Though you may not see its likes in every household for a while (if ever), the Cube 3d Printer is easy enough to operate, and its results generally pleasing enough that it's a good choice for hobbyists and artists alike—as well as some daring consumers who are willing to put up with some setup and operational hassles to get a taste of this exciting technology.
The Cube 3D Printer is easy enough to set up that someone with patience and the ability to follow directions should be able to get it up and running without too much trouble. That wasn't the case with the when we looked at it last year. But though the Cube is relatively easy to use for a 3D printer, the printing process—what with gluing the print bed, washing it off, setting and resetting the gap, and getting the filament to feed, not to mention troubleshooting bad prints—is still too involved and onerous to be a true consumer product at this point. That's probably more a reflection of the state of the art of 3D printing than the Cube 3D Printer itself, with 3D printers closer in spirit to a table saw you keep in the wood-working corner in your garage than to the computer you keep in your family room. We are just starting to get 3D printers in for testing and the state of the art is changing fast. We will update this review as more competitors reach the market.
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Between our official tests and additional work, we printed about 20 objects with the Cube 3D Printer, including an owl, a teacup, a Buddha head, a pyramid, a Dr. Who Tardis, and some miniature cityscapes. Most were printed using PLA plastic, a few with ABS. Some were from the files provided with the printer, and others were test objects available from other sources such as the Thingiverse. Our success varied considerably between the objects; about five were beautifully rendered, most of the rest were of decent quality though with some flaws, and about four were basically ruined. (That doesn't count maybe a half dozen aborted starts.)
LAS VEGAS--With an updated Cube 3D printer, announced this morning, 3D Systems has demonstrated its commitment to improving the ease-of-use for consumer 3D printing.