The 3D Printing Revolution Has Begun

On 10th April 2012 after I flipped the switch to let Cubify.com start accepting pre-orders of the Cube, I immediately went ahead and placed the very first Cube order. I wanted to own the first Cube ever sold on this planet. 3D Systems started shipping the Cube on 25th May and mine was sent on that day. Today the FedEx guy dropped in with this.

The box contains a Cube, a neon green cartridge (containing the ABS filament spool), power adapter, USB cable (to connect the Cube to a computer), print pad (to print stuff on), magic Cube glue (to apply on the print pad before printing on it), Cube tube (to guide the filament), a putty knife (to clean the print pad and wash off the magic glue), a quick start guide explaining how to activate the Cube and USB stick containing three .cube files that you can directly print on the Cube.

After you plug the Cube into a power socket and start it by pressing the lone button, this is what you see.

After you tap the touch screen you are asked to enter a code to unlock the Cube.

This process is called activation and you can’t use the Cube unless you enter its activation code. You get the code after you add your Cube to your account at Cubify.com. So if you don’t have a Cubify account you will need to create one first. This is highly unlikely since the only way to purchase a Cube right now it through Cubify.com and to do that you need to have an account. But if you want to gift the Cube to someone else by shipping it to them directly, they will need to create a Cubify account to start using it.

Getting the activation code at Cubify.com is a breeze. I designed it. 😉 Simply log in and pick “Activate my Cube” from the “My Cubify” menu.

You will be taken to a page to enter your Cube’s serial number.

The serial number is listed on a plate stuck to the back of the Cube. After you enter it twice and click the “Activate” button you get your activation code.

After you tap the activation code on the Cube, it gets activated and you enter the main menu. Activation is a one time process.

My boys were waiting impatiently to see something printing. So instead of starting the Cube Client software, importing something and setting it up I decided to simply print one of the .cube files on the USB stick what came with the Cube. So without further delay I glanced through the simple instructions in the use guide. I applied the magic glue to the print pad, placed it on the print pad arm, threaded the filament through the Cube tube, locked the cartridge into place and inserted the other end of the filament into the print jet. This took me less than a minute. I then tapped the “Print” icon and selected the Rook.cube file from the USB stick and the Cube got to work.

Now some of you may think that I know a thing or two about 3D printing. Heck, I co-founded and sold a company called Print3D whose sole purpose was 3D printing, right? Truth be told, I have never ever operated any device that had anything even remotely linked to 3D printing. I’m a software guy. All my information about 3D printing is from listening to people, reading stuff and watching videos. So in that sense I’m very much a consumer and not a geek when it comes to setting up and operating 3D printing hardware.

I’ve had very little to do with the engineering of this wonderful device. However, over the past few months I have been on a number of conference calls with the folks at 3D Systems because the Cube user experience was closely tied to Cubify.com, which is my responsibility. I can tell you that a lot of importance was given to user experience because contrary to the other 3D printers that the company has built over the past couple of decades, the Cube is meant to be used by a totally different kind of person. Someone like me who doesn’t have a clue about how 3D printing works and what is needed to get it to work. The goal was to design, engineer and manufacture a 3D printer for the home. And I can tell you that in that respect 3D Systems has hit the ball out of the park.

Today my boys aged 4 and 8 can pick something they like on Cubify.com, I can have it personalized by clicking a few buttons and I can print it myself in my home with a device that sits next to my laptop in my bedroom. That device has one button with a touch screen, that’s all. It’s got a USB port to plug it into my computer and is WiFi enabled as well. I believe one day I will be able to send it a .cube file through my smart phone, if not already. Of course, I can take a STL file from anywhere, import it into the free Cubify Client software and print it directly to my Cube. Which is what I intend to do next.

My congratulations goes out to the awesome team at 3D Systems. Guys, we have done it. The 3D printing revolution has begun.

 

  • Thanks Deelip, very interesting to see the process from receiving to printing. It is clear that the Cube is a “proper” product.  That print time would be 2 hours and 2 minutes?

  • Yes, that’s 2 hours and 2 minutes.

    Looks like we need to tweak the build time estimation a little. The Cube initially reported a build time of 1 hour 22 minutes.

    Actually, I’m quite impressed with the surface finish of these prints. I had a touch time getting good closeups with my camera. The neon green color used to mess with the auto focus of the camera.

    IMO, for the level of detail that’s required by consumers, this is perfect.

    • Janne

      Go print the Macedonia bracelet and create a nice excuse for your wife to let u play with it 24-7:-)

  • Donceod

    as long as no step support is available, unfortunately unusable..

    •  Ah! Now you are getting on to my side off the business – data exchange. A lot has been done and there’s a lot more that needs to be done.

      I guess STEP/IGES file support has been pushed down the priority list because any CAD system that can spit out a STEP or IGES file can also write out a STL file.

  • Ralph Grabowski

    Why does hardware need an auth code? It’s not like you can make digital copies of it…

    Oh, wait. Now you can.

  • Asher N

    Congrats !

    You can download tons of STL files from thingiverse.com

    Here are my 90+ designs , all for free:

    http://www.thingiverse.com/Dizingof/things

    Dizingof

  •  Thanks Deelip, another cool stuff about 3D printing. Hope you don’t mind if I use your pictures on my blog – with a described source and direct link, for sure?

  • Billy Zelsnack
  • Florian Horsch

    Hey Billy – quite interesting that a $300 DIY printer is faster and gains better quality than a commercial one… good job man!

  • Riley’s Dad

    We just launched the Cube here at the DCS/r-Lab with about 15 kids and parents and even some friends from Stanford VLAB coming over.

    The Cube started without a hitch and gave us a great demonstration of what “turn-key” printing should be. out of the box, plug it in, load the media and print a Rook!

    The cube really takes a lot of the mystery and fuss out of the physical act of making a 3D print.

  • Steve

    Hi Deelip,

    I posted a link to this article on our FB page, great article!

  • Pete@adobe.com

    Just got my Cube and I type in my activation code and all it says is “INCORRECT” But it is the code I was given in the web site. Since you’re the one who designed it, do you have any advice? Noone seems to be answering the phones at the moment…..

    • I’m trying to get to the bottom of this. Please drop me a line at deelip (dot) menezes (at) 3dsystems (dot) com

  • Jing Qian

    Hi, i wonder that if I get the printer , my friend signed up with the cubify website . Would they be able to download the 3D file and send them to me to download them?

  • Don’t whatever you do buy one of these things for someone as a gift.

    My wife just bought me one. Love the idea, but have no time for a new hobby. Guess what?

    They now say they don’t accept returns. Not even on an unopened item that was delivered yesterday! No luck calling customer support either: they’re hiding behind an IVR!