We Are Learning 3D Printing Through Our Personal Experience…
Ultimaker has announced and shown two new 3D printers at CES 2015, these are the compact Ultimaker 2 Go and the larger Ultimaker 2 Extended that will complement the already available mid-size Ultimaker 2 3D printer. It seems that the company is following what MakerBot did last year by introducing three different sizes of devices that would better cover the needs and requirements of different users. The two new devices will be available for pre-order starting March and should start shipping in April 2015, so you are still not able to order them now. The recommended end user price of the compact Ultimaker 2 Go is set at €1195 EURO or $1450 USD without VAT and the price of the larger Ultimaker 2 Extended is set at €2495 EURO or $3030 USD without VAT.
There are still no complete specifications of the two new 3D printers, but most likely they will have the same features like the original Ultimaker 2, but come with a more portable size and limited build space for the Go version and larger size and build volume for the Extended model. Unfortunately Ultimaker is still not releasing a dual-extruder model, though there is some work being done on an unofficial dual-extruder upgrade for the Ultimaker. No guarantees however that this upgrade will ever be released, so if you were hoping to see a dual extruder official upgrade or a new device with two extruders from Ultimaker you might be disappointed from the lack of such.
The Ultimaker is a very popular 3D printer, however there is still no version of the device that has dual extruders as an alternative to the single extruder Ultimaker or Ultimaker 2. The newer Ultimaker 2 is really a well built and very functional device, giving you a large build volume, high maximum printing speed and very good level of detail. The thing that is important to be aware of with the Ultimaker 3D printers is that they use 3mm (2.85mm) filament instead of the thinner 1.75mm and the thicker filament may not be as widely available as the thinner one. All over the world people are using the Ultimaker 3D printers in their current form, but they also want to be able to have a version with dual extruders in order to be able to take advantage of easier multi-color printing or printing with different dissolvable support material for example.
While waiting for Ultimaker to release a new model or at least an upgrade kit to with dual extruders, an Italian startup called Creatr has come up with their own dual-extrusion upgrade kit for the Ultimaker – both the original one and the new Ultimaker 2 model. The dual extruder upgrade kit from Creatr will use stock parts like the fans and replaces others, it will also come with a guide on how to upload the modified firmware and an upgraded feeder mechanism. The upgrade kit is still in a prototype stage, so at least a few more weeks before it is available for order and while there is no yet a price announced we hear that the whole thing including everything you need should cost around 250 Euro. Not a bad upgrade if it works well and allows you to take advantage of using dual extruder printing on your Ultimaker.
There are multiple specialized websites that serve as communities for users making 3D models for printing on 3D printers to share their work, some are freely available, and others offer their work for a price and you can even order the model to be printer and sent to you as well. If you are interested in downloading some free STL models for trying out your new 3D printer then you might want to check the following popular websites as a good starting point…
Thingiverse – a large community operated by MakerBot, a manufacturer of 3D printers, where you can find a lot of 3D models shared by users and available for free download in STL format. There are a lot of new 3D models added every day and many of the published models come with instructions and photos of successful prints, though be careful that even if some models may be available for download in STL format they may not be optimized for 3D printing and may need some extra work fixing them, but these are usually not many.
Youmagine is an alternative to Thingiverse, also operated by a 3D Printer maker – Ultimaker. Not as big as the first one, but also a good place to check often as it has some interesting designs and also apparently some of the Thingiverse users have decided to move here. Not as many new models added and users interacting and sharing photos and comments when printing an object, but the place has the potential to grow.
Cubehero is another smaller platform made to help 3D printer users to interact and collaborate on projects they are making. This project is not operated by 3D printer maker and while there are still not that many projects available, you can still find some interesting 3D models, so do check it out.
GrabCAD is not your typical place to just download free STL 3D models for printing, it has many CAD models a lot of which are also available in STL format, but not all are. You can download 3D models in other formats and also try to convert them in STL for 3D printing, but you may experience trouble with more complex ones. Nevertheless many interesting things available so do check the website out.
SketchUp 3D Warehouse is the place for 3D models for the SketchUp software previously owned by Google, but then sold to Trimble. There are a lot of SketchUp models available, though you will need to export them in STL format from the software with the help of an STL Import/Export plugin and then to print them.
TurboSquid is one of the largest 3D model resources, both free and commercial ones. Even though the 3D models available there are not specially designed for 3D printers you should be able to convert many of them into STL format and then print them.
There are other smaller resources available providing some free STL models for 3D printers as well as other 3D models not designed especially to be 3D printed. The good news is that if it is a 3D mode of something you may be able to convert it to an STL file and print it on your 3D printer. This process however could not be as easy as just opening a 3DS, DXF, OBJ or another file format and exporting it as STL model and may require some more extra work, so if you are still new to 3D printing you might want to stick for now to places that have free 3D models available in STL format to make your life easier.