Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Bit More Detail About the CubeX

While I have not yet been able to see the CubeX in person,  I have found some additional information about the specs that may be of interest to those considering it.

I think the best way to address this new information is to start with what we DO know and work forward.  Obviously, the 3D Touch is a part of the lineage of the CubeX.  But, a lot of thought went into designing the CubeX to ensure major improvements for the user.

The CubeX Uses 1.75mm Filament

For me, one of the most significant changes is that the CubeX utilizes 1.75mm filament instead of 3mm.  I have used both, and absolutely prefer the 1.75 format.  The problem I've had with 3mm filament is that as we near the end of the spool, there is a significant amount of filament that is just wound so tightly that it really can become unusable.

1.75mm, like that used in the Cube and CubeX, is much more flexible.  So, based on my experience with the Cube, we should be able to avoid wasting as much filament due to tight winding issues.  

The CubeX Cartridges Offer Moisture Protection and Better Quality Control

I know that a lot of people are going to take issue with the fact that the CubeX uses proprietary cartridges instead of commonly available open spools.  I understand that.  Frankly, we all know that ounce for ounce, kilogram for kilogram, we are going to pay a bit more for filament.  But, per kilogram costs are not the only factor to consider when assessing value.

I live in the Mid-Atlantic and I can tell you from experience that summer's humidity is NOT a trivial issue when open filament sits around for very long.  Those of you that have read my Cube blog also know that it has been my experience that it is as easier to find sub-standard filament than premium quality filament.  Both of the factors have contributed to some frustrating printing inconsistencies.
 and clogs in the middle of a print job.  One of the reason I appreciate the Cube's cartridge design is that I simply do NOT run into those issues with the Cube.

Now, aborted prints might be acceptable for hobbyists.  But, this blog seeks to serve those that need a 3D printer to get a job done for income.  Time is money.  And, frankly, the more professional you are, the more valuable your time.  So, it doesn't take many 5 hour print jobs having to be restarted 3 hours into the print run due to humidity or poor quality filament to MORE than offset the differences in cost between spools and cartridges.

Remember, I now have two 3D printers... one relying on proprietary cartridges and the other generic spools.  And, I have become a believer in the value that cartridges bring to the table in spite of the slightly higher direct costs.  I have enough open spools that still have a significant amount of useless filament on them to fully embrace a 1.75mm cartridge.  That isn't marketing hype.  That is real experience talking.

The CubeX Offers Easier Material Handling

The print heads of the CubeX have been redesigned and, of course, filament is loaded from a cartridge.  The combined result is easier material handling.  Again, this is a "time is money" issue for busy companies that may have to change materials several times a day.  For me, the result is a better multiuser platform where several designers and fabricators need to use the same printer.  Like the Cube, the cartridges keep track of available material and alert the user so that a job does not end up being aborted for lack of material.

Possible Changes to Axon

I have not been able to talk directly to the project manager in charge of the software for the CubeX as yet.  So, I cannot tell you for sure that we will be able to turn rafts completely off as we can with the Cube.  But, since both the Cube and CubeX utilize a special glass printing surface I fully expect that we will finally be able to print without a raft if supports are not needed.

I have reason to believe that it is at least on the radar.  And, when I finally get to see the CubeX in person, hopefully in early to mid February,  it is going to be one of the first things I discuss with them.

While the two and three head machines can print soluble rafts and supports, if we can avoid them altogether, as is possible with the Cube, then that is a VERY good thing.

I am very excited about the CubeX.  But, as with everything meaningful, the proof will be in the hands on experience.  The fact that CubeX was awarded the Emerging Technology Award at CES 2013, going up against some stiff competition, tells me that I am probably not going to be disappointed.  Plus, I already had a lot of respect for the outgoing 3D Touch from personal experience.    :)

Part of my analysis will be to make sure that a not-for-profit organization that works with "at-risk" young people gets the best printer for their project needs.  I take that responsibility very seriously because we (I am a volunteer) will have to live with that decision for a long time and there are more than a few good possible choices. 

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