Ultimaker and 3D Systems are two of the major players in the 3D printing industry. Both of these companies offer several different models and choice of accessories for your 3D printing needs and have an excellent reputation for providing value.
I decided to compare two of the most popular units available, the Ultimaker 2 and the Cubify CubeX Duo. Let’s see what each unit has to offer and perhaps the areas where they might be lacking a bit.
This Ultimaker 3D printer is a good match for either professionals such as engineers or artists or individuals who desire higher quality 3D printing capabilities. The unit has received above average marks by many experienced users who have used it for both personal and commercial purposes. The Ultimaker 2 is compatible with several different types of filament and can handle printing designs that require a high-level of detail. Resolutions down to 0.02 mm are possible, the unit is able to handle an acceptable level of volume type printing projects and is very efficient overall.
The Cubify CubeX Duo is widely known as one of the better 3D printers available on the market. The unit is primarily for home users or users that need professional style 3D printing that does not extend quite to the commercial requirements of larger printers. It is capable of extremely high resolutions, comes with dual printing heads and is approximately $1,000 less than its newer version, the Cubify CubeX Trio. For those who are interested in high-quality 3D printing, the CubeX Duo is worth considering.
The Cubify CubeX Duo comes with software called Invent and is compatible with Windows and Mac based operating systems but does not work with Linux. The unit does not connect to your PC via USB cable as it uses the available SD card input as the primary source of data input and transfer.
You can use PLA or ABS filament types with this printer but to utilize ABS properly, you will need to purchase an additional heated printing bed as an accessory. The Invent software overall is easy to use and most experienced 3D printers and even beginners will find you can learn your way around in just a few minutes.
The printer is relatively heavy weighing almost eighty pounds but it is hard to argue with the extremely rigid and sturdy construction of the unit. Simply by feeling how the parts come together and the overall solid feel you can tell it is made to last.
The Ultimaker 2 has a relatively easy setup process that consists of only a few steps before you are ready to begin your first 3D printing job. When you first unbox the unit, you simply need to connect it to a source of power and then begin downloading the printer’s system management software.
The unit does not include an auto-leveling function so you may need to manually adjust the leveling of the print area before starting your first project. However, it is not hard to accomplish this task in just a few minutes and Ultimaker provides clear instructions on how to do so. The Ultimaker 2 has an available SD card slot making it possible to use the unit as a standalone printer with no USB connection but it comes with a USB connection as well.
Features and Printing Operations
The CubeX Duo offers some of the best resolutions of any 3D printer in the same price range and category. As you might have guessed from its name, “Duo”, the printer comes with dual print heads as opposed to the Trio which has three. The Duo can print products up to 9.5 inches in height and printing times can vary widely depending on the resolution and detail involved. Projects that are extremely detailed with high resolution can sometimes take as much as 10 hours to complete. Given the size capacity and quality of print, this is actually not all that long to wait compared to some other models that do not even offer comparable quality. Resolutions down to 100 microns are possible with the CubeX Duo making it possible to produce very high-quality 3D printed products.
“The software and mechanics of the printer work well together as we did not have any issues with failed printing jobs or having to start over due to some type of error, which can happen often with other models.”
The unit has an LCD screen which allows you to control printer functions with ease once you get accustomed to efficiently selecting options on the screen, it tends to require more pressure than other on-screen type control panels.
While the software is easy to use and printer functions overall seem to be relatively error-free, the Invent software is a bit limited in what features it offers. You adjust resolution and scale design sizes but it is not possible to adjust temperatures or to make many other customizations.
- Excellent high-resolution prints
- Software very easy to learn and to use
- Simple but limited adjustments and customizations
- Printing speed better than most other models in its category
- Uses .stl file types
- ABS or PLA compatible
- You can choose the active printer head
- Compatible with Windows and Mac but Linux
- Printing height up to 9.5 inches
- Resolutions down to 100 microns are possible
This 3D printer comes with Ultimaker’s proprietary system management software called Cura. The software is included free of charge and may be downloaded for various operating systems including Windows based systems, Mac or even Linux. You can make many types of adjustments to print designs using the software such as scaling the size and moving the design in various ways. Additionally, you can import .obj files along with .stl files.
The layout of the user interface is relatively simple which limits the number of selections, keeping things easy to navigate and learn. Although, the software does allow users a surprising amount of customization choices which is always welcome when working with a large variety of 3D printing designs.
“Resolutions are possible all the way down to a minimum of only 0.02 mm which results in higher quality printing and better overall finished products.”
This is especially true when compared to many other 3D printer models in its category.
Another nice touch is the software displays total estimated printing job times both before the job begins and while in progress. For larger jobs the times can sometimes not be very accurate but overall it is a nice feature to have while working with different designs.
- Professional quality printing
- PLA and ABS compatible
- Impressive printing speed when using lower resolutions
- Dual print heads
- Noise level is not ideal
- A good fit for both professionals and hobbyists
- Printing dimensions-9 x 8.7 x 8 in.
- You may make corrections in-process
CubeX: The CubeX Duo software is a bit more limited than what is ideal for a printer in its price range. We would like to see more customization features possible and the ability to work with designs in additional ways.
Ultimaker 2: The noise level when using the Ultimaker 2 is less than ideal and may become a problem if you are in an office area or home area that needs a relatively low level of disruption. It certainly is not at a totally unacceptable level like a loud stereo but it is unquestionably noticeable and could disturb those who are close to your working area.
Final Verdict: Ultimaker 2 vs CubeX Duo
If you are new to the 3D printing world then you may want to save a few dollars and will find the limited functionality of CubeX Duo acceptable.
However, for those who are more experienced, the Ultimaker 2 is probably a better choice.