Reviews

Ultimaker 2 overview

ultimaker-2-overview

“The Ultimaker 2 earns its repute with spectacular element, the power to crank out tough objects in a rush once you want it to, and a strong, easy-to-service design.”

Excessive most decision

Glorious construct high quality

Simple to keep up and restore

Costly

Struggles with sure effective particulars

Together with MakerBot, Ultimaker is arguably one of many greatest names in 3D printing — and for good purpose. For the previous few years, the corporate has been pumping out among the finest fused deposition modeling (FDM) machines within the biz, and the model has develop into immensely common consequently.

The primary-generation Ultimaker (which was offered as a DIY package) was launched again in 2011. A pair years later, the corporate launched a new-and-improved model dubbed the Ultimaker 2. Then got here the Ultimaker 2 Prolonged (a taller model) and the Ultimaker 2 Go (a smaller model).

Other than the size, the core print specs are just about the identical for all the corporate’s machines. To get an concept of how they maintain up in a market crowded by all method of upstarts, we took the flagship Ultimaker 2 for a whirl.

Options and specs

Out of the field, the Ultimaker 2 boasts some spectacular numbers. Along with huge construct space, it additionally sports activities a most decision of 20 microns — the smallest layer thickness supplied by nearly any consumer-oriented FDM printer in the marketplace proper now. It’s no slouch within the pace division both. A well-adjusted Ultimaker can supposedly spit out ABS or PLA  (it may deal with each, whatever the model) at a prime pace of 300 millimeters per second.

Setup and configuration

Whereas the unique Ultimaker required a good bit of meeting, the Ultimaker 2 comes nearly utterly pre-assembled and able to print. When you’ve bought it out of the field, all that’s left to do is insert the construct plate, plug within the machine, and flip the swap to “on.”

It solely takes a pair minutes to get the machine arrange and powered on, however after that, there’s little bit of configuration required earlier than you can begin printing off that Howdy Kitty toothbrush holder you’ve been dreaming about. The following step is to calibrate the machine and ensure that the construct plate is within the appropriate place.

You need to manually degree the printer’s glass construct plate by adjusting the extruder tip in order that it’s precisely 1 millimeter away from the glass in any respect 4 corners. The fast-start information suggests placing a chunk of paper beneath the tip, and decreasing it till you’ll be able to really feel some resistance once you pull the paper out — which is easy sufficient. With out this steering, it’s practically unattainable to eyeball a single millimeter.

The following step is feeding filament into the extruder. That is the place we bumped into some hassle. Our unit was a bit fickle, and we needed to manhandle it a bit (extra on that later) with a view to get the filament by the feeder — however after this preliminary hiccup, all the things went swimmingly.

Construct high quality and design

You wouldn’t need to maintain it in your mantle, however so far as 3D printers go, this is likely one of the extra engaging choices. It doesn’t attempt to cover the truth that it’s a 3D printer, however it additionally doesn’t look scrappy and cobbled collectively like quite a lot of printers do. The motors are enclosed contained in the machine’s predominant structural helps, and all the opposite shifting elements are neatly hidden behind Ultimaker’s opaque plexiglass partitions.

This factor might in all probability stand up to a low-magnitude earthquake.

The Ultimaker’s appears to be like are solely outdone by its construct high quality. The machine’s body is comprised of these things known as Dibond — which is mainly two pre-painted sheets of aluminum, bonded to a strong polyethylene core. It’s generally utilized in sign-making, and it’s an especially sturdy materials.

These helps, and all the things else on the printer, are held collectively by a myriad of metal bolts, which makes for a really sturdy little field. It’s nearly unnecessarily robust. Your printer in all probability received’t must endure a lot abuse over the course of its life, however this factor might in all probability stand up to a low-magnitude earthquake — not to mention the occasional bump, drop, or wayward soccer.

Consumer interface and software program

A single knob that additionally operate as a button handles each management on the Ultimaker 2, which must be easy and intuitive for virtually anybody. In case you’ve ever used an iPod or a automobile stereo, you’ll haven’t any hassle utilizing this factor. Simply spin the knob to scroll by your obtainable choices, and press it to choose. Ultimaker’s menu timber are extraordinarily logical and well-designed, so that you’d be arduous pressed to get misplaced or confused whereas utilizing them.

Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

To start out printing, you first obtain a print file (.stl or .obj) after which run it by Ultimaker’s accompanying (and free) slicer program known as Cura. That is the software program that “slices” your digital mannequin into particular person layers that the printer can perceive. We received’t delve too deep right into a software program critique right here, however in comparison with the opposite slicer packages on the market, Cura is certainly among the finest. The educational curve isn’t tremendous steep, and the interface makes it simple to make use of with out limiting your entry to superior options.

   

When you’ve run your file by Cura, all that’s left to do is load it onto an SD card, pop it into Ultimaker’s slot, and hit go. You can too join the machine on to your laptop through USB 2.zero, in the event you want, however we most popular the SD technique as a result of it doesn’t require you to be tethered to the machine.

Print efficiency

There’s no two methods about it — the Ultimaker 2 prints like a boss. It’s extraordinarily dynamic, and excelled in dozens of how throughout our assessments.

To start out, we went after print high quality. The most important promoting level of this machine is its unimaginable 20 micron print decision — which is presently the bottom layer thickness supplied by a consumer-level 3D printer. To check this, we printed one thing with extraordinarily refined particulars and curves — a statue of Buddha carrying a stormtrooper helmet — on the highest decision settings. The print took practically half a day to complete, however when it did, we had been fairly impressed. With layers that skinny, you’ll be able to barely inform there are layers in any respect, even on essentially the most drastic curves.

The Ultimaker 2 can pump out among the highest decision objects we’ve ever seen.

In case you don’t thoughts ready round, Ultimaker boasts unimaginable print high quality — however you received’t all the time have 12 hours to attend round for a print to complete, so subsequent we tried to determine how fast it goes.

To check pace, we first printed a 1x1x1 centimeter dice, at a mid-range layer thickness of 100 microns. Ultimaker can go a lot greater and far decrease than this, however we all the time begin with 100 microns as a result of it retains issues mathematically easy, and it’s additionally the minimal layer top for many 3D printers.

Ultimaker 2 pumped out the dice in about 7 minutes 50 seconds, which is fairly good. To place that in perspective, the costlier Type 1+ SLA printer from FormLabs took about 9 minutes operating at comparable settings.

After that preliminary take a look at, we kicked up the print pace settings to 300 millimeters per second –the best doable print pace– and printed the identical 1x1x1 dice on the similar decision. It got here out pretty sloppy, however the entire course of solely took about three minutes and 30 seconds, which is fairly rattling fast. So far as we will inform, Ultimaker’s claimed print pace specs are utterly correct — all of it simply will depend on your decision/pace settings.

Ultimaker 2 stormtrooper buddha

Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

However after all, pace is only one a part of the equation. To get an concept of how the printer handles different issues — overhangs, unsupported spans, and many others. — we additionally printed a particular object designed by Thingiverse person Cntrl V, which you’ll be able to see right here. The thought is to regulate your high quality/pace settings in order that the printer finishes the item in underneath an hour, after which see how the piece comes out.

After operating this take a look at a handful of instances, it’s fairly clear the place the Ultimaker excels and falls quick. Overhangs and unsupported spans don’t appear to be a lot of an issue, and even at greater speeds the machine handles them with ease.

Your complete machine will be disassembled with three hex keys.

A few of the finer particulars, nevertheless (akin to small numbers and letters), are inclined to smash collectively when the printer is shifting tremendous rapidly. We additionally bought a good quantity of plastic burrs and imperfections brought on by overextrusion — however that’s to be anticipated from nearly any 3D printer that’s working at excessive speeds, so we will hardly knock Ultimaker for this.

Total, the large take-away right here is that Ultimaker 2 is a really dynamic machine that provides spectacular high quality and pace. There’s all the time going to be a “time vs high quality” tradeoff with any 3D printer you employ, however the wonderful thing about Ultimaker 2 is that you could select which aspect to favor. It might do actually high-quality, high-resolution prints in the event you don’t thoughts ready, however may also spit out prints at a blistering tempo in the event you’re solely after low- or mid-quality decision.

Upkeep, reparability, and upgradability

One of many issues we actually preferred in regards to the Ultimaker was the truth that the complete machine will be assembled and disassembled with simply three completely different hex keys. Many of the screws and bolts are the identical dimension too, so in the event you ever run into hassle with one thing, taking the machine aside to evaluate the issue is pretty easy.

For instance, once we first unpacked our demo machine, we had a little bit of hassle getting the filament feeder to just accept the strand of ABS we had been attempting to offer it, and after a half dozen unsuccessful makes an attempt, we determined to take the complete module aside to see what the issue was. A couple of minutes and a pair hex key turns later and we had efficiently cracked it open and recognized the offender — an overtightened knurled wheel (the factor that grips/pushes the filament by). A fast adjustment solved the difficulty, and some screws later we had been again in enterprise.

Ultimaker 2 drive belts

Invoice Roberson/Digital Tendencies

As we talked about earlier than, the Ultimaker 2 is a reasonably strong little machine, however within the occasion that one thing does break or cease working (which is inevitable, actually), Ultimaker presents a full suite of substitute elements for for the printer. Scorching finish cooling fan crap out? Want a brand new stepper motor? By chance broke a belt? To not fear — the corporate’s web site has all of it, able to ship out to the doorstep with only a couple clicks.

Upgradability is fairly respectable as nicely. The again of the machine includes a spare set of mounting holes for an additional filament feeder, making it doable to improve your machine to make it a dual-extruder in the event you’re so inclined. Granted, Ultimaker doesn’t promote all the elements you’d must make this occur, however there’s a minimum of one third-party supplier on the market that sells kits for it.

Conclusion

The Ultimaker 2 has constructed up fairly the repute within the three years it’s been obtainable, and after utilizing one for the higher a part of a month, we will say with confidence that it positively lives as much as that repute.

The prints are quick, detailed, and correct — and in the event you don’t thoughts ready a number of additional hours for them to complete, the Ultimaker 2 can pump out among the highest decision objects we’ve ever seen from a consumer-level 3D printer. On prime of that, it’s additionally extraordinarily nicely constructed, simple to keep up, and constructed to accommodate upgrades.

At $2,500, it’s positively one of many costlier printers you should buy, however that additional money isn’t going to waste. On this case, the excessive price ticket straight correlates to a excessive degree of high quality — in nearly each facet.

Highs

Excessive most decision
Glorious construct high quality
Simple to keep up and restore

Lows

Costly
Struggles with sure effective particulars

Editors’ Suggestions




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