Lulzbot mini is now available on Amazon.

Lulzbot mini is now available on Amazon. I looked at the specs and I am not sure what the extra $500 getting me comparing to a printrbot simple metal with heated bed upgrade. Can someone help me out?

Way overpriced

Specs don’t capture build quality, ease of use or print quality, so it’s possible it exceeds the pb Metal Simple in some of those areas?

Arguably the full gantry X axis of the Mini will result in improved stability over the cantilevered Y axis of the Simple, but I imagine the Simple’s billet Al bearing blocks and 12 mm rods would give it a shot at equal or better stability in practice.

The auto-tramming solution used in the Mini sounds intriguing, but who knows how it’ll really perform. It has the advantage of not requiring adjustment when changing nozzles but I have no clue how easy it is to change nozzles on the Mini so that may be irrelevant.

The Simple’s probe wiring has seemed somewhat prone to failing (not sure if pb has addressed this), so the system employed by the Mini could have a reliability advantage out of the gate (something that would be hard to evaluate without a bunch of users “in the field” chiming in over time).

The documentation on the Mini looks pretty great, so this may give it a serious “ease of use” advantage over the Simple. PB has a great community and good support direct from Brook here and on Twitter, but their documentation could stand some serious attention in my humble opinion.

Right now, the Simple is in all ways the saner choice I believe, but the Mini looks pretty sweet too and these kinds of choices are not always rational.

[Wow, didn’t intend to write an essay…]

The Lulzbot Mini is a fully open source machine. Lulzbot does what they do in order to remain free and open. This means everything. When I asked, they didn’t hesitate to mail me their shop flow, programs they used for running their business, etc. All of their printers are well documented, and licensed either GPLv3, or CC BY SA. No non-commercial stuff there either…you can build and sell (theoretically, though it’s frowned upon) Lulzbot’s own 3D printers if you wish.

The “Extra” $500 is supporting people who have living wages paid, and not only respect the open source community, but live by their word as a company to the core.

@ThantiK These are great points although for my consumer dollar pb is “open enough”.

We are fully open source but lulzbot has a great obsession about documentation and speed of documentation that is second to none. That IS one area I need to improve on. While we are completely open, my lag on posting designs hurts that claim… There is some joke about good intentions here… My metal designs (simple and plus) have yet to be posted, but will be and I’ve given them to a few upon request with an apology about how there be cleanup to do in the design tree, etc. I still have a fear of rip offs but I’m paranoid I think. Historically, my rapid changes - although much less prominent with the metal designs- do create confusion for some. The firmware is a good example… Pushing improvements out the day we discover but lagging on documentation. I’ll try to up my game.

“Open enough” is a practical description and fair, but just know my goal is to be completely open with no qualifiers. Rich rap told me he is prone to waiting to post designs due to the time sink of truly excellent documentation… That resonates.

The probe suffered from lack of power on some when we first launched. We fixed that. Then wire fatigue in the cable. We fixed that. Then occasional complaints about random probe death… Traced to a marginal transistor that can fail in rare circumstances… We fixed that too. I have personally had my probe fail once but early on and not since. We print on multiple machines daily, so I can say with confidence it works well, but we won’t rest until it’s perfect.

I’m confident we have many many more bots in the wild than anyone but MakerBot - as far as consumer bots go. We should hit 35000 soon. So sometimes my small problems have a loud megaphone when compared to a company that has shipped a tenth of the units I have. That means a 1-2% failure affects more people. It’s good because we tend to spot problems really quickly and fix at my expense. It’s the cost of moving fast and selling so well.

One other point. My customers tend to be new to 3d printing , probably a function of price point. This skews feedback sometimes- MakerBot and ultimaker skew towards professionals and I would guess lulzbot too - again, a guess based on price point alone. Some newbies can be intimidated with simple troubleshooting and really be vocal about problems…, kicking themselves for risking a chance on such a new technology and kicking me for not being perfect.

How’s that for a novel!? Rereading, it sounds defensive, but trying to be open with challenges and expectations. One thing I’ve done right is to be open about challenges and problems. I’m shocked at how some CEOs of 3d companies remain so quiet. There is a lot to learn from my mistakes… Imagine if we could learn from all of them!?


I think that is an excellent analysis Brook. I find price discussions annoying as I expect people to price their product such that they can keep making them, rather than trying to take as much money off the table as they can (well with the exception of M).

Perception weighs heavily in pricing and some maximize profits with features they claim are better. I’ve set out to lower prices, increase build volume and raise quality. If I can do that, it leaves little differentiating factors to argue when comparing brands and specs.

I don’t think the extra $500 makes the mini significantly overpriced when compared to the metal simple with heated bed. The mini can print more types materials right out of the box, has very good documentation and a custom version of Cura with profiles for all types of printing. That has value. Is it $500 more valuable? I dunno, I guess that depends if you already had a printer versus it being your first.