Frequently asked Questions
Getting an Ultimaker
There are several 3D printer designs out there, why yet another one?
Long answer: The founders of Ultimaker, each owners of their own RepRap 3D printers and participants in the RepRap project, were giving workshops to build your own RepRap. Back then, the time it took to build a RepRap was much too long to still call it a workshop (the first workshop took more than half a year). Moreover, the quality of the prints could only get better after tedious experimentation and with a lot of knowledge, and the results were not very repeatable. Martijn started redesigning a laser-cut design to be much easier to assemble. Siert and Erik got so excited about this and we redesigned it several more times and we incorporated many of the promising features that we were working on. We wanted to improve the state of open source digital fabrication by being able to work on this full time, so we needed a revenue stream to make it possible to sustainable contribute to its further development. We hope that you agree that it's the most exciting thing since the internet to be involved in! We developed the design separately from the RepRap project, but because we had gained all our knowledge from building RepRaps, we wanted to make the Ultimaker open source too. Both so that we could give back, and so that many smart people can get involved and add something to this already wonderful machine.
For how much can I get a complete Ultimaker kit?
The total price is 1194 euros (excluding VAT and shipping). Please see the Ultimaker page in our web-shop!
What is VAT, and do I need to pay for it?
In some cases, we will need to add 19% VAT to the invoice. This is basically just for European Union based citizens, not for businesses having a VAT number nor for people/businesses outside of the EU. Outside the EU, duties may apply, depending on your country's tax rules. We do not know the duties you pay to import into specific country, but luckily we do have a HS-code that applies to our products. Your national customs agency should be able to tell you what to expect.
The sold parts in an Ultimaker kit are HS-code 847790 Plastic filaments are HS-code 392099.
These HS codes are mentioned on the invoice which we add in threefold. This way the duties that apply can be determined by customs.
What is the lead-time?
For a kit, see this page. Because of popularity of the Ultimaker, we supply Ultimakers on a first come first served principle. Smaller orders such as PLA or upgrades usually ship faster than complete kits. We also don't want to work with too much haste, because quality is very important to us.
I would like to distribute the Ultimaker, what can I do?
We will be interested in working with distributors once we've ramped up production to a level where we can satisfy demand. When this is the case, distributing via distributors is a good option. Before that, we prefer to ship directly to the end users, because we can sell every kit that we're producing.
Can we get a pre-assembled Ultimaker?
No, currently we sell the Ultimaker as a kit only. This way we can ensure that there wont be any problems with Ultimakers that break during shipping.
Can I get an Ultimaker with feature X?
The Ultimakers listed in the shop are the Ultimakers we currently ship to customers. We do not sell custom-made machines to customers, but we do value your input about improving the quality and new features we should look into.
Construction and operation of the machine
How hard is it to assemble an Ultimaker?
It comes as a kit, which you have to put together. If you have serious trouble putting together IKEA furniture, a DIY 3D printer isn't for you! But: We've redesigned the Ultimaker's parts many times to make everything much easier to assemble. The Ultimaker should be one of the easiest to build DIY machines out there. We had a group of 12 people put their machines together, and we seem to have eliminated all major difficulties by redesigning confusing and/or problematic parts. There are just a few parts where you need to follow the instructions pretty closely, otherwise your mileage may vary!
How reliable and safe it its operation?
An official Ultimaker kit contains high quality components which are tested extensively. We've redesigned many components that might at some point lead to reliability problems and we will keep doing so. We cannot give any official guarantees of reliability, since we have no control over how you put together the kit. However, if you are uncertain about how to approach something, please do not hesitate to contact us. A general note on safe operation: you should not leave your machine unattended just like you shouldn't leave candles burning in a room if you're not there. Also, we do not recommend children to work with the device without proper guidance. We do not recommend you to set the heater to temperatures above 250 degrees Celcius. We also recommend you to keep the room sufficiently ventilated during and shortly after operation of the machine. Always wait for printed objects to cool before removing them from the build platform. When servicing the product, ensure that the power supply is turned off and the cord is disconnected.
Is the machine office friendly?
The machine is pretty quiet! It has accurate 16th step micro stepping motors, which means you don't get a noisy rattle, but very soft, but very sweet digital sounds (a bit like R2D2 is talking to you). Also, we took into consideration the noise they make when evaluating them for the Ultimaker. If you put it in a separate room from where you work, it should be because it's too interesting not to watch it, but it won't be because it's noisy. (note: this is a wiki, if you're an Ultimaker operator, could you independently could say a few words about office friendliness, thanks!!)
An operator from Finland: I have slept in the same space as an Ultimaker printing a model. It wasn't right in my bedroom, but it was one room over. So yeah, it's pretty quiet.
How accurate is the machine?
The Ultimaker has the highest detail in the Z-direction of all 3D printers that use the same printing process, even those of up to 100,000 euros. It can lay down the material with a precision better than 0.1mm. However, the minimum size of a feature is limited by the nozzle size and settings that you choose. With practical settings, the features are almost always bigger than 0.5 mm, so thinner walls are not really possible. The resolution in the vertical direction is lower, because it uses a static layer height. The Ultimaker can print layers of 20 micrometers (which is less than 0.0008 inches). You can keep this in mind when deciding in which orientation you want to print your part.
What can the Ultimaker make?
Please see this page.
What materials can I use? Are they expensive?
We encourage you to try new materials, or to find good sources for them. We also provide thermoplastic polymers that have been tested to work well with the Ultimaker extruder. These are: ABS and PLA. ABS is a very common engineering plastic which is also used in Lego's. It comes in many colors and is available in varying hardness. PLA is an interesting biodegradable polymer that is made from potato starch, corn starch or from sugar.
We don't use the 'HP' inkjet strategy where you pay a lot for the consumables and get the printer at an artificially low, subsidized cost. With an open source machine, there should and can be no restrictions on what you do with it, so this business model will not work as well, moreover: we don't like this model. We don't want people to throw out there machine because of anti-features preventing them from upgrading their printer, doing maintenance by themselves or adding new 3D printed features. Also, new tool heads will be developed by us and the community so that you can enjoy other fabrication processes. Currently, we're thinking of sign cutting, a plotter head, an inkjet head attachment, a 3D scanning 'feeler' probe, syringe deposition, etc. People might come up with other, 3D printable upgrades, though!
How many cc/minute can the Ultimaker handle?
We haven't done exact measurement on the cc/minute, yet.
The Ultimaker is pretty unique in that it uses a 'bowden cable' (for more info, see 1 and 2), very similar to a guide for a braking cable on your bicycle. But instead of pulling, we push the material into the Bowden tube. By separating the mechanism that extrudes the material from the mechanism that drives the material into the Bowden tube, we get a stronger and more bulky mechanism to drive the material At the same time, there's another important gain: by greatly reducing the mass of the moving parts, you can have the machine accelerate/decelerate much faster and more accurate.
The print done in this video had, in its simulation a certain printed volume. Divided by the time it took to print it, it was over 40 cc/hour. That's about 0.66 cc/minute, which is pretty fast compared to most 3D printers.
With one of our machines it was incredibly fast, though, and this was with ABS, which remains relatively viscous. PLA is more liquid-like and can be extruded faster, so if you're especially interested in high build speeds this is a great material to work with.
In this topic, nophead, a well respected RepRap-guru says that 128 mm/s is attainable (with his RepRap Mendel), but might shake your machine to pieces. This would be faster than the speeds most expensive commercial machines normally print at. At the same time, the Ultimaker doesn't shake itself to pieces, even at 300mm/s.
We'll work more on getting the flow rate optimized, this can to some extent be done with software. A simple update would increase heating when a lot of plastic is flowing through. This is called feed forward (just like you have feed back). As we improve the extrusion process even more, we'll also provide upgrade parts so that you can get an even higher speed out of your existing machine without breaking the piggy bank.
How is "ooze" controlled?
Short answer: These and this show that rapid moves effectively allow you to mitigate the effects of ooze, even is without reversing. This way the print speeds are not reduced and ooze is still not a problem in this complex print with many voids.
Longer answer: There are several ways used to minimize ooze. We rely on a combination of them to get a good result. One is the dwindle feature in Skeinforge (integrated in ReplicatorG and Cura). It will turn off extrusion a bit before it needs to stop and slows down. Another one is rapid reversing. Because of the stepper based extruder design, reversing doesn't need to take very long. Ooze is further minimized by shortening the time it takes to travel from section A to B. Because the feed rates can go up to 300 mm/s the extruder only has a short amount of time to ooze. Another option, currently used in the Java host, but not in Skeinforge (yet), it to always let the ooze end up on the inside of the object. Still, the "comb" feature in Skeinforge lets most of the dripping end up inside the object by smearing it across the already printed inside of the object. When a void needs to be crossed, it tries to find a short path to cross it.
Even more information: No strings attached