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Cube 3 in box
This arrived at TCT Towers this morning.
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The Cube 3 in plastic packaging
The machine looks good on any desktop
A week before Christmas and a parcel arrives at TCT Towers, Jim’s late Secret Santa gift perhaps? The box is pretty darn big so he’s either gone way over the £5-£10 limit or it is full of polystyrene. Alas, no it is just a $1,000 (£839 in UK) Cube 3 from 3D Systems to try out. Christmas has come early for this 3D printing enthusiast.
First things first, the machine is packaged well and the box you could see appealing to people on a shelf at a Best Buy, expect to see it held aloft by a lucky shopper during a mad Black Friday scramble.
Once the machine is out of the box and all the peripherals are laid out in front it is time to begin the usual laborious set-up we’ve found with desktop 3D printers, in the past; loading the filament, levelling the build plate, adjusting the z gap etc. etc.
Cube 3 and all its components
The machine comes with plenty of peripherals
Comparatively, doing this on the Cube 3 is an absolute breeze, 3D Systems have gone to great lengths to make this as user-friendly as possible, particularly the loading of filament. We were treated to a preview of the Cube 3 back in January at CES by CEO Avi Reichental, who was delighted with the system they’d developed for loading filament that uses a sort-of headphone jack plugged into the top of the printer. The headphone jack is actually a disposable nozzle meaning the user never has to touch the raw plastic.
This system is my favourite system for loading material into a consumer printer I’ve come across, it is not only simple but should also prevent nozzle clogging. Unfortunately the proprietary cartridge system does hike up the cost of material but using 3D Systems cartridge recycling programme should bring that cost down a little.
Levelling the platform is a doddle and you do not need to waste material with a test print the system uses a light sensor to test how level the platform is and the z gap. The printer was ready to print within 15 minutes of unboxing.
I have mentioned before about the need for 3D printing to enter the 21st century in terms of the collaboration with smartphone technology, so rather than use the Cubify software on my Macbook I wanted to test whether I could download and print directly from the Cubify Android App.
The app is not without its flaws, 3DS could do with looking at the information in the design feed not fitting on the screen, that being said it is a minor flaw in what otherwise operates as a fantastic piece of app-based integration with a printer. I selected a file from the Cubify design feed and because the printer is on the same WiFi network was able to not only send the file directly to the 3D printer but was also able to change the colour of individual components, change the micron setting, fill pattern, density, raft and support all directly in the app.
After pressing print on the phone, you have to apply the glue to the build platform and confirm the print on the printer but after that you can walk away. The app keeps you updated on the progress and you can pause or cancel a print directly from the phone. Currently the printer is in the middle of printing and touch laywood it seems to be printing smoothly.
In conclusion this is the best true consumer process I have come across in the two years of desktop 3D printing, this isn’t for those that want to tinker and print with all types of filaments but for the average Joe picking the machine up in a local hardware store this is a huge leap in the right direction.
Ease of setup, aesthetically pleasing, two colour and two material printing at once, smartphone app integration, high printing resolution.
On the louder side when printing, proprietary cartridges not for everyone, limited material choices.