For those of you who may not know, in 2019 Ultimaker split their 3D printer line. The first line includes the Ultimaker 2+ and Ultimaker 3 - with these machines pitched at professionals and hobbyists. The second line is called the S-line, which is developed for professional use. It includes the Ultimaker S5 and two newly released products, the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle and Ultimaker S3.
The S-line boasts enhanced performance, functionality, and quality over the standard line, so if you are a professional user, the S5 or S3 is definitely what you want.
The newest printer is the S3, which was launched on September 24, 2019. In many ways, it's identical to the S5 except in one area - build volume. The Ultimaker S3's build volume is 230 x 190 x 200 mm (9.1 x 7.4 x 7.9 inches) - which is 35% smaller on the X axis, 23% smaller on the Y axis and 40% smaller on the Z axis than the S5. As a result, the S3 is also a diddier machine.
It means the S3 is a more desk-friendly product. But it also means you can't make as large parts in one sitting. If 230 x 190 x 200 mm isn't enough build volume for you, the S5's 330 x 240 x 300 mm volume is perceptively larger. The trade-off is the S5 is a bulkier machine. For offices, labs, schools and small workshops, the S3 is perfect. It's designed to sit atop a desk and give you room to spare -- perhaps for a monitor, laptop, or another Ultimaker S3.
Here's a visual size comparison between the S3, S5, and S5 Pro Bundle:
You can probably guess which is which (S5 Pro Bundle is in the middle).
Ultimaker S3 features
What makes the Ultimaker S3 special? What features help it stand out?
From the ground up, the S3 is designed and built to deliver exceptional print quality. It's built for professionals who want the ability to fabricate retail-grade products with as little fuss as possible. It's easy to use and easy to manage. You can send a file to print and let it do its thing. It has a dual-extrusion print setup which supports a primary (build) and secondary (support) material. This means you can print models with complex geometries and overhangs.
The beauty of a dual extrusion system is you can print models of greater complexity than with single extrusion. You use breakaway support material to support the raft or spaces between points. You use a soluble support material for openwork and very thin-walled models. Because the S3 supports both these materials, the creative possibilities are endless.
Going deeper into the machine itself, the S3 stands out with a few notable features which help deliver the reliable and high-performance 3D printing experience. The build speed is up to < 24 mm³/s and the nozzles have a temperature range of 180 - 280 °C with a 2-minute heat up time. The build plate is heated glass, with an operating temperature range of 20 - 140 °C and a 3-5 minute heat up time. It has a dual-geared feeder, which is reinforced for composite materials, and swappable print cores. We'll take a closer look at these features below.
Swappable print cores
These enable you to switch between abrasive, non-abrasive, regular and support materials. There are three print cores available which are as follows:
- AA - for build material
- BB - for support material
- CC - for abrasive materials
The S3 comes in the box with the Print Core AA and Print Core BB.
Reinforced feeder wheels
These are made from hardened steel. They enable the printing of abrasive materials, such as fibreglass and carbon fibre blends with the Core CC Red.
Dual filament flow sensors
These sensors monitor both filament tubes and will pause prints when one runs out. You should also receive timely alerts when the spool is running low.
Advanced active levelling
This scans the build plate and corrects any microscopic discrepancies within the Z-height. The result is a perfect first layer for perfect adhesion and stability on the build plate.
High-accuracy stepper drivers
These stepper drivers are quieter and more reliable than the drivers in the Ultimaker 3. In fact, they are borrowed directly from the Ultimaker S5.
Rigid printer frame
The frame is made from metal and is insulated to reduce vibrations while printing. It makes a small but noticeable improvement in the quality of prints.
Magnetic front door
The single glass door has a magnetic latch which keeps the door closed during the print process. It forms a tight air seal to control the build environment perfectly.
Internal power supply
A lot of 3D printers have a hefty power brick. Not so with the Ultimaker S3, which has an internal power supply. Just plug it into the wall and you're good to go.
Setting her up
The Ultimaker S3 is one of the nicest 3D printers to use from the moment you get it.
Let's start with the packaging itself. It comes in an inconspicuous brown box, but there are four plastic locking clips at the bottom which pop out. The box lid then lifts off, revealing the shiny new printer within.
Once you have the Ultimaker S3 out of the box you're up and running within 10 minutes. The printer comes fully assembled with a separate smaller box with all the accessories, including the build plate, which is the first thing you install. You then install the spool holder on the back, plug in the NFC cable, and turn the S3 on. Once you do, the S3 touchscreen boots up.
You're then guided through the setup process on the touchscreen. The setup wizard is easy to follow. The first thing it asks you to do is open the fan bracket which is where you insert the print core. It gives you image illustrations of what it wants you to do so you don't get anything wrong. In total, you'll spend around 10 minutes setting up the S3. It's all straightforward.
Interface and usability
The 4.7" touchscreen is a dream to use, letting you control the printer hardware, set up a print, and change configurations with presets for different Ultimaker filaments. Alternatively, you can control the print process using Ultimaker Connect. Ultimaker Connect is Ultimaker's own printer management software. It works with Ultimaker Cura, which is Ultimaker's slicing software which can be installed for Windows, Mac or Linux.
Cura works with SolidWorks, Siemens NX, Autodesk Inventor, and more, with support for TL, OBJ, X3D, 3MF, BMP, GIF, JPG, and PNG file types. In other words, you can print virtually any type of file or drawing on the S3. It's all good.
The Ultimaker S3 has an open filament system which means it can print filaments from Ultimaker or other manufacturers. However, the only warranty-supported filaments are Ultimaker's own which is an important caveat.
The official materials include Ultimaker PLA, Tough PLA, ABS, Nylon, CPE, CPE+, PC, PP, TPU 95A, PVA and Breakaway.
Ultimaker S3 specifications
- Build volume: 230 x 190 x 200 mm (9 x 7.4 x 7.9 inches)
- Assembled dimensions: 394 x 489 x 637 mm (15.5 x 19.3 x 25.1 inches)
- Technology: Fused filament fabrication (FFF)
- Nozzle temperature range: 180 - 280 °C
- Build speed: < 24 mm³/s
- Build plate: 20 - 140 °C heated glass build plate
- Filament diameter: 2.85 mm
- Weight: 14.4 kg (31.7 lbs)
- Software: Ultimaker Cura – print preparation software, Ultimaker Connect – printer management software
- Layer resolution: 0.25 mm nozzle: 150 - 60 micron, 0.4 mm nozzle: 200 - 20 micron, 0.6 mm nozzle: 300 - 20 micron, 0.8 mm nozzle: 600 - 20 micron
- XYZ resolution: 6.9, 6.9, 2.5 micron
- Feeder type: Dual-geared feeder, reinforced for composite materials
- Display: 4.7-inch (11.9 cm) colour touchscreen
- Print cores: Swappable print cores
- Print head: Dual extrusion print head with an auto-nozzle lifting system and swappable print cores
- Nozzle diameters: 0.25 mm, 0.4 mm, 0.6 mm, 0.8 mm
What's in the box?
The Ultimaker S3 comes with all the below as standard:
- Ultimaker S3 3D Printer
- Glass build plate x 2
- Spool holder with material guide
- Power cable
- Ethernet cable
- USB stick
- Print core AA 0.4
- Print core BB 0.4
- XY calibration sheet - glass build plate
- Calibration card
- 3 x Nozzle cover
- 1 x 750g reel of Tough PLA
- 1 x 750g reel of PVA
- Glue stick
- Hex screwdriver 2 mm