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Impressions: 3D Systems Cube 3 3rd Generation 3D Printer


Impressions: 3D Systems Cube 3 3rd Generation 3D Printer

In late April I learned that 3D Systems had discontinued their Cube 3 personal 3D printers.

They come in white (392200) and gray (391100).

I won the eBay bid at under $400 for a new printer with free shipping.  Within a week I was printing parts.

Funny enough, when the printer got here, I was printing parts for work within 3 hours.  The real slowdown was due to trying to find the activation button on the redirected web page.  Phone support was able to help in quick order even on a Saturday.  D'oh!  ...the tab was right there staring at me.

There are three reasons I justified this printer:

  • It is a dual extruder.
  • 70um resolution option.
  • Wash-away support material.

Price helped pull the trigger, of course, but this is not just an economy printer.  It may well be the opposite as it does use proprietary cartridges.  And everything I read is that this is a very difficult remaining filament tracking module to defeat.  Reports of clogged cartridges are also not exaggerated.  However, since most of us have a pretty good technical background, these can be fixed without too much trouble.  In the end, I find that the monies paid for the cartridge is also time saved.  If I spend a 1/2 hour futzin' with removing supports vs. soaking it overnight, the washable material paid for itself.

For those of you that have "experimented" with 3D printers and tweaking their machine to perfection, you know that your time is not compensated for.  And I am suggesting that plug-n-play has its own value.  What I really found amazing with this printer is its accuracy out of the box.  It comes with 2 full cartridges and everything you need to get started.

Consider this printer at full retail would cost too much.  There are a lot of printers in the $1K range that can blow away the specs on this one.  But 70um resolution is nothing to sneeze at.  All the normal extruder consumables are included in the cartridges.  But the prices here have dropped like a rock.  And that is the reason for this document.  You can get this printer to your door for less than $250 at the moment on eBay.  Yes, I bought a backup since the consumables in the new printer easily adds up to this price-point.

The software is simple and somewhat archaic.  It never shows you the supports or sidewalk (raft).  Duplication of parts is painful!  but it is what it is.  It is simply a visual driver with options.

There are SDK's being developed for use with 3DBUILDER in Windows 10.  This might really open up the printer in the future.  But for now, this is a closed system that simply works.  The only worthwhile recommendation I found on YouTube was using MeshMixer to do support generation.  Haven't tried printing a part processed with MeshMixer but it appears to be a reasonable companion solution.

Almost forgot; this is a reasonably simple unit to use remotely.  With echoes from the printer-whirrrrrr of the '80's, this thing wants a private location.  Don't try soundproofing by boxing it since cool air is a plus in good prints unless you flow a lot of air through the box.  I have a mud room that does the trick.  So far, the wireless option is doing well.  I haven't figured out yet what causes it to loose the connectivity information between power-ups but this is not the norm.  And I have no idea what "AD-HOC" WIFI is.  Only had one print in 2 months not make it through over the network.  I may have been impatient, but it did go fine with the USB stick.  It was rather sizable when it seemed stuck at 99% transferred.

My wanting to post this document was all dependent on a reply I received this morning.  The printer only has a 3 month warrantee.  When I unboxed up the second printer, I noticed on the bottom that there are M6 mounting holes.  Cool, I can use those for a printer stand.  I started printing the test print in the new printer so I looked at the bottom of the original printer to measure the mounting hole spacing.  I noticed a cracked piece of plastic at the print-head.  I send the information to 3D Systems and this morning I was informed they would replace the printer.  Within an hour, I received everything I needed to send the printer back and received the shipping notice for the replacement.  Very reasonable and simple process.

If you've been on the fence on a 3D printer, I do recommend this one.  If you do decide to give this a go, please post your experience here.  If you already have one, post your thoughts.  If you have a lot of experience with 3D printing and have no love for these little personal printers, feel free to start your own document

3D Systems Cube 3rd generation dual extrude printer - YouTube

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