Ultimaker 2 3D Printer Full Review
The Ultimaker 2 3D Printer has been a printer that I’ve been wanting for a long time due to its incredible capabilities. The version 1 is the first version that the company made and tends to look like it was made out of plywood, but what makes it great is that it has a massive speed. It can print at eye-wrenching speeds that will blow your head away compared to other printers. However, that isn’t to say that it doesn’t come without any problems. The version 1 Ultimaker is incredibly loud and secondly and most importantly, it doesn’t come with a heated bed. Heated beds are incredibly important in 3D printing because they make life that much easier when looking at the quality of your prints. Ultimaker decided to take it a step up and improve their previous version with the Ultimaker 2 3D Printer.
Out Of The Box
You’ll notice right away that the box it comes in is too big to do right on any normal table surface. Right out of the box comes a roll of magenta PLA and a roll of blue PLA. A power cable is packed neatly on top and the printer itself is strapped securely within the box. Taking it out of the box was a bit heavier than I expected, but it was a beauty. I immediately noticed that it was much prettier than the Ultimaker version 1, and surprisingly slightly smaller. The packaging is done extremely well in comparison. The first version had some problems in which some of the contents tended to move around during shipment. Furthermore, the version 2 is white and seems as if it’s cut from plexiglass or some other material. It even comes with a 2GB flash drive that’s included, and the jog dial is integrated into the case whereas it’s a separate module on the first version.
Cardboard is placed inside to help protect all of the important which can be easily removed, along with a few zip ties as well to secure things accurately in place. Poles and rods are neatly packaged and if you move the sliding head you’ll notice how smooth it is. Just by looking at the glass you’ll see that it’s pinned below to not get damaged during shipping, so you’ll actually need to remove that. The sides are also closed in which will help maintain heat that much better. Metal shrouds are used to hide the motors and reduce the noise, definitely make it a lot cleaner of a design, especially with custom designs for the wire loom to go through.
A lot of weight was shaved off of the print head and now comes with two heads, but unfortunately it looks as if one fan was damaged during transport. However, these are usually incredibly easy to replace so I’m not too worried about it. After further investigation I found out that a piece of the fan was located at the bottom of the device, confirming that it was in fact damaged during delivery. With the previous support from the Ultimaker 1, I don’t have any doubt that they would help in replacing it.
The plastic is custom made and is much easier to take apart, making it seem as if some actual thought went into it. Untwisting the screw in the back will bring the heated bed up, allowing you to unwrap a piece of glass where the heated bed goes. The heated bed also has little clips that swing out, allowing you to easily remove the build platform. Overall, it’s a slick looking platform and just by turning the screws under the platform you can easily level the bed. Before, I had to use a tool to level it. From the side, the printer just looks really cool given its metal case. It definitely has some heft it, and there’s some instructions on the side on how to insert any material that you might have for printing. My favorite part is that it’s somewhat modular, meaning that it has room for expansion so that you don’t have to buy a completely new printer if you want to improve.
If we compare the Ultimaker 2 with the old Ultimaker, the extruders stick out, whereas the second version has everything neatly and tightly packed. Once you unwrap the glass bad, you can easily slip it in and slide the clips out in order to secure it. Just make sure to turn them back until there’s a popping noise, meaning that it’s connecting firmly. This makes the platform really easy to swap out, and I can’t help but keep nothing the elegant design. Even the manual is something to appreciate, as it’s something that’s now in full color with detailed instructions on how to set it up. There’s illustrations on how to level and calibrate your printer. The Ultimaker 2 3D Printer comes with a beefy power supply at 24V at 9.2 AMP and 220 watts. This is needed due to the heated bed, and it’s easy to plug in.
Make sure to take a look at the bottom of your box for a test print. Before each model is shipped, they do a test print and ship it to their customers just to show how high of a print quality you’re getting. The print design that you see is the actual one made from your 3D printer. You’ll find a bag full of goodies that come in the box that include a spool holder for the back, a glue stick for the heated bed to make prints adhere better, lubricant for the drives and the bars, a USB cable for software, and a few allan wrenches for tightening and calibration.
Working The Device
Firing up the device for the first time was a truly amazing experience. The lighting is incredible as the inside of the printer has custom LED strips and it makes it super easy to view the prints in action, or making it easy for taking videos of printing in action. When you first turn it on, it walks you through a first-run wizard. The machine starts by calibrating the device by moving the printer bed, and does it move fast. It will have you make some adjustments immediately from the get-go, and this only takes a few minutes. Just be sure to follow the instructs on the small LCD screen on the front of the device in great detail.
I had my own roll of silver material that I used for my first prints. You can easily slide it on to the handle on the side, and it even comes with clips as to secure the spool from falling off. The material is inserted through a tiny hole on the bottom – everything is outlined on the case, and if you ever get lost you can follow the instructions on the LCD screen. The device starts by heating the bed and loading the material. Once this process finishes, all you have to do is wait a bit longer for the print head to start extruding material. From there you can begin printing. I used the glue stick that came with the printer to make prints adhere better to the print bed, but you can also use hairspray if desired.
The first thing I noticed when it began printing is its noise level – it’s almost nonexistent. I’m so used to the first version being incredibly loud that I couldn’t quite figure out how they got it so quiet; I could literally sleep in the same room. The LCD gives a really nice readout of the progress you’re making and how much time is let for the print to finish. The first thing it builds for you is a small robot figuring, and I was surprised that in total it only took just under 40 minutes to complete.
At first my print quality wasn’t perfect on one side due to the broken fan, but once I contacted support and they shipped a free replacement, prints were literally perfect. It’s really important with 3D printers that you have a lot of cooling with the print head, because once the material comes out of the print head it’s like a liquid. You need this to become solid very quickly in order to form the right design that you want. If this cooling doesn’t happen, you’ll get some deformations. Support was more than happy to help, and the same day that I contacted them they already had sent a replacement. For the price you’re getting, the support and quality better live up its standard if not more.
The biggest thing that I noticed between the first version and the Ultimaker 2 3D Printer is the refinement. Just the way the printhead is assembled makes you feel more secure. The controller is on the front with a graphical interface instead of just text, and you can do the full calibration of the printer using the onboard computer. This means that you don’t have to connect the USB cable anymore to calibrate it. It’s such a user-friendly design, especially with the printing software. Most of the settings are already pre-calibrated for you, and of course the expert designers can override these functions if desired. But for someone like me who wants to get something going right out of the box, this was an excellent printer with some of the most impeccable prints I’ve ever seen. We hope our full review has been helpful.