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When it comes to 3D printing it’s hard to keep up with the newest features and cutting edge printers. Often, we lose sight of how high quality printing has been falling in price dramatically over the last couple of years.
But should you settle on a lower cost printer just to save a bit of cash or are the higher end options worth the wait until you can gain the funds to have something you would end up being much happier with in the long run?
The two printers we’ll be comparing today are the affordable Robo 3D Printer R1 at 770 dollars to the enthusiast favorite Ultimaker 2 at 2,500 dollars, both very competent machines in their own right.
Overview of the Ultimaker 2 and Robo 3D Printers
The company Robo 3D was founded by students at San Diego State University who were frustrated with the overly expensive 3D printer offered by their campus and knew that their had to a way to get this into everyday peoples hands with affordable and reliable machines.
hat’s exactly what they set out to do in 2012 with their Kickstarter, setting a goal of 49,000 Dollars. They ended up raising a staggering 650,000 Dollars absolutely exceeding their already sizable goal.
With all the pressure of being thrust into the limelight and under heavy scrutiny by now expecting customers they delivered their first and, to date, only printer; The Robo 3D R1 (Full Review Here). Boasting some of what is usually much more expensive like heated build platform, 6 month parts replacement warranty and fully open source hardware.
Compared to the new to the scene Robo 3D Ultimaker seems like they’ve been around forever though they only showed up around the middle of 2011.
Having command of much more respect and a couple generations of hardware under their belt they are quickly becoming an almost household name. This Dutch company has captured the hearts and wallets of most avid tinkerers and hobbyist; for good reason.
The Ultimaker 2 is one of the most reliable and versatile printers around with a huge and devoted community to help you through almost any and all problems you could encounter with it. Arguably the best feature of the printer is the support and community built around it of experienced users, making it a very easy high end printer to jump into. It’s easy to see why this printer was voted the Best Enthusiast Printer of 2015 by 3D hubs.
Comparison: Ultimaker vs Robo 3D Printer
While at first glance it seems that these printers are close in some areas, you should be aware that many customers reported issues with Robo 3D R1’s wiring and stability when it came to printing consistently at high detail. While this could be expected from a much cheaper product it is still a negative quality that should be considered when comparing them.
|Robo 3D R1:||Ultimaker 2:|
|Build Volume:||254 x 229 x 203 mm||223 x 223 x 205mm|
|Build Speed:||50 mm/s||30 – 300 mm/s|
|Layer Height:||100 microns||up to 20 Microns|
|X, Y Accuracy:||unlisted||.00125 mm|
|Desktop Space:||463 x 558 x 381mm||357 x 342 x 388mm|
|Build Platform:||Heated platform, acrylic||Heated platform, Acrylic|
|Nozzle Diameter:||0.4 mm||0.4 mm|
|Connectivity:||USB, SD card||SD card only|
|Filaments:||ABS, PLA||PLA, ABS, U-PET|
|Auto bed Level:||Yes||No|
Robo 3D R1:
|– Multiple options for connectivity and loading files to print.- Fairly accurate, especially for the price.||– Takes much tinkering to get working properly, not the easiest printer to start with.- Very slow print speed at only 50 mm/s- No LCD, though allows SD card printing.|
|– High precision, and smoother surfaces on most 3D prints.- LCD screen for selecting file from SD card and to change settings.- Handles bridging and overhangs very well with dual fans.
|– Only uses SD card for loading files to print.- Single extruder.- Lacks auto leveling platform.|
Pros and Cons Discussion
These printers are quite competitive even with this large gap in pricing, it’s always good to see the budget printing options keeping the more expensive ones on their toes. The Robo 3D offers a larger print volume, with an expense in lost quality and slower printing to maintain stability.
It also uses an entirely open source platform with the Arduino microcontroller powering the printer; allowing for almost limitless customizations, many of which people have already implemented on their own printers and made the plans available online. This is probably the most impressive feature of the printer allowing for inexpensive and useful upgrades, but letting you leave out things you’d not require.
The Ultimaker 2 on the other hand is far more reliable at prints at a much higher rate with better overhangs and far thinner print layers. You’d expect the machine a couple thousand dollars more expensive to be at least slightly better, while this is true it’s also at a high price which may exclude many of the newcomers who think you require the highest grade equipment to even think about printing. You certainly get what you pay for, the Ultimaker’s heated bed and high precision are unparalleled by many competitors.
A Matter of Preference?
In the world of home 3D printing you are always faced with a price versus performance comparison. This is no different; while the Robo 3D has it’s quirks it’s not a pushover with most of the trimmings we’ve come to expect from home printing, with the added benefit of a heated bed.
The Ultimaker is definitely your friend if you are looking for a no hassle no compromise printing experience. The Robo 3D R1 is their if you’re willing to work for the best experience possible, and absolutely not for those who frustrate easily.
Robo 3D R1 includes:
- Power supply (available with either EU, UK, US, or AU Adapter)
- Online manual available.
- Spool holder, for free spinning reels.
- SD card for loading prints.
- USB drive.
- 300g spool of filament.
- Case of tools for maintaining the printer.
Ultimaker 2 includes:
- Power supply (available with either EU, UK, US, or AU Adapter)
- USB for software updates on machine.
- Full color manual, also available online.
- 0.75 Kg Filament reel.
- D card for loading files to the machine (capacity not listed)
- Glue stick for applying to the build platform before printing.
- Grease for axis rails and bearings.
- Hex wrenches for assembly and changing parts.
Final Verdict: Ultimaker 2 versus Robo 3D Printer R1
This comparison has left me at odds, normally I would prefer to settle on the affordable option and leave the upgrades and added features. Although with the amount of trouble many people have faced with this machine it’s a difficult one to recommend spending such an amount of money on.
Meanwhile the Ultimaker is recommended by almost everyone who owns one considered one of the best printers all around and even though it costs a bit extra it’s such an ease of use machine anyone could use it with a little training and experience.
I heartily recommend the Ultimaker 3D to save yourself from many of the headaches that come with a bargain bin printer, between time spent fixing and calibrating the Robo 3D you’d be much happier to have a printer that works all the time optimally. So the definitive winner is the reliable Ultimaker 2, though if Robo 3D steps it up – even a little bit – they will be a great option.
You can check out the latest pricing on the Ultimaker 2 here.