Whenever I attend any sort of 3D printing show or expo, there is one company that is always on my radar, a company that remains open source, and always has something interesting to show. That company is Lulzbot, and Harris Kenny, who is really the face of LulzBot, is always a pleasure to talk to. You can tell that he really has a passion for what the company does. CES was no different, as the entire LulzBot team was extremely friendly, and I had a chance to catch up with Kenny once again.
It’s always interesting to hear about new things that LulzBot is doing, as they always seems to come up with unique ideas that no one else in the industry has. While very few people at CES, if any, realized that the company was actually foreshadowing a future product right in their booth, Kenny took the time to explain to me some of their future plans and product releases.
The LulzBot Cluster
The idea of clustering 3D printers together is something that LulzBot has been working on for quite some time. In fact, they have a cluster of 135 LulzBot 3D printers working together at their headquarters in Loveland, Colorado. These 3D printers have been printing with over 50kg of filament a day, creating parts for new LulzBot 3D Printers. While few people may have realized it, LulzBot actually had a miniature version of a cluster working in their CES booth. This cluster — which was much smaller than the 135 factory setup they have going in Colorado — featured 6 printers all hooked up to one laptop, printing objects on demand.
Kenny informed us that this is actually a product of sorts that they are going to offer to companies and even individuals. The power of the cluster could provide an alternative to higher dollar industrial level 3D printers that smaller companies can simply not afford. These clusters could be created with as little as 2 printers, with really no maximum number holding anyone back. While no official date on the the release of this system has been decided upon, we were told it could be sometime in the next 6 months.
TAZ 4 Upgrades
The TAZ 4 is the most popular LulzBot 3D printer, although LulzBot did unveil their new Mini 3D printer a few months back. The Mini features a smaller build volume, but it also integrates new technology that is lacking in the Taz 4. This included an updated hotend, as well as a very unique bed leveling system.
Kenny told us that sometime in the near future the company will launch an upgraded hotend as well as an auto bed leveling system for the TAZ 4. These will be very similar to those that the Mini will be shipped with. Initially the hotend will be an add-on upgrade for the TAZ 4, and later the printers will come standard with them.
New LulzBot Edition of Cura
Cura is one of the top 3D printing softwares out there, and best of all it’s free. We should also be seeing a new version of the LulzBot Cura Edition sometime in the near future. It will have all of the latest enhancements to better help in converting models into G-Code, as well as control the operation of the LulzBot 3D printers.
For a company that has grown to over 60 employees, Lulzbot continues to innovate, while remaining completely open source. They rely on user feedback to make changes to their 3D printers, and are always looking to innovate upon their products. 2015 should be a tremendous year for the company, which is really beginning to come into its own.
What do you think about LulzBot? Do you have a LulzBot TAZ yourself? Are you looking forward to getting a Mini? Discuss in the LulzBot at CES forum thread on 3DPB.com.