3D Printing Review - Bambu Lab X1 Carbon 3d printer

alexzogh

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I've owned a LOT of 3d printers over the years.

This is the first time I'm "reviewing" a printer. I'm reviewing it because it is so different, and after a couple of weeks of testing, contains a number of new capabilities that we are likely to see in the next few generations of printers.

I backed this on Kickstarter; you can see the original Kickstarter here:

I own a few multi-headed 3d printers which can print with two different filaments in a single print. I also own a mosaic palette which allows 4 color printing from a single nozzle. I found both processes had severe limitations (prime tower, inexact filament placement, etc...) and gave up on multi-color, or multi-material printing in a single object a while ago.

So, this printer intrigued me. Instead of multi-color or multi-material being additional nozzles or an addon, it's integrated into the machine, albeit as a separate unit. No calibration is required. No prime tower is required, and up to 16 separate spools (color or material) can be used in a single print.

Actually, the entire printer comes ready to print - after taking out all of the shipping pieces.

I decided to take the claims at face value. I downloaded a color STL from thingiverse (mushroom birdfeeder - https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3489758)

loaded into the slicer, defined the 'colors', and hit print. I didn't calibrate the machine, no bed leveling, no test print, no extrusion optimization. I came back in about an hour to what might be the cleanest first print I've ever had, with almost perfect placement of the two different filament colors

1666319133977.png

To say I was impressed is an understament. I'm used to getting this clean of a print after a minimum of 3 or 4 test prints. Did you catch that this only took an hour to print? The printer has a number of tricks up its sleeve to speed up the printing. First, and most important, its DEFAULT speed, which is 250 mm/s, or about 5x that of a traditional hobbyist 3d printer. It's capable of going up to 500 mm/s, but I you will see a degredation in quality. Next, instead of using a prime tower, or other traditional method of changing filaments, it creates a little ooze pile (which I call a poop), and when the AI camera see's the proper color has changed, it purges the little poop out the back of the printer, cleans the nozzle and starts printing again - FAST. All of those little poops add up to wasted filament, and a mess on your floor, but it has drastically increased the speed and accuracy.

1666319837725.png

the pile of "poop" from creating the mushroom bird feeder.


The last few tricks are probably the most important. It uses multiple sensors (lidar, camera, force sensors, IMU) to optimize the print while it's printing.

Starts with a flow optimization line, which helps it determine the right 'flow' for the filament, which is often the cause of many problems (over extrusion, under extrusion, etc...). It then uses the lidar to ensure it's perfectly level against the bed at all times. The Lidar and some software trickery is also used to make a qualitative assessment about the first layer, and will make adjustments as necessary. The camera takes timelapse videos, and watchs for other common problems like spaghetti which will pause the print and send you a notification.

It also has the 'best' of most other printers including a heated enclosed chamber, all metal hotend (X1 carbon edition anyway) carbon filter, integrated wifi / app / monitoring, etc...

Here are a few time-lapses of multicolor prints. I've been making a next-generation 2x mars lander.



its so fast, you almost miss it.

Here is a little longer print



I have to admit, its kind of nice having a rocket come out of the printer already colored properly and ready to go.

1666320724453.png

All the color you see in the lander is filament. No paint, no vinyl, nothing.


The downside?

There are a few.

If you are going to go multi-filament, you need to use decent filament. I've become accustomed to purchasing very, very cheap filament (like https://fremover.net/ which can be had for less than $10 per kg). If the spool is cheap, or the filament dimensions are not consistent, it might have a problem loading. I've found I've had to use Amazon "overture" or better filament to get good results.

There are certain instances when a particular multi-color part can make printing times explode. When I first modified the body of the lander (adding the Spacex logo, Nasa logo, etc...) if you have multiple color changes on every layer, and you are doing fine layers (below .2) your print times will be very long, even with the tricks this printer can do. Since it can handle most 'issues' that would ruin a print, the long print times are fine since it's on autopilot, except for the fact you can't print anything else until it's done.

The software which comes with the printer is still a work in progress. The slicer is based on Cura, with a few customizations to be able to add color to a print. Will also let you monitor the print, etc... I spend a lot of time with Cura, and they are a bit behind.

I've been successful in sending gcode created by both Cura and simplify3d to the printer directly, albeit single, and not taking advantage of some of the features of the printer like 'smooth timelapse' which parks the head before each photo as seen in the video's above.

The flow optimization routines are on a per-print basis, not a per-spool basis. So if you have 4 different spools of filament that are from different manufacturers, you might see typical flow issues because each spool won't be optimized on its own.

The print bed is small. Of course, that's coming from someone that owns 3d printers that can print a whole car at once. Still, it's small :)


Bottom line - I'm really happy I have the printer. It's the only "send to the printer and forget it until it's done" I've ever had that actually works. At its retail price, it's expensive. Not crazy expensive, but 'brand name' expensive. You have to really appreciate the features of the printer.
 

cwbullet

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I have to agree that it is promising. There is one other downside. It is not open source. For now and the foreseeable future, it is a closed source project and that means you might have to always purchase their hotends and nozzles when you have to replace them. I considered backing them and still might buy one, but I find the close source and proprietary product concerning.
 

alexzogh

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They are pretty open about that. They’ve open sourced the software - https://github.com/bambulab/BambuStudio

Parts like the nozzle are proprietary because they have a completely different design which is what gives it some of its features. Most important, they haven’t used the proprietary nature to gouge customers for replacement parts.

An integrated hardened stainless steel hotend /nozzle/heatfin replacement assembly is $10 - https://us.store.bambulab.com/products/hotend-with-stainless-steel-nozzle?variant=40475103887496

A single hardened nozzle only from Prusa is more than twice the price - https://www.prusa3d.com/product/hardened-steel-nozzle-e3d-v6-0-4-mm/
 

BDB

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This is very cool. Are there filament limitations? I ask because I like to print in Nylon, and I can't imagine printing it at 250 mm/s.
 
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cwbullet

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They are pretty open about that. They’ve open sourced the software - https://github.com/bambulab/BambuStudio

Parts like the nozzle are proprietary because they have a completely different design which is what gives it some of its features. Most important, they haven’t used the proprietary nature to gouge customers for replacement parts.

An integrated hardened stainless steel hotend /nozzle/heatfin replacement assembly is $10 - https://us.store.bambulab.com/products/hotend-with-stainless-steel-nozzle?variant=40475103887496

A single hardened nozzle only from Prusa is more than twice the price - https://www.prusa3d.com/product/hardened-steel-nozzle-e3d-v6-0-4-mm/

I am not concerned about price. I am concerned about upgrades. With most other printers, you can easily modify the printer.

Like I said, I will probably buy one some where down the line because I like the multicolor option, but I think the Prusa XL will be a superior option at a much higher cost.
 

alexzogh

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This is very cool. Are there filament limitations? I ask because I like to print in Nylon, and I can't imagine printing it at 250 mm/s.

There are certain filament limitations. Printing Nylon is no problem. Printing Peek or Ultem would be a problem. The nozzle's top temperature for long-term use is 330c. The main limitation of using mainstream filaments is 'mixing' different filaments with very different print profiles in the same print. The printer wouldn't do well printing TPU and Nylon in the same print. This is where the Prusa XL that Chuck referenced will likely do better. It's more of a tool change process than a filament change process.
 

BEC

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This is very intriguing to me as someone who does not yet have a 3D printer of any sort....
 

dre

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This is very cool. Are there filament limitations? I ask because I like to print in Nylon, and I can't imagine printing it at 250 mm/s.
That's not crazy fast for nylon, check out the vzbot on vez3ds yt channel. Usually, I print nylon at around 300mm/s 20k accel.
 

alexzogh

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Just a quick update - I've been printing nonstop for the last few weeks, and I can't get over how good this printer is.



Now that I've dialed in the filaments and found manufacturers that have consistent winding and good spools, I can let it print multicolor for days without any interaction. I just finished a hundred piece Catan board game for my daughters based upon this Thingiverse version: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1238980

Came out great!

1667757577851.jpeg


Just wish the bed was bigger. As Chuck mentioned, also wish it wasn't so proprietary. Still have to use their slicer if you want to take advantage of all of the unique features of the printer, and their slicer, while based on Cura, is behind the latest version. A big long term test of this printer will be if Bambu will continue to keep their slicer updated as Cura updates, otherwise at some point it will be stuck in the past.
 
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alexzogh

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The company is finally allowing existing customers to buy add-ons. I just purchased a second AMS unit, which houses 4 more filament rolls. Now my X1 Carbon can print with 8 different filaments in the same print. I can buy 2 more and get a total of 16, but that just seems like total overkill.

Had to buy a little rack off amazon to hold both of the AMS systems

setujp.jpg

Just started printing things with lots of colors. Still very impressed with the unit. I see they are coming out with a new printer e at about half the cost, but still uses the AMS units for multiple-color printing.

 

thzero

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Just wish the bed was bigger. As Chuck mentioned, also wish it wasn't so proprietary. Still have to use their slicer if you want to take advantage of all of the unique features of the printer, and their slicer, while based on Cura, is behind the latest version. A big long term test of this printer will be if Bambu will continue to keep their slicer updated as Cura updates, otherwise at some point it will be stuck in the past.
I now have one. Yes, I agree about the size and even more so about proprietary (and having to go through their cloud).

That being said I now have one but did not get the AMS; now I need to order an AMS! This thing is ripping through all my print jobs, granted just started with PLA right now, that I've been queing up like a champ.

The instructions for setup were a bit too little in detail, especially when to remove certain packing materials, but otherwise setup was breeze.

The proprietary nature, and the lack of some settings used to seeing with Creality, etc. printers is kinda disheartening, but other than that great printer. Enough that at some point I do think I'll get ABS and run the print jobs for a Voron, but until then this thing is pretty good thus far.
 

thzero

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I now have one. Yes, I agree about the size and even more so about proprietary (and having to go through their cloud).

That being said I now have one but did not get the AMS; now I need to order an AMS! This thing is ripping through all my print jobs, granted just started with PLA right now, that I've been queing up like a champ.

The instructions for setup were a bit too little in detail, especially when to remove certain packing materials, but otherwise setup was breeze.

The proprietary nature, and the lack of some settings used to seeing with Creality, etc. printers is kinda disheartening, but other than that great printer. Enough that at some point I do think I'll get ABS and run the print jobs for a Voron, but until then this thing is pretty good thus far.

Some prints for niece and nephew to kick off the printer in style...

PXL_20221205_181629427.jpg

And a 3" 3 fin guide for MacPerformance rocket... just got done with a 4" version.

PXL_20221205_164103587.jpg
 

thzero

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I have one on the way. I am concerned about the Proprietary thing.

We'll see I guess how it plays out. Any of the 'big boys' outside of Prusa Xl, tend to be proprietary anyways. Thus far it works better then the Prusa I had, and better than the CR6 SE (currently going into rebuild to get a all metal hot end and direct drive).
 

cwbullet

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We'll see I guess how it plays out. Any of the 'big boys' outside of Prusa Xl, tend to be proprietary anyways. Thus far it works better then the Prusa I had, and better than the CR6 SE (currently going into rebuild to get a all metal hot end and direct drive).

I will soon own two bambu and one XL. I will compare them.
 

thzero

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I will soon own two bambu and one XL. I will compare them.
Excellent... I was disappointed in the XL blogs, etc. on the lack of an modern screen and UI for the machine. Why in 2022 almost 2023 does a machine need a manual, and flaky, turn knob?! Especially one that runs like 1500+
 

Bravo52

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Nice update for a print job. I assume that is part of the Bambu setup. If not, what camera and monitor are you using. I currently have an old cell phone setup and it works but... I'd like to get something more appropriate and move it between printers (filament and resin).

Any suggestions?
 

thzero

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Nice update for a print job. I assume that is part of the Bambu setup. If not, what camera and monitor are you using. I currently have an old cell phone setup and it works but... I'd like to get something more appropriate and move it between printers (filament and resin).

Any suggestions?
Yeah thats the out of the box camera that comes with the X1 Carbon.
 

manixFan

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<snipped for brevity>

Any suggestions?

I have several of these and they work very well for monitoring prints. You don’t need any kind of plan for just monitoring.


Tony
 

Bravo52

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Tony, that's what I'm doing with an old iPhone. I use a web app to just connect to the camera. I have to leave the phone plugged into a power source since the camera pretty much stays on the whole time I'm printing. Not really an issue since the phone would have been in a drawer somewhere! I also tired an "Arlo" camera I had from when I invested in the "start up" back in the day. It's a nice camera and is now called "reolink" but I use it for more "serious" monitoring.

The only downside to the camera is no control on the print. It does an excellent job of amping up my anxiety when I check in on a print when there is no way to actually do anything if it spools into a bird nest! 🤣 Fortunately, I haven't had that problem yet while I'm away.
 

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