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Ultimaker TPU delivered *wet*, causing print failures

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@Ultimaker: So today I took a closer look at the TPU print, where after the first layers I switched the old, nearly empty TPU spool I had dried with a PrintDry previously out for a brand new one that was still in its plastic packaging.

 

*After* the switch, the print quality gets much worse, with very bad stringing, surface irregularities and the like - in short, everything that you would expect of a spool of wet material.

 

I find it outrageous that the premium Ultimaker materials are packaged this way (just cardboard and thin plastic shrink wrap around it, which sometimes even has holes in it). Every single competitor I know of, even if their materials cost half or even a third of the Ultimaker ones, manages to use reasonably air-tight packaging for their spools, so you can use the materials for what you bought them for - to PRINT! (Not to dry them first).

 

Seriously, this has to change! This is no way of working, especially for industrial customers who have to actually *deliver* parts!

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Just to mention it, it is a shame that after carefully formulating an email and sending it to the address provided by Ultimaker, there is only an automatic response, which in effect says "f*** your email and your problem, contact a reseller". This is not how support for a 6k€ machine and its materials works, especially as the resellers are clueless more often than not. I have a problem with an *Ultimaker* product, not with something a reseller can do something about! You know, I don't think they will open, dry, and repackage filament!

 

EDIT: OK, so I have checked our remaining TPU stock, as I don't want to have any more unpleasant surprises. Some have a kind of inner packaging (but not the robust one like the Nylon or PC spools, but just shrink-wrap again), and others don't. I really hope that the ones that have it are the newer ones and the problem has been addressed. My evaluation of the Ultimaker "support" remains, and after this I'm hesitant to recommend buying more Ultimaker products to my company. With our FormLabs printers, the excellent direct support they offer has saved us much headache and money, while with Ultimaker products the only thing you seem to be able to get, apart from this forum with its very competent members, are automated "look somewhere else, don't bother us" emails...

Edited by P3D

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Hi @P3D,

 

Thank you for your post! For future references, if you want to talk to 'Ultimaker' via the forum, best tag me. The Ultimaker account writes some official posts occasionally, but is not active in another form otherwise. 

 

Thank you for your feedback regarding your TPU, your experiences and they way it is packed. I will share it with my colleagues and see if there is a particular reason, if anything you have experienced is just incidental or if there is room for improvement. 

 

Which route did you follow to write an email to Ultimaker? It's very likely that the first auto response is something down the lines of 'Thank you for your email, if you need support please get in touch with your reseller'. In many cases, users (perhaps unknowingly) bypass the reseller for (simple) questions, which are actually trained and expected to provide support to their customers. That's why it's mentioned. The messages should be read though by us, and if it's about something the reseller doesn't concern we should get back with you. Hope this explains a few things to you. 

 

Perhaps you care to elaborate in a DM in which areas you feel neglected or we have dropped the ball and I can see if we can help. In theory, it is our partner which should provide you with the support you need and it won't be UM HQ itself. We train and certify our partners and we believe that there lies more value if users can get help in their own timezone and language, and from the same business they bought there Ultimaker from. If the level is not en par we can reach out to them and see if we can help improve their level of support. 

 

Thank you for your time, looking forward hearing from you! 

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Hi @SandervG

thank you very much for your response, and sorry for the not very polite tone I worded my messages in - I honestly was a bit pissed off that I had to wait for the filament to dry, and then repeat the print, because the brand-new filament was wet. (And also, because I took the time to accurately describe the problem and send it by email, only to get nothing but an no-reply-autoresponse and silence)

 

While I understand the reasons trying to out-source support (in the tech world, there are not many jobs worse than having to do first-level support), it is frustrating and time-consuming to have to describe things twice or thrice (first to the reseller, then to Ultimaker because the reseller says they're not responsible, then maybe to the reseller again, and so forth). This kind of ping-pong game happened to me with Ultimaker in the past. Nothing can beat direct support from the manufacturer - the reseller will never have the in-depth knowledge the manufacturer has, and if the reseller relays information (*if* he really does it, and doesn't just say he will do!), often so much info gets lost or distorted, that in the end the whole thing was pointless.

 

If I have such an issue with Formlabs or Markforged, very often the issue will be resolved very quickly by just 1-2 emails, because I can contact them directly. 

 

Regarding the specific case of TPU packaging: What should the reseller do? The only thing he can do is to translate the information (failure point number 1), and relay the information to Ultimaker (failure point number 2). 

 

I think that you have to treat TPU as a humidity-sensitive filament (like you already do with Nylon, PC, CPE,...), meaning that there is a thick, robust, vacuum plastic packaging directly over the filament roll, in addition to the rest of the packaging. I have had issues in the past because of letting TPU out in the open (so I bought boxes, a print-dry and silica gel packages, and even made my own NFC-capable drybox), but to have it happen with a brand-new, just opened roll was a whole new level...

 

Regarding contact info, as an immediate measure, I think it would be very helpful to have the list of support partners (and maybe the rest of the autoreply email, too) linked under https://ultimaker.com/en/contact - which is the second google result for "Ultimaker support". This way, there will be less confusion over what to expect from writing to Ultimaker.

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Hi @P3D, thank you for your reply. No worries about the tone, I can imagine that it can be frustrating if something doesn't work as intended. Could you send me some photo's of your TPU material with the different packagings?

 

Regarding feedback, in this case if you would have reported it to the reseller I expect my colleagues would hear about it in their reports and if necessary we could reach out to you to follow up. 

You can also have contacted us, via the channel you used or the community (me), and we can figure out where to best take this. In this case, I will share your feedback with our materials team if you can send me some of the photo's. Thank you. 

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Hi @SandervG, thanks for taking the time! I think in future I will use this forum for directly UM related questions/feedback, as I don't trust the reseller(s) to accurately, timely and fully relay the information.

 

So, specimen 1 - TPU with only the shrink-wrap around the cardboard (very bad):

 

IMG_2592.thumb.JPG.b8cf7546d2021ca3293dec1a62e23aad.JPG

 

Specimen 2 - A bit better, TPU with shrink-wrap around the spool and again around the cardboard:

 

IMG_2594.thumb.JPG.e8d0440f27cd8101daa611871dd4f242.JPG

 

Specimen 3 - a spool of Tough PLA (!) with proper plastic packaging around the spool, plus shrink-wrap around the cardboard.

 

IMG_2599.thumb.JPG.d02856466c670fddd4b999f9c06ee7da.JPG

 

Specimen 4 - why it is a bad idea to use shrink-wrap, if you want to keep moisture out: Hole from shrinking in *inner* shrink-wrap of another UM material spool.

 

IMG_2600.thumb.JPG.86f901a87777ada8d1f7c61dfc65194a.JPG

 

The more I investigate this, the more I think that the problem may have been addressed already in UM's material packaging (especially finding a TPLA spool (supposed to be one of the least moisture-sensitive materials) with the "right" packaging points this way) and I may have just gotten "old stock" materials without moisture-resistant packaging. Unfortunately, without a manufacturing date or lot number to be found anywhere on the UM materials, I cannot verify my assumption. (Don't you have a traceability issue here? No lot number, not even a manufacturing year/month?). Would be great if you could check this :)

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