Printing goes next gen: Cube 3D printer reviewed

When it’s done, you should resist the urge to rip or even pry the plastic model from the glass plate. Not only is it a bad idea, but you risk breaking the model. Trust us, we managed to tear the bottom of a tiny tea cup in the process.

Rather, fill up the kitchen or bathroom sink with warm water and plunge the plate in. Once the hot water comes into contact with both the plastic and the glue on the glass, it will loosen up and allow you to pull it from the pad, leaving you with a model.

And don’t worry about the water on the plastic, because the plastic model is water resistant.

In fact, while the pad is in the water, add some detergent or soap and give it a little wash, because that’s how you remove the glue and prepare the glass pad for use again, cleaning and drying it before you put it back to use in the Cube 3D printer.

When you free the model from the glass, you’ll likely see a flat plastic residue connecting the object that reminds you of velcro.

This appears to be a thin base for all the plastic models to adhere to which can be easily detached and throw away.

The term “easy” here is a loose one, mind you, as some models are especially hard to remove this layer, and other require the trimming of the plastic edges with a filing tool.

We found that if you’re going to print something, make sure that the bottom of the model is attached to this section by changing the rotation in the 3D printer settings, otherwise you may end up with a fuzzy and pointy 3D print.

Over to the models, you’ll find that with some small details, the printer struggles, creating thin points that don’t look good up close. On other models, the work is extraordinary, with the thin lines working together to make patterns that look like brick work and clear shapes.

For the most part, this seems dependent on the model itself, though the size you print at also seems to come into play, so if something small is looking a little clumsy, increase the size of the printed model and try again.

Some models also send a little poorly on “strong” mode, with plastic at the top almost looking like it had burned or melted through. We’re not sure why this happens, though given that this is the first generation of this technology, imagine it’ll be fixed up as newer 3D printers come out, and patches are made.

The owl is a little freaky up close...

Learning curve

When it works, the Cube 3D printer is a revelation, providing the first version of what can only be the next generation of printing technology.

At the moment, we’re printing simple things, and unnecessary things at that.

We don’t need a three dimensional GadgetGuy logo, for instance, but it’s still cool to have. I don’t need to print a tiny white Weighted Companion Cube (from the game “Portal 2”), but as a geek, I still love knowing that I can.

But there are websites devoted to things you can actually use and print for yourself, including smartphone cases, watch stands, jewellery, toys, and random objects to fill your home.

At one point, we even printed a bottle opener on the solid setting, and it even worked, opening a bottle after trying carefully not to break it. We can’t imagine opening more than four bottles before this thing snaps, but it’s still cool knowing something we printed opened something we had bought.

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  1. Big regrets buying this product. The appearance of the product gives the impression that it is easy to use, but overall it is not a product ready for market. I spent so many hours replacing parts and jury rigging the machine to justify the investment I made, but to no avail. Had to replace the print head because it would not feed filament. But no better luck using the replacement head in that it is nearly impossible to get plastic to flow. 3DSystems employs a chip to ensure you use their overpriced filament cartridges. But the prongs on the machine are very fragile – meant for cell phone battery not contact with to a big heavy filament cartridge – you are stuck with an unusable printer. I had to take the whole unit apart and start soldering new contacts on to get the unit to recognize the cassette. Finally 3D Systems requires you to use their special Cubestick rather than using a heated platform that all other printers employ. Too much or too little glue won’t work and if the glue dries while you struggle to load the filament, the printed part will move and you end up with a birdsnest of tangled filament instead of a printed part. Buyer beware.

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