Snow Business Ultimaker 3D printers

3D printing in 2017: Our year in review

It’s back to work for the New Year and our 3D printers are already lighting up again in the office, but we thought it would be good to pause and take a moment to celebrate the hard work of our community, customers, and everybody involved in Ultimaker last year.

The year of the Ultimaker 3

2017 was the first full year in action for the Ultimaker 3. Launched in October 2016, the Ultimaker 3 has led the way in accessible, reliable dual-extrusion 3D printing. From hearing your feedback and visiting customers, we’re delighted that your printers are being kept busy doing what they were designed to do - giving great results, time after time.

When we launch a product, it’s only the beginning of the story. With an ecosystem of materials and software as well as our hardware, a new 3D printer is like a blank canvas. We want to build on and improve it as much as you do! So, we worked hard in 2017 to create new materials, like PP and Breakaway, a 0.8 mm print core for rapid prints and a 0.25 mm for extra fine detail, plus new features and languages delivered through software and firmware updates. Together, this development has made the prototyping and innovation workflow even better for our users, proving the Ultimaker 3 to be a future ready solution.

So it was very rewarding to round off the year with the Ultimaker 3 Extended featuring as top pick for the prosumer category in the latest 3D Hubs printer guide, with 100% of customers saying they would recommend the printer!

As one user puts it ‘If you desire to design, click and print with ease, the Ultimaker 3 is for you.’

Focus on software

We marked one year from the Ultimaker 3 launch with another special announcement in October at the TCT show. Not a new printer, but details of some exciting new software releases.

And there was cake!

Cura has reached one million users globally
Cura reached one million users globally in 2017.
Paul Heiden, Senior VP of Product Management, announcing new software.

First was Ultimaker Cura 3.0, the latest generation of our free slicing software offering an improved interface and opening up to development of new plugins. We’re really excited to see how our community will continue to innovate and create with these contributions to Ultimaker Cura.

And in November, Cura Connect brought a new way to manage the 3D printing workflow, allowing you to control and schedule print jobs across multiple 3D printers from one place on your desktop.

Sharing customer success

Enough about us! One of our favorite things this year has been sharing your stories about the latest 3D printing innovations and groundbreaking projects.

In January, Open Bionics showed the positive impact 3D printing can have on people’s lives with their advanced prosthetic limbs. They manufacture all the mechanical components with Ultimaker 3D printers, using a semi-flexible TPU material and PLA for different parts of the hand, depending on whether it needs to be flexible or rigid.

Then in the summer, it snowed! We visited Snow Business, world leader in winter effects, to see how they use Ultimaker 3D printers for prototyping and final production of parts for their snow machines.

There’s no way we could make this any other way other than 3D printing. It's far too complicated.

At Snow Business, we saw how the Ultimaker 3 was already helping our customers, as dual-extrusion printing with Nylon and PVA enabled them to print a single complex part with support material that before had to be printed in two sections and fixed together.

One of the most fascinating insights into 3D printing innovation this year came from Volkswagen Autoeuropa who use Ultimaker printers to produce the manufacturing aids they need on the production line every day. This not only saves them time and money compared to ordering from external suppliers, but also gives better results as feedback from operators can be implemented more quickly with shorter development cycles.

And in September, we were celebrating when the TCT Awards recognized this as the winner in the automotive application category, beating stiff competition.

We want to thank everyone who took the time to share their experiences using Ultimaker 3D printers with us and our community in 2017.

In fact, you’ve been so busy that there’s no way we can feature everything here, but you can read more stories of how Ultimaker users are innovating and thriving.

A thriving community

Our online community continues to grow, with over 2,000 people joining in the last three months, and is an established source of expert 3D printing knowledge and discussion. At the end of the year we successfully migrated it to a new platform with an improved and mobile-friendly user experience.

Education and inspiration

At Ultimaker, part of our mission as a company is to inspire the next generation of tech innovators and we took this to the next level last year, after establishing our Pioneer Program in 2016.

Middle School students at the NYU Tandon Makerspace
Students trying out the Design Engine Starter Pack game

Highlights included the amazing BETT show in the UK in January (where we’ll be again this year), education contests around the world, launching the Ultimaker Design Engine Starter Pack game, and building a 3D printed T. Rex!

And our plans for 2018?

So, a busy year all round! But we think 2018 could top it. Keep following us on social media or through our email newsletters to be the first to hear what’s happening next!