Now that 2021 is nearly here, many of us will be breathing a sigh of relief that a challenging 12 months are behind us and looking forward with hope to a new year. But before we do, it’s worth looking back and appreciating what a great job our team, our customers, and our community did in adapting and often thriving in this ‘new normal’.
So, let’s look back on a few highlights from 2020.
Responding to the pandemic
As countries worldwide faced the challenge of managing the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, one positive we saw this year was the response of the global 3D printing community.
Our global network of resellers and partners made 3D printers available in hubs and stores for producing essential hospital supplies. And several Ultimaker engineers helped organizations to design and create parts they needed.
Hardware: Ultimaker 2+ gets connected
Building on the original’s legacy of 6 million prints and legendary reliability, the Ultimaker 2+ Connect went much further when it launched in November.
The Ultimaker 2+ Connect delivers connectivity through Wi-Fi and the cloud, next-gen components with a stiffer build platform and improved usability, a touchscreen with an intuitive UI and user assistance, and keeps the features Ultimaker 2+ users have loved for years, such as its reliability and open filament system.
Software: Back to Essentials
As for software, we introduced two new platforms – Ultimaker Essentials and Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy.
The idea of Ultimaker Essentials was a direct response to clients who faced structural IT challenges when using Ultimaker Cura.
Its subscription model gives customers direct access to support from Ultimaker experts. Clients also gain access to Ultimaker Cura Enterprise, Ultimaker Digital Factory, Ultimaker Marketplace, and Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy.
Read more about Ultimaker Essentials.
Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy is a very exciting development, launched to address businesses’ concerns about a lack of 3D printing knowledge in their teams.
The platform offers courses and tutorials for IT admins, application engineers, and printer operators on topics ranging from design for 3D printing, choosing materials, and mastering Ultimaker Cura.
Access Ultimaker 3D Printing Academy onboarding courses with your Ultimaker account, or open up the full selection of learning tracks with an Ultimaker Essentials subscription.
Materials: Knowledge and certification
Throughout the year, we put a focus on material properties through informative blog posts designed to ensure customers have all the knowledge required to make the right choices.
These covered the basics on materials and their selection, including information on copolymers, additives, and blends. There were also beginner’s guides on 3D printing flexible, water-resistant, and ESD-safe materials to mitigate dangerous static discharges.
We were also proud to announce that TÜV SÜD certified the 3D printing process of LEHVOSS LUVOCOM® 3F filament and the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle. Commissioned by the LEHVOSS Group and Ultimaker, the certification proves that parts are produced in an accurate and reproducible way when combining the hardware and material.
The TÜV SÜD certification mark
Certification required on-site inspection by TÜV SÜD to ensure high quality and traceable processes, a quality audit of the machine with the material in use, and parallel printing of all test specimens.
We also collaborated with software specialists Teton to create the Smart Slice plugin for Ultimaker Essentials which brings engineering grade part simulation to Ultimaker Cura.
Ultimaker also entered the podcast arena with Talking Additive hosted by Matt Griffin. Our 3D printing podcast explores the impact of additive manufacturing and is now enjoying even greater reach in its second season.
Matt Griffin, Ultimaker’s Director of Community, hosts the Talking Additive podcast
We’ve recorded 20 podcasts since going live in April, with episodes including Matthew Forrester from L’Oréal speaking about how they rolled out 3D printing across numerous locations, Marie-Luise Naerum from Schubert talking about the company’s unique approach to distributed manufacturing, and Cody Cochran of Azoth discussing the creation of “digital inventory” items.
Ultimaker also expended its webinar portfolio considerably, rising to the challenge of broadcasting worldwide with Covid-enforced procedures in place.
All our webinars are free and available on demand, covering everything from material choice to hardware, software, and design.
Discover Ultimaker webinars.
People and the industry
As in any year, we were proud to share the stories of many of our customers at the leading edge of their industries. So much so that we wrote about these success stories on our website.
One of the highlights was taking a behind the scenes look inside Dutch motorsport team Van Amersfoort Racing to see how they use 3D printing to manufacture tools and parts.
Also this year, we visited specialized industrial service provider ERIKS who offer a wide range of technical products, co-engineering and customization solutions.
Its clean manufacturing facility in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, is the perfect place for its new 3D printing hub, and Ultimaker proved the perfect technology to put there.
ERIKS’ philosophy is very much aligned with that of 3D printing itself.
Its work is streamlined, efficient, and clean, with processes that are clear and defined. Perhaps most importantly, ERIKS and its customers are always in full control. "That's why we see the Ultimaker as the perfect starting point for ourselves, as well as our customers, to see opportunities, develop them, and to reap the benefits of 3D printing," Job van de Sande, Head of Technology Sealing and Polymer at ERIKS the Netherlands, said.
Carl Zeiss Optical Components manufactures microscopes, multi-sensoric machines, and optical sensors for industrial measurement and quality assurance purposes.
In line with lean production principles, an Ultimaker printer was installed in the assembly room, which meant decreased lead times from months to days, giving its team members extra time to focus on other important work.
Ultimately, however, the decision to go with Ultimaker was fairly simple: the machines hit on the company’s two magic words. "The results were reliable, and the results are repeatable," Johannes Grimm, Manager Operational Excellence at Zeiss, said. “That’s important for a stable production process.”
An adapter plate for a ZEISS microscope, printed on an Ultimaker 3D printer
The end of 2020 is also an important moment in the history of Ultimaker as we celebrate the legacy of our outgoing CEO Jos Burger, and look forward to welcoming Jürgen von Hollen to the post in January. All our best wishes go to Jos after seven years of dedicated leadership, helping Ultimaker to become the company it is today.
Despite the headwinds of the past 12 months, Ultimaker managed to maintain significant forward momentum, and this gives us great confidence embracing 2021.
With a new CEO and a unique opportunity to mark 10 years of Ultimaker, we are sure there will be plenty of exciting news to share with you throughout next year.
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