I’ve had a few nice comments and emails regarding my post on selection of the Taz 5 purchase. I plan to do a short series of posts regarding things I think might help new owners - part of this because of Sean Ong’s questions in my comments. I think many people may have been dealing with the tough decision of what to buy. The good news is that I think us Taz 5 owners made a great decision. This years Make Magazine Digital Fabrication Shootout backs us up. The Lulzbot Taz 5 is the best overall winner. I hate to say this, but I rarely win anything gambling. I tend to lose at penny poker and definitely am just throwing money on the curb when I buy a lottery ticket. However I took a chance on Lulzbot and I feel like I came out ahead - my lottery win so to speak.
Onward. A few tips.
Bed Leveling - I may do a short video later and add it to this post
First and foremost… get a dial indicator and print a mount for it. You’ll need to follow the Taz 5 book instructions for the first leveling to get a decent print started so you can do this. I purchased a nice little digital dial indicator from my local harbor freight. Works great. Occasionally I forget to turn it off so I do go through batteries. A mounted dial indicator makes bed leveling easier - but more importantly, more accurate than eyeing the nozzle height. I printed Uptime’s Dial Indicator Mount for Taz 5 right away and use it to keep things level before every major print session. Here’s how I level the bed:
- Mount the dial indicator onto the extruder.
- Heat the bed and nozzle close to what your print temp will be - i notice things change when I level the bed cold.
- Back the filament out 5 or 10 millimeters to reduce ooze. Also clean the hotend off frequently with a clean rag to ensure there’s no plastic getting in the way
- Then I use a small metal ruler and try to calculate where my leveling points will be… roughly 8 centimeters in from each edge and then use 10mm moves to go from corner leveling point to corner leveling point. I use 8 centimeters bc it’s just barely enough room for me to get a hex tool in to adjust all the corners without having to move the extruder out of the way first.
- Mentally select your corner that is the control - the corner you don’t adjust on the bed. If you don’t have one corner as a control, you can cause a bow in the bed. I learned this from experience. On your control corner you adjust your hotend tip to be the height you want from the bed - in my case i use the left front corner closest to me and I set it at .2mm space between the hotend and the bed. Do this by adjusting the Z axis stop visually to be several millimeters higher than the bed. You will gradually lower the Z-Stop and home to the Z. As you tweak it down at small increments you will get it the point where it just BARELY touches the bed. Then I set 0 on the dial indicator… this can be tricky because the mount may move a bit. Once you are zeroed in… move up tiny increments to your first layer height. In my case .2 mm. Keep in mind this isn’t perfect so at some point you will start to visually adjust your first layer thickness until it looks good. I’ve even printed first layer discs and scraped them off to measure them.
- This is KEY - after you have the hot end roughly the height you want from the control corner… lift the extruder 10mm and move to the next location. Don’t move the hotend without lifting it first or it will gradually become inaccurate as you move corner to corner dragging the dial indicator. DON’T drop the extruder 10mm to the new corner the first time… instead take it down in 1mm increments then .1 or .2 until it hits the z axis stop or you are concerned you might hit the bed with the hotend - adjust the bed down until you’re sure there will be no contact. Once the hotend is bottomed to the Z-stop at the new corner without hitting the bed - you can carefully, with light touch, use the hex tool to adjust the bed until the dial indicator is 0 - or really close. Then repeat this step in the other corners - and repeat it a couple times. I usually do front left control, next front right, next back right, next back left, next front control. If the front control is off… reset the 0 and repeat. Some days I think I have a heavy hand and this can take HOURS… lol. In my mind. Usually 5 minutes but on a bad day 10-15.
ABS vs PLA, Brand vs Brand
This is probably the most subjective area I have an opinion on. There are folks out there that only recommend one brand of filament or the other. Some swear by ABS (I used to) over Pla. The reason i bought the Taz 5 is it’s capability to allow experimentation. That being said, I also like to make some nice prints.
I am saving my ABS for the future.
I tried for over a month to get good ABS prints. however anything over 2omm high or 50mm wide would have issues. Bed adhesion was good but the open air/environment I am sure was causing my prints to have numerous defects and inconsistencies. I believe some people have the perfect environment without an enclosure - I wouldn’t argue with them when they say the Taz prints great, large ABS prints out of the box. That’s not me yet. I plan to purchase or build a new enclosure once I get settled in a new house. for now, I use PLA and occasionally nylon which are more forgiving.
My current choice of PLA. In the St. Louis area there is a Microcenter that carries tons of filament. Unfortunately almost all of it is 1.75mm since they promote Makerbot and da Vinci machines heavily. They did however carry Velleman 3mm PLA. I recommend whatever brand you get, do some research and make sure there are no bad reviews. Then go for it. The method I chose was to print heavily in one color (Black - since I couldn’t get to annoyed by it) through two or three spools of filament until I felt I could almost nail my next print. Then I got the same brand in white… and low and behold, it was almost like starting over. Temps change, speed changed, it oozed more, I had issues with adherence etc. once I nailed settings for white… back in black. lol.
One of my 3d Printing Heros - Mhackney. Don’t tell him. I stalk him online to see what he’s got an opinion on.
MHackney. I can’t say enough about this guy - I’ve mentioned him in previous posts. He distributes models of his own design of a 3d printed fly reel for free, shares generous portions of content on the SeeMeCNC forum and Lulzbot forum and has spectacular prints. I aspire to get my Taz to print like his… and I’m nowhere close yet.
In upcoming posts I will try to do a little more diligence in gathering specific details, share my latest configs for filament, and if possible do a quick video of my bed leveling technique. However I think I need to go back a reread the Eclectic Angler’s guides again to hopefully nail the dimensional accuracy of my printer.The Taz 5 - some tips and thoughts