Tag Archives: 3D Printing

Taz and Remix 3D Printers

The Lulzbot TAZ 3D printers are one of the most user-friendly printers on the market. The first two printers in the LulzBot 3D Printer cluster were Prusa RepRaps put together with printed parts purchased off the Internet. They were built in the first quarter of 2011. These two printers printed the next set of parts needed by the subsequent LulzBot Prusa Clonedels.

LulzBot was founded in 2011 by the parent company Aleph Objects. Their fully open-source workhorses are renowned for their robust design and reliability, though their high prices have largely kept them off the individual hacker’s bench. While the printers did not do well in the consumer market, it did exceptional in the industrial market. The reliability of their machines got them to be used by the United States Marines. The open-source system led it to be used by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA uses a modded Lulzbot TAZ 4 to 3D print tools on the International Space Station.

Though the Lulzbot TAZ printers had short success in the industrial and commercial field, consumers did not want to spend a grand on a desktop printer when there were better, cheaper options. Due to this, in 2018, the company announced that there were many layoffs in the company. This came in correlation with bad financials following the first quarter of that year. An email attributed to Aleph Objects states, “We regret to inform you that the owners of Aleph Objects Inc, makers of Lulzbot 3D printers, have decided to close down the business as of Wednesday, October 9th, 2019. Operations will continue through October 31st, 2019 to sell through existing inventory.” Of the company’s 113 employees, only 22 would remain onboard to maintain day-to-day operations.

Following the speculation that Aleph Objects, manufacturer of Lulzbot open-source 3D printers had met its end, the company has refused to deny claims that it is indeed shutting down. Some insiders said they had heard expected a buyout, and soon the sale of Aleph Objects to Fargo Additive Manufacturing Equipment 3D (FAME 3D) became official.

This new financial backing certainly is good news, but it would be naive to think this is the end of LulzBot’s troubles. The community has made it clear that cheaper and more accessible desktop printers are more attractive. The company has said they are willing to create a new, more affordable option to their printers. Though Lulzbot’s company has had issues internally, the projects such as its entry into the 3D bioprinting market in early 2018 may keep the printer’s name afloat.

Written by: P. Friedman

FDM Versus SLA 3D Printing

What is FDM Printing?

FDM printing is the most common method of 3D printing. It is the easiest to learn and is the most cost-effective way to print. FDM printing stands for Fusion Deposition Modeling. It is also commonly referred to as FFF, which stands for Fused Filament Fabrication. Both FDM and FFF are the same process, and the terms are interchangeable. The actual process involves melting a spool of plastic material at high temperatures through a nozzle that travels along a specific path to model the object you are printing. This path is created by G-code, a list of coordinates that tell the nozzle where to go and when.


The most considerable advantage of FDM printing is its price. It is very cheap to print using FDM printing. A good hobby printer costs about $250, and material can cost $20 per spool, which gives you 1kg of material. FDM printing is very friendly to people who are new to 3D printing, which is one of the main reasons it is so popular. All the user needs to do is load the object into the slicing software (so the printer knows what to do with the object), press print, and give the printer time to make your part. If the objects you want to print are for practical purposes, FDM prints are stronger than SLA prints, which allows them to last much longer.


Because FDM printers are so popular, there are countless different printers from which to choose. All these options can make it hard to decide what printer to buy, and they vary widely in usability from one to the other. FDM printers can also be a bit finicky, depending on the printer, causing you to spend time fine-tuning it. Many variables, like the software settings, mechanical aspects, maintenance, and even the climate of the room, can all affect how your printer runs to get a successful print. There are also many different types of filaments that require higher temperatures, heated beds, enclosures for the printer, and stronger filaments that can even wear down the printer’s internal components. Not all printers can print with every filament type, so be aware of the limitations of your printer. Some brands will mention the specific filaments their printers can print with, which is something to keep in mind depending on what you want to do with a printer.

What is SLA Printing?

SLA printers are quickly growing more accessible since the price of these printers is getting cheaper. A few years ago, a reliable SLA printer would have cost roughly $2000, but now an SLA printer that can produce high-quality prints costs about $300.

This method of printing involves a pool of resin rather than plastic cured by ultraviolet light. The light is projected by an LCD screen below the resin pool, curing the resin at each cross-section. The printer will then peel the cured layer off the base to let fresh, uncured resin flow under the object allowing the light to cure the next layer. Because this method cures material, rather than depositing material layer by layer, SLA printing enables you to achieve much greater detail in the object than what you might be able to get out of FDM printing.


SLA printing is the way to go for objects with high detail, steep overhangs, and intricate parts. SLA can also achieve much greater detail in layer height, to the point where layers are nearly indistinguishable. Most of the applications for SLA include miniatures, jewelry, and highly complex objects. This printing method is the best choice for aesthetic prints.


The printer itself is quite loud, given the fan needs to work hard to keep the electronics from overheating. The resin used to make the prints has a very potent smell, causing you to need a well-ventilated area for the printer when using it. When the print is complete, it needs to go through an acetone bath to remove the uncured resin and be placed in a UV curing station to improve its strength. These added steps to post-processing are not needed with FDM printing and require extra materials that need to be purchased. The prints themselves, though very high detailed, are not very strong. SLA prints cannot withstand stress well before they break, so if the object goes under any consistent strain, it will not last long. SLA prints are also sensitive to UV light, so if they are exposed to the sun for an extended time, they will become brittle and degrade.

Of course, there are more methods to 3D printing than just these two, but since they are the most common, they are the most reasonable to discuss. There are many more advantages and disadvantages to both FDM and SLA printing, but both are perfectly effective for 3d printing for different needs and purposes. When deciding which method is the best for you, look at what you need to print, what its purpose is, and the limitations that either method possesses to produce your intended object effectively.

Written By: K. Mortensen

PolyPrinter 3D Printers

The Spark Makerspace offers many options for 3D printing. All of our printers use Fused Deposition Modeling, where the printer lays down hundreds of layers of molten plastic one at a time, slowly building up your model. This method of 3D printing was invented in 1988 and is one of the most popular forms of 3D printing in the consumer and maker communities. The plastic used by these printers come in the form of filament spools and can be made out of many different plastics, including ABS, PLA, and Nylon. Filaments can also contain additives for unique effects such as wood, metal, and carbon fiber. A few of the printers we use are Poly Printers, which are locally sourced 3D Printers that deliver fast, reliable, and accurate 3D prints. Poly Printer was founded in 2012 in Midlothian, Texas, and offers a few types of printers, including the 229 and 465dx models, which can print a variety of sizes and materials.

Stop by either of our 2 locations to use these printers and more!

Written By: A. Sliter

Prusa 3D Printers

Prusa Research was founded in 2012 by Josef Prusa. The company started as just himself with no outside funding and quickly began to grow into a now 500-person company with over 9,000 printers running at the Prusa factory. His original i3 design for the printer became one of the most popular 3D printer designs due to its open-source nature. They have become the fastest-growing tech company in Western Europe with a growth rate of 17,118% over the last four years. The largest reason for the company’s success is the decision to remain a completely open source. All the firmware, models, circuit board designs, and blueprints have been made public for people to customize, improve, and tinker with to make the product their own if they care to do so. Prusa has managed to be a leader in 3D printing innovation and design because of this principle. This allows people within this community to build off the work of those that came before them, instead of constantly having to work from the ground up. There are countless other 3D printing companies and designs out there, but you would be hard-pressed to find a printer that is not based on or highly influenced by the work of Prusa. Prusa Research has managed to play one of the largest roles in innovation for the 3D printing community in such a short amount of time, and it has been one of the largest contributors to the progression of 3D printing today.

Written By: K. Mortensen