Q: Tell us about Ultimaker, what sets you apart from your peers?
A: Ultimaker has been described as the fastest, most accurate desktop 3D printer. We have an open source philosophy which runs from our printers to our award winning open source software Cura. By focusing on quality and reliability and listening to our community Ultimaker goes from strength to strength and is excited about giving people the chance to unleash their imagination in an easy and affordable manner.
Q: What have been the most significant technological developments in the education sector in 2013?
A: Unquestionably the biggest ‘game changer’ is affordable 3D printing. Teachers and pupils now have the opportunity to take learning and development into new areas as the limitation is now simply imagination rather than technical skills or financial constraints. We are already getting fantastic feedback from education institutions using Ultimakers. Not only are classrooms inspired by the possibilities of 3D printing but also traditional subjects are being reinvigorated by the chance to make learning opportunities more tangible and interactive.
Q: What are the latest challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
A: Having just officially launched in the UK, our biggest challenge is sharing the Ultimaker philosophy with as many people as we can. Demand for our printers is very high and the Open Source element means that everybody from schools and universities through to the individual consumers can enjoy converting their favourite designs into 3D models for free once they have access to an Ultimaker.
Q: What are your biggest achievements this year, and what can we expect to see in 2014?
A: Our greatest achievement this year has been the response we have received. Whether it’s a trade show, free demo, our short term loan scheme or unveiling the Ultimaker2, the amount of positive responses we have received has been phenomenal. 2014 is about growing the community and will see us launch the Ultimaker CREATE Education project which we are very excited about.
Q: How will 3D printing in education change the job market in the future?
A: It is said that 75% of the jobs that students starting school will have when they graduate don’t exist today. Couple that with the fact 3D printing is currently the fastest growing job sector online and it is inevitable that schools will embrace 3D printing as part of their core curriculum. Educators have an obligation to prepare students for future employment and 3D printing and the developments which Ultimaker are helping to pioneer, represents the perfect affordable way to collaborate and play a key part in the next industrial revolution.
Q: Is the education industry an appropriate environment for open source?
A: Education and open source ideals have the same fundamental value – sharing knowledge. At Ultimaker, we believe learning and development happen when we collaborate and share our understanding. This can’t happen if you have a closed system and commercialise everything because it denies people access and stunts progress. Participation and collaboration are essential to all vibrant classrooms and these qualities are the reason Ultimaker is so passionately committed to being Open Source and why education is the perfect environment. Every teacher, every pupil, interacting for free to set free their creativity. As we say imagine it, make it!