I'm looking at the Ultimaker and a couple of the other printers. I've been digging in the obvious places for info but I've got a few open questions.
The first is on object overall precision - Im currently using Shapeways and mixing 3D printed objects with brass overlays for the detail, fine thin parts etc. This works beautifully, but it takes ages to turn anything around even when Shapeways aren't losing models, being down or trying to charge me twice for the vat. What primarily matters is overall precision - in other words if its 42mm long it ends up being 42mm long ± a small tolerance and that tolerance is basically constant (ie jitter isn't a worry). What sort of tools are needed to calibrate the machine accurately. I know people are printing very fine layers but how much work did that entail and how often are they recalibrating to achieve it ?
Secondly is on supporting material. A lot of the shapes I have curve outwards and I'm not clear if that will need support. Some bits stick straight out so clearly will, other bits I can see how to print as multiple parts easily enough. How much work is usually needed to clean up the support to a good standard ?
Thirdly is overall smoothness. Currently I'm using Shapeways to print some small stuff in FUD (which I don't expect the ultimaker to match - but do hope I can prototype by printing them several times bigger), and bigger stuff which is using WSF with polishing. Their polished WSF is just about acceptable for what I am doing. How does the finer printing with the Ultimaker compare and have people got any good fast ways to polish it (I was wondering if dipping PLA into a water/PVA/washing up liquid mix or similar would smooth it down ?)
Assembling it doesn't bother me too much, most stuff I assemble is a few cm long and involves soldering. Software I'm fine with and my reaction to some of the problem reports is to get the profiling tools out. My software tools currently output fairly horrible openscad code and then use openscad to build the object so the STL is nice and clean and its an apparently known to work path.
Fourth question is on fumes. I assume it needs good ventilation and/or extraction ideally ?
Finally I notice the rival product 8) is offering dual extruders - are we likely to see a dual extruder add on for the Ultimakers using something like wax or pva for support ? Or for that matter a polishing head on the same frame that can print and then follow up with a polish ? I'm slightly puzzled by the lack of combined CNC/3D print devices in the universe, it seems an obvious combo ?
For prototyping the unit seems to be a slam-dunk, and to pass every 'cool' test in the book, but if I was to set it printing 50 of something in batches of 5 (which will fit the bed) then print time is one concern (but a minor one as it can print while I do other stuff) and clean up time a bigger one (because sadly I can't sleep or drink beer down the pub while doing that).