Just the idea of 3D printing is enough to get many people a lot more than intrigued – it’s downright exciting. EFTM has gone hands-on with the new CUBE 3D printer which is now available to buy from Officeworks across Australia.
The box is big, that’s gotta make the $1500 feel a little better, but when push comes to shove it’s a high price to pay to print out a few chess pieces or toys. That is the feeling until you start printing anyway.
Out of the box you get everything you need, however keep in mind that the “ink” (Plastic) cartridge that comes with it is a Neon colour (likely Green or Pink) so you’re going to want to consider the $60 purchase of a more subtle colour perhaps from the get-go.
Installation is relatively straight forward, the unit comes completely assembled apart from the glass plate which you print onto and the cartridge you need to insert.
Once you take a locking screw out of the cartridge you can feed out the plastic “wire” easily and push it into the print head. At first you’ll think it’s not working until the print head finally heats up and accepts the plastic ready for printing.
The small and dated looking display is in fact a touch-screen making most functions quite easy. However if your WiFi password is at least as complicated as it should be that’s a task for typing which is more time-consuming than you might hope.
Once configured though, you’re ready to go. Register online at the Cube website and after entering the product serial number you are emailed an activation code which is required just to get it working.
Next up you’ll download the Cube software for PC or Mac, as well as the free 25 designs that come with the purchase. A USB stick is included in the box at purchase and there are some designs on that, however the 25 designs give you a little more choice.
The Cube software is pretty simple to use, after loading a design you can scale it or move it about on the plate, and when you’re ready its time to print.
It’s easier to print by saving the file onto a USB and taking it to the printer than waiting for the software to find the printer on your network – and when it does there’s no guarantee from what I’ve seen tonight that it will successfully send the print design to the printer every time.
Both the software and the printer will give you an estimate of time the item will take. For some perspective the ring I printed with my son’s name on it took 25 minutes, the small train toy about 4cm in length took an hour and a half, so this is not for those in a hurry.
The Cube website has some amazing ideas and designs for download, from several hundred-dollar home-ware projects (you print pieces then assemble) to the cool online tool to design and customise rings and bracelets for kids.
There’s money to be spent here too, I found “Cloudy with a chance of meatballs” iPhone covers which you could completely design yourself but the download came at a price, literally – something like $41. NBA players can be printed in a variety of poses but the NBA want’s $69 from you for the pleasure.
So for now it’s back to the standard designs and some free 3D downloads online.
There is software available even for the iPad to create your own 3D models and for those with loads of time and patience it’s those things which will make this a fantastic purchase. For the rest of us, this is for showing off and having the coolest gadget on the block.
Here’s a quick selection of video I posted on instagram showing the process: