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Ultimaker vs. Lulzbot: Pros & Cons of Each

Ultimaker vs. Lulzbot: Pros & Cons of Each | 3D Printing Spot

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The Spot Team

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February 9, 2021

3D printing is an outstandingly useful tool for many industries. From automotive uses to jewelry, to dentistry, there are countless ways to use 3D printing, and the list grows daily. Buying a 3D printer isn’t only common for businesses, though. Some individuals buy them simply for fun.

Ultimaker and Lulzbot are two of the leading manufacturers of 3D printers, and it is a common problem to have trouble choosing between them in the buying process. In this article, I’ll go through and discuss a few of the top models of each brand and list the pros and cons between them. You’ll soon know which manufacturer and model is right for you.

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Table of contents:

Pros and Cons Between Models

With so many models to choose from, it can be difficult to decipher the differences between them. Here, I’ll go through each model and quickly discuss its pros and cons. Later, I’ll discuss each model in-depth.

In these pros and cons lists, you won’t find the special features of each printer. Instead, you’ll find information from real reviewers. This is because features are subjective; what is a “pro” for one person may be a “con” for another since each individual will be using their 3D printer for different purposes in different locations.

Before getting started, there are two things both brands have in common with every model they manufacture: they both provide open-source software and filament systems as well as a 1-year warranty guarantee on every printer.

Ultimaker 2+ Connect

Pros:

  • Easy to use right out of the box
  • Quiet
  • Small profile; doesn’t take up a lot of desk space

Cons:

  • Small build volume

Ultimaker S3

Pros:

  • Easy to setup and use
  • Superior print quality
  • Handles long print times easily
  • Worth the investment

Cons:

  • Slow print speed

Ultimaker S5

Pros:

  • Easy to setup and use
  • Quiet
  • Great attention to print detail

Cons:

  • Slow print speed
  • Some issues with certain filaments

Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle

Pros:

  • Convenient filament storage
  • Cleaner, safer air

Cons:

  • Large; takes up a lot of space
  • Pricey

Lulzbot Pro

Pros:

  • Fast print speed
  • Good quality printing

Cons:

  • Re-adjustments needed often
  • Value-for-money is lacking

Lulzbot Pro S

Pros:

  • Fast print speed

Cons:

  • N/A

This is a brand-new product, so not many reviews were able to be found. However, some speculations may be made based on reviews of older models.

Lulzbot TAZ 6

Pros:

  • Great for any project
  • Easy setup

Cons:

  • Loud
  • Sometimes has trouble with small details
  • Software underestimates print times

Lulzbot Workhorse

Pros:

  • Sturdy; made from high-quality materials
  • Easy to setup
  • Great quality printing

Cons:

  • Value-for-money is lacking
  • Lacks high-quality features
  • Software underestimates print times  

Lulzbot Mini 2

Pros:

  • Fast print speed
  • Quiet

Cons:

  • Vague setup instructions
  • Small build volume
  • Filament clogs are common

Now that the pros and cons of each model have been discussed, I will dive into each brand and model individually to discuss features, details, and specs.

Ultimaker 3D Printers

This company prides itself on being trusted by some of the world’s leading design and engineer companies. Their first 3D printer was released in 2011, and the company has been held in high regard since then. They are known for their high-quality, long-lasting professional systems.

The high price tag on these printers is said to be worth it, as the quality of the printer itself and the quality of the prints are some of the best found on the market, especially among the other desktop varieties of 3D printers.

One of Ultimaker’s goals as a company is to encourage open-sourcing in business. Thus, their software and filament system is completely open-source. This allows the buyer freedom of choice in which software they want to use and which company to buy their filaments from.

Ultimaker is based out of the Netherlands; however, they do have US-based offices, and much of their manufacturing is done in the US, so purchasing from Ultimaker positively affects America’s economy, which is important to many.

A few quick notes:

•           Ultimaker supplies free software for all models of their 3D printers, which is the preferred software, but it is not required to use

•           Each of their printers use a 2.85mm filament nozzle

•           Each printer comes with a 1-year warranty

S3

The Ultimaker S3 was released in September 2019. It is an improved version of the Ultimaker 3. This model introduces several new features and is a very stark upgrade from its predecessor. It is a slightly larger size, which allows for a bigger build volume at 9 x 7.4 x 7.9 in inches. The S3 includes all the features from the 2+ and adds several, including:

•               Dual extrusion

•               Swappable print cores

•               Auto-leveling

•               Filament flow sensor

•               Print with glass or carbon fiber

The S3 introduces dual extrusion, a feature that many Ultimaker fans were thrilled about. As I talked about above, dual extrusion is preferred by most who 3D print. The ability to mix colors and textures is helpful in achieving a high-quality and visually appealing print.

On top of the dual extrusion, the print cores are swappable in the S3. If you have an extra set, you can be cleaning one set while the other set is in your printer. This makes for higher uptime and makes maintenance faster and more efficient. This is especially helpful for a busy business.

Swappable print heads also allow for a more customizable experience since each print head has a different purpose. These are each sold separately and available in the Ultimaker store.

Your build plate being level is important, especially in the first few levels of the print. The auto-leveling in the S3 scans the build plate throughout the print and adjusts as needed. This is a helpful tool that ensures your print is correct from the bottom up every time.

The addition of the filament flow sensor solves an unfortunate problem a lot of old 3D printers had: running out of filament, yet the printer keeps “printing.” This led to project delays and probably a lot of frustration. Now, when the machine runs out of filament, it stops printing and alerts the user more filament is needed. Once more filament is added, it continues printing.

The S3 allows for glass or carbon fiber filaments to be used. These filaments are much stronger and have more technical uses in 3D printing. To make printing with these materials possible, they added abrasion resistant parts and created a “reinforced” print core, which is sold separately.

S5

The Ultimaker S5 was released in early 2018 and is one of the brand’s latest 3D printer models. There is only one major difference in terms of features between the S3 and the S5 models, and that is a larger printing space.

The older model included a 9 x 7.4 x 7.9 build volume in inches, while the S5 model includes a 13 x 9.4 x 11.8 build volume in inches. This is significantly larger, nearly double the size of the older model.

S5 Pro Bundle

The S5 Pro Bundle is essentially the S5 model with a few extra bells-and-whistles. It was released in late 2019. The extra features of the Pro Bundle includes:

•               Air filtration

•               Automatic material handling

•               Humidity control

The air filtration system helps keep the work environment safe for the user. Since Ultimaker machines can use many different types of filaments, including filaments from third-party sellers, the fumes emitted from the filaments can be dangerous.

The air filtration included in the S5 Pro Bundle filters up to ninety-five percent of these harmful contaminants out of the air to keep them out of your workspace.

The automatic material handling is possible with the material station included in this bundle. It holds up to six filaments and automatically switches between them as needed. This means interruption-free printing, as the user no longer needs to manually switch filaments. This dramatically cuts down the user’s operation time.

Humidity control is crucial when storing filament. The filament that is exposed to moisture in the air will ruin, and dry storage boxes can be expensive. Thus there are dozens of “DIY” solutions on the internet. With the S5 Pro Bundle, however, this is no longer necessary because of the built-in humidity control in the material station. This keeps your filaments safe, dry, and organized.

2+ Connect

The Ultimaker 2+ Connect was recently released in 2020. It is a remake of the Ultimaker 2, the company’s second 3D printer model. It is a basic 3D printer and doesn’t include many bells-and-whistles, especially compared to the manufacturer’s newest models.

It is an impressively small size, and thus the build volume is tiny at 8.7 x 8.6 x 8 in inches. But don’t let its small size fool you; it’s still a great machine. Some of the notable features include:

•           Single extrusion

•           Wi-Fi connectivity

•           Touchscreen UI

•           Heated build plate

Single extrusion is seen as a disadvantage to most in the 3D printing world since the advancement of the double extrusion has much outplayed the single. Single extrusion means that only one type of filament can be used at a time, whereas with double extrusion, you can mix colors and textures.

However, single extrusion 3D printers are still beneficial and widely used. It all depends on the purpose the user needs it for.

Wi-Fi connectivity allows for your design to be communicated to the 3D printer. Without this feature, the design would need to be loaded to an SD card and inserted into the machine. This is a hassle for anyone, but especially a fast-paced business. This is why Wi-Fi connectivity is a notable feature.

A touchscreen UI, or user interface, is seen as the most user-friendly way to operate nearly any piece of equipment. Since 3D printers have a wide array of functions and settings, having them organized in a touchscreen interface is a helpful tool.

The heated build plate is also a helpful feature in this 3D printer. It helps to prevent warping and cracking of your project and is considered a necessity when working with more complicated and finicky filaments.

Another interesting feature of the 2+ Connect is the optional air filter. This is just like the air filter described in the S5 Pro Bundle but made for this smaller model. The air filter works the same, removing up to ninety-five percent of harmful contaminants from the air, keeping the workspace air safe and clean.

This feature is sold separately and is conveniently available in the Ultimaker store alongside the 2+ Connect model.

Lulzbot 3D Printers

This company has been around since 2011 and was originally owned by a parent company named Aleph Objects. Just as Ultimaker, Lulzbot strives to encourage open-sourcing, so their hardware, software, and filament systems are completely open-sourced, allowing for full freedom of choice for their customer.

One of the biggest complaints of this company is its pricing, specifically from average users rather than professionals. The key reason for their high price tag is who they are marketing to. Lulzbot Pro models are aimed towards businesses and professionals and are specifically designed with prototyping and part building in mind.

The high price tag has unfortunately led to financial issues for the company, and in late 2019, Lulzbot was bought out by the company FAME 3D. This change has not altered its open-source stance, and the company continues to manufacture new models today.

Since the change, the company is now based out of North Dakota, and all manufacturing is based in the US, so their printers are entirely made in America.

A few quick notes:

•               One of the main features Lulzbot printers lack is Wi-Fi connectivity; to transfer designs, the user must use either a USB serial number, USB flash drive, or an SD card depending on the model

•               They do not provide software, but they do recommend their preferred software

•               A small yet helpful thing they include in each model is a handy tool kit for easy maintenance and cleaning

•               Each model comes with a 1-year warranty

TAZ Pro

Lulzbot boasts that their TAZ Pro is the “first-ever industrial-grade desktop 3D printer” and claims that it has “professional results right-out-of-the-box.” This is an interesting and impressive claim, as most 3D printers require some amount of set-up or assembly. This model was released in 2019. The TAZ Pro has many high-end features, including:

•           Automatic leveling

•           Heated build plate

•           Large build surface

•           Dual extrusion

•           Supports water-soluble filament

•           Filament runout sensor

•           Can switch to different material without changing the print head

I’ve already discussed the benefits of automatic leveling and a heated build plate featured in the Ultimaker printers above, so I’ll skip to the large build surface of the Lulzbot printers. The build volume of these printers is 11.02 x 11.02 x 11.22 inches, which is much larger than a lot of 3D printers.

This large build area is especially helpful for big projects. With a smaller build area, users must print their project in two or more pieces then fuse them together. This is time costly and avoidable with a printer with a large build area.

Since the TAZ Pro has dual extrusion you can use two different filaments, just like the later Ultimaker models.

The TAZ Pro supports water-soluble filaments. This is an interesting and helpful feature for complicated designs. The water-soluble filaments act as supports for higher layers, and they are easily dissolved away once the project is done printing.

Without these filaments, there are a lot of post-print alterations that must be done to complete the project, which is time costly and can damage the design.

This Lulzbot model is the only model listed on their website that includes a filament runout sensor, which as I described before, is a time, money, and frustration saving tool.

The TAZ pro model allows the user to switch to a different filament material without changing out or cleaning the tool head. This is a unique design feature and will save the user from cleaning parts mid-print.

The connectivity methods for this model are through USB serial number or a USB flashcard.

TAZ Pro S

The TAZ Pro S is geared towards professionals, specifically engineers, and designers. Prototype and part printing are two of the main niches this model is designed to excel in. It is the brand’s latest model, having just been released in November 2020.

The main differences between the TAZ Pro and the TAZ Pro S include:

•               Single extruder

•               1.75mm filament diameter

•               Interchangeable tool heads

•               Touch screen UI

The Pro S has only a single extruder, unlike the Pro model. Given the drastically different price points between these two models, some reviewers question this decision.

The filament diameter for this model is much smaller than the other models at 1.75mm. The other Lulzbot models have a filament diameter of 2.85mm. This may be for the purpose of enabling extra detail and precision for professional prototypes, and part builds, or it may be because 1.75mm filaments are considered to be the standard.

An interesting feature of the Pro S is the interchangeable tool heads. This is similar to the swappable print heads in the Ultimaker S3. Each tool head has a different purpose, and they are each sold separately in the Lulzbot store.

The Pro S is the only Lulzbot model with a touchscreen UI, which, as I stated before, is the most user-friendly type of interface.

The connectivity for this model is also through USB serial number and USB flashcard.

TAZ 6

The TAZ 6 has won the title of “Best 3D Printer” by many companies and individuals alike. It is considered to be the most reliable and most user-friendly 3D printer on the market. It was released in early 2016 and is still winning awards and raved about by experts. Here are some of its key features:

•               Automatic leveling

•               Heated build plate

•               Self-cleaning nozzle

•               Single extruder

•               Large build area

The reason this 3D printer is so special to many is that it was very advanced for its time. 3D printing was still fairly new when this model was released, so many of the features were truly state-of-the-ark. The build area of this printer is 11.02 x 11.02 x 9.80. While not as large as the TAZ Pro models, this was quite large for the time.

The connectivity method for this printer is through USB serial number or by the included SD  

TAZ Workhorse

The TAZ Workhorse is the new version of the TAZ 6 and was released in early 2019. The primary differences between the TAZ 6 and the TAZ Workhorse are as follows:

•           Fourteen percent larger build volume

•           Belt-driven Z-Axis

•           Faster print speed

The build volume for the Workhorse is a bit bigger than the TAZ 6, at 11.02 x 11.02 x 11.22 inches, which is now the standard size for Lulzbot. As mentioned already, this large build size is great for larger projects or even several small projects.

The belt-driven Z-axis allows for faster printing speed. The maximum printing speed of the Workhorse is a huge 100mm per second faster than the TAZ 6, coming in at 300mm per second. Although, be careful with printing at faster speeds, as you can lose print quality.

The connectivity method is through USB serial number or SD card.

Mini 2

The Mini 2 is a portable version of the larger Lulzbot models. It is the improved version of the Mini model and was released in mid-2018. The new features include:

•               Twenty percent larger build volume than the original Mini

•               Belt-driven Z-axis, allowing superior quality printing

•               Able to print various filament consistencies

This is a remarkably small 3D printer; in fact, it’s smaller than the Ultimaker 2+. Because of this, the Mini 2 has a build volume at 6.3 x 6.3 x 7.09 in inches, nearly half that of the standard sized Lulzbot printers. This could be a benefit or a detriment, depending on the user’s intent.

This tiny machine seems to be the only one of its kind; it is likely that it is the smallest professional quality mini 3D printer on the market.

The connectivity methods for this model are through USB serial number or through the SD card, which is included.

Palette 2S Pro Kit

This is an add-on for the TAZ Pro, Workhorse, and Mini 2 printers. This allows these single extruder machines to print multi-material projects. It can combine up to four different filaments and automatically feeds them into the printer for seamless transitions.

The Palette Pro-Kit also adds a filament runout sensor, a feature that the TAZ Workhorse and Mini 2 models lack.

The complaint some reviewers have is that these features come separately rather than built-in like many other brands, especially considering the price points of these 3D printers.

Model Comparison Chart

Since there is so much information to take in, I’ve compiled the important features of each model and laid them out here in a more comprehensible chart.

Conclusion

Ultimaker and Lulzbot are both professional-quality desktop 3D printer manufacturers. They provide some of the most high-quality printing jobs on the market. There are models from each company that has won awards for their printing quality, user-friendly design, and durability.

Choosing between Ultimaker and Lulzbot will depend on the user’s use and desires for the printer. Lulzbot and Ultimaker are both geared towards professionals, but Ultimaker’s products are so user-friendly that even a novice can use them with ease. Lulzbot’s Pro models are geared towards a prototype and part printing, whereas the TAZ models are aimed at the average user.

There is a lot of information on both of these companies and their printers. By reading this article, you now know the main differences and similarities between both companies and their most popular models.

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