Ultimaker – a box full of fun

Hello fellow friends,

today I have some time and I’ll try to write about my UM experience.
So you could ask, what’s an Ultimaker?

In my opinion it’s one of the greatest things that has arised from the open source community. A 3D printer.
If you want to read more about the history of the community I advice you to read this. Without the initial development of the RepRap community this would not have been possible. In this spirit: “Thanks you sooooo much, all of you are awesome”.

So here’s my short history with 3D printers.
I got to know these things about 2 to 3 years ago when the first people wrote about the development.
At this time I did plan to build one on my own. This thought was rejected by myself after I read about, what parts are needed and how this whole thing can be assembled.
I didn’t believed that I can do it without spending months of research for the parts, assembling and tuning. So for the next 3 years I almost forgot about this great technology.


When 2011 was running out I first read about the MakerBot community and got a first view a thingverse.
I was blown away about the scope and wide range of great things that other people already created.
2 weeks of surfing across hundreds of sites, comparing different models and checking my budget my decision was clear. I ‘ll buy an Ultimaker. So I placed the order on 12th of december and after the order was processed through a payment provider the great waiting started 🙂
Estimated shipping time is 4-6 weeks. On the 31st of january the mail that made my day arrived.
Subject: ‘Order Update’, Content: ‘Preparing shipment’
On 3rd feburary the package was delivered. Unfortunately I wasn’t at home so I had to call the service and arrange a new delivery date. Tomorrow will be the day!

So the day came and I was so happy when the door bell rang.


Finally it was there, and I couldn’t wait to start assembling.
The following pictures show the progress in building the UM.
Step 1: Unpacking

Step 2: Starting to build the frame

first fun 🙂
mounting the endstops


and there’s the case

Starting to mount the motors:

Day one was over and I slept well.
The next day I didn’t made that much pictures.


The extruder head, this really was the hardest part.
nearly finish

It’s done!!!!! The only thing missing in this pic is the filament spool on the backside.

So it was 01:12 after midnight and I had a great feeling. I coudn’t wait to do my first print and here it is.

My first print ever!

You see the first print was far from perfect but it showed me that I assembled it the right way.
Happy to see this tiny cube, I went to bed. The next day was for calibrating and tuning it.

After a week of calibration and tuning I was happy to print my first yoda head,

My calibration test 😉

and a whistle,

and a better case for the fan 😉A month has gone by and I printed a lot of fun stuff but also lost a lot of prints due to problems.

The um wiki says you’ll need 6 to 20 hours to build it. I did it in about 16,5 hours. Here’s my timeline for the build:

  1. Unpacking and Checking all stuff = 0.5h
  2. Frame = 3h
  3. X-Y Motors = 1.5h
  4. X-Y Axis = 3h
  5. Extrusion head = 4.5h
  6. Z-stage = 2h
  7. Material feed mechanism = 1h
  8. Mounting the electronics = 1h

Total: 16,5 hours

All in all it was fun to build it given the assembly instructions in the wiki. The assembly descriptions are straight forward and easy to understand. The description about how to level you z-axis should be described more since it’s the most important part for getting great first layers.

In the next days I’ll plan write another post covering:

– Problems while building and calibrating the um.
– What I found out to be the best software toolchain for me when preprocessing/printing objects.
– My fav. software for creating 3D objects.


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