UltiMaker has released a new 3D printer, the Method XL.
It’s still a bit strange to me to hear UltiMaker announcing what might have been a MakerBot product, but after the company’s recent rebranding, this is what we’ll see going forward.
As you might imagine, the Method XL is very similar to the earlier Method X 3D printer, but with a difference: it’s quite a bit larger.
Whereas the Method X’s build volume is 190 x 190 x 196 mm (and a bit less if using dual extrusion mode), the new Method XL’s build volume is much larger 305 x 305 x 320 mm. In terms of volume, this is over 4X larger.
There are numerous similarities between the Method X and Method XL. The 5” color touchscreen is identical, as is the software environment for preparing and dispatching jobs. Both machines offer WiFi, Ethernet and USB connectivity.
Both devices sport dual swappable extruders, where you choose the right toolhead for the material being used. The dual arrangement allows for the use of soluble support material, and therefore the ability to easily 3D print highly complex geometries. The maximum 300C hot end temperature should handle quite a few different materials.
UltiMaker Method XL Differences
There are some curious differences between the two machines, however.
One of the key features of the Method X is its precision thermal controls. That machine could heat its build chamber to 100C, making it easy to 3D print a wide variety of materials with little risk of warping.
I should point out that the Method X does not have a heated print bed, which at first you might find surprising, as that’s a standard feature on most FFF devices. Instead the machine heats the ENTIRE build chamber, not just the zone near the print plate. This provides a far more consistent environment for 3D printing, which leads to higher quality prints.
The new Method XL also has an actively heated build chamber, but in addition has a heated print plate. Whereas the Method X can actively heat the chamber to 110C, the Method XL’s print plate and heaters can raise the chamber’s temperature to 100C, with a plate surface maximum temperature of 105C.
This is a bit of a change, as the Method X’s unique ability seemed to center around the heated chamber approach. However, the Method XL is much larger and perhaps a different solution was suitable: heaters AND a heated plate might warm up the chamber faster, perhaps. Either way, a chamber of 100C is likely more than sufficient to quash any warping that might occur.
That should be good news, as the company has continued to grow their material partnerships with many providers. Nowadays there is quite a variety of certified materials that could be used on the Method devices. One benefit of inheriting Method X technology is that the Method XL should be able to make use of the same materials without issue.
UltiMaker positions the Method XL as a “bridge” between professional and industrial 3D printer. In other words, they’re expecting customers to consider using the Method XL as a low-volume production device.
The Method XL is quite a jump up from the Method X, and that’s good news for UltiMaker. Competing machines have generally grown in size over the past few years, and having a sub-200mm device is becoming rare. A 300mm device such as the Method XL will very likely play well in today’s professional market.