makerspaces,  Student Makers,  tools & tech

Ultimaker S5: A Review

My first ever dual extrusion print, it had to be a version of the Stanford bunny, the best little 3D print model out there.

Now I may not be the most savvy when it comes to dual extrusion, as this is my first ever dual extrusion printer! I’ve found the S5 to be interesting, challenging and fun all at the same time.

The interesting parts: a touch screen in the front allows for visual model previews, when you are searching for your models which is super nice, it comes with a nice little USB to hold said UFP files (the file type containing that nice image and your GCode (see GitHub for more information if you want to get into the code side of it).

The print cores are interesting and allow for easy switching of nozzles for different materials if you’re looking for a printer to test out materials with if you can afford the $115.00 USD print cores (okay okay they’re $114.95), this is an awesome feature.

The Z adjustment works quite well, and when the printer works the quality of the models speak for themselves. Plus dual extrusion is super cool.

Model of PSU’s campus designed by student technologist Jess S. manipulated to be dual extrusion by yours truly!

The challenging parts: I’ve found that the front interface doesn’t always work, and hard shutdowns occur relatively often when the screen freezes. There are processes the S5 will prompt you to run that either doesn’t work or aren’t necessary which is challenging. This has happened to me when beginning a dual extrusion, and that process of XY leveling hasn’t worked for me thus far.

What else is challenging? Well, the loose rod set up (you’ll see when you look at the rods) and belt set up has given us a number of issues. Unlike the Ultimaker 2 Extended + which we have never had any issues with, the rods in this printer are loose and can end up coming out, which then forces the user to make many more adjustments if they come out (they have to us about 5+ times in about 1 month of heavy operation). This seems to me like a design flaw with the machine, given that I’ve never had this many issues with the rods and belts on any 3D printer previously.

The fun parts: Have I mentioned dual extrusion? Yes? While I’ll mention it again. Since this is my first dual extrusion printer, I don’t have a lot to compare it to. I’m a huge fan of the Ultimaker 2 Extended + and I think with a few tweaks this printer could meet what that printer has brought to our academic table.

Would I buy one again? Probably not until the next model comes out and I see what changes they make if any. For the price tag if I wasn’t looking for dual extrusion I would invest in a lower cost Ultimaker, a Taz or Prusa or (drum roll please) all three because you could buy one of each for the cost of this printer.

Stay tuned as we test it more this summer.