Cube3-NOBG

Photo credit – Hep Svadja

Cube3_Makey-1

Cube 3 | cubify.com
Price as Tested $999
Build Volume 734×523×401mm
Bed Style Aluminum plate with bonded plastic top layer
Temperature Control? No
Materials Proprietary ABS or PLA
Print Untethered? via wi-fi or USB thumb drive
Onboard controls? Color touch screen
Software Cubify
Slicer Cubify
OS Windows / Mac / iOS / Android
Open Software? No
Open Hardware? No

The Cube 3’s feature checklist makes it stand out in a sea of new machines. Color touchscreen, printing over wi-fi or USB stick, printing from iOS or Android devices, autoleveling, auto-z-height calibration, and dual-color printing are all standard features.

New Nozzle with Every Cartridge

The Cube 3 only works with chipped, proprietary filament cartridges, which cost more and hold less plastic than spooled filaments, but each includes a completely new nozzle, minimizing the chance for jams.

Reliable Dual Extrusion

There is no other printer in this price range that offers dual-color capability with the ease and reliability I experienced with the Cube 3. I was able to take normal STL files, individually color parts of them, and have them print in dual colors without complicated alignment or tedious STL file merging. Printing in two colors is slow, but it’s hard to argue with the results, which were mostly good.

Nice Design, but Noisy and Slow

I’d estimate that it’s one of the noisiest machines we’ve tested — not something you want running while you watch TV. The case resonates, and it’s common for the various motors to attempt to move past their limits during initial (nonprinting) movements. Prints take a long time, but have a high success rate — a balance that makes sense for entry-level users.

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PRO TIPS
The intended surface preparation for prints is to put down a layer of the included CubeGlue prior to each print, and to wash that glue off between prints as it interferes with the optical bed-leveling routine. I was able to reuse the glue between a number of prints by skipping the leveling. With the glue I didn’t have any curling problems with large, lengthy prints.
WHY TO BUY
3D Systems third-generation Cube printer is a real contender for the home-printer-as-appliance crown. It knows when you install ABS or PLA cartridges, what color they are, and adjusts accordingly. It tells you how much filament you’ve used, so it’ll warn if you try to print something too large for what you have left.

The industrial design for the price is miles ahead of the competition. Integrated spool holders, optical bed leveling, integrated lighting, and the use of linear rails in a package this affordable has raised the bar. Special care was taken to ensure that it’s almost impossible for curious youngsters to get pinched or burned by the machine.

No Tweaking

The printer, software, and filament are all tightly controlled to simplify the experience. On the flip side, the quality you get won’t ever get better due to your own tweaking. The end user never sees actual G-code, and variables like temperature and speed are kept under wraps.

Conclusion

This is not a machine for people who want to tweak settings and chase the perfect print. The Cube 3 is for someone who wants to print, has no time to waste, and is willing to pay more for plastic for a toolchain that just works.