders Dual direct drive extruder 

Max.Temperature 300°C

Connectivity SD card / USB

Printer bounding volume 820 x 630 x 520 mm

Printer weight 14.97 kg Chassis Steel + Aluminum Sound level 56 dBA

Applications Prototypes, food-grade, footwear, wearables, composites, architectural, robotics, automotive, prosthetics, small batch manufacture

Versatility ☆☆☆☆☆

Durability ☆☆☆☆

Ease-of-use ☆☆☆

Print Quality ☆☆☆

Budget $$$$

The TAZ 6 is Lulzbot’s most advanced printer and offers a phenomenal build volume as well as the capability to extrude a plenitude of materials. The applications are endless. Its durable all-metal construction allows you to upgrade it with a dual extruder or large flow extruder which radically speeds up your prints. Together with its automatic bed leveling feature, this makes it ideal to handle small production series.

Ultimaker 3

Print volume 215 x 215 x 200 (Extended: 300) mm

Build plate 20-100 °C Heated glass

Compatible materials 2.85/3mm PLA, nylon, ABS, CPE, PVA, PC, TPU 95A, PP, BluPrint

Not recommended Ninjaflex Max.

Build Speed 16 mm3/s Layer height 0.02-0.2mm

Extruders Dual Bowden extruder with interchangeable proprietary cores

Max. Temperature 280°C

Connectivity Wi-Fi, LAN, USB + integrated webcam

Printer bounding volume 342 x 505 x 588 (Extended: 688) mm

Printer weight 10.6 (Extended: 11.3) kg

Chassis Aluminum dibond panels

Sound level 50 dBA

Applications Concept models, art, housewares, education, jewelry, medical-grade, small batch production

Versatility ☆☆☆☆

Durability ☆☆☆☆☆

Ease-of-use ☆☆☆☆

Print Quality ☆☆☆☆☆

Budget $$$$$

The Ultimaker 3 is the all-star of current desktop 3D printers. It offers the most reliable dual extrusion capability with an automatic nozzle lifting system ensuring unparalleled print quality. Print cores are swappable and you can remotely operate and monitor your print through a live webcam.

Ultimaker 2+/Extended+

Print volume 223 x 223 x 205 (Extended: 305) mm

Build plate 50-100 °C Heated glass

Compatible materials 2.85/3mm PLA, nylon, ABS, CPE, PC, TPU 95A, PP Not recommended Ninjaflex, BluPrint

Max. Build Speed 16 mm3/s, 42 mm3/s with 0.8mm nozzle

Layer height 0.06-0.2mm

Extruders Single Bowden extruder with open-source swappable nozzle

Max. Temperature 260°C

Connectivity SD card

Printer bounding volume 342 x 493 x 588 (Extended: 688) mm

Printer weight 11.3 (Extended: 12.3) kg

Chassis Aluminum dibond panel

Sound level 50 dBA

Applications Concept models, enclosures, education, medical-grade, small batch production

Versatility ☆☆☆

Durability ☆☆☆☆

Ease-of-use ☆☆☆☆☆

Print Quality ☆☆☆☆

Budget $$$$

The Ultimaker 2 is a major upgrade from the Original version and can reach great printing speeds while delivering sublime quality. Nozzles are easily swappable and its clean aesthetic and its ability to upgrade it with a door to create a closed box design make it suited for professional environments.

Ultimaker Original+

Print volume 210 x 210 x 205mm

Build plate 50-100 °C Heated glass

Compatible materials 2.85/3mm PLA, ABS, PETG, Nylon, CPE Not recommended Flexible filament, woodfill, PP, BluPrint Max.

Build Speed 10 mm3/s, 30 mm3/s with 0.8mm nozzle

Layer height 0.06-0.3mm

Extruders Bowden, dual extrusion kit available, open source swappable nozzles

Max. Temperature 260°C

Connectivity SD card

Printer bounding volume 342 x 560 x 650mm

Printer weight 10.5 kg Chassis 6mm birch wood

Sound level 57 dBA

Applications Education, concept models, food-safe

Versatility ☆☆☆

Durability ☆☆☆

Ease-of-use ☆☆☆☆☆

Print Quality ☆☆☆

Budget $

If you want to reap all the benefits of a great, reliable 3D printer with a good build area but your budget is limited, Ultimaker Original+ is an excellent choice. It comes standard with a 0.4 mm nozzle which can easily be interchanged and even upgraded to dual extrusion functionality.

Desktop 3D printers allow architects to create plans and concept models of any scale to realize them in 3D. This drastically increases client buy-in and makes it far easier to communicate your ideas and your vision for a project.

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