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Ultimaker unveils next generation of open-source 3D printing

Ultimaker 3When Ultimaker, a manufacturer of open-source 3D printers headquartered in Amsterdam with an office in Boston, announced recently the global availability of the next generation of its 3D-printing product line, it promised professionals unprecedented freedom of design. Open-source 3D printing has become popular, particularly in the desktop printing market, according to John Kawola, U.S. President of Ultimaker.

In an interview with PlasticsToday, Kawola reviewed his more than 10-year career in the 3D-printing industry, starting at a time when prototyping with polymer materials represented 90% of the market. “What’s happened in the last five years is that the market has changed drastically,” said Kawola. “It has consolidated, and I was part of that consolidation. Also, we saw the introduction of desktop 3D printers as well as the rise of metal 3D-printing machines. Today, there’s more public awareness, and part of that is due to the [advent of] desktop printers selling at $5,000 and less. That’s where Ultimaker fits in.”

“What has happened in the desktop space in just the last couple of years is that a large portion of the growth of 3D printing is now in the desktop segment, from 275,000 units to over 400,000,” Kawola said. “The percentage being sold in the enterprise space was close to zero five years ago. Today it’s close to 50%. Parts are better, more materials are available, the machines are more reliable and the desktop printers are bumping up against the larger, more-expensive machines. For the price difference, more companies are looking at desktop 3D printers [rather than] the $50,000 stand-alone printers.”

Find out what’s new and what’s coming in 3D printing at the 3D Printing Summit at this year’s PLASTEC East event in New York City in June. Go to the PLASTEC East website to learn more about the event and to register to attend.

“Open source or open materials 3D printing is the idea that somebody has developed hardware and software but they don’t try to keep it secret or patent it; they open it up so that even the software codes are open,” explained Kawola. “The idea behind open source is that the greater community will make the products better and everyone can share in this.”

Ultimaker has embraced the concept of open source and offers software that is open to the greater community for anyone to use. “As a company, Ultimaker has had a net benefit from our open source product,” Kawola noted. “The product is better—we can improve the software at a much faster pace. We have been able to do many things much faster. But in reality, people copy you and compete with you. Is it a net benefit or net detriment? We still feel it’s a net benefit,” he added.

Materials is one area that has benefitted. Because it’s an open environment, the range of materials that have been developed and put on the market has grown very quickly, Kawola stated. “The big guys had closed systems and you had to buy their film or powder. By 2007 or 2008, 90% was Stratasys materials for Stratasys machines, which had attractive margins

Ultimaker releases open-source files for Ultimaker 2 GO and Extended 3D printers

Following in the tradition of its collaborative, open approach, desktop 3D printer manufacturer, Ultimaker has made the blue print files for its latest 3D printers, the Ultimaker 2 Go and Ultimaker 2 Extended, available to the public.

Championing its open-source philosophy, Ultimaker has made these files available in a bid to learn from, understand and share ideas with the 3D printing community. By turning its audience into a development partner, Ultimaker expects to learn and understand the best ways to improve its product and deliver what the customer wants.

“Ultimaker is committed to sharing new designs, functions and updates with our customers to give them the freedom to 3D print to the best of their ability,” explained Siert Wijnia, founder of Ultimaker. “Being open source enables quick iterations and innovation which pushes the boundaries of the impossible every time. It means our innovations are community-powered and the focus lies not only on what we think is important, but also allow our users to grow and transform with us as we develop new technology.”

Making its machine files public is something the company has done for each of its printers from, choosing to make the files public around six months after each release. Speaking with Ultimaker at TCT Show + Personalize last month, Paul Croft from the UK-arm of the company, explained how Ultimaker strongly believes openness and collaboration are the key components the 3D printing industry needs in order to move forward. 

“For me it’s more the philosophy, this open source collaborative idea, looking to seed open innovation differentiates us from other people. We believe that to get to where we all want to be in the 3D printing industry then we need to collaborate and try and develop as best we can, the software, the hardware and filament side of things but that involves a lot of collaboration.”

Watch the full interview here

Autodesk Reveals Open-Source 3D Printer and Software Platform

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Autodesk Printer

by SPAR Point Group staff | May 20, 2014

Last week during its earnings call, Autodesk made two big announcements. The first was for an open-software 3D printing platform named Spark that is freely licensable by hardware manufacturers or other interested parties. The second announcement was for Autodesk’s first 3D printer. The printer is intended to “a reference implementation” for Spark. 

On In the Fold, an Autodesk blog, President and CEO Carl Bass explained that the design of the printer “will be made publicly available to allow for further development and experimentation. The printer will be able to use a broad range of materials, made by us and by others, and we look forward to lots of exploration into new materials.”

Autodesk hasn’t released any pricing information yet, but Bass says that Spark and the 3D printer will be available within the year. For more information on how Autodesk hopes these products will help jumpstart the 3D printing industry (or to sign up and indicate interest in using Spark), see Bass’ blog post here.