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Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?


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Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

Long story short my company is looking for a new 3D printer. We have had a nearly continually running Ultimaker 2 since 2014. It is a champion. However, it does not do dual extrusion - easily. I bought it because it was marketed that it would have the function. Never panned out.

 

Enter PRUSA. I watched as they developed the MMU2 Multi-Extrusion upgrade. I purchased the i3 MK3S printer and then patiently waited 8 weeks for the printer then another 4 weeks for the MMU2. Both in kit form. Wow, that was a lot of time and energy to setup and it really doesn't run that well. It's cool and all having nearly all of the parts 3D printed but... well.. all of the parts are 3D printed and when you mix hot ends and 3D printed parts they just don't last a long time. Needless to say it is in day 2 of not working because there is something wrong with the motherboard in addition to other issues.

 

For instance we had the PRUSA running at a museum recently and it just wouldn't work anymore. At least 3 different types of problems were plaguing it. Kids would visit the museum and see first hand how much troubleshooting is involved in this technology. Haha. It did work for a few days and was cool for sure though.

 

So I ask myself, "What does it take to get a reliable 3D printer that works every time AND does dual extrusion?"

 

I took a look at my still working 2014 UM2 (as it replaced the PRUSA in the museum so the show would go on mind you!) and thought I would take a look at the Ultimaker line once again.

 

When you start thinking of these as investments for a company and not a weekend hobby the criteria start to become different. You start to invest in a system or ecosystem of parts. Software stacks. Integration of workflows. Scalability. Uptime. ROI. Etc, etc.

 

After much research and hopefully this relevant preamble I have some questions to ask the Ultimaker Team and hopefully people who have used these machine - S3 & S5 - so I can make the most informed purchasing decision for my company.

 

Feel free to chime in on any of these, all of them, or just share your experience owning and using these for professional projects.

 

1) How realistic is the uptime of this printer? Lets talk specifically PLA & PVA. Both from Ultimaker. Does it really actually print flawlessly and very reliably? Or, is there actually still a lot of tinkering and problem prone processes that need to be navigated? For instance here is an article where a test reviewer encountered problems with a false-positive "out of filament warning" every-time they printed with PVA.

 

2) How reliable is the remote access? Always up or it's kind of a hassle with spotty connections and you don't really use it 6 months in?

 

3) Did your printer arrive ready to print or did you have issues with it being damaged or out of alignment?

 

4) What has been the biggest problem with your printer so far? Have you been able to fix it?

 

5) Did you get the extended warranty? Was it helpful or worth it?

 

6) Do you update to the latest firmware or wait for a while because this process has lots of errors that make it worse?

 

7) After owning one for a few months would you buy another? Do you already have multiple? Do you wish you would have bought another model or brand?

 

8] How often do nozzles get clogged? What happens when a print core is clogged? Do you have to buy a new one? Can you fix the existing one?

 

Thank you for any input!

 

 

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    I have a lot of printers, UM2+ Ext, UM3, S3, S5 and also a Prusa. I can say, nothing is more reliable than the UM printers. The Prusa is nice for kids or for pure hobby usage, when it works it prints good. The MMU is another story, I sold it after 2 weeks, the concept or idea behind is not bad, but the part itself is shit and cheap. And it works only with much luck without any user intervention. I had only one print job which was running fine from the start to the end. For all other jobs I got alerted every few minutes.

     

    6 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    1) How realistic is the uptime of this printer? Lets talk specifically PLA & PVA. Both from Ultimaker. Does it really actually print flawlessly and very reliably? Or, is there actually still a lot of tinkering and problem prone processes that need to be navigated? For instance here is an article where a test reviewer encountered problems with a false-positive "out of filament warning" every-time they printed with PVA.

     

    Yes it is very reliable, I have rare issues and when there is an issue, it was my fault. Regarding PVA it is very important that you keep the PVA spool really dry and if you print a lot with PVA, also during printing. Most PVA problems here on the forum are due to bad PVA spools. PVA absorbs quickly moisture from the air and then gets soft and sticky. Both are not the best parameters for the filament sensor. So if you plan to print a lot with PVA consider to buy the S5 Pro bundle with the material station or another external solution of your choice.

     

    6 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    2) How reliable is the remote access? Always up or it's kind of a hassle with spotty connections and you don't really use it 6 months in?

     

    I use it not very often because I don't have the need, but when I am away and need to do something remotely, the Digital Factory works fine, without problems. Every other print job is sent directly via local LAN to the printer. I don't use the wifi connection, so I cannot say how stable it is. Some user reported problems with the wifi, but with an ethernet cable I have no issues.

     

    6 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    3) Did your printer arrive ready to print or did you have issues with it being damaged or out of alignment?

     

    Yes, ready to print, no problems. I know you mean the one post in the forum, but this is a single case where the printer was not in the original package as far as I can remember, it was a used one. The printer is well packed, there is nearly no chance that something could be damaged. But if the delivery guy throws the printer of the car from 1.5 meters, then nothing will 100% withstand. 

     

    6 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    4) What has been the biggest problem with your printer so far? Have you been able to fix it?

     

    To be honest I had no serious issues yet with the UM printers and my S5 is 2 years old now. I also print still with the print cores that came with the printer and I have cleaned it one time in these 2 years. (ok maybe I am too lazy and I should do it more often, but I have no problems)

     

    6 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    5) Did you get the extended warranty? Was it helpful or worth it?

     

    No, I don't have it.

     

    6 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    6) Do you update to the latest firmware or wait for a while because this process has lots of errors that make it worse?

     

    I always update to the latest firmware and never had any issues with it. 

     

    6 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    7) After owning one for a few months would you buy another? Do you already have multiple? Do you wish you would have bought another model or brand?

     

    Yes as already said in the beginning of my post. I also never looked to any other brand, because I like the printers itself and also the whole ecosystem. Everything works fine and easy. For example when you want to print with another filament brand which is probably not as easy as PLA, I check the Marketplace in Cura, decide to buy material xyz and then load the profile from the marketplace. The profile is automatically synced to the printer and you can start your print job. I never printed or played with temperature towers or such things.

     

    The journey to the Prusa was a test and because I was interested what is behind the hype. But it is nothing which is comparable. And personally I don't like the 1.75mm filament, it is often tricky to handle and you get quickly tangled spools. It is also a bead idea to have 1.75mm and 2.85mm printers, because you need both filaments on stock.

     

    7 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    8] How often do nozzles get clogged? What happens when a print core is clogged? Do you have to buy a new one? Can you fix the existing one?

     

    Not very often in my case, but it depends how often you change material. When you print a lot with different materials than it can happen, especially if these materials need different print temperatures. So in that case it would be better to use dedicated print cores for specific materials, i.e. one for PLA and another one for ABS. But when you should have a clogged print core you have guided instructions in the printer menu to clean the nozzle again. 

     

    The BB print core for PVA needs a little bit more attention, but when you clean in proactively from time to time, you should be fine.

     

    The switchable print core concept is also fine to keep the printer up and running. If you really have issues with a core, just swap it to another one and you are back in business. The clogged core can be cleaned later when you have time.

     

    I hope I could help a litte bit.

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    Hi @sensebellum, thank you for your message! Hopefully you will get a lot of input.

     

    Ah yes, the promise we regrettably couldn't fulfil on the Ultimaker 2. We still regret it to this day, and learned many lessons. Are you also looking for more print capacity or only to enable dual extrusion? Do you think you will use PVA mostly, or other support materials or build materials? Depending on your answers, the community at one point united and build this modification. It was very well received, but it does require modifications with the attached risks. So if reliability is high on your agenda (and the use of PVA), I might not recommend it. But I wanted to put it out there as an option.

     

    Regarding the Ultimaker S5, some questions I can not answer as a user, but as an Ultimaker team member I can try and answer some.

     

    10 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    1) How realistic is the uptime of this printer? Lets talk specifically PLA & PVA.

    The uptime is good. Just with any technology, there can always be a hick-up but often they can be solved quickly. PVA is a rather sensitive material, which needs to be treated as such. If you don't treat it well, it can give you difficulties. Particularly due to the moist it attracts from the air. The issue you mention from 2018 with the flow sensor has been addressed in an earlier firmware version. 

     

    10 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    2) How reliable is the remote access? Always up or it's kind of a hassle with spotty connections and you don't really use it 6 months in?

    We had some issues during the first months after being launched where connectivity sometimes dropped, but this has also been addressed a few firmware versions back. We do recommend to connect it to LAN, since that will always be more stable than wifi. 

     

    Next few questions are more aimed at users I think..

     

    10 hours ago, sensebellum said:

    8] How often do nozzles get clogged? What happens when a print core is clogged? Do you have to buy a new one? Can you fix the existing one?

    I like to think they rarely clog. If they do, we have cleaning filament to unclog them. Our print cores are really reliable and have a very high uptime. 

     

    Hope this helps! Perhaps you can also describe what you intent to use it for, so people can also give specific tips to keep an eye for, or give recommendations. 

     

    One thing I would like to add, as shown in the previous answer regarding flow sensor, connectivity and the responses you get in general, is that we actively support our products and you can expect to receive updates throughout owning one. This community is also a great place if you want to learn more about our products, 3D printing, or how to improve your 3D prints. I believe this adds a lot of value to your experience of owning an Ultimaker 3D printer. You are never left by yourself. 

     

    Thanks again, have a great day! 

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    1) How realistic is the uptime of this printer? Lets talk specifically PLA & PVA. Both from Ultimaker. Does it really actually print flawlessly and very reliably? Or, is there actually still a lot of tinkering and problem prone processes that need to be navigated? For instance here is an article where a test reviewer encountered problems with a false-positive "out of filament warning" every-time they printed with PVA.

     

    Apartfrom cleaning the printer out from time to time, and doing the normal oil of rods and stuff i have had like 99% up time in the past two/three years and my printers run almost 24/7. PVA can be tricky so its best to get a dry box to keep it dry why printing, polybox is good for this, also dry it out before printing if its not been used for a bit of time. Personally i use breakaway now days because it gives the same underside for overhangs and more supports are in places i can access to remove more easy.

     

    2) How reliable is the remote access? Always up or it's kind of a hassle with spotty connections and you don't really use it 6 months in?

    When at work i'll check the progess of prints to make sure they all going fine, never had a problem and thats with using 4g on a phone to access it.

     

    3) Did your printer arrive ready to print or did you have issues with it being damaged or out of alignment?

    All 3 my printers arrive ready to print aside from the normal loading print cores and filament, they come in boxes designed for the trasport of the printer (they come that well packed that it gives my a good amount of free packing for orders i print)

     

    4) What has been the biggest problem with your printer so far? Have you been able to fix it?

    Not really had any problems, apart from the normal user error with settings and that.

     

    5) Did you get the extended warranty? Was it helpful or worth it?

    I trusted the machine to work and last and thats why i paid more for a printer over other brands, because i like to have a machine just work and not pay less and find self having to spend time to get a machine to work.

     

    6) Do you update to the latest firmware or wait for a while because this process has lots of errors that make it worse?

    I personally update when its out, you can roll back firmware so its not really a problem, plus the more people use a firmware the faster any bugs get found and fixed.

     

    7) After owning one for a few months would you buy another? Do you already have multiple? Do you wish you would have bought another model or brand?

    I got a s5 after owning a few flashforge printers as i need something bigger and could run 24/7 for days on end, just under a year later i got a 2nd s5 and then this year i got the s3 also.

     

    8] How often do nozzles get clogged? What happens when a print core is clogged? Do you have to buy a new one? Can you fix the existing one?

    Use good filament and keep filament and the printers in a clean area and you be fine, only time i have had a clogged print core was when i tired a cheap amazon basics spool as it was the only thing i could get at the time due to covid. Easy to fix with some ultimaker cleaning filament and following the hot and cold pulls on the printer menus, something you should do from time to time alway to keep the cores clean.

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    I have the 3 printer, not the S3. And I'm really happy with it. It just works. Every time.

     

    But I can say one thing. If you want reliable, stay away from PVA. It's a very difficult material to store properly (has to be dried out almost daily) and to print with (you must have enough PVA printed every layer, otherwise the nozzle will clog even if the material is in perfect condition).

     

    If you can, use the Breakaway material. I love this material. It's a lot easier to work with and it works just as well if not better than PVA. The only reason to use PVA is if you have really complicated supports somewhere inside your model.

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    Thank you sincerely to all the replies here.

     

    The information from all of the people who have used these machines is valuable. It is also a vote of confidence in this machine. I do believe we will invest in the S5.

     

    It seems as though to nail the PVA it really has to be kept perfect. I will explore breakaway but I really like to gravitate towards a single solution.

     

    With that being said I like to integrated material storage offered by UM however the nearly $3,300 price tag makes it something we will look at in the future.

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    I have a few follow up questions if possible.

     

    1) The PolyBox looks great but it seems to only offer passive de-humidification. Is there perhaps a model that is active drying yet still affordable?

     

    2) How well has your machine dealt with flexible filament? Lets say the UM TPU 95A. I know a lot of people swear by only using direct drive extruders with flexible materials. However, how well do these work?

     

    3) Is there a power failure mode? Living in the PNW trees fall on power lines often and the power goes out, or might just flicker with the wind, etc. Anyway to printer can sense this then start again once back online?

     

    Also, @SandervG, I accept your apology regarding the UM2 Dual Extrusion. Lessons hard learned - for both of us - which is why I am asking all of these questions BEFORE buying haha. But, I am happy to see you all went pro and endeavor to offer the best possible!

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    One not on the material handler - it is awesome! ...... and it is usually where you will have a glitch if you end up having one. The S5 we have has ran almost flawlessly for the 9 months or so that we have had it with the exception of one flooded print core that we had to have replaced.

     

    The material handler works really well most of the time, and when you are doing a 4 day print job it is really nice to know you aren't going to run out of filament 3 1/2 days in! But usually there are minor issues that pop up from time to time:

    • It sometimes won't recognize the RF tag on the spool (or pics up the RF tag from the spool next to it). Meaning you have to manually override it.
    • It occasionally won't unload the filament after a print job, and your not supposed to pull that much filament backwards through the gears so you have to unhook one of the bowden tubes in the back, cut the filament at the roll and pull it forwards through the system. Not hard.... but annoying.

    But I would say 95%-97% of the time the material station does what it's supposed to do without any problems. So if you are printing a lot or doing long prints it's worth the extra $$.

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    1) The PolyBox looks great but it seems to only offer passive de-humidification. Is there perhaps a model that is active drying yet still affordable?

    eSun make one, for single spools but to be true it was not that great, how the lid shuts its not very air tight, so i guess you could mod an Polybox to place a heat pad in the bottom of it or something. But my PolyBox to be true kept my PVA good for weeks, then i would dry it over night. But my room is not very humid.

     

    2) How well has your machine dealt with flexible filament? Lets say the UM TPU 95A. I know a lot of people swear by only using direct drive extruders with flexible materials. However, how well do these work?

    Not had any problems, used both flexible PLA and TPU

     

    3) Is there a power failure mode? Living in the PNW trees fall on power lines often and the power goes out, or might just flicker with the wind, etc. Anyway to printer can sense this then start again once back online?

    It's got no power outage restart and to be true i have had printers with it and it don't work, if you powers out for any type of time the build plate will cool down and the print will become loose and all types of problems then.

     

    It's better to link the printer up to a UPS Backup so atlest you can pause the print but keep the build plate warm, also most you and link to a computer and it will tell you just how much power you using so if you selling prints you can factor that cost in.

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    Hi Sensebellum,

     

    For the first four months of ownership my S5 behaved very well. Since that time, it's been one thing after another. I had an extrusion issue where the material flowed back up into the print head, which opened the print head door during printing. Bad form. Ultimaker "bent the print head" back into shape, which was a bit of a red flag for me, but it printed fine. Until it didn't. My most recent issues have been communication error with the print cores (ER34), flow sensor issue (ER65), and I2C communication error (ER35). I'm presently in conversations with my dealer as to how to deal with this situation. Out of almost 12 months (i.e. the warranty period), my S5 Pro Bundle has been down at least two months for repairs. I've started multi-day print jobs that ended with one of these errors in 5 minutes on some occasions, 36 hours in others. Right now, it's in a hard-down situation and is back at the dealer.

     

    One other issue I'll call out here is with the material station. While the concept is brilliant, my experience with my particular setup has been underwhelming. The material station has six bays, but if I place a spool of material to an adjacent bay with material in it, I just get a "?". Apparently proximity of multiple RFID tags in adjacent bays (sometimes more than just the adjacent bay) cause an issue of reading good information. Sigh.

     

    If I had a do-over, would I buy the same printer? Honestly, I'm not sure. I probably would look at other manufacturers a lot more closely. I bought the Ultimaker brand promise of reliability, quality printing, etc. I got the quality printing. When it works, the quality of its prints are excellent. When it works. I seem to have gotten a unit minus the reliability part of the brand promise.

     

    Regards,

    Gene

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    Posted · Owners of S3 & S5, how has it been 3, 6, 12 months in?

    Hi @gpitts, thank you for your message. Sorry to hear it seems like you have run into some issues with your Ultimaker. A flooded head can be quite a hassle to recover from, depending from the size it might be better to replace parts than to recover. Sometimes if a part is slightly bent, you should be able to bent it back. By default this is not a good or bad practise, but it really depends on your situation. 

    If consecutively you started having communication errors this might be a sign that the flooded head caused some more harm than 'we' initially thought. I trust you will be able to work it out with your reseller. 

     

    Regarding the material station, multiple RFID tags can create some noise, but we always recommend to insert your spool on the far left side of each bay (where the reader is). This should work.

     

    If there is anything else we can help with or if you have any further questions please feel free to ask! (perhaps start another thread so we don't hijack @sensebellum 's thread.)

     

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