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Has anyone built an Ultimaker from aluminum instead of wood?

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I found the link for the drawings and am viewing them in Adobe Illustrator. I saved them as a .AI format file so I could then open them in SolidWorks. From here I can manipulate them some.

I see the wood pieces are 4mm and 6mm

Here in the USA, I don't know of any place I can get that size thickness 6061 aluminum.

Doing the conversions...

4mm = 0.15748

6mm = 0.23622


To match the 4mm, I know I can buy 0.16" thickness locally

To match the 6mm, I know I can buy 0.25" thickness locally

But in the world of precision printing, I wonder if this will cause problems.

Has anyone laser cut/water jet/milled their own parts from material other than wood?

If the difference in tolerances from wood to aluminum isn't a deal breaker, I wouldn't be opposed to trying it. (Why not be unique, right?)

I know there is a Beta kit available that is everything minus the 4mm and 6mm laser cut wood pieces and the acrylic build platform




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Wood works so well because the tolerances are large... Wood can warp quite severely, but you can always force it into shape and tighten the screws down to hold it solid. With the above sizes you might have difficulties fitting the tabs into the slots since they'll be slightly wider, but there may be enough room already built in... And then there's the tool diameter that will affect it as well. I don't know if the CNC software takes tool diameter into account, if it does then you might need to make some of the square holes a slight (fraction of a millimetre) bigger. If the tool diameter is not accounted for in the software then it may actually provide the extra room you need. All in all you could probably use a file and mallet to make it fit together so I think you will be fine on the above thickness's just as long as nothing shifts when it's in use.

However, as Daid said... it'll be very heavy... Aluminium is pretty light as far as metals go, but it's still much heavier than wood. Other than aesthetic value I don't think it will gain anything. In my opinion it's more trouble and expense than it's worth.

I believe people have also done acrylic cases and I think that's a better choice, although I've heard that they're difficult to assemble too compared to the wood.




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i think the wood main frame of the ultimaker is... unbeatable for stability !

i guess the only thing that really needs hardening up in my opinion is the print bed... too much play...

so i guess your right, alu sounds cool but will it bring anything to the table.. maybe some weight but thats it...

thanks for the info.

Ian :-)


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Heavy? I'm not sure I would agree with that, completely. As someone who has done a lot with aluminum (2 all-aluminum R2-D2s!), the material size isn't really what I would consider very heavy. When I think of printers, I am thinking of the HP and Ricoh types I work on all day at work. Strong, sturdy and able to handle the stresses the internal components create.

There are, of course, other materials that could be used. Lexan comes to mind.

For me, it is all a matter of appearance. The Replicator and Solidoodle brands are metal and while I feel they are way inferior to the Ultimaker, I would really like a metal version. Yes, I know I can paint the wood and ignore the burnt edges of the laser cutting process. But again, I think a metal version would look pretty amazing. (And I didn't mention anodizing or polishing the metal to a mirror finish :-P )


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For me, it is all a matter of appearance. The Replicator and Solidoodle brands are metal and while I feel they are way inferior to the Ultimaker


For myself, when it comes to items of utility, what they look like mean nothing compared to what they are. No one is reporting bad UM performance and attributing it to the frame design. What we have is a frame design that works well, is rigid and economical to produce at a moderate production rate. Do you want something to look at or do you want to make stuff?

I am not personally offended by the look of the wood or the burnt edges - those are traits that are inherent to the machine/process. The printing process and the resulting parts also have traits that are inconsistent with traditional production means. Much effort is spent trying to tune these "aberrations" out, but they are the nature of the process and can't be fully eliminated.

You could spend alot of time and money producing a machine that has different aesthetics and would doubtfully work any better. It would be a one of a kind that standard parts are not interchangeable with and in some ways is harder to modify.

You could buy two fully assembled UM's for the cost and time it would take to build one 'special'


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I thought i remembered another aluminum Ultimaker, right here in the Netherlands, Rotterdam.

Took me some research, but i found them:

I saw this video once, haven't really been in touch with them so i am not aware of their experiences with it.

Maybe you could reach out to them for some first hand experiences.


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I just bought a new UM, assembled, and there are lots to be desired & aluminum frame is one of them there is too much vibrations with this machine especially when doing infills & that's at 50mm/s.

The UM is known for its blazing speeds so try upping that speed and hold the frame & you will know what I am saying. since the stepper motors, rails etc. are all attached to the frame using screws it will eventually enlarge these holes, yes by a tiny margin but never the less it will so this is why aluminum is needed for the long run & better rigidity.

Also that wooden bed is garbage so that's the first thing you need to replace with aluminum. Weight isn't an issue what so ever, go carry a aluminum computer tower case & you can lift it with your finger & the best thing is you can also use it to dissipate heat from motors etc..

In solidworks you can actually get an idea for how heavy it would be compared to wood by going >Evaluate> Mass Properties.


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Seems like a bunch of extra work for limited reward and a ton of unnecessary weight. If I were going to go for another material I think it would be CNC'd ABS, but the wood is probably better from a performance perspective.

That being said, I don't think even laser cutting your own wood panels is a good use of time/resources. I own a laser cutter, and when it came down to it, I wasn't able to source HQ 6mm plywood in the US for a price that made the laserless kit a cost savings... without even beginning to put a value on my time.

I think the only way a significant improvement is going to happen to the UM frame is through large volume production of stamped metal panels - and that is only an interesting option when the rate of design modifications and improvements has slowed down significantly.


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Currently I'm building a frame of aluminium extrusions for my UM.

Intention is to reuse all the (non wood) parts of the original UM to the alu frame.

I also build in a heated bed with alu plate, dual extrusion, UM controller and the possibility to close the frame to make some kind of heat chamber for printing with ABS.

But all of that is a work in progress.




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I think the frame is the best bit to keep from wood !


To make a really good metal frame needs machining after some rough laser/waterjet cutting because you

will never get a great fit for the bearings in a rough cut metal frame as there is no "give".


If you want to make something, do a new Z carrige from metal...THAT would bring some serious benefit

just over and above the aesthetics. The wooden Z carrige really does need more stiffness....


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