Over the past 5 years Ultimaker has been building machines that push the envelope of print quality for desktop 3D printers, garnering them a community ready to sing their praises. The Ultimaker 2 brought a new look to the series that helped attract a wider audience, but it also brought a problem in its finicky extrusion system. The + in the Ultimaker 2+ is all about one thing: a brand new extrusion system, and it makes all the difference!
IF IT AIN’T BROKE DON’T FIX IT
At first glance, the only distinguishable difference between the 2+ and its predecessor is the + sign on the front of the machine. The machines are the same size, with the same build area and control panels. Look at the extruder, however, and you will notice the upgrades. The popular Olsson block kit (a third-party upgrade to Ultimaker 2 machines that Ultimaker has begun reselling) comes installed, allowing quick nozzle changes between the included .25, .4, .6, and .8mm sizes. The .4mm is installed by default. New fan shrouds create more even cooling coverage to help lock in the fine details of your print.
The really exciting changes are found on the back of the machine. The new feeder improves grip and provides more torque to push the filament through the Bowden tube. Removing or manually feeding filament is no longer an issue either — a grip-release button allows the user to hand feed or pull out the filament without the need for the motor. The new feeder also eliminates filament skipping in the extruder motor, which caused a tell-tale clicking sound associated with the Ultimaker 2.
A RESOLUTION REVOLUTION
The prints are what you expect from an Ultimaker: crisp, clean, and incredibly impressive. One of the core principles of Make:’s 3D printer testing plan is that we use the medium default settings when reviewing the machines. Most printers have that default layer height at about .2mm, but Ultimaker printers halve that at .1mm, resulting in prints that automatically look better than their competitors’. Ultimakers can go even further with their fine settings, down to a resolution of .06mm. Of course, everything comes with a trade off, and fine resolution means longer print times. Our astronaut print (which we try to scale to an 8-hour print time) is around half the size of those printed on many other machines.
While in our tests the Overhang and Bridging scores are good, these are the two areas that the Ultimaker 2+ could still use some improvement. This shows that while the new fan ducts did help with more even airflow, more cooling could still help the 2+.
If you are a user who already has an Ultimaker 2 or 2 Extended and are having buyer’s remorse while reading this, don’t worry — Ultimaker has you covered. They have recently launched a drop-in replacement kit, allowing for a quick upgrade.
Ultimaker’s reputation for superior quality 3D prints is well deserved. The 2+ shows that the company is willing to look at their problem areas and listen to customer feedback to make their machines even better.