As those of you who read my posts know, I am a big fan of any company that understands how to turn technologies into products. And 3D Systems seems to be on a mission to create a home product for the mainstream market that answers the demands of consumers. Families without an engineer or maker in-house, schools, seniors, or just about anyone it seems will be able to immediately enter the 3D Printing world with the new Cube® 3.
The Cube® 3 seems to have taken a page from the Apple design book. It’s beautiful, cool, sleek, and looks like something Mom wouldn’t mind having in her kitchen or living room. To up the cool factor, global entertainer and entrepreneur, will.i.am and 3DS CEO, Avi Reichental will unveil the new machine to the press on Wednesday January 8 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.Although I always felt the first Cubes were a good value at $1299 for the non-techie user, 3D Systems is promising a price tag below $1,000 which brings 3D Printing within reach for the casual user. The new machines are scheduled to ship in the 2nd quarter of 2014.
Yes, the specs will make techies happy. Print speed is twice as fast in a build area 6” cubed. In a huge move toward 3D Printing 2.0, the Cube now can print 2 materials and up to 2 colors simultaneously. And color options increase to 25, with higher resolution 75 micron layer thickness.
But it’s the nod to customer needs that I find most impressive. Meeting the IEC 60950 Printer Safety Requirements, the new Cube is kid-safe making it a great choice for the home, schools or libraries. While many hackers bemoan the higher cost of the print cartridge system over open spools, the “instant load”, moisture-lock cartridges really are foolproof for the novice to the field. Auto-leveling is another great innovation that will help the mainstream market adopt 3d Printing technology.
That all said, this is still extrusion-based 3D Printing and EVERY 3D Printer that uses extrusion runs the risk of nozzle clogging. It will be interesting to see if there have been any improvements in that area, which is basic to the design. Perhaps the planned increase in customer support via a hotline and email are a nod to this Achilles heel of 3D Printing.
You’ll be hearing more, once I get a chance to play with the new Cube, but in the meantime you can catch a broadcast of 3D Systems new products at CES 2014 by visiting 3dsystems.com/ces and clicking on the link to view the broadcast starting at 4:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 7, 2014.