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Nicolinux

New Makerbot Models

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So CES, totally the best time of the year to expand your product range and not fix old issues with existing products :)

Makerbot released three new models. Didn't change the printing resolution but did add really cool "soft features" to their printers. Webcam, App for remote management, enclosed filament spool(1.75), swapable printing head with filament detection... (link).

The way I see it, now that Makerbot is backed by its much bigger brother (and with enough venture capital before that), they will sadly become the standard for desktop 3D printing. Their printers are inferior to others regarding printing quality (especially Ultimaker) but this won't hinder normal people to buy them. With enough "soft features", ultra precise clean prints will be less of an issue. Look at other technologies, that's the way it works.

I am not too optimistic for Ultimaker now that I see how fast Makerbot moves. But ok, this is only an transitional period. The "real" game starts when traditional printer manufacturers enter the desktop printer market. HP already stated that the work on it.

I hope Ultimaker finds a spot where they can use their printing quality advantage. Kick it up a few notches folks! :)

 

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hm, if ultimaker really wants to compete with makerbot or 3d systems (who also announced new models that weren't that impressive technically) than they will be doomed (i fear).

But if they would concentrate on their strengths (superior quality und speed for the price, good reputaion) und stop fighting an uphill battle then i think they could find their niche in the prosumer market.

i would love to see them offering an ultimaker with a bigger build size, or 3 extruders, or also a mini version with half the build size that you can buld with your kids (like the printrbot jr. ?).

I am also wondering if these announcments were the reason they rushed (or so it seemed to me, with some of the packaging, quality control issues) the release of the U2 in September so not having to compete with those new systems now ...

 

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Don't panic!

At first sight it really looks as if the new Makerbot models are more or less the same as the Replicator 2. But I think they were clever enough to build the three new models with a maximum number of common parts. This helps to reduce e.g. storage costs. And this is certainly something Ultimaker should be aware of. I don't know if there is any common part between UM1 and UM2.

It is a very strong commitment Ultimaker did when telling, at the moment of the UM2 launch, that they will still care about the UM1 users. However, there might be a time when they will have to break that commitment. It could as well be, when launching the UM3 one day, they will reduce support for the UM2 and still support the UM1 clients.

It might happen that the traditional printer manufacturers will enter the stage. But I think rather not. A main competitor in a few years from now may be Google which has started with a quite huge Motorola team recently. And nobody knows what the guys in Cupertino are currently working at.

And don't forget that the tiger and the dragon are still sleeping. At least China might be an important force in the 3D home printing market, capable of mass producing cheap devices.

So what to do for a small European company like Ultimaker? Find your enthusiastic clients. Don't grow at any prize. Do something no other company does, don't copy. Up to now, I think this is still the case. Cura is a very good example.

I had the chance to work on the key development of a completely new device (in HVAC, not 3D printing) for the last few years. I learned a lot of things during that time. But one of the most important things was, that creating something very innovative and new takes at least four years with a small team (we were about 5-10 people). If you want it to work properly when delivered to your customers.

 

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Well it is not that you don't compete if you dont want to. If there are others who are seemingly better than you, competition already started. Look at the Makerbot models. They are all (except for the mini) prosumer devices - already competing with the Ultimaker.

If I'd never heard of Ultimaker and Makerbot before and would want to buy a printer in this price range - I'd would have bought the new Replicator in a heartbeat. Not only because of the soft features but also because of the overall impression with their product range.

Again, this is if I would have never heard of them before. Knowing how things stand, I'd buy an Ultimaker over and over again.

But all in all I wonder if Makerbot strategy is the way to go. As to not focus so much on finer print quality but those soft features that make life daily printing life easier. From my limited experience with the Ultimaker(s), printing resolution becomes less of an issue over time when you get used to it. 0.2mm layer height is my default setting for comon household items. And I print at 0.1 only for gifts and stuff I want to display somewhere in my apartment. Finer prints have all their drawbacks like a much longer print time. What good does a fine print do if there is a big chance that the last few layers will be messed up and will ruin the entire model (visually)?

With this still young technology "fiddling with things" is much better and easier done at 0.2 ;)

 

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I completely agree to Dim3nsioneer´s and also Nicolinux post's... and as a rule of thumb, only 3% of all inventions become sucessfull products. From my point of view, Ultimaker did and still do the right things. Force development, care of their customers with perfect support and grow with a healthy rate.

Nevertheless, I also took a look onthe new Replicators...

First, the design looks nice, like a microwave, so something most customers are familiar with.

Secondly, they promote HIPS as soluable support material and heated chambers as they have now no problems with patent infringement...

From an marketing point of view, that´s a pretty good starting point...

So what could be the countermeasures? (if neccessary?)

 

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Hey Robert what's your affiliation with Ultimaker? Do you work for them?

@drayson: Countermeasures would be to get a good grasp on the european market. Also a smaller and safer Ultimaker for schools would be clever. Oh and adding Ultimaker drivers to Mac OS X would be even better :)

 

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I am not too optimistic for Ultimaker now that I see how fast Makerbot moves. But ok, this is only an transitional period. The "real" game starts when traditional printer manufacturers enter the desktop printer market. HP already stated that the work on it.

 

We're not sitting still. I have to agree that Makerbot is moving quite fast. But, look at it really well. What news do they bring on the table?

A "smaller" printer (UM sized? with 100x100x100 printer volume?)

WebCam and Network, yes, bit new, but people have been doing this with OctoPrint. And, we're also not sitting still on this area.

Swappable magnetic printer head, sure I've seen that one, not sure on what machine. UP! maybe? Or was it the Builder...

Oh, and their new hotend looks a lot like an E3D on first inspection, or not?

A "bigger" printer, which is not actually that big. Most likely as big as they could go X/Y wise without changing the gantry.

Their 3D scanner is crap (seriously, I think I could do better with my eyes closed)

Also, none of this is actually released. It's only announced. And none of it is actually really revolutionary. Pretty much what you would expect for a normal development line.

(Nothing from our "omg, this would be really cool" development list is on their feature list. Which, off all things, includes a gigantic robotic spider)

EDIT: HIPS is silly. I hope to push our water-soluble material soon. Pretty much prints as PLA, and only needs water to remove. It's like PVA without all the bad properties.

 

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Hey Robert what's your affiliation with Ultimaker? Do you work for them?

 

No, but as a moderator I have the perk of getting a few bits of information here and there that are not publicly available.

 

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Also, none of this is actually released. It's only announced. And none of it is actually really revolutionary. Pretty much what you would expect for a normal development line.

(Nothing from our "omg, this would be really cool" development list is on their feature list. Which, off all things, includes a gigantic robotic spider)

 

I don't think there is one be all end all feature that would change everything for fdm printers. Unless you are able to increase speed drastically while retaining print quality or something alike. With the Replicator it is the package that matters. We are nerds, we care about details, intricate features and superior accuracy. But normal people who need a 3D printer will look at the Replicator and say - Yes, it looks alright, has tons of features and prints resonably accurate. Sold.

The question is - do you want to cater to those "normal" people? (right now those who need a 3D printer are by no means "normal" refering to the typical consumer) If yes, you compete with Makerbot and they just upped their game with the new anouncements. Yes some features are silly and only nice to have, but when you get over print accuracy and printer tuning, nice to have features start to become very interesting :)

 

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@ Daid, great to hear this. I guess that´s some advantage and I´m really looking forward for this development and hope it is also applicable on UM1´s.

@ Nicolinux, yes, that might be true but I understand countermeasures not in direction of features only (honestly, nobody just buys because of features, that´s only the final comparison), I understand it in transporting the customer benefits and adressing the needs in a good marketing...

BIG benefits of UM is definitely also the community and the great support - that´s something worth to place in the communication.

Well, the time will show...

@ Robert - mech. eng. was "only" my former profession :-)

 

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interesting topic...

maybe this.... because makerbot came out with all these new releases for 2014... ultimaker and other 3d print companies simply have to put themselves in the next gear.

The Ultimaker 2 is a click and print consumer 3d printer... a very good one at that... so at the moment... yes ultimaker seems to be targetingg exactly the same CLICK AND PRINT consumers as makerbot... thats why 2014 will be a big and exciting year for Ultimaker :-)... it has to be !

Ian :-)

 

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It might be a bit off-topic, but Ultimaker https://www.ultimaker.com/pages/our-printers/ultimaker-2 (with the green checks) of which the last one is 'low cost material'.

Maybe it's because I'm Swiss and we are used to high-quality products in Switzerland, but for me this point would be rather a reason not to buy this product.

What do you think about that phrase (with the view of a customer who want's a nice and shiny machine, as discussed above)?

 

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Honestly, buying something today is different from past

Currently I´m following a speech of Neil Rackham (author of e.g. SPIN selling) at our companies sales conference and the ironic thing is, he´s right also for small companies when saying: sales is not selling products via their unique features any more because of decrease of differentiation - it is creating value for the customers during the sales process.

How to sell has become more importent than what you sell - a good product is only the door opener, how to sale is the important thing.

And that´s the challenge - how can a small company address the market the right way?

@ Dim3nsineer - I have the same feeling but mainly because of an unclear phrase - is the printer made of cheap material or is the UM printing with cheap PLA? 1.800€ is not cheap fo me...

From my point of view maybe the responsible at UM should take a critical look on the messages... (and no, I´m not a consultant aiming for business :-P )

 

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Hi,

I am new to this forum but not new to the Ultimakers (I have one UM1 and one UM2 so far). This is an interesting discussions here, and I, personally, don't see the threat to UM so much by the Replicator and Cube printers (I agree to UM's special niche). However, the new http://www.3ders.org/articles/20140107-3d-systems-announced-full-color-cubejet-cerajet-3d-ceramic-printer.html could be a real game changer as this one is positioned below USD 5000. What do you think? Probably to early to tell ...

 

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Yes, very interesting topic.

They do look very slick. (by the way, as does the cube 3) Anyone?

Feature-wise they do not bring a lot of new things to the table but appearance does count, and it would be ignorant to think otherwise. And it will probably lure a lot of customers. From my perspective it has a lot of nice feature from a gadget-level, but everything still needs to work. Now they have redesigned their hot end.. 'improved' sounds nice, but how does it work in practice?

That is something only time can tell.

Just like Daid says, most of the implemented features are things we also work on, or have considered.

Besides the appearance, I didn't really have a wow-moment.

2014 is going to be a big year, and we will step up our game. Ultimaker-wise. :)

I would like to quote 2 things said above (Drayson); - it is not important what you sell, but how you sell it.

(again drayson): - BIG benefits of UM is definitely also the community and the great support - that´s something worth to place in the communication.

'Dim3nsineer - I have the same feeling but mainly because of an unclear phrase - is the printer made of cheap material or is the UM printing with cheap PLA?' Obviously, the material to print with is cheap. I will have another look at the text.

 

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your right about one thing.. just looked at the front page of ultimaker.com and this sentence

Low cost material

Could actually lead people to think that ultimakers are produced from sub grade materials...

didnt really spot that one before !

Ian

 

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I have just looked at all these new models of 3d printers presented at CES. What really comes to mind is that they are putting more money and thought into DESIGN issues than FUNCTIONALITY. Lots of bling bling and catering to the digital citizen crowd. What use is there in a camera and app for the smartphone? show your friends your house is burning down because the printer had a short? This is GADGET thinking.

Cube goes all the more into proprietary stuff...the shitstorm about their bloody cartridge system has not moved them in the slightest. They may have redesigned their cartridges, they might even work now, but I will still not touch a 3d printer with a cartridge system with a ten foot pole. If their printer prices would go down to the level we are used to with paper printers where you can get the machine for the price of a 3color refill, I might swallow the hook....but having a 3000+$ machine AND hugely overblown material prices is a bit too much.

Makerbot, too is more about bling than function. Inadmit these new printers look sexy as hell but I stick to my wooden UM boxes that work so well for me. None of the features they advertise tempts me to change horses now.

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surely FDM extruder printers have a limited life span. As much as I'm enjoying my UM2, I'm already frustrated by the restrictions in printing overhangs, and the surface quality of anything past a certain angle.

I don't care much for colour, but the printing method of the cube jet, and any printer that does an entire layer at a time, such as DLP is far superior to FDM in terms of part complexity, and consistent surface finish all over the model, not just the areas facing upwards. In some ways, extruder printers are more 2.5D than 3D.

The next printer I buy won't be FDM, I'm hoping Ultimaker and other companies are looking at better printing methods, not so much how to improve FDM.

 

 

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well makerbot sure know how to make a nice looking 3D printer, but that build size on the mini? really? that's stupidly small. there printers have always had inneficient build platform sizes, but then again everyone knows makerbot. i think there are smarter companies out there that will beat them to true desktop printing!

 

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