Although I love just about every 3D printer I get my hands on, and can only be grateful to the companies that find the time to ship them to me to try out, I still learn more and more that, for a review to be truly useful, it should point out the shortcomings of a 3D printer, and the aspects that should be improved. Even more so than simply discussing how much fun it was to have and use it.
I tried to do that for the Ultimaker 2 Go; I most certainly did that for the MakerBot Replicator 5; my team and I did a very in-depth analysis of the shortcomings of the 3ntr professional system; and I recently focused on the (admittedly very few) areas to improve of the Zortax M200. Now, it is time to talk about the Ultimaker 2 Extended.
I have to be honest: it got to me with a totally shattered glass plate, which very likely means it got seriously banged up during shipment. This might be one of the reasons why – shortly after I began using it – it started giving me a Temp Sensor error.
When I had run into issues with the Ultimaker 2 Go, I decided to go the consumer route and take it to Ultimaker’s official distributor in my city, 3DiTALY. That seemed like the right approach for a consumer-targeted 3D printer. The Extended is more of a Maker-targeted system (I would not go as far as defining it a professional system) – and definitely not nearly as portable and, thus, I felt it was more appropriate to try to find the “Maker” hidden deep within me and fix it myself.
It was a big risk because, when I tried to do that with the U2Go, I made things much worse. Now, however, I decided to do things right and follow the company’s instructions. The fact that Ultimaker offers highly detailed, accurate, and easy-to-follow instructions can be interpreted two ways: on one hand, it means that the company seriously supports its community; on the other, it might mean that such errors happen often enough that in-depth instructions are a strict necessity.
Those who read my U2Go review know that I am very bad at fixing things. The great news is that, by carefully following Ultimaker’s instructions, I was able to replace the heat sensor and get the machine to work perfectly. If I can do it, anyone can do it. The time I had to spend performing the task was certainly compensated by the euphoric feeling that resulted from fixing something all by myself.
Now that we got that out of the way, we can get back to the standard review. The Ultimaker 2 Extended is significantly heavier than the Ultimaker 2 Go, so unboxing it takes a bit longer. Once that was out of the way, getting it to 3D print PLA takes only a few minutes. Presets are in place for ABS and Ultimaker’s own UPET filament, as well.
I still don’t love the filament loading system, with a separate rear motor that always seems about to chew up the filament, but, this time, it did not give me any big problems, even when I decided to test the full extension of the Extended by 3D printing a 30-cm-tall replica of the World Cup of Football (as in “soccer”. At 0.2 mm, it took between 15 and 20 hours of printing and came out perfectly.
I printed several other objects, including 40 mini-mes to celebrate my 40th birthday, without any problem at all. I even printed some of the large mechanical parts for the robotic arm I am working on. I finished both the spool of grey filament that Ultimaker supplied and a 500-gram spool of white filament supplied by EUMAKERS.
Since I met no issues working with PLA, I figured it was time to start trying some other materials, as well. Unfortunately, while I have tons of different 1.75 diameter filaments, I don’t have nearly as many 2.85 mm filaments. Fortunately, I stopped by the Better Future Factory’s stand at Euromold and received two samples of their recycled ABS and PET filament. No better option, in my opinion, to test the Ultimaker Extended’s openness to other materials.
BFF produced ABS from used car dashboards and PET from used plastic bottles. For the ABS, I used the ABS presets and for the PET I used the UPET preset. Both materials printed without any issues. The ABS felt light and tough, just like a car dashboard, although it released a really unpleasant smell while extruding, as is typical with ABS. The PET released almost no odor, but it did not turn out very transparent. Still, the final appearance was quite nice, considering the material was 90% recycled from used plastics.
In the end, I cannot truly recommend the Ultimaker 2 Extended to a professional audience that does not have the time to waste on tinkering with it. However, at €2,495, it is a nicely priced option for large sized prints and can find its ideal spot in any makerspace, FabLab, or 3D print shop & service. One of its best features, in my opinion, is the way it looks, which may seem superfluous, but is definitely an added value for any potential customer. I, for one, will surely miss it when it is gone.
|Price (as tested)||€2,495 ($ 3,030.00 )|
|Build volume||223mm x 223mm x 305mm (8.8in x 8.8in x 12in)|
|Weight||12kg (26lbs) stand alone, 21kg (46lbs) shipping|
|Max Layer Resolution||20 microns|
|Speed||300mm/sec (Printing Speed)|
|Materials Supported||ABS, PLA, UPET (custom)|
|Number of Extruders||1|
|Control Type||LCD Screen, SD Card|
|Ease of Use|
|Ease of Assembly|
|Ease of Set Up|
|Ease of Filament Loading|
|Time to Produce 1st Print||Less than 10 minutes|
|Robustness of Prints|
|Repeatability of Prints|
|Quality of Prints|
|Justifiable Price Tag?||Yes|
|Who is this Printer for?||Makers, FabLabs|
|This Printer in Three Words||Elegant, Delicate, & Functional|