At first glance, the Ultimaker 2 Go may seem like just a smaller, less expensive version of the much-heralded Ultimaker 2 where the Ultimaker 2 Extended is just bigger and more expensive. And that’s more or less accurate — with one small, cost-saving exception: The Go is not equipped with a heated build plate.
All the Ultimaker machines are very similar except in size and price. Setup is easy; a simple and almost unnecessary one page startup guide got the printer turned on in less than two minutes. The display screens guided me through loading material and bed leveling (which is manual) without any issues. A preloaded 4GB SD card positioned me to make my first print minutes after opening the box. My only gripe up to this point was a stiff selector wheel on the Extended (compared to a much smoother one on the Go).
MAYBE IT JUST NEEDS TO BE BROKEN IN?
Cura is probably the easiest and fastest slicing software I’ve encountered. There’s not much to say there. However, while Cura offers a lot of control, there are some settings that need to be done on the machine, like temperature settings. It would be better to do everything in the slicing software so there’s no fumbling around at the machine.
During testing, the Go had some intermittent extrusion anomalies that caused some porosity in some of the test prints. It seemed like the Go’s Bowden extruder was trying to move more filament than the hot end could melt, which would induce some slipping at the drive gear. This was hard to explain because the Extended — which was equipped with identical parts — did not seem to have that issue. Fortunately for the Go, this porosity did not appear in any of the tests designed to look for it.
Changing some feed rates and temperature settings made this problem vanish, but I was disappointed that I needed to override default settings to get the best print. A novice user might operate it with less than optimal settings just because they didn’t know any better. That said, both machines produced extremely nice test prints, even without my intervention.
PACKAGING WORTH SAVING
Unboxing the Go was a pleasant surprise. Where I thought I would encounter cheap, flaky foam inserts I found high quality reusable foam shells that double as a carrying case held together by durable nylon straps for lifting and carrying. The foam shell protecting the Go was especially fancy, and seemed like it would function not only as a carrying case but also as a printer stand.
You don’t need to look far to hear accolades for the Ultimaker 2 3D printer, and I can’t say I disagree. The Go has little reason to perform any differently, so if you’re a fan of the Ultimaker 2 you will be a fan of the entire family including the Extended. These machines are great for everyone who can afford them — Makers, artists, teachers, students, and engineers alike.
True, Ultimaker didn’t implement any particular advancements, changing just the dimensions and a few key elements and calling them new products, but they’re far from the only desktop printer manufacturer to pull those kind of shenanigans, and it’s the opinion of this reviewer that, so far, they’ve done it the best.
Ultimaker is producing three essentially identical machines in different sizes rather than mixing features and build volumes to come up with three different price points. That’s a good thing: It makes the decision of which one to get less complicated. Plus, there’s merit to interchangeability. Not only does it make sourcing parts easier, it also assists with seeking help.
For instance, the profile settings I gleaned from the internet to tune the Go ended up producing better work on the Extended as well. So, if you’re going to expand your product line by cloning an existing product, you might as well clone one that’s getting so much applause.