In this interview, Rutger Stronks, Global Director of Product Marketing at Ultimaker, talks to AZoM about the company and reducing emissions of ultrafine particles with the Ultimake S5 Air Manager.
Who is Ultimaker and what work does it do?
Ultimaker’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to digital distribution and local manufacturing. Since the beginning, back in 2011, Ultimaker has already achieved some quite impressive milestones. For example, we’ve sold well over 125,000 units, we have around 500,000 monthly active users on Cura, and have over 400 employees working worldwide at Ultimaker. With this growth, the profile of the Ultimaker user has changed greatly too. In the early days, we were facilitating the single user and the Ultimaker community, whilst today we also see medium to large enterprises adopting, professionalising and accelerating the benefits from professional 3D printing by using our offered solutions.
Based on these developments, Ultimaker identifies three phases of adoption that companies face in order to scale professional 3D printing in their organisations.
The first phase is where companies are introduced to 3D printing. In this phase we see engineers, that are often very enthusiastic about the technology, bringing 3D printing into their workplace in order to showcase the high value that it can bring to their companies. These engineers challenge traditional production methods and demonstrate that 3D printing can be an excellent alternative. Ultimaker calls these engineers it’s “champions”, so this phase is considered as the ‘champions phase’.
Once the value demonstrated by these champions is recognised by the company, we see companies moving to the next phase. This is where a group of champions, sometimes accompanied by other experts, are gathered together and form a “competence centre”. The goal of this competence centre is to further professionalise 3D printing in the company. The centre starts implementing 3D printing into the existing workflows and design new processes where needed. When the competence centre is established, the company is able to print digital parts within their local facility or department.
During this phase, we often see companies increasing their 3D printing activities from a local to a global scale. This is happening in the third and also last maturity phase of professional 3D printing, which we call “distributed manufacturing”. In this phase, companies are able to print what they want, when they want, and where they want it and really harvest the full potential of professional 3D printing.
The needs and requirements for each of the phases – the champions, competence centres and distributed manufacturing – are different. For example, champions are looking for a compact, reliable solution that comes with low cost of ownership and is easy to adopt. This will help the champions to address the value of professional 3D printing quickly, and without putting the return of investment at risk. Also, champions want to demonstrate the widest range of applications as this allows them to present 3D printing as a potential alternative for as many traditional production methods as possible.
Ultimaker’s open material programme also supports this, as this will help the champion to choose the best material for his or her application, without any limitations. All these needs and requirements of a champion have been taken into account when designing our brand new, reliable and easy to use Ultimaker S3 printer, which even supports composite printing.
As the entry model for professional 3D printing, the Ultimaker S3 is part of Ultimaker’s ecosystem. This means it seamlessly works together with Ultimaker Cura, our open material programme, and also Ultimaker Connect. In most cases we see that champions don’t have much time to implement 3D printing in their companies as they do it in line with their day-to-day job. Therefore the product ecosystem helps them to adopt the full workflow quickly and efficiently, which generates much faster results in which they can share with their companies.
How does Ultimaker implement the professionalization phase?
Professionalisation means that companies implement their proven 3D printing benefits from a single, or a few applications demonstrated by a champion, into their local workflows and processes are then orchestrated by a competence centre, and into distributed manufacturing. Distributed manufacturing enables companies to print what you want, when you want it and where you want it.
What are the benefits of the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle?
The Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle consists of 3 components and is really designed for the professional user. In the middle, we have the S5 printer, which was launched back in 2018 and has already proven its success in more professional or industrial applications. Below the Ultimaker S5 printer you see the Ultimaker S5 Material Station, which is a 6 spool docking station for your filament and designed to further utilize the Ultimaker S5 printer. On top of the Ultimaker S5, we have developed the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager, which has been designed to meet the latest requirements of an enterprise environment.
To start with the Ultimaker S5 Material Station, a few elements are worth zooming in on. Firstly, it simplifies material handling as it allows you to front-load up to six spools in the machine. Even more important, the Ultimaker S5 Material Station automatically switches materials, which improves the productivity of the printing process significantly. This also solves the end-of-filament anxiety that we faced in the market, as a print will also automatically switch to a new spool and continue printing when a spool runs out of filament.
Lastly, the Ultimaker S5 Material Station offers a climate controlled chamber, to keep all your materials stored in the Ultimaker S5 Material Station, in perfect condition. This is especially beneficial for printers that are located in more humid environments.
What features does the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager offer?
The Ultimaker S5 Air Manager adds some additional benefits to the Ultimaker S5 Pro bundle, including a better print quality, increased safety and reduced emissions of the ultrafine particles.
First, by closing off the build chamber, it’s not possible anymore to put your hands into the machine while it's in operation. This reduces the risk of touching hot parts within the machine. An additional benefit of a closed print chamber is that the temperature in the build chamber stays much more constant. The Ultimaker S5 Air Manager is being managed by the Ultimaker S5 printer, which knows what material is being used for the print. The Ultimaker S5 printer communicates with the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager what material is being printed, so the Ultimaker S5 Air manager can create the ideal airflow and temperature within the build chamber for that particular material, which then produces a better print quality.
Secondly, the Ultimaker S5 Air Manager also filters the inside-out airflow, and by doing so, it reduces the amount of ultra-fine particles by up to 95%. This applies to any material. This is important to us as Ultimaker offers an open material system. By filtering these ultrafine particles, more materials are unlocked that can be used in a safe and risk-free way. Unlocking more materials results in more possible applications that you can create with a Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle.
What are the core markets that Ultimaker serves?
We are serving more and more towards professional users and medium to large enterprises. We have clients like Heineken, Ford, L’Oréal, Airbus, and Volkswagen, and we are seeing that these types of companies are starting to adopt, professionalise or accelerate their 3D printing activities. They’re challenging their traditional production methods and enjoy the returned values of 3D technology, such as, higher efficiency, significant cost reductions, faster time to market and a lower environmental impact. These benefits not only apply for the companies mentioned, but can be gained in a wide range of industry sectors.
What's next for Ultimaker?
I think the three adoption phases of professional 3D printing are still in development. We will always optimize our product ecosystem to take away the barriers for professional users and companies to adopt 3D printing, professionalise it, or accelerate it use. That is the way we develop new products, whether that is our hardware, software, materials or services.
About Rutger Stronks
Rutger Stronks is Global Director of Product Marketing at Ultimaker. In this role, Rutger is responsible for developing the global strategy, messaging and planning of all Ultimaker product launches. In this interview he talks about Ultimaker's most recent product introductions, the Ultimaker S3 and the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.