3D Systems has been busy. In early December they announced their acquisition of Village Plastics Co., a leading manufacturer of filament-based ABS, PLA and HIPS and last week they acquired Gentle Giant Studios, with a vast library of digital content. Today, they announced their latest Cube 3 and CubePro desktop 3D printers and Cubify 2.0, a consumer-focused platform for hosting licensed, branded 3D printable content for retail, merchandising or at home printing.
Dual extrusion, multimaterial printing + autoleveling – under $1,000
In our 2014 Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing, our testers made some recommendations to printer vendors, stating that “Automating functions like platform and nozzle leveling go a long way to solving the issues faced by all 3D printer users, particularly beginners.” We are pleased to see that 3D Systems has added an auto-leveling bed to the Cube 3.
Other features of the Cube 3 include: simultaneous multi-material and dual-color printing in ABS and PLA, meets IEC 60950 printer safety requirements (making it “kid friendly”), an “instant load” cartridge system, faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity and boasts speeds that are “up to 2X faster than other alternatives.”
Like it’s predecessors, the Cube and Cube 2, the Cube 3 is closed-source, has a touchscreen interface and comes without a heated bed, using 3D Systems proprietary “Cube glue” to keep ABS prints adhered to the bed. The Cube 3 has a sleek updated look, a color touchscreen, and LED backlit panels that glow to illuminate prints in progress. It also has a finer print resolution or 75 microns and can print “on-the-go” using the new Cubify Print3D mobile app for iOS, Android, & Windows.
Until recently, there has been a steep drop off when entering the small, sub-$1,000 3D printer realm. By introducing a dual extrusion, multimaterial printing printer with an autoleveler for under $1,000, 3D Systems has set the bar at a whole new level for 2014.
Triple extrusion, multimaterial printing, huge print volume under $5,000
In addition to the Cube 3, the CubePro also joins the 3D Systems family. At “under $5,000″, it’s aimed at the prosumer market and features a triple extruders, a enclosed “climate-controlled chamber”, 75 micron print resolution “easy feed cartridges” and a huge print volume of 10.8” x 10.45” x 9.5” (or 275 mm x 265 mm x 240 mm). That’s 2.5 times larger than any other desktop printer and large enough to print a regulation basketball.
Like the Cube 3, it can also use the Cubify mobile app and is scheduled to ship during the second quarter of 2014.
If two new printers weren’t enough, 3D Systems has also redesigned their Cubify site into a complete 3D printed lifestyle platform. It now features a variety of categories such as, “mancave”, entertainment, home decor, kids and fashion to appeal to a wide variety of consumers.
More to Come
With this host of new machines, a new platform, new app releases and a dual extrusion, multimaterial printer with autoleveling for under $1,000, 3D Systems is changing consumer’s expectations of what they can expect in a affordable desktop 3D printer. Although the Cube 3 currently uses only ABS and PLA, with 3D Systems acquisition of Village Plastics, and two new printers with “multimaterial capabilities” can the introduction of HIPS be far behind?
There are rumors that there is much more to come from 3D Systems to be unveiled tomorrow at 2014 International CES. I’ll be there on the floor shortly, reporting for MAKE, live blogging and tweeting via @akaziuna. Stay tuned for updates.