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TomAtherton38

Ultimaker or competitor printers - just can't decide

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Hi,

I am a newbie regarding 3D printing, but have about 10 years 3D design experience in mechanical engineering so I am keen to purchase a 3D printer for my company but I need some assistance on choosing the right machine for the job.

We need to make jigs and fixtures that are used by the workshop guys when assembling our products.

They don't need to be super tough so I think PLA should be fine, but I need the printer to be reliable and have a good surface finish.

I have been looking at the Ultimaker 2 Extended (build height might be useful in the future) from these guys because they also do training and someone referred us to them: http://www.desktop3dprinter.com/3d-printers/ultimaker-2-extended.html

However, I have also seen parts with a good surface finish on the UP Box which is supposed to be great at ABS - http://www.desktop3dprinter.com/3d-printers/up-box.html

Finally there is the MakerBot 5th Gen which an ex-colleague has used and absolutely loves: http://www.desktop3dprinter.com/3d-printers/makerbot-replicator-5th-generation.html

I know this is the Ultimaker forum so people will no doubt be biased towards the Ultimaker 2, but I wondered what people's real world experiences were and if anyone has used the others to compare.

There are loads of stats available from everywhere which can caused a bit of snow blindness, but some sound advice would help us decide I think.

Cheers!

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I'm really surprised about the MB 5th gen - at shows and elsewhere I've only heard terrible things about it and how you have to buy a new $100 extruder after every other print because of clogs. But people love the older makerbots.

The most unbiased, comprehensive comparison of 3d printers I can find is here:

https://www.3dhubs.com/best-3d-printer-guide

For me "open source" didn't seem important until I already had the printer and I realized how important it was and the attitudes that go with it. You can usually hack your UM2 and still have a 1 year warranty. With MB you can't even use 3rd party filaments. Need to print 5 degrees hotter than firmware lets you on Ultimaker? No problem - someone has a version of the firmware for that or you can do it yourself. On closed source printers? Forget it.

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I can only support what gr5 has written above. I don't see much sense in buying a closed source desktop printer. Either you need a 3D printer with 24/7 availability, then buy a professional machine with corresponding on-site support or you buy an open source desktop printer which allows for tweaking and trying new materials etc. And as it seems you already found the best open source desktop printer... ;)

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Thanks guys, Really appreciate your assistance re the MakerBot. My ex-colleague says the more recent firmware has helped massively with the print quality and reliability, hence why he loves it so much. I know he had issues with the extruder thingy early on but all seems sorted now.  

How about the UP Box? I know it is very similar to the UP Plus 2 in terms of software and the finish is superb. It has a door too, which will keep health and safety happy! It is closed source and I see your point but I wondered if anyone has used this too.

The people at CREAT3D provide test parts too, so will have to gone some done on these printers. Must sort out some difficult STLs ;-)

Edited by Guest

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Keep in mind that all of these printers are finicky and tricky and you should stay away from companies less than 2 years old as the quality control isn't as good. 3d printers are more similar to running a cnc lathe than they are to using a 2d printer in terms of knowledge needed. But I think you will most likely be happy with an Ultimaker.

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Looks like you are in the UK?

Personally for me at the moment, the 2 printers that I think are tops (I do own two UMOs) are Ultimaker and Taz - In 2 years of printing I have never needed the extra height, and so would go for a UM2 and save the money (all that extra height = many extra hours!

I would still go for a UMO as the extruder head means that you can change nozzles really easily - and most of what I print now is using larger nozzles to get the outcome FAST - drill a nozzle to .65 or 1mm and you will be moving at blistering speeds.

The Lulzbot Taz is another printer that I think has kept up with the developments and is really hackable - with the only caveat that they are in the US rather than UK but I think can dropship in the UK.

If you get a UM2 (I have heard it is good but don't have one) then faberdashery and colorfabb are the filaments of choice. Be careful with the more exotic filaments (nylon etc) in the UM2 as long term runnign at higher temp has issues - but honestly, the workhorse filaments in my life are PLA and XT - I try the others and they are fun, but not the workhorses.

As soon as you have one printer you will want another :)) - they are tricky to use - like any other complex workshop tool.

You will need to devote a fair amount of early time to learning - but then there is no going back!

I also recommend looking at S3D software for printing - Cura is good, but S3D has the edge on some support and profile saving areas.

James

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I almost bought a makerbot but ended up buying a um2 never looked back. If you cant manually open up your printer to fix a nozzle block or jam or whatever you are doomed, and im sorry but firmware does not solve these problems. Only your hands and an open source printer make this possible. Closed source filament printer = more cost and more failure rates. Period, so think to yourself if you want a reliable printer or one that fails a lot. Its that simple between open and closed source printers. Makerbot is closed source therefore its crap.

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Some day HP will make a home 3d printer that is as easy and reliable as their 2D printers. It will have a built in video camera (or 3 or 4 cameras) and will auto level based on the video results and know if the nozzle is jammed (video) and will calibrate and self test things like max acceleration without missed steps (all with video feedback), how much retraction is needed calibrated live as you print, best printing temperature live as you print. If part is sticking well or comes loose, the printer will stop immediatley. If you run out of filament it will pause and so on. It will talk to you like siri. It will have an amazing slicer built in that handles support issues perfectly with break-off (or disolvable) support. it will be 100 times smarter than cura. But this is in a time in the future that I have not yet glimpsed.

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Lol, by the time it checks all that you've missed youre deadline. lol. If its gonna do all those checks and measurements and stuff it then you can forget about it being quicker than anything around today. Thats for sure. There is a robot that can fold clothes now, but it takes it like 10 minutes per t-shirt, so that leave little hope for all of the above!

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Then there are the professional systems like the Statasys. Yes they are closed sources and use proprietary material. But they are true click and print. You don't worry about warp, if the print will fail. It auto-detects the bed, senses when it is out of material and waits for you to insert more then continues. If you have extra material bays it will switch over to the full spool and continue. It senses a print head jam. Actually there was once it did not detect an extrusion jam but it was a quick pretty easy fix. The propriety filament is guaranteed to be accurate and free of variance. Also the dimensional accuracy is dead on. It prints the part in a heated chamber and after it cools and shrinks it is +/- 0.005"

I bought a cheap little $350 3D printer fir myself and it has been nothing but a head ache both mechanically and software wise. It was claiming to be open source during time of development but then never did. Fortunately they finally add the ability to print external g-code files which gave us the ability to use pretty much any program to slice. I have had to come up some horrible hack to the g-code to make it so their software does not mess up the files. There are many claims on this printer from the make and I have found only about 20% of them to be true.

So this is the two extremes really cheap and really expensive. But if we were to invest in another printer at work I am seriously looking at the UM. Since there is such a big community on this thing who is will to help.

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so my friends are setting up a print center, they had purchased a MB 5th gen, UM2 extended and a Robo3D.  I told them not to buy the MB 5th, gen but they decided to anyways.

Well 4 months down the road, the MB5th gen doesn't work and has been nothing but problems, the Robo3D is working but the quality isn't the best, where as the UM2 extended in their words is "killing it"  in terms of 3d print quality.  So I have used alot of different printers, I like the UM2, mainly because its extremely easy to service and the software is great.  plus the quality and speed is top class.

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