Ultimaker Announces S3 3D Printer and S5 Pro Bundle
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on September 25, 2019 |
Engineering.com speaks to Ultimaker about its latest 3D printing technology.

The Maker movement has now faded into history, with many desktop 3D printer companies fading with it. Other brands, however, continue to strive for relevance. In addition to companies like Aleph Objects and MakerBot, Ultimaker has maintained its presence in a field that is increasingly focusing on industrial 3D printing capabilities.

The Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle alongside Ultimaker S3 3D printers. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)
The Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle alongside Ultimaker S3 3D printers. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)

On the one hand, this means bigger, more robust systems that are capable of using a wider range of industrial-grade feedstock. On the other, relevance in the current market includes heavily targeting the right customers. The Dutch manufacturer attempts to do both with the release of its latest products: the Ultimaker S3 3D printer and the S5 Pro Bundle.

Engineering.com spoke to Ultimaker President of the Americas, Jamie Howard, to learn more.

Ultimaker S3

In 2016, Ultimaker released its third-generation 3D printer, which was meant to address some demands that users had long been requesting—most notably, dual extrusion. A little over a year and a half later, the company went further with the S5 3D printer. Now it’s been about another year and a half and we’ve got the S3.

The Ultimaker S3 has a larger build volume and automated bed leveling. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)
The Ultimaker S3 has a larger build volume and automated bed leveling. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)

The S3 is basically an upgrade to the Ultimaker 3 in that it has a larger build plate, automatic bed leveling, a larger 2.85mm nozzle, and the ability to print with abrasive composite materials using the CC print core. These updates combined with such usability features as a touch interface, predefined print settings, and filament flow sensors are meant to make the system both easy to use and more capable.

Altogether, the system could be a useful tool for engineers and students testing new designs and materials, as well as factory floor workers creating durable tooling and fixtures.

Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle

“Last year we introduced the Ultimaker S5,” Howard said. “That enables our users to print bigger models and multiple parts on a single build plate and meet demand with maximum efficiency. Now, we’re introducing our more industrial grade printer that will also boost productivity, provide a wider range of flexibility in materials and applications that can be printed and the confidence to unlock both a demanding range of applications with an extended range of materials.”

The S5 Pro Bundle pairs the Ultimaker S5with two new systems: the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager and Ultimaker S5 Material Station.

The Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)
The Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)

The Air Manager consists of a cover with HEPA filter built into the top of the S5 3D printer and integrated into the S5 firmware. It removes up to 95 percent of ultrafine particles (UFPs), an issue associated with all 3D printers and increasingly monitored by concerned users and companies like Underwriters Laboratories (UL). The cover also prevents anyone from reaching into the printer while it’s in operation, making it potentially safer for environments such as classrooms. Moreover, the Air Manager improves the reliability of the system by controlling the ambient environment, matching the airflow to the material being used.

The Air Manager removes up to 95 percent of UFPs. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)
The Air Manager removes up to 95 percent of UFPs. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)

The Material Station is a filament storage and delivery system capable of hosting up to six spools of filament, including glass and carbon fiber composites. With abrasive-resistant pre-feeders, the system allows users to perform 24/7 dual extrusion printing by detecting when one spool ends and automatically loading the next. Additionally, the system features atmospheric management, keeping humidity below 40 percent in conditions with up to 70 percent humidity. The machine is front-loading, which is also more convenient than the back-loading spool associated with the traditional S5.

The Material Station hosts up to six material spools. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)
The Material Station hosts up to six material spools. (Image courtesy of Ultimaker.)

“[Our customers] really appreciate our open material strategy, but they want to be able to print and experiment with a wider range of materials on a single printer and, also, in some of the more humid areas of the world, where humidity control is necessary to preserve the quality and life of the filament,” Howard explained.

It’s easy to imagine how these systems would work together in research and development, classrooms, small batch manufacturing or on the production floor. A recent case study regarding VW Europa comes to mind, in which Ultimaker machines were used to 3D print a wide variety of tooling that saved the company roughly €150,000.

Jamie Howard and Ultimaker’s Vision

If you have been following the company’s history, you might have noticed that John Kawola is no longer the head representative of Ultimaker in the U.S. Howard is now the President of Ultimaker for the Americas.

Howard comes from an interesting and diverse background, starting with the construction of cable networks in large metropolitan areas, like Chicago and Los Angeles. In that industry, he played a role in digitally transforming the cable industry via @Home Network, one of the first broadband internet companies. This led him to the digitization of voice and video across IT networks. A little over a year ago, he joined Ultimaker before replacing Kawola in February 2019.

As varying as this background may seem, Howard describes the central link in his experience as the digital transformation of industries through technology. “I see the world in a very distributed model, where content is produced digitally and distributed over networks down to the edge of the network and closest to the final end users of the product,” Howard said. “That same distributed model works well with the vision of digital transformation of the manufacturing industry, with distributed local digital manufacturing.”

Distributed local digital manufacturing is key to Ultimaker’s vision of accelerating the adoption of 3D printing in enterprise environments, according to Howard.

“Sometimes the availability of design that the engineers have multiple plant locations is scarce. So, the learning curve needs to be addressed in a variety of ways,” Howard said. “Some of the things that we do to overcome that barrier is not only begin to help our customers develop centers of competency in their enterprise, but look for ways to centralize the design functionality and use software in our cloud solution to be able to distribute g-code to the printers that are closer to where the products are made or where the manufacturing process is being handled. That way it lessens the need to have experienced people distributed in the ecosystem that are experts in design for 3D printing.”

This is also why Ultimaker has application engineers and a business development team that are active in helping customers extend their applications. This is further enabled by the openness of Ultimaker, which allows any material to be used with its printers and relies on open source software.

The Ultimaker S3 3D printer is priced at $4,395 and is now available for purchase. The Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle—made up of the S5 3D printer, combined with the Air Manager and Material Station—will be available starting October 18 for $9,100.

To learn more, visit the Ultimaker website.

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