Dutch 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker have just released the new specifications for their new Ultimaker 3. Review the facts here.
For a good long while now, Dutch 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker have established themselves as the backbone of desktop 3D printing.
Sure, the likes of Zortrax, Makerbot and BCN3D are offering great consumer and semi-pro 3D printers for roughly the same price and quality. But Ultimaker has a loyal following and an open-source approach, and they simply build great, versatile, (mostly) reliable machines.
But it‘s the same as with Apple’s MacBook Pro series today; namely, there hasn’t been a brand new machine since the initial launch of the Ultimaker 2 in 2013.
That’s changed today. The brand new Ultimaker 3 comes in two sizes, a regular “Ultimaker 3” and the taller “Ultimaker 3 Extended”.
Build volume of the Ultimaker 3 is 215 x 215 x 200 mm when printing with a single extruder. This is slightly smaller than the Ultimaker 2+ (223 x 223 x 205 mm). If you are using dual extrusion in the Ultimaker 3, the build volume narrows down to 197 x 215 x 200 mm.
Max resolution is 20 microns, and the printer supports STL, OBJ files, as well as the new 3MF format.
The new Ultimaker 3 is aimed at semi-professional users or experienced makers — hence the price tag of $3,495, €3,599 or £2,795.
Jos Burger, CEO of Ultimaker, said in a press release:
“3D printers have historically been tapped by businesses for straight-forward prototyping and short run production. The extended capabilities of the Ultimaker 3 introduce a wide variety of new applications and we’re excited to get them into the hands of professionals that can capitalize on the benefits of 3D printing across a variety of industries.”
The printer is available starting 18 October 2016.
Ultimaker 3: The New Features
So the company is marketing the new machine as the “Next Generation Professional 3D Printer”. They claim to have the “Industry’s first desktop printer that makes professional 3D printing truly accessible”.
Let’s take a look at what‘s new, shall we?
Ultimaker 3 New Feature #1: Dual Extrusion
The Ultimaker 2 was originally designed to be a dual extruder 3D printer, but that was never really implemented. The Ultimaker 3 offers a new dual extrusion system straight out of the box. That‘s a very important step, as you can 3D print with dual materials.
According to the press release, the 3D printer “allows the freedom to produce more complex outputs in a full range of engineering materials, including Nylon and dissolvable PVA, and two colors.”
The extrusion system is embedded in one print head, which can be accessed easily. As far as we can see, you can exchange the nozzles in one piece by simply plucking them from the printhead — that would be an interesting feature.
Also, you can see in the picture that the first nozzle is slightly raised from the second one. We’ll give you more info on how this works in our upcoming Ultimaker 3 review.
Ultimaker 3 New Feature #2: New Professional Materials
Ultimaker 3 will offer a “smart material detection”. This means you can just insert a special material spool containing a NFC chip, and your printer is ready to go.
All the fiddly aspects like print and bed temperature or material specifications will be adjusted according to the specifications provided on the chip. But you still can override them in the Cura software if you wish to do so.
The press release states that the machine provides “high uptime and maximum performance due to material-matching print core design, enabling users to switch cores optimized for Ultimaker’s own industry-grade materials in seconds. The impact: repeatable, high-quality output is achieved in a low-maintenance environment.”
And yes, you still can use 3rd-party materials. According to an Ultimaker spokesman, “it is optimized for Ultimaker materials though.”
Ultimaker 3 New Feature #3: Built-in Camera
Say cheese! A nice new feature is the built-in camera. It’s connected to the open-source software Cura and allows for remote monitoring of the print output. This feature can help organizations in achieving efficient workflows and access across users. Also, you don’t have to get up every 5 minutes and see if the print still sticks to the bed. We’ll explore how this works in our upcoming Ultimaker 3 review.
Ultimaker 3 New Feature #4: Better Connectivity
Finally, the Ultimaker 3 offers 3D printing from USB stick, Wifi, and Ethernet. That‘s not a first; some competitors offer similar connection methods. But it’s nice to see it becoming standard. Intriguingly, the design has dispensed with the SD card slot entirely.
Ultimaker 3 New Feature #5: Auto-Levelling Bed
No more fiddling with the build plate and a business card. Finally, Ultimaker have added auto-levelling support to their new machine, making manual calibration a thing of the past.
Ultimaker 3: Review to Follow Soon
While we’re waiting for our Ultimaker 3 review unit, here are our thoughts on the facts and figures.
At the first glance, the Ultimaker 3 looks like an iteration and refinement of a winning design. And that’s probably a good thing since the Ultimaker 2+ was a real workhorse. But if you take a deeper look at the specs, there so are many re-tooled and newly designed parts, which can make the new Ultimaker a totally new 3D printing experience. We’ll take a deeper look at this in our upcoming Ultimaker 3 review.
While sharing the same aesthetics as the rest of the range, the company has added a lot of distinct new features like a camera, auto-levelling, and auto-settings for new materials. Nothing especially radical, but it should make the whole 3D printing process a lot easier.
And with dual extrusion, we’re not so excited about the option to print in two colors. The more useful application is to use dissolvable support materials for models with complex geometries.
With all these new features, Ultimaker is aiming to take a big bite of the professional FDM 3D printing business. Most makers and tinkerers can cope with common woes of 3D printers. But if you’re working professionally, you need your machine to be predictable and reliable.
Stay tuned for our Ultimaker 3 review, where we’ll see if the new machine can keep up with these promises.
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