Overview: LulzBot TAZ SideKick – a configurable, open-source FDM 3D printer
13 mins read

Overview: LulzBot TAZ SideKick – a configurable, open-source FDM 3D printer

3D Printing Trade critiques the LulzBot TAZ SideKick 289 3D printer.

Designed by US-based 3D printer OEM FAME 3D, the SideKick is the newest addition to the LulzBot TAZ line of FDM 3D printers.

The only extrusion plug-and-play system is appropriate for anybody from hobbyists and prosumers to skilled designers and academic establishments, enabling out-the-box useful prototyping at an inexpensive worth level of sub-$1,000. According to LulzBot’s historical past of open-source {hardware}, over 50% of the SideKick’s components are 3D printed and might be discovered as downloadable STL information on the corporate’s GitLab. The system additionally runs on open-source Marlin firmware, which is nice for those who have a knack for workshop tinkering.

Some of the noteworthy options of the SideKick is its in depth configurability, as LulzBot permits prospects to pick out its colour, construct quantity, default instrument head, construct floor, and electronics. This makes for a degree of reconfigurability you actually don’t see all that always within the desktop FDM market, which is thrilling in and of itself.

The smaller model of the system is known as the SideKick 289 (162 x 162 x 181mm construct quantity), whereas the bigger variation is the SideKick 747 (231 x 231 x 248mm construct quantity). For the needs of this assessment, we’ll be working with the TAZ SideKick 289.

The LulzBot TAZ SideKick 289 3D printer. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
The LulzBot TAZ SideKick 289 3D printer. Photograph by 3D Printing Trade.

A LulzBot staple

Regardless of its title, the SideKick is definitely not a ‘facet merchandise’ within the LulzBot vary. The system presents a lot of the identical performance as its predecessors, albeit in a extra compact (however extra inexpensive) bundle.

Very like the remainder of LulzBot’s 3D printers, the SideKick encompasses a fully open body made from sturdy powder-coated steel. Since there’s no built-in enclosure, for larger temperature filaments like ABS, it might be essential to rigorously management the ambient temperature of the room itself to keep away from warping and delamination points. That apart, the graceful metal rods, self-lubricating linear bushings, angled extrusions, and Delrin V-wheels make the system really feel unmistakably sturdy, as is predicted of LulzBot printers.

The machine relies on the cartesian axis system, a configuration recognized for its rigidity and accuracy, whereby the mattress travels within the Y-axis and the printhead is belt-driven within the X- and Z- axes. The SideKick additionally presents a most mattress temperature of 110°C and options automated mattress leveling utilizing a BLTouch sensor. We discovered the automated leveling, particularly, to work like a appeal – no complaints right here.

Trying on the SideKick’s materials capabilities, we now have a most nozzle temperature of 290°C and direct drive extrusion, enabling the system to print with over 10 high-performance polymer filaments. This contains ABS, PETG, PA, PC, TPU, and extra, all in both a 1.75mm or 2.85mm filament dimension.

On the electronics facet, we now have a 3.2” LCD consumer interface for previewing prints, beginning builds, loading the filament, and calibrating the Z-axis. Very like all Marlin firmware printers, the UI is intuitive and simple to navigate, though we thought the implementation of a touchscreen would’ve been good. So far as connectivity choices go, customers can choose between a USB cable and an SD card.

The 3.2” gLCD Controller. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
The three.2” gLCD Controller. Photograph by 3D Printing Trade.

A myriad of configurable {hardware}

So simply how configurable is the LulzBot TAZ SideKick? Because it seems: very. The primary of the alternatives is a beauty one, with prospects having the ability to select between Stealth Black and LulzBot Inexperienced for the colour of the printer.

Subsequent, we now have the choice of construct quantity dimension. The smaller SideKick 289 comes with 4.75L whereas the bigger SideKick 747 boasts a hearty 13.23L, however bear in mind that the latter comes at the next value so select in accordance with your wants.

LulzBot additionally supplies a selection between two totally different construct surfaces: a PEI-coated borosilicate glass floor or an OctoGrab detachable magnetic flex mattress. The borosilicate glass isn’t magnetic so half removing would require somewhat extra elbow grease. Once more, determine when you’d wish to pay for the comfort.

PEI-coated borosilicate glass bed. Photo by 3D Printing Industry.
PEI-coated borosilicate glass mattress. Photograph by 3D Printing Trade.

The following configurability choice is within the Software Head. The SideKick as soon as once more options LulzBot’s signature Common Mounting System, that means customers can select between any of the corporate’s 9 modular Common Mount System Software Heads. Software Head modifications are additionally made simple by the proprietary thumbscrew design, that means there’s no want for Allen keys or different hand instruments. Our assessment system makes use of the E3D Titan Aero extruder tailored for two.85mm filaments. Its exterior construction is essentially 3D printed, decreasing the load of the printhead for extra fluid motion.

The ultimate configurability choice is said to electronics. Firstly, prospects can select so as to add or take away the gLCD Controller mounted on the entrance of the printer – we suggest retaining this on as you’d want a devoted pc to regulate the printer with out it. There’s additionally the choice so as to add a filament runout sensor, which is able to pause a print when it detects the top of a spool. As soon as a brand new spool is loaded, the construct will resume the place it left off. We additionally suggest including this on as it could actually actually save your conceal on bigger in a single day prints.

Cura slicer – LulzBot Version

LulzBot supplies its personal slicing software program to be used with all of its 3D printers. Named Cura LulzBot Version, the software program is each free and easy-to-use, providing all the performance one would anticipate of a high-performance FDM slicer.

Very like the unique Cura, the LulzBot Version has primary translation, rotation, and resizing capabilities, all wrapped up within the firm’s green-grey colour scheme. For the reason that movement system is similar to most different slicers in the marketplace, it’s easy sufficient to select up with a couple of minutes of experimenting with the mouse. The UI can be glossy with minimal muddle, and all the menus are intuitive sufficient to traverse with out a hiccup.

LulzBot prides itself on its portfolio of ‘open supplies’ 3D printers, and this may be seen spilling over into the agency’s slicer. The software program comes full with a number of ready-to-use print profiles for all the most typical 3D printing filaments. In fact, Cura LulzBot Version additionally supplies an intensive record of customizable parameters for those who would somewhat fine-tune their builds to their liking. This contains temperatures, print speeds, infills, layers, and even tree-like helps.

In the end, the slicer is about what you’d anticipate from a Cura clone – it really works and it really works effectively.

The Cura LulzBot Edition UI. Image by 3D Printing Industry.
The Cura LulzBot Version UI. Picture by 3D Printing Trade.

Benchmarking the LulzBot TAZ SideKick: 55/100

Now comes time to benchmark the TAZ SideKick 289. This portion of the assessment is the place we consider the printing efficiency of the system, beginning off with 3D Printing Trade’s personal benchmarking mannequin, which consolidates lots of our smaller print exams into one complete half. We normally print this check in PLA to check outcomes between printers, however we additionally usually attempt a PETG or ABS variant to see how the machine handles larger temperature filaments.

This time round, we printed two PETG benchmarking fashions: one with the default 0.5mm nozzle and yet another with the next precision 0.25mm nozzle (LulzBot SL Software Head). We assign every of the person sections a weighted rating primarily based on elements akin to dimensional precision, floor high quality, and structural integrity. The SideKick earned an total 3D Printing Trade rating of 55/100 (a good rating for a professional-grade 3D printer).

We begin off with the overhang portion of the benchmarking fashions, which is designed to showcase the angles at which the system can print with out help buildings. The LulzBot managed to print overhangs as much as 60° in each instances, which is a superb end result for a high-temperature filament like PETG (particularly contemplating the open-frame nature of the machine). We’ve discovered most printers on this worth vary to common across the 55° mark.

Transferring on, we now have the bridging check, which determines how effectively a system can print horizontally into the void. Once more, each print runs achieved similar outcomes and managed to succeed in the 25mm bridge size earlier than the buildings began curving and morphing. That is a mean end result for a professional-grade 3D printer.

Sadly, the retraction check is de facto the place the SideKick stumbled, which is shocking given the truth that it’s fitted with an E3D extruder. Each benchmarking fashions delivered artifacts on the spikes with an abundance of stringing, which we attributed to a poor filament cooling system. The artifacts are resulting from the truth that the filament doesn’t have sufficient time to chill down earlier than the nozzle strikes onto the subsequent spike, leaving a molten path. Whereas the end result does look messy, it may be mounted by slowing the print pace down considerably.

We additionally needed to see how the SideKick’s 0.25mm nozzle would deal with small-scale inventive components, so we 3D printed a few tabletop fashions from the Warhammer sequence: Marauder Ugo and a WHM-IIC battlemech.

With the 0.25mm nozzle, we managed to get the layer peak down to only 0.05mm, leading to two extraordinarily clear prints. The Ugo mannequin, particularly, featured very easy surfaces with just about invisible layer strains. Trying carefully, we are able to see tiny floor particulars just like the vasculature on the chest and the patterning on the armor. Alternatively, the battlemech had just a few tough surfaces nevertheless it was the smaller of the 2, and definitely a troublesome half to print utilizing FDM expertise. Total, the SideKick produced some very spectacular outcomes right here, nearly matching the floor high quality of a resin-based system.

Lastly, we tried our hand at just a few useful mechanical exams with a planetary gear system and a screw meeting. Dynamic assemblies like these permit us to find out how dimensionally exact a printer is, because the fluidity of the components’ actions and the general ease of meeting are completely depending on how tight the tolerances are.

Each units of prints got here out fantastically. The gear system required completely no post-processing, and there was little or no resistance between the gears – it may definitely be used as half of a bigger useful prototype. Equally, the 28mm screw assemblies had no defects on the threads and have been exact sufficient to assemble with out a hitch. An enormous success for the SideKick.

The decision

After all of the trials and tribulations, we are able to say that the TAZ SideKick is among the extra cost-efficient 3D printers within the LulzBot portfolio. The system is as sturdy as they arrive, the automated leveling delivers, and the unimaginable array of configurable choices permit for a extremely individualized 3D printing expertise – all with out breaking the financial institution. Moreover, having the choice to obtain and 3D print lots of the smaller elements of the machine can actually lengthen its service life, which is way appreciated in an period of deliberate obsolescence.

So far as shortcomings go, the system may use among the extra superior options that come as customary on skilled 3D printers lately, together with Wi-Fi connectivity and a touchscreen interface. The modest construct quantity can be nothing to jot down house about, however the significance of this may rely in your particular wants.

For those who’re on a funds and want a dependable 3D printer for small half prototyping, the LulzBot TAZ SideKick will see you proper.

Technical specs and pricing

Construct quantity 162 x 162 x 181mm (4.75L)
XYZ decision 10, 10, 5 microns
Nozzle temperature 290°C
Mattress temperature 120°C
Layer thickness As much as 0.4mm (printhead dependent)
Nozzle diameter 0.25 – 1.2mm (printhead dependent)
Filament diameter 1.75mm/2.85mm
Connectivity SD, USB

Purchase the LulzBot TAZ SideKick 289 3D printer right here. The system is on the market to order now, ranging from $795.

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Featured picture exhibits the LulzBot TAZ SideKick 289 3D printer. Photograph by 3D Printing Trade.

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