Bambu Lab has revolutionized the desktop 3D printing community. Using a comprehensive software suite, continuous testing and vibration reduction, the team has developed an exceptionally fast, full-featured printer at an excellent price. Its entry into the market was nothing short of revolutionary, prompting other manufacturers to think more ambitiously and innovate with feature-rich, high-performance 3D printers.
Despite the obvious implications, there is still some skepticism when I discuss the transformative role of Bambu Lab’s 3D printers. Many people are wondering what the fuss is all about. To be clear, the market previously grew through hardware value engineering and incremental improvements. However, Bambu Lab has shown that deep software integration and sophisticated hardware can bring a superior desktop consumer 3D printing experience to a wider audience. This has sparked a race for improved performance and user experiences across the board. While the jury is still out on long-term reliability, it’s clear that Bambu Lab has redefined the playing field for everyone.
The AI Mini
Now the release of the company’s new entry-level system, the AI Mini, is likely to have another significant impact. At first glance, this system reminds me of a fusion between a Printrbot and a Monoprice Select, albeit with a more reserved design language. It features an Automatic Material System (AMS) that enables 3D printing with four-color filaments. The AI Mini is automatically calibrated and offers a build volume of 18 x 18 x 18 cm. A standout feature is the active noise cancellation engine, making it ideal for desktop use. The printer is ready for use straight out of the box. It is equipped with automatic calibration features that cover Z offset, bed leveling, and even “X and Y axis vibration resonance.”
Adding to its complexity, the printer is equipped with various sensors that manage and control the flow of materials. It has a touchscreen for easy operation and integrates seamlessly with Bamboo MakerWorld Thingiverse/Management Tool and Bambu Studio.
While the company appears to be exploring offline features, this device is primarily cloud-tethered. The company seems to view this as a strength as it allows control over user experience and data collection. However, this could become a security vulnerability if users are unable or unwilling to use cloud-based devices or if they become skeptical about Bambu Labs for some reason. The device is constantly “calling home,” so data collection is critical to optimizing settings and performance, although this feature may be a concern for some. Access to comprehensive settings, complete 3D printing and sensor data could ultimately give the company a competitive advantage by enabling highly tailored optimization for each print job and situation.
The system has an RFID sensor for filament identification, but is also compatible with other filaments. Its all-metal housing features linear bearings and the company has chosen to cover the screw rods. The printer can measure the speed, presence and movement of the filament to compensate for any feeding problems. This leads to improved results through flow rate adjustments. Sensors also measure ambient temperature and make fine adjustments, which for some users could have a significant impact on print quality. Active noise cancellation works on both the X and Y axes. The printer has a maximum speed of 500 mm/s and the peak acceleration is said to be 10,000 mm/s^2. It is also equipped with a quick-change hot end.
As for the price, the AMS Light device costs $249 and the A1 Mini costs $299. Bundling costs $459. Based on these features and price, it appears to be an exceptionally well-equipped and cost-effective 3D printer. While we wait for testing and performance evaluations, the printer will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the world of 3D printing if it maintains the repeatability and reliability of the company’s other systems.
Bambu in the larger market
I really wonder how the company can make a profit with such aggressive pricing. Bambu Lab’s end goal is clearly not just to sell you a 3D printer; The goal is to dominate the entire market. The scale of the company’s ambitions is breathtaking. If this launch goes as planned, the company will secure a clear lead over other manufacturers. While Bambu Lab’s a move towards cheaper options. With the Mini, the company is now targeting the most affordable 3D printers on the market.
However, it’s worth noting that the company faced component issues and a highly publicized outage of its cloud services. A fully controlled user experience has proven effective for companies like Formlabs in the professional space, but can face resistance in the maker and desktop space. There is also a vocal group of critics who have expressed their strong dislike for Bambu Lab. Despite these hurdles, the company shows no signs of slowing down and is pushing the entire industry to accelerate its pace.