Ultimaker is possibly the most consumer-ready 3D printer manufacturer out there and the fact that it appeals to Makers and educators worldwide is one of the reasons why. That’s because professionals, educators and Makers (and a new kind of evolved “consumer maker”, or “conker”, to coin a neologism) today represent the ideal target market for the kind of consumer 3D printing that is being shown off in Las Vegas at CES.
As such, Ultimaker showed that it leverages its lively community of users and that it has been listening to them, albeit taking the time necessary for a small company that is working to become big. 3D printers are not your average use-and-discard consumer electronics product. They are platforms that grow and evolve over time. So, the new, upgraded Ultimaker 2+ and Ultimaker 2 Extended+ “are results of countless collaborations and insightful feedback we have received from the Ultimaker community. Both printers feature crucial upgrades based on what our customers are looking for in a 3D printer,” said Jos Burger, CEO of Ultimaker.
As a part of its vision and its modular machine strategy, Ultimaker presented the new 3D printers as the successors of the current Ultimaker 2 and Ultimaker 2 Extended, making them immediately available for purchase. Through the ongoing open source collaboration with its community, the company worked on three main aspects: new, easily interchangeable nozzles, a more powerful gear feeder, and improved cooling.
The Interchangeable Nozzles make it possible to change nozzles in a matter of seconds, which, in turn, makes working with different materials easier, eases maintenance, and gives the possibility to choose between highly detailed prints or high speed prints. The (very welcome) geared feeder makes printing materials less likely to skip, which results in even more optimized print results. Finally, the new cooling system assures a better surface quality.
Ultimaker’s, which has been partnering with major players (such as SolidWorks, the 3MF consortium, and Autodesk’s Spark team) to collectively help the industry grow, also revealed that its annual revenue doubled in 2015, as a result of professional users and an increase in the education sector. As much as 35% of Ultimaker’s sales now come from clients in North America/The United States, where several leading North American universities have adopted the system. Specifically, the company is working with the University of Illinois to develop a new massive open online course (MOOC) on 3D printing that is scheduled for release via Coursera in 2016.
“We have seen great success this year with professionals and educators who can optimize the modular components of our infrastructure for their own specific needs,” Jos Burger added. “Ultimaker has seen an expansion of sales within industries such as Aerospace, Automotive, Healthcare, Energy and Education especially within engineering, design and manufacturing in the past year. We look forward to see how Ultimaker’s global community will continue to grow and help it create the products of the future.”
One of the company’s stated goal for 2016 is to become the top desktop 3D printing company in North America in 2016. And desktops can be found inside industrial design labs as well as in your home.