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Ultimaker 3D Printer Adds Second Extruder, Reduces Fiddling

For its latest 3D printer, Ultimaker is adding a feature that will let you create more elaborate prints, while also adding the kind of automation tools aimed at taking a lot of the complexity out of 3D printer.

The Ultimaker 3 costs $3,495 and will ship to customers this November. A slightly taller version, the Ultimaker 3 Extended costs $4,295.

The new versions of Ultimaker's printer reflects the fact that 3D printing is expanding its presence, with a growing number of users in the professional and enterprise market, says John Kawola, president of Ultimaker North America. And the changes for Ultimaker 3 reflect that growth.

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"The driver for how we thought about Ultimaker 3 was what that generation of customers want and need," Kawola said.

Given that directive, it's no surprise that Ultimaker's latest 3D printer now sports a dual extrusion system, which will allow Ultimaker 3 users to print using different materials and different colors at the same time. The Ultimaker 3 supports materials such as Nylon, PLA, ABS, CPE and PVA, and the ability to use multiple materials opens up a lot of design opportunities, Kawola said.

The Ultimaker 3 also offers two print cores, the main engine for how printer is extruder and laid down. By swapping between cores optimized for specific material — say, one core dedicated to working with higher-temperature abrasive material — Ultimaker promises repeatable, high-quality prints.

As for automation features, the Ultimaker 3 offers active bed-leveling, removing the need to fiddle with settings to avoid any printing errors. Ultimaker's printer can also use NFC technology to detect when you're using the companies materials. That doesn't prevent you from using third-party materials, which often cost less than what printer makers charger, but material detection lets the Ultimaker 3 automatically handle adjustments and settings for that material to produce a consistent model.

"The majority of users who don't want to fiddle, who don't want to adjust... in a professional environment, people don't want to do that," Kawola said. "We automate that as much as possible, and that's a big focus for Ultimaker 3."

The 15.3 x 15 x 13.5-inch Ultimaker 3 has an 8.5 x 8.5 x 7.9 build area for each of its two nozzles. The Ultimaker 3 Extended is roughly 4 inches taller and offers an 11.8 x 8.5 x 8.5 build area for its nozzles. The new printers connect over Wi-Fi, USB and Ethernet.

While the Ultimaker 3 starts shipping next month, the $2,499 Ultimaker 2+ and $2,999 Ultimaker 2+ Extended will remain part of the company's lineup, as Ultimaker still wants offer 3D printers with a lone extruder for customers who don't need the flexibility of a dual-extrusion setup.