As the increase in 3D printing popularity grows, so does the list of manufacturers that build them.
Since their inception in the early 80s, they have become smaller and more affordable, which has appealed to hobbyists around the globe. There was one drawback that impeded their growth in popularity -- initially there was "some assembly required" in order to use them.
Not all users of 3D printers are adept at soldering or have limited building/assembling skills that were required for early models, such as Makerbot's Cupcake CNC machine or the RepRap (notably the Darwin and Mendel models). It is with this premise in mind, along with feedback from users of the previous model, that Lulzbot has developed and released its new 3D printer dubbed AO-101.
"Invent it, Create it, Produce it" is the motto Aleph Objects associated with the new printer, which makes the process of manufacturing prototypes and other creations easier for the average inventor. In essence, the AO-101 is an upgraded AO-100 based off of user feedback, and features the same overall design and sturdy frame (you can actually stand on it) of the 100 but incorporates improved electronics, sound reduction, and software.
Lulzbot AO-101 3D printer in action, pulling plastic off a reel.
(Source: Aleph Objects)
The AO-101 upgrades over its predecessor aren't that extensive and feature pre-assembled installed RAMBo (RepRap Arduino-compatible Mother Board) electronics, a 12V DC 16A internal power supply (accepts PC power supply type plug), Budaschnozzle 1.2a hot end with available nozzle sizes from 0.25mm to 0.75mm, GT2 16 tooth pulleys, revised feed-tube, and filament spool-mount. The machines build volume has stayed the same as the 100s at 200mm x 190mm x 100mm, as well as its overall print speed at 200mm/sec. They have changed the Y belt tensioner so that it is adjustable, revised the Z-axis so there is less wobble while printing, and incorporated an aluminum heat tray.
The printer also comes with an SD card that has the needed drivers and software pre-loaded (you may want to check Lulzbot's website for the latest revisions). They also were able to fit the whole set-up, including tools, 5 lb of free filament and replacement parts into one single box for shipping over the multiple boxes required by the AO-100.
The price for the Lulzbot AO-101 comes in at $1,725 US, which is decent for a pre-assembled printer of this quality. Others on the net have pointed out that the AO-101 is actually just a MendelMax variant that can be had at a reduced cost, but there is some assembly required. On the other hand, the 101 includes a set of tools, extra bed, a one-year warranty, and on-demand support, which is certainly an advantage for those not experienced enough to build their own machines.