AMS Spring 2023

UltiMaker Releases First 3D Printer in Nearly 5 Years: the S7

Inkbit

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UltiMaker has released its first 3D printer since the company was formed as a merger between MakerBot and Ultimaker. The S7 is a dual-nozzle machine with a 330 x 240 x 300 mm build volume and the ability to 3D print at speeds of < 24 mm3/s. Other features include an integrated Air Manager, operating noise of less than 50 dBA, and a flexible PEI build plate. The system is meant to be an upgrade of the previous S5, with better bed leveling, temperature control, and the ability to get the first layer right—all with a 12-month warranty.

“Over 25,000 customers innovate with the UltiMaker S5 every day, making the award-winning machine one of the markets´ most used professional 3D printers. With the S7, we took everything our customers loved about the S5 and made it even better. The UltiMaker S7 is a fantastic addition to our S-Series of printers, As more customers are using 3D printing to grow and innovate their business, our goal is to provide them with a complete solution to be successful. With the new S7, customers can be setup and running in minutes: managing printers, users, and designs with our Digital Factory software, improving their 3D printing knowledge with e-learning courses on the UltiMaker Academy, and choosing from hundreds of materials and plugins using the UltiMaker Cura Marketplace,” UltiMaker CEO Nadav Goshen stated.

“We saw that the new bed leveling system on the S7 really helps us print very precise parts with the right mechanical properties using our materials,” said Niklas Eutebach AM Development Engineer at Igus.

The S5 printer still is a good choice, even though it was released in 2018, about four years and nine months ago. It’s extraordinary that one can go so long without releasing a 3D printer and still have it as a viable product on the market. A very good machine, the Ultimaker S5 is practically the standard in corporations that use 3D printing. Given the competitiveness of the market now, UltiMaker can’t afford to wait this long again before its next machine.

Many firms that were previously content to focus on the low end of mid-market have their sights firmly set on the enterprise, a segment that UltiMaker currently dominates. The first release after the merger, the Sketch, was a rebadged Flashforge. Flashforge itself is selling a $12,000 Creator 4 with HEPA filtration, independent dual extrusion (IDEX), and a heated chamber. Creality is selling high-end systems, as is Raise 3D, Markforged, and many more gunning for the segment. Many suppliers are deploying the exact same strategy that UltiMaker has. They all want to make $5,000 to $15,000 3D printers that work well for the enterprise. There are still a lot of opportunities in this area and the battle is long from being won. Therefore, the S7 is a very important 3D printer for UltiMaker.

UltiMaker has had a huge head start. By making a long-lasting, reliable system that was easy to service with the S5, the company was producing what companies needed. The specs so far look solid and the build volume is large, but it doesn’t seem like it’s a huge leap forward in any way, shape, or form. It’s unclear really from the copy and quotes why anyone should buy this printer. What is special about it? If I have an S5, why should I upgrade? As it stands, the S7 doesn’t get your heart racing that much faster.

However, this thing will have to be rock solid. It will have to be incredibly reliable, easy to use, and simply pump out parts without fault, which would then extend UltiMaker´s hegemony over the enterprise segment. Now that there are alternatives on the market, any issues with reliability and build quality could cause customers to look around and select alternatives. The Ultimaker Original was a reliable kit when there were none and the Ultimaker 2 was a great stable printer for the time, and the S5 was more advanced than anything out there with easy to replace nozzles. The S7 doesn’t seem to have a lot of whizz bang features going for it, but if it delivers on reliability we shall be seeing a lot of these.

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