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ULTIMAKER FDM MACHINES
We run four Ultimaker printers - two Ultimaker 2s, one Ultimaker 3 and one Ultimaker 3 Extended. The Ultimaker family of machines lead the Prosumer market place - that is machines which are accessible to the serious hobbyist or educator, but increasingly are selling to companies wanting robust prototyping machines. They are FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) machines, which run off reels of filament, which is melted by a hot nozzle and deposited onto a glass print plate, where the filament almost instantaneously solidifies. Three of these machines can handle designs up to 20 cm cubed, while the Extended machine can handle heights of up to 30 cm. The Ultimaker 3 and 3 Extended are both twin nozzle machines, which allow us to print complicated structures which require scaffolding/support structures during the print process. The second nozzle allows the scaffolding to be printed in materials which can either be peeled or washed away after printing. The second nozzle also allows us to print in two colours. However, this is still of relatively limited use as we can’t yet get colour spectrum effects, but we can print distinct features of designs in contrasting colours. There is an ever-increasing range of filaments on offer. There is at least one company which will make up filament to whatever colour is requested. As far as material properties are concerned, these machines can print in a wide variety of filaments including ABS, CPE, HIPS, Nylon, PLA, PC and PP.
We have added a new resin printer to our armoury, thanks to a grant from the Marine Challenge Fund. This is part of the ERDF's European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2022. This has allowed us to purchase a Photocentric Liquid Crystal HR2. This has a print envelope of 19*14*27 cm, thus allowing us to print items in resin, which are quite substantial in comparison with a lot of competing printers. This kind of printing is not as flexible as our mainstream FDM output (Fused Deposition Modeling) in which a nozzle deposits melted filament layer by layer. However, resin printing comes into its own as one works with designs with details going finer than 1mm. It also tends to produce items which are relatively strong since it is built up in layers which fuse more tightly than FDM printers can normally manage,