Return Ultimaker to original condition. Update Cura. Standardize material.

I’d like to spend some time, effort, and money on bringing the ultimaker back to its original configuration as from Ultimaker, or close to it.

I believe all the parts necessary to do so are available in the “Ultimaker 2+ upgrade kit”. This is a kit provided by Ultimaker to update the first batch of Ultimaker 2s to the most recent version of the machine. It is sold in the United States by the company that builds Ultimakers for the US market:

It is $400.

I’d also like to update Cura to the most recent version. This brings in much updated capabilities, materials, and print recipes.

I would like to standardize the material hive13 provides to a print-friendly bulk PLA. The material that is currently on hand is dusty, which is bad for printers, and has not been stored properly which can cause knots. This will fail prints but can also damage the printer. We can clean and respool material, if desired. In the past I have used colorFabb PLA Economy:

It is inexpensive and prints well with Cura’s default PLA profile. At hack.RVA we had about 120 members and went through a spool a quarter, which comes out to about $200 per year in material.

As part of this effort I would like to update the wiki page to align similarly to this:

These updates should improve printer reliability and lower the barrier of entry for the membership to print successfully.

Colorfabb is extremely expensive for PLA, you can get Inland PLA+ for around 18.99 if you need 2.85…

I also rather see the Ultimaker &Gigabot (I am working on details for that also) be brought to 1.75mm filament instead of 2.85, its more readily available, more options and can be found for alot cheaper.

Forgive the n00b question, but is there an advantage for 2.85 over 1.75mm ?


The Ultimaker was originally designed for 2.85 mm filament so the extruder, bowden tube, and hot end are built around that. The larger volume to length ratio improves retraction performance, which is important for a bowden tube setup.

I consider the $6/kg premium of colorFabb to be worth the consistency of performance. The 2.2 kg spool also fits well on the back of an Ultimaker and the increase cast diameter feeds consistently without causing loose coils like smaller diameter spools can.

I’ve had an interest in masterspool refills, as they’re a bit cheaper and ship easier, but I have previously run into trouble of people mishandling filament and causing knots so I have very little faith in that not getting screwed up somehow.

I have not run into any issues sourcing 2.85 mm filament.


So ~24/kg vs, around ~12/kg if we switched to 1.75 (ZYLTECH, with affliate codes). I have purchased over 500kg of ZYLTech and have only had issues with 2 of the 1kg rolls.

I have 6 bowden tube setups an UM3 (2.85), and 5 CR10 or equivalents (1.75). (As well as 9 direct drive printers and 2 resin printers) honestly the retraction difference isnt noticeable. the major benefit of 2.85 is when printing with large nozzles, something the Ultimakers really isnt built for. Switching the UM2 to 1.75 will likely cost less than the $400 upgrade from Fbrc8. An as mentioned will allow more options for both materials and suppliers of filament.

Love the conversation.
As the FabLab warden I’d like the FabLab to be a bit less “special”.
It is working now, so I don’t want to change just for the sake of it.
Let’s lay out a plan and talk some more about what it means.
I definitely want one workhorse printer that is pretty hands off, and then maybe another that is more “different”.
I don’t even know what the current Ultimaker 2 is right now. The extruder driver is self made.
Present the plans and we will discuss. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I for one would appreciate the plans including real least common denominator folks like myself… If we have a reliable printer that is as close to point-and-click as possible for “the rest of us” I’d really appreciate it.

Dave, for the closest to plug and play we are gonna get is a self leveling printer, the Gigabot has a sensor (no clue on quality, id perfer a different type myself) to do so, but the UM2 does not have that built in. Which means there will be some bed leveling required at times. I would recommend a new printer (a few comes to mind) for a point and click, simple 3d printer.

I think it would be sensible to be proactive about improving reliability. There are two alternatives:

Wait for it to fail catastrophically, at which point it will be down for more than a week while we order parts, tear it apart, and put it back together. It may need even more spent, depending on the nature of the failure.

Wait for it to get so unreliable that it’s barely being used. This could be similarly damaging to the membership, as an unreliable tool is not a tool at all. I would also argue that we’re close to that. I hardly see the Ultimaker used.

I have only owned two printers myself. I’ve maintained 7 used communally in research facilities and makerspaces. In those settings, and in hive, I would consider reliable operation and uptime to be the two most important considerations.

At hack.RVA we kept an Ultimaker 3 as our workhorse printer. I discouraged people from messing with it. We had two Prusa i3 MK2s printers for members to play with. I only worked on those when they became so broken that they needed rescue. Even then I encouraged others to learn how to maintain them when I was fixing them.

In my experience bed leveling isn’t required very often on an Ultimaker 2. We have consistent warden hours. Leveling the bed can be part of those duties.

I would not consider it to be wise to convert a machine just to chase the cheapest possible filament. hack.RVA spent around $200/yr in filament. Is it worth $100/yr or $500 over the life of the printer to run the cheapest possible filament? I would much prefer to use a manufacturer, supplier, and material which is very likely to be consistent and has accountability when it’s not consistent.


Props to all for productive and civilized discussion. :thumbup: I’m even learning some things. :slight_smile:

It’s been my experience that the Ultimaker is pretty much point and click right now insofar as a 3-D printer can be.

I’m going to vote No on spending the money on the upgrade kit, as I do not believe it will make the Ultimaker any easier or better.

So ease of operation is half the equation. Ease of maintenance and servicing is the other. We need to document it so we can service it quickly and easily. Going back to stock makes that easy, too. As well as troubleshooting:

If we’re going to keep it the way it is, we need something similar to that for how it’s configured now.


Greg, glad you are going to vote no. Thanks for your opinion.
This discussion should continue.

I think we will still get a plan together and submit it for a vote.

I’m leaning toward the concept of a workhorse printer and then a crazy mod printer.
If the workhorse printer is the Ultimaker then we can talk about getting it bulletproof.

Dave V and crew are working on a Delta that might fit the bill for the crazy mod version, Ryan has loaned a few printers for now (which is appreciated). So things are moving along.

I’m going to get a laminated page with easy to follow instructions for the printers, (I’m working on one for the laser now).

One step at a time.


Can I suggest including a QR code to the wiki page for that piece of equipment? Be sure to add a version number and date to the document and put it somewhere we can update and reprint it if we need to.


In response to Dave B, I was firmly in your boat of wanting a printer that just worked. After recently learning to 3D print anything, the current Ultimaker DOES just work. (The boden tube plastic bit snapping was a trivial repair from what other told me as I did not do it.)

So yes, we currently do have a walk up and print machine.

I response to Jeff, I’m all for standardizing and normalizing equipment. However, the system is working correctly currently with no issues. This seems like change for change sake at the moment. Aside from the CURA upgrade which I have no understanding of... I have used 3versions of CURA and have not noticed any difference while others have railed on the changes to things that sounded like hyper-globinoides or fluter vavle adjustment... so I have no useful opinions or knowledge there.

My suggestion would be, let’s get the wiki current, and list out the specifics of your proposed upgrades there. Then when something nontrivial fails, we take the long term corrective repairs that take it back to stock like you are suggesting.

That would be doubly effective as when it gets in a broke state, there won’t be debate about how and what to fix on it. It could be a simple matter of stating “X part broke. I vote we purchase and enact agreed on repair plan Alpha.”

Wonder Twin powers activate!

Sounds like civil discussion. Not sure how to handle this. :nerd_face:

I like this idea and am in favor of filling it out and working toward it.


Our um2 is a very good printer. Printing out and getting spare parts for its current configuration would be an good option. I have one at home and have tried all sorts of stuff however lorin came up with a extremely reliable setup.

I do have a large, heated bed, linear bearing delta kit at the hive I was trying to get put together and see how it is durability wise. I was going to throw it together with mainly stock component settings and slight upgrades here and there. If we want to throw it in the fab lab and see what people think, I got the kit for an EXTREMELY good price if we want to grab another one for the hive.

Debugging a custom setup can be difficult. The behavior and symptoms of the Ultimaker extruder, or the E3D titan, or the bondtech extruder are known and documented.
Same is true for the ultimaker hot end, fans, and part cooler.
I think it’s worth considering that even if some of the membership can look at or listen to a print and know what’s going on, or the intricacies of a custom setup it is good for new users or less experienced users to be able to lean on the large volume of information available for stock or close to stock setups. Everything from material profiles to print troubleshooting becomes more difficult for a non-stock setup.

Jeffery I would argue the UM3 isnt used regularly for a few reasons, one being the filament. I heard from a few people who do 3d print, including myself. The other reason is that many people just either dont know how to use it or dont want to. (I am not ranking one over the other, but its the reasons I have heard.)

At one point our printers were used regularly and that died off as membership changed. The Fablab has always been that way, come and go with heavy use down to light use, back and forth.