The main reasons we love the Ultimaker 2 3D printer can be summed up in three words: Philosophy, Filament and Education.
Ultimaker was founded on the principles of Open Source. The founder of the 3D open source project (called RepRap) is Adrian Bowyer whose philosophy is all about creating wealth through collaboration. This represents a new way of doing business. Traditionally, big business is powerful because it protects its technology through secrecy and intellectual property. Open source allows technology to develop through collaboration and anyone can use this technology.
Ultimaker and Makerbot have developed their products by using this open source technology. Both businesses are new and have emerged from the RepRap project. Makerbot has been bought by a big company (Stratysis) and is now beginning to follow the more traditional route, which will not benefit consumers in the long term.
We love Ultimaker because it still embraces the open source philosophy.
In the spirit of open source, the Ultimaker 2 3D printer can work with a variety of different filament types. This is contrary to traditional business models where consumable parts are uniquely designed for a specific product. For example, normal printers require specific ink cartridges which consumers must buy at any price the manufacturer dictates. This ethos has crept into the 3D printer business for most other manufacturers.
We love Ultimaker printer because it deliberately avoids forcing consumers to buy a specific (and expensive) filament.
Ultimaker sees the benefit of 3D printing to the learning process, particularly for children and students. Being able to 3D print a product and put it to the test lets learners see weaknesses in their design and why products are designed the way they are. They can easily tweak designs and have another go.
Ultimaker in the UK has developed a resource centre aimed at Education through their Create programme. This helps teachers and is open source, so that lesson plans and techniques can be shared.
We love Ultimaker because it is investing in our future through education.