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We are the 3D printing arm of a larger company called Express Group Ltd. Fixing printers since 1988, today we are a Specialist Parts Distributor and Experts in 3D Printing.
We take quality control very seriously, which is why we are audited for ISO9001:2015 certification, this helps ensure we provide great customer service.
3D printers have been in use in the manufacturing industry for more than thirty years, but it is only really in the last ten that the market has opened itself up to other applications on a large scale, such as mould making for investment casting and tooling. Applications are also emerging for the medical and dental fields.
All of which is to say, 3D printing is no longer constrained by manufacturing limitations or design complexity; and as a result, it is seeing incredible growth.
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The Ultimaker 3 Extended is the larger version of the Ultimaker 3, launched in October 2016. It shares the same features and technologies as the 3, but boosts the build volume to 197 mm x 215 mm x 300 mm when using dual extrusion, or 215 mm x 215 mm x 300 mm when using single extrusion, so that you can create taller prints.
Industrial-Grade 3D Printing
If you are looking for an industrial-grade 3D printer, look no further. The Ultimaker 3 Extended is a huge upgrade over the Ultimaker 2+ Extended, with several new and powerful features that ensure a more accurate and consistent 3D printing experience.
With the ability to print at a layer height of 20-microns, and a new extrusion system that can reach temperatures of up to 280 ˚C, you can 3D print super-detailed and super-complex models from Nylon, CPE, ABS and PLA, and 3D print water-soluble supports from PVA for all overhangs and weak spots, to significantly improve part quality. You can 3D print two materials at once (dual extrusion) and create sophisticated models, or you can print a single filament (single extrusion) for simpler models where a faster print speed is desired.
Outstanding Features and Technology
The Ultimaker 3 Extended gets automatic bed levelling, so you don’t have to manually adjust the z height for parts, and there’s even an NFC chip built into the spool holder which communicates with NFC-equipped Ultimaker Spools and automatically adjusts the printer settings to suit. Add to that automatic Wi-Fi, USB connectivity and an Ethernet port, and you have one of the smartest 3D printers on the market.
The 3 Extended also has an on-board camera, so that you can monitor the printing process remotely. However, the stand-out feature of the Ultimaker 3 is undoubtedly the new swappable core system, which allows you to quickly and easily swap out filament cores to increase uptime by reducing the risk of clogging for a more reliable 3D printing experience.
The best 3D printers fabricate models and parts that are true to design. In other words, models and parts that are a perfect physical representation of the digital model drawn in CAD. To achieve this high degree of dimensional accuracy, printers must produce a very fine edge across the build area. This is how we perceive parts to be high quality or not when we look at them and inspect them.
Of course, multiple variables determine how fine that edge is, and you cannot always rely on the quantitative values manufacturers place on their 3D printers. If we did, every printer on the market would be pinpoint accurate.
When you are shopping for your next printer, consider this: accuracy is the value that determines how close a 3D printed part is to its digital drawing. Precision refers to the repeatability experience of a printer, or how reliable the printing experience is. If you want a consistently good 3D printing experience, you need both.
The two most common 3D printer technologies are FFF and SLA.
The most common technology is fused filament fabrication (FFF), also known as fused deposition modelling (FDM). Both technologies are in fact one in the same.
These 3D printers are the lowest cost. They melt a plastic and extrude it layer-by-layer to build up models from nothing. This process is traditionally best suited to low-cost prototyping, but advancements in technology mean this is no longer the case. There’re more variables that can affect the quality of a print with FFF than SLA, but solutions like an enclosed build chamber and heated build plate reduce this.
SLA (stereolithography) 3D printers use a laser to cure resin (liquid plastic) onto the build platform in desired areas.
Unlike with an FFF 3D printed part, parts printed by an SLA 3D printer need to be post-processed with UV light. This cures the resin, causing it to solidify and reach the mechanical properties required for the application. The method of production is cure, peel, raise, with the laser curing the resin layer by layer; the peel mechanism lifting each new layer off the surface; and the raising action allowing new resin to flow under the build platform.
3D printers are available in all shapes and sizes to suit any project, but there are two common classes: desktop, and large-format.
Desktop printers do exactly what they say on the tin - they fit on a desktop (or most workspaces) and take up around the same footprint as a large LaserJet printer. Large-format printers are four or five times bigger, enabling you to manufacture models and parts like car bumpers and snowboards in one go.
You’ll find the bigger you go, the rarer photopolymer technologies like SLA and DLP (digital light processing) become. This is because they get very expensive as you scale up. Most large-format 3D printers are of the FFF variety because the technology is cheaper and easier to produce on a large, industrial scale.