Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My response to the Ultimaker 3

2 videos in one week, am I crazy? Well, maybe, but the tests were inconclusive. Mostly I'm behind, I want to make sure I'm getting these reviews out in a timely manner, and so if I want to comment on topical matters I'm gonna have to do 2 videos. It's a lot of work for me, but I hope it'll be worth it for you.

When the Ultimaker 3 launched I took to twitter to announce:
...and I still stick by my original statement. For all their hype this is functionally nothing I haven't already had for coming up on 4 years now. But what's exciting about this new printer is that it's solid. It's not by accident that I decided to talk about this while repairing my Rep1, and to be clear my Rep1 will never die, but that's mostly because it will forever be cheaper to fix the one or two things that break on it than buy a better machine and replace it. Will there ever come a time where the human cost, my time to fix it, will culminate in my saying "screw it, I need something better"? Only time will tell. And when that happens I may decide it's time to get one of those new-fangled 3D printers that need less attention. I'm just grateful that there's finally one on the market that looks good enough to fit that bill.

Of course this is all based on reputation.

The Makerbot Gen5 looked good, but something about it smelled funny. I couldn't quite put my finger on it at the time, but eventually it became apparent that the 5th Gen machines weren't all they were being sold as. The Ultimaker 3 has none of that smell. Even their Print Cores, suspiciously similar to the doomed Gen5 Smart Extruder, don't seem like that bad an idea. Sure, they tie together 3 technologies in 1 package, but they're open and they look like something that you could replace the components on. How will that work with the sensor on them that tell Cura to adjust the nozzle diameter? Don't know. It wouldn't surprise me to find out Ultimaker made them hackable.

Maybe I'm being overly optimistic and cutting Ultimaker more slack than they deserve. But this is a $2500 machine, which at this point in 3D printing's maturity you'd expect to buy a machine that just works. And Ultimaker has built a good reputation. So I'm willing to be a bit optimistic here and give them the benefit of the doubt. I won't be buying one right now, but if you were to I wouldn't think less of you.

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