Bambu Lab A1 Mini Review: Bringing Color to Beginners

Bambu Lab's affordable bed slinger is speedy, noiseless, and user-friendly. Although the build size is compact, it offers ample room for various usefu...

L. Bonk

Oct 13, 2023

Bambu Lab A1 Mini Review: Bringing Color to Beginners

Bambu Lab's affordable bed slinger is speedy, noiseless, and user-friendly. Although the build size is compact, it offers ample room for various useful prints and entertaining models. The optional AMS, despite its unconventional appearance, is more convenient to maintain and effectively prevents any blockages compared to the original version.


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    Intuitive Interface

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    Quick change nozzle

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    Inexpensive AMS (optional)

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    Direct Drive

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    Auto bed leveling

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    PEI coated flexible build plate


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    AMS takes up a lot of space

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    AMS flings waste

Specifications: Bambu Lab A1 Mini

Included in the box: Bambu Lab A1 Mini

Bambu Lab A1 Mini Review: Color for Beginners

We conducted a review of the A1 Mini Combo, which included the 3D printer along with an AMS Lite mounted on a stand. The necessary tools for assembling and maintaining the printer were neatly stored in a cardboard toolbox, along with a pair of side cutters, a surprise project, and sample tiles of Bambu Lab's filament. Additionally, a small coil was provided for running a test print.

Assembling the Bambu Lab A1 Mini

Bambu Lab A1 Mini Review: Color for

The Bambu Lab A1 Mini arrives predominantly pre-assembled, requiring only the installation of the filament wiper and spool holder, as well as plugging in the Bowden tubes. The AMS unit can be easily snapped together before securely attaching it to its stand.

Leveling the Bambu Lab A1 Mini

The Bambu Lab A1 Mini features a fully automated leveling system. It utilizes the nozzle as a probe, allowing it to not only auto level but also set the appropriate z height for your prints. I encountered no issues with the settings and found no need to make any adjustments.

Loading Filament in the Bambu Lab A1 Mini

Bambu Lab A1 Mini Review: Color

The Bambu Lab A1 Mini can operate with a single spool holder directly mounted on the machine or with up to four spools on the Lite AMS unit.

To use a single spool, you need to feed the filament through the Bowden tube to the toolhead and then select "load filament" from the main menu. The machine will take control from that point and present a checklist on the screen, allowing you to follow the steps accordingly.

Bambu Lab A1 Mini Review:

For the AMS, all you need to do is place the spools onto the motorized spindles and insert the filament into the intake. The machine will automatically detect the filament and draw it in.

The AMS is equipped with an RFID reader, enabling it to read tags on Bambu Lab branded filament. These tags provide information about the type and color of filament on each spindle. If you are using untagged filament or the single spool holder, you will need to manually enter this information. You can input the details either directly on the A1 Mini or in the Bambu Slicer software.

Design of the Bambu Lab A1 Mini

Bambu Lab A1 Mini

The Bambu Lab A1 Mini is a cantilever-style 3D printer designed with a modern aesthetic resembling IKEA's style. It boasts exceptional user-friendliness, featuring a touch screen interface that provides step-by-step guides to assist you in operating the machine.

The A1 Mini is a remarkably compact and fast 3D printer in its own right. It features a direct drive system with a 300-degree hot end and convenient quick-swap nozzles. These nozzles incorporate a heat break and cooling fins, similar to the Prusa MK4 nozzles, effectively preventing leaks caused by improper user installation. Unlike previous Bambu Lab machines, these nozzles are incredibly easy to install, secured in place by a robust magnet and metal buckle. No screws, wiring, or messy thermal paste are involved in the process.

Bambu Lab A1

The toolhead of the A1 Mini has undergone significant slimming compared to the P1S, P1P, or X1 Carbon models. It features a similar filament cutter, but in this case, it is activated by a more prominent "finger" located on the right side of the machine. The filament hub, which is no larger than a pencil, is permanently attached on top of the machine, regardless of whether you require it or not.

The A1 Mini is equipped with a silicone brush positioned at the back of the print plate to wipe the nozzle before tapping the bed for calibration. It also features a peculiar little tray located at the end of the X gantry for depositing purged filament, which is then amusingly flung off to the side. These purged filament pieces can be conveniently collected using an open filament box placed next to the printer. Despite the potential messiness, this system is preferable to the chutes found on larger machines, as those tend to clog up the printer if not properly cleared.

Bambu Lab

The A1 Mini is equipped with a filament run-out sensor located in the tool head, as well as an odometer in the AMS to detect filament breakage and tangles. Additionally, it features a camera for monitoring and recording time-lapses; however, there is no AI programming included to detect print failures. The camera includes a small light and a manual privacy shutter. The lens has a wide-angle view, capable of capturing a significant portion of the room beyond the build plate. If you wish to avoid recording excessive background movement, it is advisable to either set up a screen or position the printer in a corner.

Similar to other printers from Bambu Lab, the A1 Mini is designed to assist in troubleshooting by providing an error code when an issue occurs. The error code is displayed in written form and can also be presented as a QR code, which can be scanned to access the Bambu Wiki. The Bambu Wiki serves as a comprehensive knowledge base for operating any Bambu printer and offers guidance on identifying and resolving problems, often accompanied by helpful video tutorials.


Bambu Lab Automatic Material System (AMS) Lite

Fire Engine by FixumDude

We received the A1 Mini Combo, which includes an AMS Lite module. The AMS Lite is made specifically for the A1 Mini (or perhaps an A1 line of printers?) and is not compatible with any other machine. Likewise, the A1 Mini does not work with the previous AMS unit. This is because the hub that controls which color is fed to the printer is mounted directly on top of the tool head.

The AMS Lite may not have the same clean appearance as the old AMS, as it features four Bowden tubes extending from each spool to the tool head. However, this simplified version is significantly easier to address if there is a filament jam, particularly if brittle filament breaks within the tube.

Each spool on the A1 Mini is positioned on a spindle with a spring-loaded mechanism, which facilitates the required retraction. Since each color is connected to its own Bowden tube, the A1 Mini only needs to retract the filament a short distance until it is clear of the toolhead, rather than pulling it all the way back to the AMS Unit. Additionally, each spool is equipped with a motor to push the filament towards the toolhead. This new system effectively addresses issues such as cardboard spools with crushed edges, spools that are too wide or tall, and spools that are too light. It is hoped that this method will be carried over to the next generation of enclosed Core XY units.

Fire Engine by FixumDude

There are drawbacks to using the AMS. The printer wastes an amazing amount of material when it cleans out the nozzle between colors. The waste can be reduced with tuning, but takes time and patience. The slicer will tell you exactly how much it will use before you start a print. For this pair of fire trucks it took 166 grams of filament (46 black, 68 red, 41 silver, and 11 blue) to print the trucks. It “flushed” 115 grams after tuning, down from 200 grams. Though it looks like I over tuned it, as the black bleeds through the red a big and the silver on the wheels are a bit pink.

The second drawback is a reduction in printing speed. The printer needs to pause between layers to purge the filament and perform a nozzle wipe on the purge tower. As a result, printing these two trucks in four colors at the standard speed of 200mm/s took a total of 22 hours and 25 minutes. However, if printed in a single color, it would only take 4 hours and 19 minutes.

Preparing Files / Software

Bambu Lab has developed its own custom slicer, which is derived from PrusaSlicer. To operate any Bambu printer, you will need to utilize either Bambu Slicer or the open-source OrcaSlicer because the printer does not support plain G-code files. Instead, it utilizes 3MF file format. The slicer software also serves as the main method for transferring files to the printer, either through a cloud service or local LAN connection. Alternatively, you can directly place the files on an SD card and physically transfer them to the printer.

Bambu Slicer also functions as the "paint" program that enables you to assign colors to your prints. Within the device tab of the software, you can directly communicate with the printer to configure the filaments in the AMS, initiate the printer's heating process, and control the printing speed.

Bambu Slicer offers a diverse selection of presets for filaments, encompassing options from Bambu Lab as well as other manufacturers. These presets have proven to be highly beneficial and reliable in terms of accuracy.

Bambu Lab introduced Maker World alongside the release of the A1 Mini. Maker World is a file sharing website that incorporates cloud slicing capabilities, allowing you to send models directly from the website to the printer using a computer or mobile device. The slicing process is performed in the background, utilizing parameters uploaded by the designer or other users, based on your preference. Maker World also gathers information from your printer and AMS to verify the bed size and filament type.

Printing on the Bambu Lab A1 Mini

The Bambu Lab A1 Mini is capable of achieving a maximum speed of 500mm/s, although the default slicer speed typically ranges from 200 to 300mm/s. The printer incorporates advanced input shaping techniques, which effectively reduce vibrations and eliminate ringing artifacts, resulting in improved print quality.

The printer was delivered with several preloaded prints. If you intend to do a significant amount of AMS printing, it is highly recommended to purchase filament before bringing the machine home. We have a guide available with our recommended filaments for 3D printing, which you can find here.

I successfully printed a Benchy model in an astonishingly fast time of 19 minutes and 15 seconds using the Speed Boat Rules configuration, which includes 2 walls, 3 top and bottom layers, 10% grid infill, a layer height of 0.25mm, and a layer width of 0.5mm. Throughout most of the print, the layers appear smooth without any visible ringing or layer shifts. However, there is some slight imperfection in the overhangs and around the bow of the ship due to insufficient cooling. Considering that this print would typically take 46 minutes with default settings, the overall print quality is fantastic. We used ordinary gray Inland PLA filament for this print.

3D Benchy

To show what the Bambu Lab A1 Mini can do when under normal conditions, I printed this Forest Wish Spirit using default settings of 200-300mm/s and a .2mm layer height, taking 9 hours and 20 minutes to print. I “painted” the colors myself in BambuSlicer. The print needed to be shrunk to 85% to fit on the build plate, but turned out beautifully smooth with no visible layer lines or ringing. There is a tint of green in the lower part of the crystals from not purging enough, but I rather like the effect. I printed it in CookieCad Witchcraft Shiny Iridescent (purple) and ProtoPasta Stardust Glitter for the crystals.The green and black accents are Polyalchemy silks, which are currently unavailable – but are being brought back to the market by Printed Solid very soon.

Forest Wish Spirit by Layers in Green

For a PETG test, I printed the new Mini Joel – with fingers! – in the YouTubers’ favorite color, ProtoPasta High Five Blue. The print is clean and crisp and printed without any supports. This print took 1 hour and 16 minutes to print with a .2 layer high and 200-300 mm/s speed. A normal speed printer, like the Neptune 3 Pro, would take about 3 hours to print the same model.

New Mini Joel by Wekster

For TPU testing, I printed this rubber duck from Thingiverse. I did have to crop off the rounded bottom a bit because the overhang was too much for TPU and I didn’t want to use supports. Once that was fixed, the A1 Mini handled TPU very well.

Just a reminder, the AMS (Automatic Material Station) is not capable of handling TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane), so the TPU filament spool was directly mounted on the single spool holder on the machine. There was some minor stringing and clumps of filament residue on the print, but they were easily wiped off without any issues. For this print, Bambu Slicer reduced the speed, resulting in a total printing time of 5 hours and 6 minutes, using a layer height of 0.2mm.

Rubber Duck by Willie

Bottom Line

The Bambu Lab A1 Mini is the fastest bed-slinger printer we have tested to date, and it performs at a speed comparable to Bambu's larger Core XY machines. While it may have a smaller build volume, it is significantly easier to operate compared to Bambu's larger machines. Although the AMS (Automatic Material Station) takes up slightly more space than desired, its user-friendly nature and simplified maintenance make it worthwhile to have it on the countertop.

Priced at $459 for the combo, this machine is a perfect fit for budget-conscious makers who are interested in experimenting with color printing. Additionally, the standalone A1 Mini is an excellent option for beginners seeking an affordable and compact machine that is ready to use straight out of the box.

If you're looking for a larger color printer that can handle a wider range of materials, I recommend checking out the fully enclosed Bambu Lab P1S, which is priced at $949 when bundled with an AMS. On the other hand, if your priority is speed and a larger build plate, you might be interested in the similarly priced Sovol SV07. The SV07 runs on vanilla Klipper firmware and is available for $339.


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