PROS / Lightning-fast print speeds and the superior precision of the Ultimaker 2 work together to craft impressively detailed creations.
CONS / The Ultimaker 2 doesn’t have built-in Wi-Fi.
VERDICT / Perfect for any skill level, the Ultimaker 2 is an aesthetically pleasing 3D printer with premium features and high-quality results.
Having a 3D printer can open up a world of customization faster and closer to home. With the Ultimaker 2, you can personalize the objects in your life and have fun doing it. Designed for both the novice and the skilled user, the Ultimaker 2 is well built and easy to interface with, and it creates stunning 3D prints. For its large build sizes, included accessories, robust software and print-quality score, the Ultimaker 2 wins our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for best assembled 3D printer.
This fused-filament fabrication (FFF) 3D printer melts plastic and deposits it on a glass plate in an additive process. Speed and quality are some of the more important considerations when comparing affordable 3D printers such as the Ultimaker 2. Speeds range from 30 to 300 mm per second, enabling you to choose fast prints or slow, high-quality prints. Resolution is about 0.02 mm per print layer – about the width of cardstock paper – for smooth, flawless prints. You can also adjust settings during the printing process so that, if you notice a problem, you can correct it without ruining or restarting your print.
3D printers for home use are typically much smaller than commercial 3D printers and therefore can only print small objects. The Ultimaker is designed for home or office use and can print up to 9 x 9 x 8-inch creations, roughly the size of your average toaster – well above the print volume average for the 3D printers we compared.
Filament & Cartridges
3D printing materials range from nylon to metal, but plastic is still the most popular printing material for consumer-grade 3D printers. The Ultimaker 2 supports the two most popular printing filaments: ABS and PLA. This printer uses 0.3-mm universal cartridges, but only filament purchased from the manufacturer is guaranteed to keep your 3D printer running smoothly. Extra filament from Ultimaker comes in a variety of colors and starts at a competitive price.
The Ultimaker 2 is fully assembled, but if you're looking for a more hands-on experience, the Ultimaker Original can ship either assembled or in a DIY 3D printer kit. The Ultimaker 2 requires limited assembly during unboxing, easy enough for anyone to do with the included instruction sheet.
The machine’s glass-and-aluminum chassis is sturdy, well-built and quiet. At 49 dB, the machine is about as loud as the humming of your refrigerator, so no annoying sounds or vibrations here. For ABS printing, the heated platform keeps your 3D design from warping and printing incorrectly. One of the best features of the Ultimaker 2 is the LCD menu screen. Although not a touchscreen, the LCD screen is controlled by an easy-to-use wheel, so you can navigate between settings, modes and models. The LEDs are also customizable, so you can view your print clearly in a dark room.
Connectivity & Accessories
Connecting to the Ultimaker 2 is easy and convenient via the included USB cable or SD card. If you're looking for 3D models to print, you can check out Ultimaker's Youmagine website, where you can download, print, modify, change, share and use any of the models and files on the site. To print, you just save your G-code 3D models to an SD card or in the included Cura software and you're good to go.
Since Ultimaker's Cura software works with Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, XP, Mac OS and Linux systems, you don't have to worry about compatibility between your computer and your printer.
Generally, 3D printing manufacturers try to provide you with all the components you need to print right out of the box. Ultimaker includes every single part and accessory, so you don't have to scramble to find parts or cables on your own. In the box, you'll find a power supply, USB cable, SD card, maintenance tools and a starter PLA filament cartridge.
Ultimaker's included proprietary Cura software is an open-source program designed for novice printers. Cura is also complete with numerous functions tailored for more advanced model design for those familiar with CAD software. Whether you know what you're doing or you're completely new to slicing and modifying 3D models, the Cura software has everything you need. When you plug the SD card into your computer while running the software, the program automatically switches to SD saving mode and displays the estimated print time before you save your file. Cura is one of the best and most convenient programs we tested during our 3D printer review.
Help & Support
Although Ultimaker is headquartered in the Netherlands, it's easy to order the Ultimaker 2 and find solutions to your questions. To contact Ultimaker, you can email one of five email addresses for tech support, general information or sales, or get in touch via social media. Also, if you order your 3D printer from the manufacturer instead of a U.S. supplier, you have to wait for your printer for six to eight weeks, so you should order early and prepare to be patient.
Because Ultimaker is an international company, the price of the printer is in euros. Conversion rates change daily, so you should use a euro-to-USD conversion tool before you purchase so you know the exact price of your printer. Ultimaker is also available in the US from a number of different local distributors, which cuts down your lead time significantly.
If you're assembling the Ultimaker Original 3D printer kit version, the community tab on the website is a great resource. From there, you'll find a forum with thousands of topics and knowledgeable users. There is also a handy wiki where you can find tutorials, videos and tips. You can view FAQs or read the manual if you have a quick inquiry. A three-month warranty covers your 3D printer just in case a part is defective or you experience another problem. Representatives walk you through fixing the problem or installing a new part, or if necessary, they have you return the printer and replace it with a new one.
For beginners, the Ultimaker 2 is simple to use. It produces large, high-quality prints and is easy to connect to your home computer. For advanced printers and designers, the printer and Cura software are both open-source and easily modifiable, with settings to appease your most creative ambitions.