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Ultimaker R&D - We want your ideas!

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So, the Ultimaker2 is released and shipped. The first units are out of the doors and heading for the happy customers. (As you can see here: http://ultimaker.ipbhost.com/uploads/gallery/album_7/gallery_423_7_141670.jpg )


So. Time to take a deep breath, and time to take a good look around us. Holy, we are a real company now. We have a nice 5 man R&D team. Erik, Martijn and Siert moved to UltiLabs to do research for the far future. Logistics is handling the rest of the Ultimaker-Original and Ultimaker2 sales. Marketing is doing their own thing to promote us. Yes, stuff got real. We finally have room to take a breath, and dive into the future head on.



So, sitting at R&D, we are planning the roadmap to the next development. What should be done in the near future?

And this is where you can help. What do you think that we should concentrate our time on? What should be on and absolutely not be on our roadmap? We have some ideas ourselves, but I do not want to bias people and give you the full open spectrum think. Software, hardware, materials, the world is at our feet right now. We should use that opportunity!



(Disclaimer: We cannot guarantee that every idea will be used. We have limited time, and more parties to think off then just you guys. But we do want your involvement in the process)


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You open our door to give a beautiful avenues of research .


Many spoke of the double extrusion. Personally, this is not my priority.


I could see a small improvement in Cura , if you will . I noticed that the print was long , sometimes , that's why I take your application idea to share with you a possible improvement to be made.


It would be nice to be able afterwards , following a failure to give a slice of printing, to re scan the SD card in cura and transfer layers have been made . It would intervene in the Gcode course but it would be safer and responsive. View topic on saving impressions. http://umforum.ultimaker.com/index.php?/topic/2289-petite-astuce-pour-sauver-un-print/


Another nice thing would be to allow printing to cut 2/3 phases hours. Thus, if a print should be 8h , for example, it would be good to g-code 3 . One for the first two hours , followed by about 4h, followed by about 2am. This is an example!


Another thing hardware. The UM2 , there was a question about a possible closure of the print area . I think it would be a nice upgrade. But it will certainly involve concerns for the mechanics no longer be cool like that.


I think now have to give my opening remarks , hoping she can give other ideas. Even if they would not find themselves in Cura or machine , I would have participated in my way .


For you to meet me or just put your ideas .

Very happy will be people with the UM2 quickly. Is pending , I wish you all stayed patient, the future will be better than the present day.



Geeks .


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Refering to greengecko's post at the google-group, from my point of view the most important features are listed there.

Nevertheles in short, my personal favorites are:

- heated bed upgrade for UM1 with a single PSU

- "Joris" implementation in Cura

- "half layer hight" implementation in Cura

On the other hand, thinking a bit outside the box, I would think about an laser cutting head upgrade, print post processing guidelines/tools or UM furniture (I´m currently working on a stackable drawer unit...)


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Hi Daid,

my congratulations to all of you - your company has come a long way without losing its soul.

My own thoughts for the future go along these lines:



No deformation of finished prints

How far can the pla printing process go? what speeds can be reached?

How accurate could the prints become? How can holes and openings be improved?

The first two items are contradictory of course. The faster you go the more errors will come up.

Can there be a way to get unwarped prints with a COLD print bed? I don't like the power consumption of a heated bed too much. I want to experiment with prints on glass plates or other substrates.

Finally: What else can be done with the same basic mechanism? would love to be able to cut small parts from plywood with a laser process. Or could the same xyz mechanism be used for scanning? Many of us would like to have these functionalities, but we all have limited workshop space. So adding some kind of multi-functionality to one and the same machine would be cool indeed.

All the best


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Hi Daid

Congratulations to all of you at Ultimaker. Bringing a new product to life isn't easy and it doesn't get easier if it's the second one. Especially not if it's not for the same group of clients.

A lot of people already mentioned what you should do in future, but you also asked what you should not do. As I see it, you have limited man-power for R&D. Use them wise. Don't start something too big like creating your own CAD software or similar. This is not your core business I guess.

From this point I think R&D should take two directions in hardware for the two products. Try whatever you think is cool for the original Ultimaker; continue the revolution. Not for the Ultimaker2; there, start now with evolution. One example: Focussing on arbitrary, technically not-experienced clients, safety of the product is a must. I don't know, if the Ultimaker2 already complies with the standard IEC 60335. If it doesn't, this must be your next step (I know safety standards are a pain, but you have to go through this...).

There are also some health concerns regarding 3D printers at home coming up recently. Please take them seriously and give a strong answer to them with the Ultimaker2.

You've done a great job with Cura so far. Compared to other slicing software it is very handsome. Still there are some things left to do which will certainly please both the Original Ultimaker and the Ultimaker2 users:

- Slic3r offers some cool settings like printing the outermost layer slower than the rest wich results in a great optical quality of the print. Certainly something to copy in Cura...

- Cura plugins work only as post-processors today, right? On the plugin website it is mentioned to have UI-plugins, i.e. plugins which run while processing. Changing the layer height during print is one of the most frequently mentioned desire. What about implementing it in a way that Cura selects the layer height itself?

- There are a lot of things which can be implemented for the Dual extruder setup, e.g. switching off heating of the unused hotend, the cleaning tower issue,...

- I personally would really like to have a correct print time estimation. So far I managed to write a plugin which does it quite well but having it directly in Cura would really be nice... :-)

And thank you for asking! ;-)



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Hi Daid,

thanks for the open-mindedness in the first place! Looking forward to see the progress.

My ideas are:

Cura (software) related:


  1. Better support options (couldn't test 13.10 improvements)
  2. Bring down printing time
  3. Add a user-friendly version of 'regions'

Support needs some attention which it got in Cura 13.10.

Bringing the print time down while remaining a nice outer skin can be done by


  • Implementing the half outer layer setting
  • Implement 'smart' infill. By printing less infill, just enough to internally support the top of the part, printing time can be brought down a lot.

Hardware wise:


  1. Dual extrusion for Ultimaker 2
  2. ...... Waiting for my UM2 to arrive

No further comments needed here I think

Youmagine wise (great platform so far!)


  1. Improve user-interface
  2. Add "I printed this" buttons
  3. Improve collaboration
  4. A lot more :smile:

Youmagine is a good-looking platform but it definately needs some time. Many things are already noticed so no need to do that again.

Material wise:


  1. Include Nylon in your webshop
  2. Search for other printable materials

I like the idea of printing more materials, Nylon in particular. Not so high on my priority list though.

Safety wise:


  1. Find a way to get rid of the bad-for-your-health fumes.

With the heated bed, ABS printing is now possible (hopefully :wink:). The fumes of ABS are 'funny'. Perhaps some extra side planes and a carbon filter will do the trick. I'd highly recommend this for the UM2 since I think this will be the 'for the masses' printer who expect something more health friendly.

Future projects:


  1. Fully automatic production
  2. 3D scanner
  3. Acetone vapor surface treater (ABS only?)
  4. Go with stereolithography
  5. Ultimaker mini/ Ultimaker maxi

By pushing the printed part off the platform and start another print it's possible to print automatically. I've seen a video of this on the UM Original but tape and force were things to overcome. Perhaps the heated build platform is the solution for this.

With the heated platform you can 'blow the print away' (or something like that). Knock it off with the print head and go on printing. I've already seen this on the UM Original but there the tape and force required were too critical to make it work. Maybe the HBP can do the trick.

A 3D scanner needs no further comments.

A ready to use acetone vapor bath will give printed ABS parts an awesome look!

You may also consider developing an SLA printer or make a smaller/ (even) bigger print volume printer.

My priority top 3:


  1. Improve support in Cura
  2. Get rid of the fumes
  3. Dual extrusion for UM2

Hope this was inspirational :wink: Thanks for your attention anyway!


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Hi Daid,

I am dreaming of printig circuit boards for electronic components. This could be realized i.e. with a second extruder that draws the tracks with something like the conductive silver which is use to repair connections on circuit boards. I believe there would be a great demand for the first afforable printer with the feature.



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I am a relatively new user but interested in expanding the use of Ultimakers within a business either as prototyping or small scale production. Some things that would help make that possible include.



  • Automated Bed Leveling - I would like to be able to finish a print, swap out build platforms, and start the next build without having to re-level or re-calibrate the z-stop
  • Filament Moisture Control - maybe a simple, airtight enclosure that is filled with a desiccant or a simplified dehydrator.
  • Belt Tension Tool - right now this is done by strumming the belt and trying to replicate a sound in your video. I don't know how precise the belt tension needs to be, but some way to generate a number (data) on your belt tension as opposed to a sound might reduce a source of error. Also, the short belts are hard to tension - no reference for how tight they should be.



  • Faster In-fill Options - thicker inner layers (already mentioned multiple times). This is how the metal AM machines currently work and it can dramatically speed up print time.
  • More Accurate Time Prediction - currently the time prediction when using expert settings is very far off.



  • Troubleshooting Prints - it would be nice to upload a picture of a part and the corresponding settings in Cura and get some feedback on how to improve the print quality (i.e., what settings to change or what mechanical items to check). Currently this is done but uploading to the forum and maybe some of those key contributors could help analyze prints in a more formal way.


Looking forward to the heated print bed when available and I appreciate the outreach for feedback. Thanks!!



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Hi Daid,

thanks for the opportunity to participate in the development of Ultimaker Hard- and software by submitting our ideas about it.

At the moment I am waiting for 2 UM2's and a dual extruder upgrade for my UM1.

I would like to test those before coming up with some ideas but I will definitely come back to you about this.

One thing I think is worthwhile to offer is an Ultimaker that can produce objects maybe twice or three times the current hight. Probably an easy thing to realize to.

On the Cura side I already mentioned to you the visibility of the file-name it is going to use to save the current model and maybe also the used profile and machine type.

Being able to set the default paths for input and output would also be a nice feature. (I don't think it always remembers the last one used or does it?)

Talk to you later, kind regards, Guy


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(I don't think it always remembers the last one used or does it?)


It does. Which is good. But when I do a crazy experiment like see what happens with nozzle at 2mm I sometimes forget to set it back and my next print is a mess. lol.


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I am very inexperienced with 3D printers, but I like the scanner and laser cutter ideas best.

A laser cutter is another toy I would like to have. How about a new laser head for the UM2? My concern with this is the "small" operating area of the machine compared to existing laser cutters. If you have to continuously swap in small squares of cardboard, or wood the laser would need to operate pretty fast to be able the have a decent sized finished project. It would be very labor intensive. I'm not sure I would have the patience.

As always, bigger, better, faster seems good too. Oh, and cheaper. I read an article recently where the author said "Our children are going to laugh at the speed of our 3D printers."


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1) Improve your customer support.


Yes. Ultimaker should, and is working hard to add the best people possible to the support team. But that's not the job of "Ultimaker R&D", we concentrate on Research & Development.

A few things.

"UM1 heated-bed upgrade with single PSU" most likely ain't going to happen. The UM1 electronics have a design flaw which makes it unneeded complex, and a single PSU solution would add significantly more cost then a dual PSU solution due to the price of high current PSUs (next to that you would throw away the money for the PSU you already have). This does not rule out a heated bed upgrade, but don't expect one with just 1 PSU.

There are lots of software suggestions that I spot. I hope to announce soon that we have a 2nd software developer. But that ain't 100% certain until he has signed his contract.

Now, about the roadmap process. For the past few days, we've been writing down all ideas on a few big sheets of paper in our office. Lots of suggestions from here have made it on there. (And a few more, like a gigantic robotic spider)

On monday we'll have our first meeting about the roadmap. At this meeting we'll select the ideas from the list that we think are important and doable for R&D with our current team. Both short and long term goals.

However, R&D does not have the full say in this, so after that (unsure on the date), another meeting is held with the heads of the company, to set the final roadmap and plans for R&D.

I'll do my best to keep you informed, but realistically I cannot share everything we are doing. As there will be things that we want to keep secret.


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Hi Daid,

if it is not too late - here are my thoughts (in random order):


  • Built-in print failure detection and emergency stop.
    • It is no fun to return to your printer only to see a huge plastic mess around the nozzle (aka. the big plastic ball of doom). Could be implemented with a simple "sonar" that detects surplus material around the nozzle. Or an ir barrier for the x-axis.


    [*]Built-in web cam and remote management.


    • Aka. merge Cura with OctoPrint already :) Also a mobile app for remote monitoring would be very nice. 3D printing is an emerging technology right? Like playing with the future. I don't see myself running around swapping sdcards in the future...


    [*]Easier system for changing filament.


    • Maybe something fancy that splices in two strands of filament (melting them together and cutting one off).


    [*]Cusioned feet for the Ultimaker.


    • This one is a no-brainer. Vibrations are bad and adding four cushioned pads to the UM isn't going to cost more than 2ct per piece...


    [*]A robotics pack.


    • Adding the possibility to connect an Arduino, and some servos to allow hackers to automate "mass production" e.g. wiping prints of the heated bed with a mechanical arm after a printing batch has finished. Also add a "print finished" hook to trigger the robot action.


    [*]Better gcode visualization.


    • Printing is time consuming and it would be nice to have better gcode visualization in Cura in order to spot problems _before_ a 12hr print fails at the end. Even if the visualization isn't perfect, it is way better than nothing. You have a bit of the same situation as Apple does. You control the hardware _and_ the software so it should be doable.


    [*]Smaller addons for the Ultimaker.


    • Instead of offering some huge kits like dual extrusion that cost several hundred euros, consider adding small improvements at low(er) cost. Like a camera for remote monitoring or the robotics pack I mentioned earlier. Also, give them a catchy name (like "addons"). This way the Ultimaker will be established as an advanced _and_ modular printer.


    [*]Color coded led's indicating the printer status.


    • Yes, this is a gimmick but a nice one. When the print finishes the built-in led's could change color indicating the print status (same goes for heating up, changing filament and so on). With the new side panels on the UM2 this would look killer.


    [*]Expand YouMagine to allow people who own printers to print objects for others.



    [*]New materials.


    • Right now I guess most people are happy with PLA. If it weren't for the low glass transition temperature. I don't suggest to start your own filament research lab but rather look for partners in this field and work with them to find a filament that incorporates the advantages of PLA and temperature stablitlity of ABS (like PLA90 form OrbiTech).


    [*]Bundle merchandise with the Ultimaker.


    • It is far easier to get friends into something when they can hold physical objects or textile (Ultimaker branded) in their hands. T-shirts are great and cost next to nothing when ordered in high quantities. Take a look at how Atlassian handles this. I joked around that the next company they take over should be a t-shirt manufacturer :)


    [*]3D scanner.


    • Because it is a great combo to a 3D printer. But please don't use raw diamants for the case like the MakerBot folks apparently do - keep the price low.


    [*]Create a version for schools.


    • Something fully enclosed where children can't burn their fingers. Maybe add this as a kit or addon for the UM2. I think this has great potential - especially because the younger generation shares the same fascination for 3D printing like us. So it is easy to get children into tech this way. And I guess having schools as customers isn't bad at all.


    [*]Add a pair of pliers to every Ultimaker.


    • It is the ultimate tool for catching surpluss strands of plastic.


    [*]Create something like an Ultimaker University.


    • A special training portal where people can "take lessons" on how to operate an Ultimaker _and_ handle 3D printing in general. This is the fastest way to get your Ultimaker into companies because most companies don't have problems with the cost for a printer but are woried about maintenance.


    [*]Create the infrequent Ultimaker 3D design challenges.


    • In order to create buzz, put up some 3D design challenges where talented people can win an Ultimaker. Add a new twist to it (something that makes it special - like the possibility to name the next Cura release after the winner).


    [*]Approach the concept of hardware evangelists.


    • Select community members (and entice them) to spread the word and demo the Ultimaker at local hacker spaces and faires.




I am sorry if this post is not entierly on topic. I hope it helps anyway.



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I had another "great" idea that I think would be very easy. Use a magnetic switch to monitor rotation of the feed spool. Embed magnets into the spools or make an attachment on the spool holder. When the program detects no rotation for a certain time it assumes the roll is empty. The print will pause and maybe the head moves away. Then you can splice in new filament and continue printing.

As I said previously, I don't have a printer of my own yet. I only think I know how they operate. Maybe there is a common fix for this, but I think it would really suck to run out of filament mid-print.

This also requires a commercially available filament splicer which I have not seen yet.


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Great idea, poor solution.

It precludes spoolless supplies such as faberdashery. And I'd hate to have to persuade every filament supplier to embed magnets into their spools, it won't happen.

The way to do this is in software. Just have cura keep track of filament use an warn if there is not enough for the job.


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And the problem with a pure software solution is that you have to know exactly how long your filament is from the start of the print. There's no way of telling how long the filament is on a spool short of unspooling it all and measuring it.

Personally I'd go for a KISS solution by having a microswitch with a contact wheel. Place it just under the feeder and let the wheel push against the filament, as soon as the filament runs out the switch opens and sends a signal to the control board which the firmware can act upon.


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And the problem with a pure software solution is that you have to know exactly how long your filament is from the start of the print. There's no way of telling how long the filament is on a spool short of unspooling it all and measuring it.


Cura can keep track of it - that's the point. Just tell Cura when you load a new spool of, say 1kg, 5mtrs,100mtrs, whatever, and it knows how much is left. If you change spools before they are used just read off Cura and write it on the spool.


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Cura can keep track of it - that's the point. Just tell Cura when you load a new spool of, say 1kg, 5mtrs,100mtrs, whatever, and it knows how much is left. If you change spools before they are used just read off Cura and write it on the spool.


Would be better to keep track of this in the machine instead of Cura.


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My point was that you can never know how much is on the spool EXACTLY. It can differ from the factory. If you remove the filament and have to snip off a little bit at the end you need to keep track of that. What if the filament breaks? (has happened to me in the past). So many things that can mess up the measurement. By having a physical sensor that knows for sure that no more filament is going into the machine you avoid that.

Now, a combination of both, then we're talking. That way you know the machine wont keep printing if it runs out of plastic and you'll know roughly how much filament is left on your spools so you can pick one that should have enough material for the print.


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Another idea would be to measure the weight on the spool holder. Then you'd only need to enter the weight of an empty spool and the rest can be calculated. If the manufacturer specifies the weight of an empty spool (and that's not much trouble as I am sure he has more than a few empty spools laying around), all the better.

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Keeping track in software would only give you accuracy to a few meters or so. I think you want accuracy down to a few centimeters maybe. Same with weight. I switch filaments often and don't want to have to tell Marlin everytime I switch. Plus I often turn the extruder wheel by hand as do most UM original owners.

But it would be a nice feature to run the filament through a cotton tube to clean dust off the filament to prevent clogs. This tube could also be attached to a switch to detect when you run out of filament. Very simple!


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