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- Modern mainboard features
- Auto bed leveling
- Large online community
- Premium components
- Fully assembled
- Direct drive extruder
- PEI build surface has good balance of adhesion and part removal
- Wireless printing
- Linear rail motion system
- All-metal hot end
- Dual gear extruder
- Limited build volume
About the Bambu Lab A1 Mini
The Bambu Lab A1 Mini is an entry-level 3D printer with advanced sensors and printing features that are typically only found on machines in higher price tiers. Its build volume of 180 x 180 x 180 mm (7.1" x 7.1" x 7.1") is smaller than average, and the single Z column design doesn't offer the same physical stability of the standard 2-column or enclosed frame designs found on many other printers. However, the calibration and monitoring features of the A1 Mini may make up for these shortcomings. The A1 Mini includes a direct drive extruder with an all-metal hot end that can heat up to 300°C, allowing it to print most standard filament types, including flexible filament. However, the PEI build plate can only heat up to 80°C, which will limit the printer's ability to print certain materials such as ABS. The Bambu Lab A1 Mini includes advanced firmware features such as vibration compensation and pressure advance, improving print quality. The A1 Mini also includes automatic bed leveling and Z offset calibration to simplify the calibration process. A new flow rate sensor in the hot end allows it to calibrate the flow rate of the filament to further improve printing performance. Similar to other Bambu Lab printers, the A1 Mini includes WiFi connectivity, allowing users to monitor and control the printer with the Bambu Studio computer application or the Bambu Handy smartphone app. A camera mounted in the Z gantry allows for remote monitoring of prints. Our take on the Bambu Lab A1 Mini is that its unconventional design and small build volume may be hard for some users to accept, but the advanced printing features make it worth considering as an entry-level machine. The A1 Mini is more expensive than other entry-level 3D printers, and can't print items as large as some of those machines, but its sensors and firmware features should make it capable of producing higher-quality prints.
Benefits of the Bambu Lab A1 Mini
Modern mainboard features - Many 3D printer features relate to the version of the mainboard and firmware, including features like resuming prints after a power failure and support for silent stepper motor drivers for quieter printing. Newer boards also include safety features like thermal runaway protection which shuts the printer down if it detects issues with overheating.
Auto bed leveling - auto bed leveling will ensure your prints have perfect first layers every time and greatly reduce issues with bed adhesion. When using an auto-leveling system, the probe allows better tolerances for slightly warped print beds by measuring and compensating for any inconsistencies. Without this feature, you'll need to adjust the bed level manually using nuts on each corner of the print bed.
Large online community - A large online community is important when it comes to any questions that come up as you learn how to use your 3D printer. A larger community typically means that you'll be able to find answers already posted to the most common questions, and you'll be able to find slicing profiles and printable upgrades online.
Premium components - This printer is known for using the highest quality components, and prioritizes this over providing a lower price point on their printers.
Fully assembled - This 3D printer is shipped completely assembled, and is ready to plug in and start using as soon as you unbox it. You will still need to follow the included calibration procedures, but this will not take a significant amount of time.
Direct drive extruder - Direct drive extruders are mounted right above the hot end, and push the filament directly into it, as opposed to a side mounted bowden extruder setup. We prefer direct drive extruders to bowden since they are less prone to jamming and typically require less maintenance. they also are much easier to use with flexible materials
PEI build surface has good balance of adhesion and part removal - PEI beds are one of the more premium build surface options, and for good reason. They offer great first layer adhesion with no spraysor other treatments, and can be flexed to quickly remove parts. You'll need to clean the bed with a solvent like acetone or IPA every so often to maintain the bed's adhesion.
Wireless printing - In addition to the standard USB and SD card connections, you can connect wirelessly to this printer to print from your computer or mobile device.
Linear rail motion system - Linear rails provide added stability to the moving parts of the printer, allowing higher printing speeds without sacrificing quality. Keep in mind that the most important factor to consider when optimizing for print speed is the flow rate of filament, which depends on the hot end and nozzle size moreso than the motion system.
All-metal hot end - An all-metal hot end allows for printing at high temperatures up to 300C, while standard hot ends are capped at 260C before the PTFE material begins to degrade. All-metal hot ends are also less susceptible to jamming, and do not degrade as fast.
Dual gear extruder - A dual gear extruder grips filament from both sides and can exert much more force on the filament before slipping. It helps with all filaments but especially with flexible, slippery TPU.
Disadvantages to consider
Limited build volume - This printer has a smaller than average build volume, which will restrict the possibilities of what you can print. Especially with functional parts, having a larger printer can open up a lot of options without the need to print parts in smaller pieces. On a positive note, this makes the printer easy to fit on a desk and very portable.
Where to buy the Bambu Lab A1 Mini
Brand Summary: Bambu
Bambu Lab, founded by ex-DJI engineers in Shenzhen, has made waves in the 3D printing industry with its focus on speed, innovation, and user-friendliness. While it began its journey through a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising $7 million in a month, the brand has since had its share of growing pains, including shipping issues and firmware bugs. The company's commitment to creating intuitive, precalibrated 3D printers like the X1-Carbon and P1P is commendable, but some users have found limitations with the proprietary components and software. Despite these challenges, Bambu Lab boasts a large community of dedicated users across various platforms and continues to evolve in its offerings and customer service.