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Ultimaker 2+: One of the Best 3D Printers for Quality and Reliability
Last update on 2021-04-26 at 14:14
Ultimaker released its first 3D printer back in 2011. Since then Ultimaker has built a solid reputation with its prosumer 3D Printers. They specialize in printers that are capable of printing complex, high-precision geometries, and the Ultimaker 2+ is no exception.
The Ultimaker 2+ is the latest addition to their range and offers above all else some of the highest quality prints you’re likely to achieve on an FDM 3D Printer.
This high print quality is at least partly achieved by the Ultimaker using high-quality components and materials in the construction of the UM2+. When you take the UM2+ out of the box, you can’t help but be impressed by its build quality. It certainly looks and feels like a professional piece of kit.
The Ultimaker 2+ is an evolution of the previous UM2. The UM2 was a good printer but suffered from a few issues. All credit to Ultimaker, they have addressed all of these known problems and implemented good solutions in the UM2+.
The extruder and cooling fans have had an upgrade. With the air from the fans ducted towards the print head for more consistent cooling and therefore more reliable printing.
At the back of the machine, the material feeder has had a re-design. In the older model, this tended to eat filament before it had made it to the extruder. The new design has addressed this and solved it.
Ultimaker has upgraded the stepper motors and bearings, which significantly improve the noise levels compared to the Ultimaker 2. All you hear from the UM2+ now is the constant but low-level hum of the cooling fans with motor whirr almost unnoticeable.
This is great news if you want to keep your Ultimaker 2+ in your office or study and have it printing away while you work.
And lastly, your Ultimaker will come complete with an Olsson Block kit already fitted. This neat upgrade allows you to quickly swap between four included nozzles each with a different diameter.
A large nozzle diameter allows you to print faster, while a smaller one is better for detailed 3D prints.
There are two things Ultimaker hasn’t added to the UM2+ that I would have liked to see; One is automated bed leveling. Thankfully, because of the quality of parts used this is not something you have to do very often. Nonetheless, there are several rival printers that now include fully automatic calibration.
Secondly it’s not fully enclosed. Instead, the top remains open. This can be an issue when printing ABS as the vapors are quite smelly. I’d recommend using an air purifier in your room if you’re printing anything other than PLA filament.
The main feature of the Ultimaker 2+ is that it allows you to print in many different filament material types. 3D printing in ABS, PLA, Nylon, and even CPE are all possible.
CPE (copolyester) is an exciting filament that has similar properties to ABS like high strength and durability, but it doesn’t give off the high levels of harmful vapors containing VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and UFPs (Ultra Fine Particles) that ABS does.
CPE is ideal for functional parts that need structural integrity or chemical resistance. There is also a CPE+ filament that is a further ten times tougher than CPE as well as being temperature resistant up to 100°C.
The build volume is a generous 8.5″ x 8.5″ x 7.9″. As with all 3D printers, if you need to print something larger than the build volume you can simply split the model into several parts and bond them together with a suitable glue afterward.
The Ultimaker 2+ excels when it comes to print quality. At the highest quality setting the build layers are genuinely barely visible.
Print resolution is between 20 to 200 microns, which is outstanding and more than enough for the most detailed of scale models or gaming miniature.
Z positioning is precise to within 5 microns, while XY positioning precision is within 12.5 microns. Both extremely impressive achievements at this price range.
Such a small resolution will allow you to print ultra fine detail on even small prints.
You are unlikely to achieve more detail than this on any other FFM 3D Printer. In fact, the detail the Ultimaker 2+ delivers is close to that of a resin printer but without the additional mess and cost.
Of course, this high quality comes at the expense of build times. The Ultimaker 2+ is noticeably slow to print compared to its rivals, especially when set to a high-quality setting.
There are three default quality settings; draft, normal, and high. So you can use the lower settings when speed is more important than quality.
In fact, there is little noticeable difference in quality between the default high and standard settings and so in most cases you can sacrifice this slight quality increase and gain some print speed.
The UM2+ uses the slightly less common 3mm filament. If you use Ultimaker’s own filament, then the reels contain an NFC tag that tells the printer the filament type and color.
However, you’re not tied to Ultimaker brand filament, but you are in fact free to use whichever filament brand you like.
Because the build plate is heated, you can successfully print ABS as well as PLA, CPE, Nylon, and PVA.
Whether you’re using the UM2+ at home or in a business environment, it’s useful to have as many options open to you as possible. Thankfully, the UM2+ comes readily equipped with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and USB.
You can also remotely monitor your print progress by accessing the onboard webcam via Wi-Fi. This is useful for you to keep an eye on progress.
Ultimaker’s include their own Cura software. It’s free to use and works on macOS, Windows, and Ubuntu.
Cura includes default settings for Ultimaker’s filaments, so there’s little need for you to experiment to get the best results. You can just upload your geometry and press go using the optimal settings.
If you want to delve into the settings then you can be equally at home with Cura as it offers hundreds of tweakable settings should you need them.
The Ultimaker 2+ is a sturdy, quality machine, built to give you the ultimate in quality and reliability.
Its ability to print with almost any material you can throw at it is a great benefit. The fact you can rely on it to print successfully with these materials is quite an achievement.
If you need fine detail and a perfect finish every time, then you won’t find better than the Ultimaker 2+.