Ultimaker 2
Ultimaker 2

The Ultimaker 2 is the flagship model of Ultimaker. Taking all of the technology from the Ultimaker Original and improving the print head, bed and feed mechanism. This model comes assembled with a semi-automated set up. Although you can achieve the same ultra fine resolution on the Ultimaker Original, the Ultimaker 2 makes the process easier.

So you’ve followed the onscreen guide to set up your Ultimaker 2 and test printed an Ultimaker Robot, but how do you achieve the best quality from the machine? And what do you do if a print doesn’t turn out as desired. Below we will show you how the machine works, best practices and basic troubleshooting.

How the Ultimaker 2 works:

There are different types of 3D Printers and they are defined by the method of manufacturing models. The Ultimaker 2 is a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D Printer. In essence, this means that it’s method of manufacturing models is to feed a 2.85mm diameter reel of filament through a tube, heated up and laid down at the print head and cooled down by a pair of fans.

Simple ideas are best.

3 Steps to Print:

Firstly you need a digital image. There are three main ways to get a 3D digital image; Drawing your own 3D model in a CAD program, a 3D Scan or download a model from the internet from an open-source creative commons like YouMagine.com

Next you prepare the model for 3D Printing. Ultimaker provide free software for this called ‘Cura’.

Download Cura

As per Ultimaker’s philosophy, Cura is open-source. Once you have Cura installed you can load your 3D image into it and it will automatically start to process the file ready to 3D Print. Cura has two main settings; ‘Quickprint’ for basic quality and support structure settings or ‘full settings’ to control every aspect of your Ultimaker 2.

Finally you need to save this onto an SD card, insert it into your Ultimaker 2 and select the file to print.

As easy as 123.

Best Practices:

The Ultimaker 2 is Fast, Accurate and Reliable. We’ll cover these main factors and how they relate here.

The Ultimaker can reach speeds of 300mm/s at it’s highest setting however the quality of your print is vastly reduced at these speeds. We recommend printing at between 100 and 150mm/s if you want a fast print of any quality (most other desktop machines can only reach 100mm/s, so even at these lower speeds the Ultimaker 2 is FAST). If accuracy is your main concern then reducing the print speed further to between 20 and 50mm/s will vastly improve the print quality. You can also change the duration of prints through adjusting the layer height. The Ultimaker 2 can print at 0.02mm per layer but again, if we reduce the quality to an acceptable level of 0.1mm then the print time is greatly reduced. It’s often a balance between time/accuracy.

Beyond it’s pretty lights the Ultimaker 2 is a rugged machine. The simplicity of it’s operation and it’s use of standard parts mean the machine can operate consistently but also if it needs some maintenance you won’t find it hard to get a resolution. The forum with thousands of members world wide is very active and responsive also if issues occur.

There are issues that if you know how to handle them you will be back up and running in a flash. We’ll show you ‘How To’ here;

Prints not sticking to the bed:

If your models are not sticking to the bed it is likely that your bed is leveled too far away from the nozzle.

It’s a fine art at first but you’ll start to pick up on the sweet spot with practice.

Here’s a video to give you a little guidance.

Slipping Pulley’s:

The pulley’s play a crucial role in the printing process and if one of the grub screws becomes loose (they are moving parts) then different problems can occur.

Leaning or shifted layers and protruding axes

All three of these problems can be fixed by tightening the loose grub screw. First you need to locate it and in the first two scenarios just tighten the screw. In the case of protruding axis make sure everything is in place before tightening the grub screw.

Material not extruding or under-extruding:

Under extrusion is simply that the printer cannot supply the amount of plastic that is asked for. Symptoms of this are; missing layers, very thin layers or layers that have random dots and holes in them. This problem is probably the trickiest to find the direct cause for, as there are so many variables at play.

A quick trouble shoot here will usually sort the issue.

The feed mechanism:

check the filament is not tangled.

check the feeder wheel is clean (no loose or ground filament),

check the filament has not been ground,

Filament:

Check the filament is never wider than 3mm. Filaments can vary in diameter and quality. Whilst we love open-source and testing different filaments, we recommend that you have a spare roll of Ultimaker filament to check this is not the cause. Ultimaker filament is made to a high specification.

Blocked Nozzle:

If the feed mechanism and the filament are good it’s likely that you have a blocked or partially blocked nozzle. The best way to clean the nozzle is via the ‘Atomic Method’ here.

If your printer is under-extruding do NOT increase the flow rate to compensate. This will only add to the problem.

We recommend printing as cool as possible but in the event of under-extrusion increasing the heat will help you through any small clog in the nozzle. Printing PLA at 230 degrees is not ideal but well within its range.

In The Classroom

This is a professional development resource to allow you to learn some of the more common potential technical issues you may encounter with the Ultimaker 2, with tips for how to solve these problems in order to more effectively support 3D Printing in the classroom. This is not a general classroom resource, however it may be useful at the stage when students are working independently to print their own designs.

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