The Ultimaker 2+ Connect combines the reliability, ease of use and familiarity of the Ultimaker 2+, with a number of upgrades that keep the printer consistent with the professional S-Line range, whilst keeping costs low.. CREATE Education recently asked CREATE Education Hub, Beaumont Collegiate Academy to review the Ultimaker 2+ Connect. Amy Welsh, CAS Master Teacher and TeachComputing Hub Leader for Merseyside and Warrington region put the printer through it’s paces.
Ultimaker 2+ Connect by a total 3D printing newbie.
We took delivery of the Ultimaker 2+ Connect to set up in the BCA STEM Centre, sadly with the quick packing up of the equipment to be taken home, for remote working, the poor thing got left. Fast forward to March 2021, after having a quick introduction to 3D modelling software plus the university module I was hoping to do on making and creating getting cancelled, I was itching to try out a 3D print! Thankfully, my line manager pointed out the boxed up Ultimaker 2+ Connect was ready for pick up with everything that was required to get it up and running.
After a quick dash, once restrictions had been relaxed, my youngest child and I retrieved the 3D printer only realising when we got to the car it would not fit in the boot (small car!). A bit of moving around and we were on the road home.
After unpacking the printer, we (my husband and I) saw it came with a simple quick set up guide, although we are both comfortable with technology neither of us had used a 3D printer before. The hardest part of the setup was feeding the filament through the tubing and making sure it was all the way in. A quick firmware update, where we had to add the printer to the home internet, again, super easy instructions and the hardest part was locating the WiFi password, and we were ready to start.
Before printing I went through the menu options on the touch screen, really clear options about what you can do, I went through each one and levelled the base plate. The printer takes you through each stage of the levelling process and even includes a handy calibration card to help with this. We were also amused to see the printer has a name to ID it, the one we have happened to have the same name as my Mum.
It even comes with its own toolkit for maintenance and a filament spool, what more could you ask for to get started?
After a quick search for an STL file, I installed the Cura software to allow the STL to be sliced. As a total newbie at this, I stuck with the default settings in Cura and hit the slice button before loading the sliced file to a USB stick.
If you are not interested in changing any of the settings, at the time I was not, we will get onto the experimenting with settings later, the Cura is easy to use – load file, press slice, save the file. We picked a simple print job, a trading cardholder, which printed in two sections. The final print was tidy, the edges were smooth and needed a little sanding to get the two pieces to fit together. We did have to wait for the files and sandpaper to arrive, so made do with a nail file.
After the first few prints, I decided to look at the settings in Cura, much of this has been trial and error when deciding what to customise. Initially, I looked at how to alter the quality of the print (fine, normal, and draft), the percentage of infill for a model reviewing the impact it has on print time and the quality of the overall print.
The draft setting worked well when prototyping a model for refinement to ensure measurements were in the correct place. Again, working with these settings in Cura is easy and the software gives you hints about how to adapt the settings. The printer adapts well to the setting changes and even on draft, the final print out is a decent quality to use. Although, I have not tested the draft setting on anything with fine detail so I am unable to comment on how well the draft would cope with this.
Changing The Filament
Changing the filament between jobs was simple, select on the menu and a flick on one toggle, the process is done. As I stated earlier, the feeding of the filament is the hardest part due to the tight fit. The filament has been changed several times since it has been in use and there have been no issues with it. The on-screen guide is simple, and the actual physical changing is equally as easy.
A Small Blip
When doing a large print, the filament ran out, I didn’t notice until I saw the lack of progress on the build. After cancelling the print job, the issue of getting the old filament out of the feed tube, as there was no filament hanging out to grab there was a frantic Internet search to find the answer. Sadly, the answer came in unclipping the nozzle tube, be warned it is a clip under high pressure and a small flick had it falling off into the nozzle casement. A quick Internet search and the solution was to remove the nozzle casement top, thankfully the Ultimaker was sent with a little toolkit (love the Allen key) so it was easy to remove the screws and fish out the clip.
A Small Blip Continued
After putting it back together and setting it off its print, the filament was failing to lay down at the front of the build plate, but once it had done with the brim layer the rest would be constructed correctly. A few builds down the road and re-levelling the build plate, a final check of the nozzle casement and tightening of the screws was done…Bingo! Back in business with printing resuming normal functions. This all seems annoying, but I learnt a lot about what is important when 3D printing, check all the screws for even pressure, check the build plate, keep an eye on the filament spool!
The Printing Journey Continues
With growing confidence, the prints have become more complex, print settings and Cura being used to adapt print scales, infill, support plus a range of other settings. The purpose was to test the printer capacity for printing different things, how well it could handle the items and the quality of the build. I am surprised at how well it prints the articulated animals, I have run a few through the printer with varying settings and it has done them all well.
Putting it through its paces, here are just some of the prints I’ve done…
More Complex Shapes…
I have loved this first step into 3D printing, my children want to adopt the Ultimaker 2+ Connect as they have a list of things, they want to print. The printer itself is easy to use, changing filament is simple as are the procedures to level the build plate and do maintenance. Getting designs to the prints is easy, either remotely or via USB stick (I have stuck with the USB stick). The prints a clean and well-formed, even working with generic PLA has not diminished the quality of the print. The print is sturdy, it is in the dining room on a chest of drawers, no issues with movement during printing, it is quiet (quieter than the washing machine), it is nice and compact.
From this 3D printing newbie, it gets two thumbs up 👍👍for ease of use and quality of print. Spot on!
You can check out what I (we) have been printing by visiting our tweeter feed at @ComputingHubMW
CREATE Education would like to thank Amy Walsh for her contribution.