3D Systems Cube 3
Bringing 3D printing technology to the masses is the mission statement of every company exhibiting within the CES 2014 3D Printing TechZone — which TCT + Personalize is sponsoring — which is why 3D Systems has chosen to reveal the third incarnation of its consumer flagship Cube printer at the international event.
Unveiling the third generation system, 3D Systems stated that the machine is the first plug and play device of its kind priced competitively at under $1,000 (£610, €733) — quite how much under $1000 hasn't yet been announced however.
Equipped with 3D Systems' "simultaneous multi-material and dual-colour printing capability", the new Cube 3 prints at speeds that are "up to twice as fast as others in its class", and in expanded, finer resolution print modes and with greater materials selection. The 75µm layer thickness is quite a coup given that MakerBot's systems boast only 100µm for the Replicator and 200µm for the Mini.
In the company's press release, Chief Marketing Officer at 3D Systems Cathy Lewis commented: "Cube 3 makes home 3D printing real and easy. For the first time it's affordable and simple to print what you use and wear, print for your home and for those you love, all with over 20 colours in synchronous multi-materials and colour combinations, in three dimensions." Sounds fabulous — so much so that we decided to check it out before CES opened!
On an extended booth tour with 3DS' CEO Avi Reichental, TCT were shown in depth the new cartridge loading system for the Cube 3 — and we must say we were impressed. The slick circular cartridges come with a pre-loaded 'headphone jack' style connector, meaning that users simply plug the connector into the top of the print head and voila, the filament is loaded. Gone is the fiddly job of feeding filament through a tube and easing it into the extruder.
The Cube 3 still uses glue to help prints stick to the non-heated build plate, but according to Avi this has also been updated but remains water soluble and child-friendly.
The design of the first Cube became iconic (just search '3D printer' in any stock illustration library) and the most recent version ups the ante again with a slick looking outer than fits the cube neatly into the range. According to Avi both Janne Kytannen (who joined 3DS when Freedom of Creation was acquired) and Scott Summit (who became part of the team with the acquisition of Bespoke Innovations) have been involved in developing and implementing a cohesive design language that can be seen across the company's industrial, prosumer and consumer output.
In all the Cube 3 appears to be a paradigm shift in the consumer 3D printer market, at once more stylish and easier to to use than ever and at the same time more functional and capable. At the sub-$1000 price point it exemplifies the pace of change in this section of 3D printing.
According to the company's press release: "The Cube meets all IEC 60950 Printer Safety Requirements making it safe for 'at home' use by adults and children alike. Current Cube printers received “easiest to use” and “most reliable” awards from most leading publications and the new Cube 3 is even easier to own and simpler to use with advanced mobile printing capabilities through seamless integration with a new Cubify mobile app along with higher speed WIFI and Bluetooth connectivity. Cube 3 features an auto-leveling printpad and easier supports removal for the delivery of more complex prints."
Cube 3 Features:
Print Experience: Delivers up to 2X faster print speed and accuracy than competitors for printed parts up to 6” cubed.
Simultaneous Dual Color + Multi-Material = More Choice: The Cube now prints in two materials and up to two colors, simultaneously using compostable PLA and recyclable ABS plastics. Both materials are available in 25 different colour cartridges. The Cube offers a choice of print mode fill density: lite, medium and solid in both PLA and ABS plastics with optional easy, breakaway supports for the most complex prints.
Instant Load Cartridge: Instant material loading is now easier than changing an ink cartridge. Moisture-lock cartridges ensure extended shelf life and total material usage, improving print quality and sustainability. The printer detects material type automatically based on the cartridge, eliminating the need to change print settings. The cartridges are easy to load and store while preserving the life and quality of the materials.
Kid-Safe for everyone: Cube meets all IEC 60950 Printer Safety Requirements, making it the only consumer 3D printer that is kid-safe for the home.
Convenience in the palm of your hand: Enjoy the freedom of mobile printing direct from the Cubify app for iOS, Android and Windows. Find new things to print in the curated brand collections or browse the Design Feed for inspiration to add to your Shelf. Prep and print from your smartphone direct to Cube.
Easier to Use, Sleeker Design: Building on its iconic design, Cube 3 features a new color touchscreen with an intuitive user interface and sleek LEDs highlighting prints in action and is equipped with faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, an auto-leveling printpad and easy supports removal for complex prints.
Sustainable Systems: Send back your empty cartridges to designated 3DS locations for reuse in exchange for a discount on new cartridges and return your used ABS and PLA prints for responsible recycling or composting by 3DS. All Cubes are shipped from local distribution centers reducing freight. Cube 3 comes with a proprietary print pad that conserves power compared to other 3D printers. 3DS is committed to making prosumer 3D printing affordable, safe and sustainable.
Support: Cube hotline and email support is available everyday from 3:00 am to 8:00 pm EST, providing 16 hours of service each day.
The company plans to commence commercial shipment of its Cube 3 during the second quarter of 2014.