Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A CubeX Review from

Aside from some errors in reporting the pricing, the most interesting review, so far, of the new CubeX at CES, was posted on

Of particular interest were the pictures that they've posted, of the CubeX in action.

Those of us that have to kibitz from afar for now, must be content to glean what we can from images that others post.  But, there are a few things in the gallery of images that I would like to point out.

Gallery Image #1:  The Print Area is MASSIVE

The opening image shows a person holding a globe in their hands.  The hands and the globe give us some perspective on the size of the globe.  Then in another picture, we see that same globe and the CubeX apparently having finished printing a baskeball.  The globe is tiny by comparison!
Gallery Images #2 & #10:  Trio CubeX Cartridge Observations

What strikes me in this image is that the CubeX cartridges seem beefy.  The fact that they have a handle, I hope, means that they are hefty and filled to capacity.  A big printer, printing big objects, requires lots of filament.  Also, I trust these cartridges will allow us the same ease of installing filament that we have with the Cube.

Now for the evidence... notice that only one color seems to have been used, even though three heads were available.  Does this mean that a single cartridge was used to print the massive basketball?  That took a LOT of filament!  And, note the fidelity of the shape of the basketball without supports!  It seems perfect from the image.

I failed to point out in my earlier article on the CubeX that the Cartridges are humidity resistant.  The effects of humidity on open spools of filament are well known.   It's going to be interesting to see how the cartridges solve this problem.  And, that is only going to be known after we've had a few partially cartridges sitting around for a while before using them again.

Gallery Image #3:  The Z-Axis Control Appears to be based on a Single Threaded Rod

If you look at the center, toward the back of this image, you see a single lifting rod.  I'm just guessing here.  But, it appears that all the other connections to the bed are simply for stability.  If this is true, then I am all for it.  The more threaded rods, the more potential for Z-Axis wobble.  The Cube has been excellent in this regard and I'm trusting that the CubeX will follow suit.  

Gallery Image #4:  The Touchpad is Familiar and Informative

As one that has the original Cube and the RapMan 3.2, the touchpad is very familiar and informative.  One of the things this image communicates is that naming conventions, for your parts, are going to be very important.  In this case, without even knowing what the part is, I can tell it is probably an iPad Holder ("iPadHld") that was processed to be printed in PLA ("PLA_") at .25mm ("25m").  It also tells me that the optimal temperature for the PLA of the color (Perhaps "27"???) they are using is 220C.  If the "14hr" is any indicaton, this is a good sized iPad Holder!  :)
When you have multiple choices, it's helpful to develop a naming convention that helps you know exactly how to set up the printer.

Gallery Images #7, #8 and #9: Some Samples are Amazingly Detailed and Intricate

Wow!  the detail on the cathedral is amazing!  I assume that is an example of the best resolution and, hence, the slowest print times.  But, I can put up with slow to get that kind of detail.  Take a look at the windows in sample image #8!  Amazing!  I love it!

So, here is the unknown question....  From look of it, it appears to me that no supports were required for the Cathredral.  I could be VERY wrong.  But, I don't see the tell-tale blemishes left by supports.  But, remember, the CubeX prints in both PLA and ABS.  So, this building could be ABS with PLA supports that have been dissolved.  This is something that I will definitely ask about when I see the 3D Systems people later this month at Hagley Museum.

In the meantime, I'll simply drool over that kind of capability and ponder how to save up the pennies to buy one.

 Gallery Image #12:  I Hope What I see Goes Away

Ok.  It's cool to be able to print a globe in multiple colors.  But, if you know anything about my obsession with getting the best out of my 3D printers, you'll know that I even use a microscope to analyze the quality.  But, I don't need a microscope to see that I've got some questions about the smoothness of the surface of the globe.

Hopefully, this is something that will be completely gone in the production printers.  This WAS the case with the Cube.  The samples printed by the development Cubes at last year's CES were prone to some surface irregularities.  But, I have NOT experienced that with my production Cube.  While I expect the final output to be smoother than what I see in these images, it's still worth noting so we can judge the progress as we get closer to releasing production machines.

Gallery Images #5 and #6:  Some evidence of Warping on the Base

It's hard to know what is going on in images #5 and #6.  Again, these are prototype machines in a very unfriendly printing environment.  But, it appears to me that there is some warping of the piece being printed. And, there is also evidence that there is some artifacting where the print heads reverse direction... which is common with extrusion printers.  Again, it's nothing to worry about at this point.  But, it is something that I plan to follow up on when I get to see a CubeX for myself since it is imperative that we fully understand the capabilities of the CubeStick and Glass combination for ABS.

But, what if it IS an issue?  From the design of the CubeX, I don't think it would be very difficult to adapt a nice looking addition to make it a completely enclosed print area to minimize environmental effects on the printing.

Final Thanks and Observations

I want to thank TheVerge.Com for their article and gallery.  I hope taking some time to view those images in detail has been as helpful to you as it has to me.  While I see some things that still need tweaking, the images of the Cathedral print are nothing less than stunning!  I can't believe how fast things have moved in just this past year and look forward to equally rapid advances in the coming year.

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