LulzBot is a fascinating company producing very well-regarded 3D printers, but one aspect of their business is unlike most others.
LulzBot is proud to use and support open source approaches on their product line, and because of this, it’s often possible to get a sneak peek at what they’ve been working on.
The company publishes information about products and prototypes on their development site as they traverse the product development lifecycle. As such, it is actually possible to see in advance their new model, TAZ 6.
It’s a bit like being invited into a private club, as the products have not-so-secret code names.
This is a glimpse at things almost no other 3D printing company would do. In fact, the recent J750 announcement from Stratasys was cloaked in major secrecy until the big day. There’s no way Stratasys would undertake product development in the way LulzBot does.
According to LulzBot’s development site, there have been several iterations of product that will eventually turn into the TAZ 6:
- "Kauri" - EVT version of the next printer after TAZ 5.0
- "Lancewood" - DVT version of the next printer after TAZ 5.0
- "Mangrove" - DVT prototype run of the TAZ 6.0, 10 units
- "Nutmeg" - SAT prototype run #1 of the TAZ 6, 10 units
- "Nutwort" - SAT prototype run #2 of the TAZ 6, 20 units
- "Olive" - First Production run of the TAZ 6.0, 3000 units
And what does the “Olive” / TAZ 6 look like? Check out the image at top and this one.
They even provide all the documentation that would come with the final assembled unit, including the setup guide, an excerpt shown here demonstrates how to plug in one of the stepper motors.
So what appears to be different in the TAZ 6 from its predecessor, the TAZ 5? Here’s a few things I noticed:
- The electronics are housed in a special side unit that looks a lot more attractive. It’s possible there’s room for more stuff to be installed there.
- The extruder now has dual fans that should increase reliability and quality of PLA prints in particular
- The tabs holding the print plate down seem to be different. Magnetic?
- The extruder mechanism is quite different and likely supports use of additional materials
- Most of the remainder of the machine appears similar, such as the frame, control screen and filament path.
But no, the TAZ 6 is technically not yet for sale, but it sure sounds like it will be soon.