Ultimaker launches Metal Expansion Kit for professional 3D printing
3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker has expanded its platform with the launch of its Metal Expansion Kit in a bid to make metal 3D printing more accessible and affordable.
Compatible with the Ultimaker S5, the kit is designed to remove bottlenecks and limitations from the metal 3D printing processes by providing users with the items, software features, and knowledge to maximize process efficiency.
“The Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit is especially suitable for printing non-of-the-shelf parts such as tools, jigs and fixtures, replacement parts, functional prototypes, and auxiliary components,” said Andrea Gasperini, Product Manager at Ultimaker.
Ultimaker’s 3D printing portfolio
Ultimaker was founded in 2011, and has since built up a portfolio of open-material FFF 3D printers. and invested heavily in its software portfolio, including its Academy, Digital Factory, and Cura offerings. The former are geared towards helping users upskill, and those with multiple systems streamline print management in addition to data gathering and part digitization, while the latter is a modeling software designed for simplified slicing.
In April the company launched a beta version of its Cura slicing software, Cura 5.0, which featured an enhanced engine that allows users to deploy a variable line width during slicing. The latest iteration is packed with features designed to allow users to print with greater precision, and potentially even address new applications.
Just last month, the company announced a merger with Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot to form a new desktop 3D printing company, which the pair hope will enable them to accelerate innovation within the desktop 3D printing sector and advance the adoption of additive manufacturing.
The Metal Expansion Kit
Now, Ultimaker has released its Metal Expansion Kit, designed to expand the capacity of the firm’s machines beyond thermoplastics and empower engineers to produce applications capable of high mechanical stress and thermal resistance. Essentially, the kit offers a complete, easy-to-use option for users wishing to prepare and print metal parts on their Ultimaker platform.
Containing materials that are automatically recognized by the printer through NFC, the kit enables users to efficiently switch between printing plastics and metals on one machine. The kit is powered by the firm’s Cura software, and offers a set of dedicated print cores to support both the metal filament – Ultrafuse 17-4PH – and the Ultrafuse Support Layer to allow full design freedom.
Specifically for this kit, Ultimaker has developed a new Print Core DD 0.4, a highly wear-resistant core to print the abrasive support material. No permanent hardware modifications are required for the S5, as the kit’s print cores and materials can be simply replaced.
“The kit provides access to a complete and validated 3D printing workflow on an open platform that offers competitive quality and lead times normally only accessible with full in-house metal fused filament fabrication (MFFF) solutions at a much higher total cost of ownership,” said Gasperini.
“Thanks to the low total cost of ownership and savings up to 90% over small series of not-standard auxiliary components and tools, our early adopters are already realizing return-on-investment (ROI) in less than a year.”
The Metal Expansion Kit also provides users with access to Ultimaker’s 3D printing Academy content, developed together with BASF’s Forward AM. The Academy offers users a centralized an up-to-date knowledge base where they can learn the full metal 3D printing workflow on Ultimaker’s platforms. Additionally, users will be able to access BASF’s Debinding and Sintering Order Management Portal, a network of debinding and sintering services for post-processing metal parts.
The Metal Expansion Kit will be available in North America, China, the EU and UK in July 2022, with the Ultrafuse Support Layer and Print Core DD 0.4 initially only available in the EU and UK.
Alongside the launch of the kit, Ultimaker is releasing a MFFF-dedicated Ultimaker Cura 5.1 version to deliver all the features users need to prepare their metal parts on the Ultimaker platform.
“This unique all-in-one bundle by Ultimaker unlocks the metal 3D printing on open desktop platforms like Ultimaker S5, makes MFFF more accessible and affordable,” said Firat Hizal, Head of Metal Systems at BASF Forward AM. “With all the necessary components and accessories in the kit, it facilitates for users switching between printing plastics and metal parts back-to-back and helps them throughout the process step by step from A to Z.
“We are happy to complement this kit with our Ultrafuse filaments and to offer a simplified post-processing step at a competitive price through our debinding and sintering partners located in different regions.”
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Featured image shows left to right: Miguel Calvo (CTO Ultimaker), Tobias Rödlmeier (Business Development Manager – Metal Ecosystem at BASF Forward AM), Andrea Gasperini (Product Manager Ultimaker) presenting components of the Ultimaker Metal Expansion Kit, co-developed by Ultimaker and BASF Forward AM. Photo via Ultimaker.