UltiMaker announced something quite intriguing: Cura support for MakerBot equipment.
Specifically it’s the Method 3D printer, which was one of the professional devices originally developed by MakerBot, but then folded in with the Ultimaker line.
Up to now the Method has required the use of MakerBot CloudPrint, a cloud-based slicing system.
“In the latest Cura 5.6 beta release, users can now find new print profiles for the Method X and Method XL 3D printers as well as new material profiles for ABS-R, ABS-CF (Carbon Fiber), and RapidRinse. These profiles are as professionally tuned and extensively tested as the profiles for the S series 3D printers and materials, ensuring that Method users get the same level of experience as S series users. Method users can leverage the power of Cura, which has over 600 settings, for complete 3D printing flexibility. With regular updates to add new features, like tree supports and the Arachne slicing engine, Cura continuously provides users with the latest capabilities to enable 3D printing success.”
This means that Method operators no longer must use CloudPrint and can use UltiMaker Cura instead.
That doesn’t mean CloudPrint is going away. Instead both can be used to prepare jobs for Method devices, and CloudPrint will continue to offer a variety of advanced services not yet available in UltiMaker Cura, including remote management. For some operations, that would be desirable, but others may find using UltiMaker Cura to be more familiar.
My thought is that companies using only Method equipment would likely find continued use of CloudPrint to be appropriate. However, for shops with mixed equipment there could be another answer.
Most FFF equipment today handle jobs prepared by one of PrusaSlicer, UltiMaker Cura or Simplify3D. All of these tools have similar interfaces and operational paradigms. There are other more niche tools, and they too follow the same pattern.
CloudPrint is quite different to use, and has a very different interface than any other slicing tool I’ve used. It seems to me that any workshop using standard tools would find CloudPrint a bit confusing, so the ability to use UltiMaker Cura would be quite welcome. In many workshops this might mean that only a single slicing tool is required.
In retrospect, this development is not a complete surprise. At the time of the merger, there were two notable software environments:
- UltiMaker Cura, which offers an easy interface, wide machine compatibility and advanced features;
- MakerBot CloudPrint, which offers advanced cloud-based workgroup-oriented features
It seemed to me at the time that eventually these would be combined into something that leveraged the best parts of each. This week’s announcement could be the first step of several towards a unified environment that offers an advanced, cloud-based solution for both individuals and workgroups.