Back in the early 2010s the three most recognisable desktop 3D printing brands were MakerBot, 3D Systems (Cubify) and Ultimaker.
MakerBot had a marketing mastermind behind them in Bre Pettis, was sold for $400m and subsequently struggled to live up to the hype, receiving a substantial backlash from their customer-base for a product that didn't work. It ended up slashing staff and repositioning itself towards the educational market.
3D Systems launched and acquired a host of technologies designed to put a 3D printer in every room, that ill-conceived pipe dream failed, the CEO departed and the consumer arm, Cubify was closed down completely.
Ultimaker, on the other hand, didn't go in for the hype or the marketing, they concentrated on an ever-growing maker user base, improving incrementally on the back of feedback from brand-loyal customers who vary from YouTube stars to engineers at Aerospace companies. The company has grown with the market organically, it has not tried to force it into a direction it wasn't going, as such the Ultimaker logo is almost a seal of approval.
Whereas 3D Systems and MakerBot rushed to the 3rd generation of desktop printers within two years of launch, the Dutch company has only just launched the Ultimaker 3, although there have been numerous updates in between Ultimaker 1, 2 and 3.
The Ultimaker 3 follows an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy keeping the look and feel of the hugely popular Ultimaker 2 and its variants but boasts some significant upgrades in the 3D printing triangle of hardware, software, and materials. Attempting to keep the three points as closely integrated as possible in order to ensure optimum reliability and efficiency.
Here are the new features as described by the Ultimaker team:
- Print an unlimited number of geometry options thanks to the Ultimaker 3’s new dual extrusion system that allow the freedom to produce more complex outputs. Now the printer is capable of delivering a wider range of models made with industrial-grade materials (including dissolvable material). The impact: users can think differently and bigger about their designs when using the Ultimaker 3. They have the freedom to make their model as complex as they’d like.
- High uptime and maximum performance due to material-matching Print Core designs. Users can easily switch Print Cores that are optimized for Ultimaker’s own industry-grade materials to ensure a repeatable high quality output. The impact: multiple users now have unlimited access and can easily change Print Cores for each application.
- Ease of use through enhanced printer automation that eliminates the guesswork from printing prep and ensures a consistently perfect model every time. For example, the Ultimaker 3 introduces smart material detection through NFC technology that tunes the printer to the best possible settings for specific materials, including active bed leveling. A USB port, Ethernet and Wifi network capabilities are also included to ensure easy access and an efficient workflow. The impact: anyone, regardless of their role within the business, can take advantage of 3D printing.
“Our team is constantly working to evolve the 3D printing market, and the Ultimaker 3 represents three years of development with the goal of delivering a product that serves the needs of demanding businesses,” said Jos Burger, CEO of Ultimaker. “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 Ultimaker 3 is available today through Ultimaker’s network of global partners and the printer starts at $3,495
“By meeting the growing professional needs of the enterprise and educational markets we can tap into these segments as their reliance on accessible 3D printing increases,” adds John Kawola President of Ultimaker North America.
Other notable new features of the Ultimaker 3 include:
· Support for a full range of engineering materials, for example Nylon with dissolvable PVA
· Actively monitor progress in real-time through built-in camera connected to open source software Cura
To learn more about the Ultimaker 3, please visit www.ultimaker.com/en/products/.