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HomeTechnologyBambuLab A1 Overview: As Near Good as I've Ever Used

BambuLab A1 Overview: As Near Good as I’ve Ever Used


Professionals

  • Setup is flawless
  • App is superb
  • Wonderful High quality
  • Nicely designed

Cons

  • Filament waste might be a difficulty
  • The “poop flinger” just isn’t good design

Disclaimer: Early variations of this printer had been recalled because of a possible hazard with the print mattress cable. My evaluate unit confirmed no signal of the fault because it appears to occur solely in particular circumstances. You ought to be free to buy a brand new A1 with out this difficulty any more.

It has been a tremendous few years for 3D printing. The arrival of a brand new breed of quick 3D printers that may supply excellent high quality at an affordable worth has opened the door to many new folks. These printers are technically glorious whereas being straightforward to make use of by folks with out technical potential.

The A1 Combo is maybe the perfect instance of a contemporary 3D printer that I’ve seen. It’s — and I say this with no hyperbole — the perfect shopper 3D printer I’ve ever used, and it is as near an ideal 10 as a product could be. Only some small points hold it from that good rating, and none of them ought to deter you from getting one.

The base of an A1 3D printer showing the placement of the screw holes The base of an A1 3D printer showing the placement of the screw holes

James Bricknell / CNET

The A1 required no technical talent to place collectively. When you have ever arrange a paper printer or put collectively a flooring lamp, you will have the talent wanted to arrange this 3D printer. All it took was to take away a plastic cowl, put the bottom in place on the gantry and screw the screws into the holes marked in inexperienced. The ultimate half was to attach some plastic tubing and the ability from the AMS shade system and the printer itself. Extremely easy.

The software program setup is sort of as straightforward. Bambuslicer is easy to obtain and never too troublesome to make use of, and the Bambu Helpful app is evident and simple to comply with. I really like a great companion app, particularly when it is not flooded with ads. Bambu Helpful means that you can monitor the print because it occurs — it may well even file time lapse because the mannequin prints — and allows you to browse Bambu Lab’s Makerworld, a repository of fashions you’ll be able to obtain and print.

Bambu Lab A1 Specs

Construct Quantity (mm) 256 x 256 x 256
Nozzle sort Fast Swap chrome steel
Max nozzle temperature 300C
Construct plate max temperature 100C
Official max pace 500mm/s
Typical pace 200 – 300mm/s
Supported materials PLA, PETG, TPU, PVA
Connectivity WiFi, USB
Slicer Bambu Slicer

Whereas the A1 Combo at $549 is my suggestion, it is potential to purchase them individually. The A1 is a stable printer by itself and is maybe the perfect finances 3D printer round in the present day. Its $400 price ticket makes it a bit dearer than a few of the others in that class, however it’s nonetheless definitely worth the worth. The AMS Lite is an additional $250, so whereas you should buy them individually, it’s going to value you an additional $100 in the long term.

The A1 specs are on par with the present crop of greatest quick 3D printers. The structure is Cartesian — the mattress strikes ahead and again because the mannequin prints, as a substitute of CoreXY — the mattress strikes solely up and down – like the corporate’s different printers (the P1S and X1 Carbon). The print quantity is 256 x 256 x 256mm with an official print pace of 500mm/s. At no level can this printer really print at that pace although. The quickest it may well go with out wanting horrible is round 300mm/s, which continues to be quicker than loads of the competitors.

High quality with out compromise

Green, red, and gold aztec dragons on a wooden table Green, red, and gold aztec dragons on a wooden table

James Bricknell / CNET

High quality and pace are sometimes at odds. The quicker you go along with a 3D printer, the extra the standard suffers, and this has been true for the final decade. Bambu Lab helped change that premise with the X1 Carbon and P1P and has continued the pattern with the A1 mini and now the A1. Now you can get the identical high quality print from this $500 printer at 300mm/s as you’d have gotten from a $900 machine at 75mm/s three years in the past. It is a tremendous leap, and one which I welcome.

The A1, even with out the AMS, is able to gorgeous prints at excessive pace. I discovered the candy spot to be round 200mm/s for the very best quality. You possibly can go quicker, but when the mannequin is tall, you run the danger of it shaking off the construct plate or for those who’re printing in shade, quicker speeds could cause layer skipping. As you’ll be able to see from the Aztec dragons from Fotis Mint, the small print stand out in sharp reduction. I’ve printed in extra of fifty fashions on this machine by now and they’re nearly universally glorious. 

The A1 additionally has fast swap nozzles that may provide help to print even quicker. With a 0.6mm nozzle as a substitute of the usual 0.4mm, you’ll be able to push extra plastic by way of in a rush. There are even 0.8mm nozzles that you should utilize to make robust components that need not look fairly and all of the nozzles take just a few seconds to alter. It is one other means the A1 feels quick extra person pleasant than earlier than. You now not want a wrench and threat breaking components to take away a nozzle. You simply unclip it, throw it away and substitute it. 

Carry shade into your life

2 Santa skulls with beards and santa hats 2 Santa skulls with beards and santa hats

James Bricknell / CNET

The A1 is an effective printer by itself, however the AMS Lite system that comes with the combo is what elevates the entire to a near-perfect product. It is also, apparently sufficient, the most important cause it is not an ideal machine. 

AMS stands for Automated Materials System and it is what helps you to print completely different colours on the A1. The Lite model that comes with the A1 does not have an enclosure just like the P and X sequence AMS, however it works in an identical means. Utilizing the packaged software program, you’ll be able to “paint” the floor of your mannequin, and the AMS will feed as much as 4 completely different colours into your printer to match. This offers you loads of scope for making prints that look completed without having to color them. 

I’ve spent loads of time utilizing the A1 and A1 Mini with the AMS Lite and packaged collectively they’re extremely highly effective. Just like the Mini, the A1 combo feels nearly utterly plug-and-play in a means that so few printers have earlier than. In all my years of utilizing 3D printers, nothing comes near the convenience of use that comes from these two machines working in tandem. The AMS may stand to be a bit extra sturdy, and I believe the tubes between it and the A1 are too quick (it makes it exhausting to load the filament), however it does work very effectively at making multicolor prints.

What a waste

A potion bottle covered in the filament waste it took to print it A potion bottle covered in the filament waste it took to print it

James Bricknell / CNET

The A1 Combo’s greatest promoting level can also be its greatest level of failure. The AMS, when printing a number of colours produces waste. This waste comes from purging the filament so that you just get good transitions between the colours. This produces what is usually often known as “printer poop,” and as you’ll be able to see, it produces loads of it. On some prints, the waste outweighs the finished mannequin, and that is simply not sustainable. You possibly can mitigate it by enhancing the values and possibly printing one other mannequin utilizing the purged materials, however you will by no means actually do away with it. If you’re printing with PLA, it isn’t so unhealthy because it’s biodegradable for those who compost it accurately, however another materials goes to create loads of waste plastic that is not going anyplace. 

The waste is not the most important difficulty although. In any case, a industrial disposable lid manufacturing unit will probably make extra plastic waste than hobbyist 3D printers may ever hope to generate, however the waste does spotlight my least favourite a part of the machine: the “poop flinger.”

A broken 3D print on the A1 Combo A broken 3D print on the A1 Combo

James Bricknell / CNET

The poop flinger, or waste cutter to provide it the correct identify, is a ache level in each means. It is a tiny little blade that’s purported to scrape the filament from the nozzle then a spring flings the bundle away to the left facet of the machine. Not solely is that this messy if you do not have a pot to catch it, however it’s additionally efficient possibly solely 60% of the time. The opposite 40% of the time, the waste sticks to the nozzle and both will get caught on the purge tower — one other waste block that is required to paint print on the A1 — or on the mannequin itself. Having plastic the place it should not be is the foremost explanation for layer shifts and fails and equates to nearly all of my frustration with the A1. 

The mannequin you’ll be able to see within the picture right here was purported to have 4 colours: pink, claret, gold and marble for the moon. As a result of the poop flinger is unable to accurately clear the filament it stored knocking over the purge tower or inflicting layer shifts within the mannequin itself. By the point I managed to get a whole mannequin, I had used three-quarters of two of the colours and a couple of quarter every of the opposite two. That is round 2 kilograms, or 4 kilos, of fabric to make this one 250-gram mannequin. It was enormously irritating. 

Nonetheless the perfect regardless of the problems

The issues highlighted above are irritating, however not sufficient to alter my outlook on this machine. Just like the A1 Mini Combi earlier than it, the A1 Combo is a 3D printer which you can’t assist however admire. It is the bridge between these of us who like to tinker and already benefit from the 3D printing house and people who wish to strive 3D printing with out all the finicky engineering that goes together with it. With the A1 Combo, you’ll be able to have gorgeous prints with little or no effort at a worth that is price each penny.



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