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Nicolinux

Ultimaker 2 Evaluation and Feedback

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Hi,

I thought that after the Ultimaker 2 has been unveiled, it would be helpful for the Ultimaker people to know what the community thinks about it. It might be superficial because it is based on photos and videos only, but it is a starting point.

Here ist my feedback:

1. Heated bed

This is the best improvement so far. I know that some people don't value a heated bed, but from experience with another printer and now with the Ultimaker 1 - it makes a huge difference.

2. New hotend

I don't have enough exprience with the actual hotend to see its drawbacks (and I didn't experience clogging yet), but the new hotend looks good and if it is lighter, that'a always a plus. Also the dual fans should help with small and delicate prints.

3. New Extruder

This thing looks awesome. Switching to "direct drive" was a good idea. And overall less pieces means less opportunities for something to break.

4. New case

I think the new case looks slick while it retains the typical Ultimaker design. But I don't understand why it is not completely enclosed. I don't buy that Ultimaker went to these lenghts to add enclosed walls on the sides just to avoid air blowing through the printer and that could disrupt the heat flow. I guess that's important for ABS but then why not build a completely enclosed heat chamber? And by the way, I think the biggest benefit for the heated bed is layer adhesion and not fighting warping.

5. New mechanics

Thats related to the new case too and something I don't like. They could have moved the motors outside and ditch the short belts. I don't understand why that has not been considered. Maybe for aesthetics reasons. But then they could have moved the x/y and extruder motors to the back side and add a nice cover. And since the back is already "wasted" by the big and bulky filament spool and the extruder - why increase the overall depth and enclose everything? If they truly wanted to make the printer more compact they could have increased the height and moved the filament spool underneath the printer.

Moving the motors somewhere else is required if they ever decide to implement a heat chamber. So that could have been prepared aswell.

6. Z-Stage

I don't know what changed exactly but the z-stage changed and that's definitely good. They seem to have switched to three-point bed leveling which is nice too. And finally some thumbscrews!!

7. New controller

This one looks very slick. Reminds me a bit of Eva from the movie Wall-E - link :)

I hope they changed the finky wheel that tends to skip steps when it is turned halfways. One odd thing is the angle of the display. I guess Ultimaker expects its users to have the printer on their desk at "eye level". The old UltiPanel was tilted upwards a bit which is better readable.

8. Printer for everyone

Sorry but I don't buy that yet. I don't see Joe average downloading model x from YouMagine or Thingiverse and hit print. You need pliers, a digital calipper a screw driver and so on. Then you need to think about speed vs. quality, deal with blobs and under/over extrusion. There is no printer in this price range that can counter all that. Besides, I deffinitely don't want to sit next to the printer (even if it is quieter now) when printing with ABS...

I think the "solution" Ultimaker tries to sell doesn't match their honest and charismatic image. Some customers will be disappointed when they find out that 3D printing isn't that easy. Better to keep it modest and true. Don't blur reality with Apple-like over polished presentation.

That's it for now. I can't say anything about the other improvements until I see it live. Overall I like the new version and I'd like to have the printer like NOW! :)

One final tought. Ultimaker - don't be sad about some negative feedback. Even negative feedback means people care about your product and that's always a good thing. You have created a great product and there's no way the haters will change that fact.

 

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The user Thingster answered somewhere else to this so I am re-posting his answer (hope it is ok):

 

I'm quite disappointed about the new Ultimaker2. Not all of the most important aspects have been fixed.

Bad:

- No dual printing. WHY?? I think that this should be standard now.

- No heat chamber. Forget this printer if you want to do in ABS.

- No PEI print plate. For example the Kuhling&Kuhling printer is using it. The VERY BEST in means of print surface. The latest blog entry is talking about gluesticks. Are you serious, Ultimaking?

- "Low cost material" Where? 31,50 EUR for 750 g material is quite high.

Good:

- It has a heated bed. Wow! Already standard for at least 2 years in the reprap world.

- The bigger print envelope and larger build ratio is indeed very nice.

- The hot-end which seems to be made out entirely of metal is a must in my opinion.

I'm sorry, but I truly don't see why this printer should be worth about 2000 EUR.

 

 

 

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Thanks for the links to the great comparison photos, Nicolinux! My initial thoughts follow your bolded and italicized comments below.

1. Heated bed

This is the best improvement so far. I know that some people don't value a heated bed, but from experience with another printer and now with the Ultimaker 1 - it makes a huge difference.

 

The heated bed is a huge improvement--even just for PLA. It's like Erik said in the product announcement in NY. Once the bed cools, you can nearly "blow the parts off the bed!" :) Even though I designed and added a heated bed to my UM for ABS use, I find it to be so much more convenient to use than blue tape for PLA.

 

2. New hotend

I don't have enough exprience with the actual hotend to see its drawbacks (and I didn't experience clogging yet), but the new hotend looks good and if it is lighter, that'a always a plus. Also the dual fans should help with small and delicate prints.

 

Occasionally I wish for more even (multi-sided) cooling with my UM, but it's not a biggie for me and I've never been motivated to add another fan or ducts. The angled UM2 fan helps to balance the reduction in access possibly imposed by two fans, however. I'd like to know more about the UM2 hotend. While I'm completely happy with the few simple mods I've made to my UM hotend, a shorter hot section and higher temperature capable materials (all metal), might be nice to have for the nylon I'm now printing and other materials. I would not want to give up the versatility needed to print PLA and ABS, however.

 

3. New Extruder

This thing looks awesome. Switching to "direct drive" was a good idea. And overall less pieces means less opportunities for something to break.

 

I hope the new UM2 extruder filament drive is stronger than the original UM drive. The drive strength generated by the original UM drive limits the speed at which ABS can be printed using a 0.4 mm (or even 0.5 mm) nozzle. A 0.25 mm nozzle is impossible with ABS. Of greater concern is the lack of a manual assist mechanism on the UM2 filament feeder (as far as I can see). Even if the not end is less prone to jams than the original UM hotend, I'm certain there will be times when I will want to force feed filament into the feeder with one hand while turning the drive mechanism (large gear in the UM) with the other hand to clear jams, partial jams, or prime (preload with pressure) the hot end with filament.

 

4. New case

I think the new case looks slick while it retains the typical Ultimaker design. But I don't understand why it is not completely enclosed. I don't buy that Ultimaker went to these lenghts to add enclosed walls on the sides just to avoid air blowing through the printer and that could disrupt the heat flow. I guess that's important for ABS but then why not build a completely enclosed heat chamber? And by the way, I think the biggest benefit for the heated bed is layer adhesion and not fighting warping.

 

For large, blocky, and thick ABS parts, I often erect a bubble wrap tent around my UM and achieve build chamber temperatures as high as 65 to 70 C. I'd like to see removable side AND front panels. I'm not fond of the permanent side walls. They are not always needed and they impede access to the inside of the printer.

 

5. New mechanics

Thats related to the new case too and something I don't like. They could have moved the motors outside and ditch the short belts. I don't understand why that has not been considered. Maybe for aesthetics reasons. But then they could have moved the x/y and extruder motors to the back side and add a nice cover. And since the back is already "wasted" by the big and bulky filament spool and the extruder - why increase the overall depth and enclose everything? If they truly wanted to make the printer more compact they could have increased the height and moved the filament spool underneath the printer.

Moving the motors somewhere else is required if they ever decide to implement a heat chamber. So that could have been prepared aswell.

 

Agreed on all points! Because I sometimes run a heated build chamber, my motors are outside the frame. I have all the parts required to ditch the short belts too, but haven't found the time to make the mods yet.

 

6. Z-Stage

I don't know what changed exactly but the z-stage changed and that's definitely good. They seem to have switched to three-point bed leveling which is nice too. And finally some thumbscrews!!

 

If the z-stage is more dimensionally stable with temperature and humidity changes, I'll be pleased. However, I often run hot-swappable glass build plates and I'm not sure how well they will work with the UM2 design--especially given that there's no side access! The glass plates will need to be swapped out through the front "window." Might be okay, but I still want side access.

 

7. New controller

This one looks very slick. Reminds me a bit of Eva from the movie Wall-E - link :)

I hope they changed the finky wheel that tends to skip steps when it is turned halfways. One odd thing is the angle of the display. I guess Ultimaker expects its users to have the printer on their desk at "eye level". The old UltiPanel was tilted upwards a bit which is better readable.

 

An angled display (especially an LCD display) is better. Also, push buttons are more easily pushed when the push is largely downward. (ATM keyboards are not vertical!) This looks like an ergo demerit for the UM2 to me! If the new controller and firmware doesn't contain the bug that causes my Z-stage to sometimes glitch (periodically pause) after a previous print or Ulticontroller Z-stage manipulation, I'll be pleased however!

 

 

8. Printer for everyone

Sorry but I don't buy that yet. I don't see Joe average downloading model x from YouMagine or Thingiverse and hit print. You need pliers, a digital calipper a screw driver and so on. Then you need to think about speed vs. quality, deal with blobs and under/over extrusion. There is no printer in this price range that can counter all that. Besides, I deffinitely don't want to sit next to the printer (even if it is quieter now) when printing with ABS...

I think the "solution" Ultimaker tries to sell doesn't match their honest and charismatic image. Some customers will be disappointed when they find out that 3D printing isn't that easy. Better to keep it modest and true. Don't blur reality with Apple-like over polished presentation.

 

Yeah--a low cost FFF/FDM printer "for everyone" ain't gonna happen! The very nature of the materials processes preclude it. I don't make this prediction to suggest that there's no room for improvements in usability, however. Though I only have an Ultimaker (fortunately) and I've learned to use it very effectively, I understand all of the experiences related here and can sympathize with the author:

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/08/home-3d-printers-take-us-on-a-maddening-journey-into-another-dimension/

 

Finally, Erik was promising a new level of dedication to open source practices. Time will tell whether or not UM Ltd. truly embraces open source or just uses it as a marketing tool. The original UM has not been the best platform for open source activities, because several components (heater, TC, injection molded parts, etc.) have been impossible to procure or fabricate until the last month or so, They had to be "re-designed out" of a self-source build. It was the same for pulleys, in all practicality. An .stl for the injection molded UM parts recently appeared on Youmagine and it's much appreciated. A couple of months ago, I went to the Lulz site and open source archives to see what it would take to self-source their latest printer design. At the time, I thought it would be far easier to do than with the original UM. Now, because of the recent additions and support I cite above, it's probably closer to tie. In the NY UM2 announcement, Erik said an advanced user can rewrite Cura, but I don't care much about Cura's user interface. From a functional standpoint, I want the source code for "Steamengine," Daid's slicer engine. If Cura is claimed to be part of the Ultimaker project (and I think it clearly is such), ALL the source code should be released to justifiably claim the UM is "open source."

 

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1. Heated bed

This is probably the feature I'm nost interested in as I need to print with ABS in the not so distant future. I also like that you've ditched the regular screws and gone for some thumb screws.

2. New hotend

Besides looking way more complete/professional, it also seems way more durable. I wouldn't mind an upgrade for the original UM.

3. New extruder

As Nicolinux wrote, this is also a very nice improvement. I haven't really had my original UM for a long time but I agree that less parts equals less risk of something breaking.

4. New case

Just as with the rest of the UM2, the case looks very nice but as others have pointed out, I would really have preferred if it came with removable side panels.

5. New mechanics

I don't have much to say about this except that I agree with Nicolinux that it would have been more future-proof to have placed the stepper motors on the outside so a heated chamber could be added later on. However, I don't think it will be a problem as very few will need it.

6. New controller

I really like the new look of the controller but I still prefer the tilted version from the original UM as you may not always be sitting down when using the printer. Consider if it was being used by a company where many people would use it on a daily basis, then it would probably be located in a dedicated room for office supplies/printing equipment where people would most likely not be sitting down.

7. New stepper motor spacers

A simple but nice addition to the UM2 is the new spacers for the stepper motors. A combined spacer is way easier to fit than having to fight with 4 individual ones.

8. Printer for everyone

The "printer for everyone" statement is not yet valid. Usability has come a long way but you still need to work on the price tag. 1895 euros excl. VAT and other taxes is a bit steep for a regular family. I know it's still a fairly new technology in the consumer world but that doesn't change the fact that consumers are used to low price tags on printing equipment. Hopefully, companies will catch up and start buying a lot of printers which could lead to lower prices over time.

 

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My thoughts on UM2:

Mainly interested in the heated glass print bed and hopefully pre-installed & calibrated dual extruders.

I'm also happy to hear about the more stable z supports. The z instability has been a perpetual issue with my old UM, even after I finally got everything else working perfectly. The humidity changes here are constantly twisting my build plate around, requiring constant leveling. I leveled the build plate on my other printer once, in April.

I had hoped for a larger version, along the lines of 300x300x300 build volume, but at least it's a little bigger than the old one.

Like others, I would have preferred removable side panels, but the new case makes the unit look a LOT better overall. So, I still count it as a plus.

I'm glad the hot end has a third fan for active cooling of the filament path above the hot end. I've been cooling that area on my old Ultimaker for months and haven't had a clog since I did it. In fact, the fan duct I designed takes the hot air from above the hot end and directs it onto the build platform, which has helped greatly with warp on large flat pieces. Unfortunately, this setup isn't a good idea for bridging, so I have to design items without bridges. The tradeoff is worth it to me for dependable printing with no plugs. The nice thing about the UM2 design is that you covered all of those issues, thanks to the heated build platform, plus the platform fans, plus the cooled filament path. That new print head is a great new design which I know is going to help a lot with dependability. Nice job!

I hope you can still print directly from Cura using a USB cable. Using an SD card reminds me of the 1980's era of transferring files between computers using floppy disks. I can't imagine having to walk an SD card back and forth to my HP paper printer, so when I got into 3-D printing, I was quite surprised that so many people think SD card shuffling is a desirable feature in a 3-D printer. I guess it would be good if your PC is unstable and crashes a lot. Mine never crashes and it's running 24x7x365. So, one click print convenience is far more important to me.

Last thought:

I sorely wish the UM2 was available for sale here in the U.S. The 1895 euro UM2 printer begins to approach $3,000 here because of the poor exchange rate and the extra large shipping costs. The Solidoodle 3 has somewhat similar hardware specs, including an aluminum heated print bed, but it only costs $799. The print quality is likely lower (& slower,) but that's a huge price difference. You could buy 3 x Solidoodles for the same price of one UM2 and print 3 things simultaneously. I like my old Ultimaker (now that it's been working perfectly for a few months,) but that's a lot of money for a single extruder printer with a medium build volume.

 

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I hope you can still print directly from Cura using a USB cable. Using an SD card reminds me of the 1980's era of transferring files between computers using floppy disks. I can't imagine having to walk an SD card back and forth to my HP paper printer, so when I got into 3-D printing, I was quite surprised that so many people think SD card shuffling is a desirable feature in a 3-D printer. I guess it would be good if your PC is unstable and crashes a lot. Mine never crashes and it's running 24x7x365. So, one click print convenience is far more important to me.

 

Bill, there is another alternative. You can print with OctoPrint. It is a nifty web app that can run on a Raspberry Pi. The nice thing about OctoPrint is its web interface. The developer owns an Ultimaker so this tool works perfectly with it. You can also upload models via OctoPrint directly to the sd card further reducing the risk that something crashes and interrupts a 20hr print. And the other big plus is its webcam support. You can also make timelapes videos for long prints.

http://octoprint.org

 

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That looks pretty interesting, indeed. The web cam host would be great for remote monitoring, too.

Does that fork include the latest version of the Cura slicer? I'm spoiled by that insane slicing speed. When I use KISSlicer on my CubeX now, it feels like watching grass grow. Cura has to be around 60-100 times faster. It's also easier to get high quality results, from my experience. There are just too many knobs that have to be set exactly right on KISSlicer in order to get the same quality of output.

 

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There is an experimental feature where you run Cura off the Raspberry Pi. I didn't try it yet, but I guess it would be slow. I think the intended workflow is to slice files with Cura on your desktop and then drag&drop .gcode files on the web interface of OctoPrint to queue them up fro printing. When you are ready to print, activate/load the .gocode file in OctoPrint and hit "print".

Regarding KISSlicer - that's exactly my problem too. I used Slic3r before and even if it is simpler I had the feeling that I am spending more time to understand the slicer than to actually print stuff.

 

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Finally, Erik was promising a new level of dedication to open source practices. Time will tell whether or not UM Ltd. truly embraces open source or just uses it as a marketing tool. The original UM has not been the best platform for open source activities, because several components (heater, TC, injection molded parts, etc.) have been impossible to procure or fabricate until the last month or so, They had to be "re-designed out" of a self-source build. It was the same for pulleys, in all practicality. An .stl for the injection molded UM parts recently appeared on Youmagine and it's much appreciated. A couple of months ago, I went to the Lulz site and open source archives to see what it would take to self-source their latest printer design. At the time, I thought it would be far easier to do than with the original UM. Now, because of the recent additions and support I cite above, it's probably closer to tie. In the NY UM2 announcement, Erik said an advanced user can rewrite Cura, but I don't care much about Cura's user interface. From a functional standpoint, I want the source code for "Steamengine," Daid's slicer engine. If Cura is claimed to be part of the Ultimaker project (and I think it clearly is such), ALL the source code should be released to justifiably claim the UM is "open source."

The CuraEngine (codename SteamEngine) has been OpenSource from the first public release: https://github.com/Ultimaker/CuraEngine

It has been intigrated into a development branch of OctoPrint and a few other RepRap projects are slowly picking it up.

The README.md from the Cura repository points to the code of the engine. Not sure what the issue is, but if you where looking for it, and could not find it, then you must have been looking with eyes closed. The next Cura release will also have an updated about box with all licenses for all used components, with source URLs. Even where it's not required. (Still needs some more work IMHO, but the start is there)

 

I've only kept the code secret till the first release. Which was my own decision, and fully legal. The biggest reason why I did so was to force Ultimaker to make a choice on it, instead of staying unclear like the UM-Original hardware design.

 

 

The UM-Orignal designs are online, on github with 1 small exception for the UltiStepper design (which will be added as soon as we locate the files. Which are lost somewhere in the chaos) The UM2 design will go online in 6 months.

 

 

 

I hope the new UM2 extruder filament drive is stronger than the original UM drive. The drive strength generated by the original UM drive limits the speed at which ABS can be printed using a 0.4 mm (or even 0.5 mm) nozzle. A 0.25 mm nozzle is impossible with ABS. Of greater concern is the lack of a manual assist mechanism on the UM2 filament feeder (as far as I can see). Even if the not end is less prone to jams than the original UM hotend, I'm certain there will be times when I will want to force feed filament into the feeder with one hand while turning the drive mechanism (large gear in the UM) with the other hand to clear jams, partial jams, or prime (preload with pressure) the hot end with filament.

The UM2 extruder is a different kind of strong compared the the UM-Orignal. The UM-Orignal drive is extremely strong, ridiculous strong actually. But the UM2 drive has more grip, so it drives flex-PLA and ABS easier while it has less actual strength. Pushing 3mm filament trough a 0.25mm hole with speed is just asking for issues, no matter the strength of the drive.

 

 

The display is OLED not LCD, so it has unlimited viewing angle. The menu designs are so that you can always see all the important information, even when viewing from a high up angle (which causes the top border to hide the top 10 pixels) all the action is in the center or lower part of the display.

 

 

USB printing can be done, but it is not officially supported. We kept running into communication issues with the USB printing, so we opted to go for SD only. It's not the ideal world. But with unlimited time and resources we would have brought you networked printing. Alas, no ideal world. But one step at a time.

 

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