Review: Bambu Lab P1S 3D Printer

Testing the new Bambu Lab P1S to see if it lives up to the hype.

Cameron Coward
11 months ago3D Printing

Bambu Lab is a relatively young company, but they've exploded onto the 3D printing scene and gained tremendous loyalty in a short amount of time. They achieved that by offering 3D printers that produce very high-quality results that impress experienced users, but that are also easy for novices to use. Now they've released the new Bambu Lab P1S 3D printer and I tested it to find out if it lives up to the hype.

Disclaimer: Bambu Lab provided me with this printer free of charge, but this review is as unbiased as possible. Bambu Lab did not pay for this review and these are entirely my own thoughts.

Specifications

I'm hesitant to include the specifications, because I don't think they come close to telling the full story. If you only look at these specs, you might believe that the Bambu Lab P1S is comparable to many of the budget 3D printers on the market and that is definitely not the case. But I can't review a 3D printer without giving you this basic information:

  • Build Volume: 256×256×256mm
  • Hot End: All-metal
  • Nozzle: Stainless steel 0.4mm (others available)
  • Max Hot End Temp: 300°C
  • Build Plate: Heated textured PEI (others available)
  • Max Build Plate Temp: 100°C
  • Max Speed: 500mm/s
  • Max Acceleration: 20m/s2
  • AMS Compatibility: Yes

Background

Bambu Lab launched with their flagship X1-Carbon (X1C) 3D printer, which had all the bells and whistles. But that was a little bit too pricey for many hobbyists, so they followed that up with the more affordable Bambu Lab P1P. That model was much more attainable at the expense of some of the features that made the X1C so well-regarded.

The new Bambu Lab P1S is something of a middle ground between those two extremes. It is more affordable than the X1C, but more expensive than the P1P. Like the X1C, it has a full enclosure and chamber temperature regulation hardware. But to lower costs, it lacks some of the X1C's features, like the touchscreen interface and Lidar print inspection.

Though I don't have official confirmation, it seems to me that Bambu Lab will likely phase out the P1P in favor of the P1S. The cost difference is minimal, but the P1S packs in many more features. If I were looking to purchase a Bambu Lab 3D printer and couldn't afford the X1C, I would choose the P1S over the P1P — it seems like a no-brainer.

First impressions

I received my Bambu Lab P1S in a sturdy cardboard box that arrived from DHL without any damage. Packed inside with custom foam cutouts were the P1S and the AMS unit.

The AMS (Automatic Material System) is an add-on system similar to the Prusa MMU (Multi Material Upgrade) that lets the printer switch between filament spools during a job. The AMS is not included with the base Bambu Lab P1S, but is available as part of a combo package or as a separate purchase. A single AMS lets you switch between four filament spools and I'll go into detail about my experience with it later in this review.

To save space in the shipping box, the AMS was packed inside of the chamber of the P1S. Getting everything out took a bit of time and actually required the removal of a handful of screws that exist only to keep things secure during shipping. That isn't something I see often, but it makes sense and wasn't a big deal.

Bambu Lab claims that it only takes 15 minutes to set up the P1S and I think that's a bit optimistic. As always, I took my time and it was probably more like 45 minutes before I was able to start the first test print.

However, that setup was easy. It was intuitive and the included instructions were clear. It was as straightforward as setting up a new TV and I don't think novices will have any trouble with setup.

It isn't a requirement, but I highly recommend connecting the printer to your WiFi network and the free Handy app. Those make starting and monitoring prints a very pleasant experience. It only takes a few minutes to get those configured.

Print quality

There is a lot to talk about and so I'm going to break my normal review format. I tend to focus on print quality and printer performance, but Bambu Lab printers have a lot more to cover.

So instead, I'll just go ahead and say it: the Bambu Lab P1S print quality is very good. I would put it up against any FFF/FDM 3D printer on the market. I did not do any tuning whatsoever, but prints were essentially perfect. The speed was also top-notch, thanks to the CoreXY kinematic system and the printer's ability to control for vibrations.

I've reviewed dozens of 3D printers, but I'm comparing this mostly to my Voron Trident. I built that printer myself from scratch and spent many, many hours tuning it. But right out of the box with the default profiles, the P1S beats it in both performance and print quality. That is not something I say lightly — especially when I spent twice as much on the Trident as what a P1S costs.

Features galore

Y'all, this thing has so many features. There is a camera inside so you can monitor your jobs through the Handy app or the Bambu Studio software. There are all kinds of built-in sensors and self-checks so the printer can make sure everything works as it should. It is obvious that Bambu Lab put a ton of thought into what can go wrong and how to prevent issues, in order to make the P1S easy for everyone to use.

As an example, there is a code on the build plate that the printer reads before starting a print. That lets it check to see if the build plate was placed properly and that it is suitable for the job's print settings.

When you start a print, the P1S does all of its self-checks and automatic leveling. I never once had to put a piece of paper under the nozzle or adjust anything — the printer does everything itself.

Those self-checks do add a little bit of time to the beginning of a job, but an extra five minutes on a 10-hour print is well worth it.

AMS and multi-material printing

Bambu Lab included an AMS with my P1S, which I was very excited about. I gave up on multi-material printing years ago, because I had so many issues. I purchased a Prusa MMU to use with my Mk3 and was never able to get it to work reliably through a full job. I had a dual-extruder printer that never worked very well, either.

But the AMS is very good. I tested it on a bunch of jobs, both for multi-color prints and for support material. For a short time, I did have an issue with the filament getting stuck in the extruder during swaps and I'm still not quite sure what caused that, but it stopped happening and the AMS has worked flawlessly otherwise.

One of the very cool aspects of the AMS is the RFID spool detection. Each Bambu Lab spool has an RFID tag, so the AMS can recognize the material, color, and a unique identifier. In the software, you can see what material you have in your AMS in each slot, then use that to set up a print. It also uses the print identifier to keep track of the amount of filament remaining on each spool.

Bambu Lab doesn't recommend it, but I did try using soluble PVA support material (that may have actually caused my aforementioned issue). The results weren't great. However, that is pretty typical for PVA. So instead, I used the Bambu Lab breakaway support material and was very impressed with it. It isn't soluble, but it doesn't stick to its counterpart (like PLA) well and so it is easy to pull off after a print finishes. It costs about twice as much as normal filament, but you only need a small amount of material to act as an interface between the support structure and the part.

Compatibility and proprietary products

My biggest worry was that the Bambu Lab P1S would force me into an expensive ecosystem of proprietary products. As I've already said, the build plate has a special code on it and the filament spools have RFID tags. Does that mean you have to use Bambu Lab products?

Fortunately, the answer is "no." I tested my own spools of filament from other manufacturers and they work just fine. In fact, you can even configure those spools in the Bambu Studio software and the AMS will treat them like official Bambu Lab spools — you just don't get the automatic identification enabled by the RFID tags.

You're also free to use build plates from other manufacturers if you want to. You'll just get an error message that the build plate isn't recognized, which you have to acknowledge before you proceed. And you can disable that error message if you want, or add your own code to the build plate.

This is, in my opinion, very good news. Bambu Lab added those features to make the P1S as easy to use as they possibly could, but they aren't using that as an excuse to strong-arm you into buying expensive filament (like many manufacturers have tried to do in the past).

But if you want to stick to Bambu Lab products, as I plan to, for the features, then you'll be happy to know that they're affordable. Their filament prices are comparable to those from other reputable manufacturers, with a small premium for the RFID tags. If even that is too much for you, you can reuse the spools and their tags.

Bambu Studio and the Handy app

Once again, you can use third party slicers with your P1S, but you won't want to. The Bambu Studio software is very good and I couldn't find any reason to use something else.

If you want to keep things simple, the default profiles work very well and they're easy to use. If you want more advanced settings, they are available. Everything you'd expect in a modern slicer is there, from tree supports to fuzzy skin.

After setting up WiFi on your P1S, you get even more features in Bambu Studio. You can manage the printer itself and the AMS. You can also see the live video feed and control timelapse recordings. However, to access those recordings you'll need to take the SD card out of the printer and put it into your computer.

I was very pleasantly surprised by the intuitive multi-material "painting" tools. They let you take any standard 3D model and paint different materials or colors onto it. My interest has always been in the engineering realm and so I've never cared much about multi-color prints, but the tools in Bambu Studio made it fun and easy to set those up.

The Handy app is less impressive, but still useful. It lets you view the live video feed on your smartphone, gives you a little information on the AMS, and gives you basic control to stop or pause a print. I mostly used it to check on the progress of prints when I was in another room.

Conclusion

Despite my best efforts to remain impartial, I think it is probably obvious by now that I've become a bit of a Bambu Lab fanboy. I absolutely love my P1S and I would recommend it in a heartbeat. It is easy enough for anyone to use, but has the performance to satisfy those of us with a lot of experience. I'm used to dealing with all of the headaches that come along with 3D printing, but it is nice when a printer just works.

I like the Bambu Lab P1S so much that it is now my primary FFF 3D printer and my Voron Trident will be relegated to backup status. Other than volume, the P1S beats the Trident in every category.

If you're considering the P1S, then I think you'll be very happy with it. If you aren't sure whether to get the P1P or the P1S, I would suggest going with the P1S. The enclosure and regulated chamber give you more material options and it doesn't cost much more. And if you can swing it, you'll want to grab the AMS, too.

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist. Check out my YouTube channel: Serial Hobbyism
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles