anders olsson community ultimaker nozzle upgrade for 3d printers

The Olsson Block, open source at its best

If you’ve been following our posts recently you must have heard about the Olsson Block. It's an Ultimaker add-on created by one of our community members who needed a solution for quite a unique and specific problem. Due to our open source values, this one man solution was able to grow into a community-wide popular add-on opening new doors for 3D printing.

The community solution

The community member who started all this was Anders Olsson, a research engineer working on neutron particle experiments. Very complex stuff, and to do the job he needed to 3D print boron carbide parts. The problem Olsson ran into presented itself as follows: during his first test run he discovered his Ultimaker 2 handled it very well, there was only one small snag – after a single test print the boron carbide ate away his nozzle!

On the standard Ultimaker 2, the nozzle and heater block are integrated, and Olsson didn’t want to replace the entire hot-end every time he 3D printed with boron carbide. Solution? Design a new hot-end with an easily replaceable nozzle. As Ultimaker is open-source, all the files Olsson needed to get started were online. The outcome not only allowed swapping out used nozzles in seconds, but it also opened the door to different sized nozzles. Which is a whole new game!

Fast, faster, fastest Rapid-prototyping with Ultimaker

A different nozzle can significantly influence the way your Ultimaker behaves. For example, the small 0.25mm nozzle enables a user to print very small and very detailed. It means 3D prints smaller than 1cm are no longer for the elite and even the finest details on bigger 3D prints will surface. On the other side of the nozzle-spectrum, we have much bigger nozzles 0.8mm and 1.0mm nozzles. These big boys will allow the user to make prints up to 4 times faster than with the regular set up. 3D printing is often referred to as rapid prototyping, but I guess that all depends on perspective. Waiting 8 hours on a reasonable-sized print is not considered fast by everyone.

rapid proto editorial
0.8mm and 0.4mm nozzles compared

However, the alternative, outsourcing the production of a single model, is usually left out of the equation. It would sway most people’s opinion knowing that outsourcing can easily take an entire week. All of a sudden, only a few hours is pretty fast! But being able to reduce the print-time by 50% or 75% is another huge step towards convincing everyone about the true definition of rapid-prototyping.

Detailed 0.25mm print

Our open filament system

Jet nozzle

We don’t expect many of our beloved users to start printing boron carbide. But having spare nozzles at your convenience may make our open filament system more appealing. An open filament system means freedom. We offer a selection of Ultimaker filaments with a guaranteed quality and at the same time give room for our users to try other brands of filament. Ultimaker prefers options over limitations.

For example, Colorfabb stocks very popular materials like Bronzefill, Copperfill, and Woodfill. These filaments offer a very different sensation for the user in the look and feel of their print. At the same time, both Bronzefill and Copperfill are quite abrasive, but that’s no longer a problem when you can replace or clean your nozzle in just a few seconds. Easily swappable nozzles means a bigger choice in materials without any inconvenience or downtime.

Bronzefill print, modelled by 3DofTom

Helping our community

At Ultimaker we were thrilled to see someone from our community come up with this clever invention. It’s a textbook example of why we believe in the power of open source. By sharing our files users can get to know the Ultimaker inside out. This has lead to a thriving and global community where our users and Ultimaker gather and exchange knowledge and experiences. By having these tools available it made it easy for a bright mind like Anders Olsson to design, build and share his own personal solution. Helping not just himself, but everyone. At Ultimaker, we hope this will inspire new users and at some point, just like Anders Olsson, they will find a way to be a link in the chain and help other users as well.

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We loved the Olsson Block so much we wanted to share it with all our new users as a welcome gift to our community. So we’re including the Olsson Block and 4 different nozzles with every Ultimaker 2 and Ultimaker 2 Extended sold not only during November, but up till Christmas 2015!