3D Systems Cube 3D Printer


  • An all new desktop 3D printer capable of two-color printing in both ABS and PLA plastics, at resolutions as fine as 70 microns. Design models up to 6 x 6 x 6″ in volume, and the Cube 3 will build them by melting plastic in thin sheets, depositing layer upon layer until they form a three-dimensional object.
  •   Filament for the Cube 3 comes in redesigned smart cartridges that detect the type and quantity of material in the cartridge, which prompts the Cube to adjust printing settings accordingly. Cube 3 cartridges come in over 20 colors, which can be blended in several hundred combinations when using the dual-jet capability.
  • Design your model in virtually any CAD software, and convert it to an .stl file for compatibility with the Cubify software. After the Cubify software converts your design to .cube3 format, transfer it onto the included USB stick and insert directly into your Cube, or send it wirelessly via Wi-Fi from your desktop or smartphone.
  • The Cube 3 Printer is recommended for children 8+ and meets IEC Home Printer Certification 60953 (TUV). When printing with ABS, ensure adequate ventilation, as the oil-based plastic gives off fumes when melted.
  • The fully-assembled Cube 3 comes with two PLA cartridges, typically neon green and white, but colors may vary. Also included are 25 free designs and a USB stick to help you start printing right out of the box.
  • Smart, Moisture-Lock Cartridges 3D Systems redesigned their filament cartridges expressly for the Cube 3. Instant-load cartridges with non-clog technology and moisture-lock construction preserve the life and quality of the materials. The printer detects material type automatically based on the cartridge, eliminating the need to change print settings. Cubify Software The Cubify software is a free download that converts .stl and .creation files into .cube3 format, which is the only format your Cube will print. Most CAD software can create .stl files, but if you have .obj or other file formats, you’ll need to convert them to .stl before using Cubify to convert them further into .cube3 format. The Cube software works on both Windows and Mac OS X.
  • Although the Cubify software lets you orient, scale, and add supports to your 3D model, it is not a design tool. Wired & Wireless Printing Transfer your completed designs to your 3D printer with the provided USB stick or via Wi-Fi from your desktop software. Precision & Print Mode The Cube 3 features an auto-leveling print pad that eliminates the human error possible with manual calibration. Your printer is also capable of very fine, precise printing at a 70-micron resolution – thinner than a piece of paper. Of course you can always choose faster printing, at 200 microns, when such detail isn’t necessary.


Should your school start using 3D Printers?

Initially, my answer was yes. Why not? It’s new technology. People are excited about it. There are seemingly endless possibilities with them. You design it, and it prints. But as more schools adopt 3D printing into their curriculum, I notice that they all run into similar challenges: usefulness and engagement. So now my answer has changed to a “Yes…but…”

The problem? If you are not teaching computer design, then the printer is essentially a knick-knack machine. Students need the software and skill set to produce quality designs that wont keep failing. Without some direction, students will waste filament with defective prints.

When we got our demo in the office we were so excited. We plugged it in, and immediately went to Thingiverse to print a bunch of stuff from their catalog. That was fun, but the novelty quickly wore out. We were spending 12+ hours on printing sub-par iPhone cases and pencil holders. Now if I were a parent and saw that the school had a 3D printer, I would be very excited. However, if the school was not providing the classes needed for the students to actually thrive in 3D printing, I would feel as if the school wasted their funding.

3D printing is without a doubt a huge step forward. I encourage schools to adopt 3D printing. But I can assure you that the students will begin to feel discouraged if they are unable to produce anything of real quality on their own. With that being said, CAD classes, 3D printing clubs, and open access to web-based CAD sites are crucial to unlocking the student potential with 3D printing.

***I should note that I thought about writing this several months ago when I visited Austin’s Thinkery (Children’s Museum, great place). They had a MakerBot 3D printer and we were invited to take a look to see if we could assist with the new product placement. Well–it turns out that the Museum really wasn’t using it. They didn’t have it set up in a dedicated room with computers loaded with CAD software. They literally didn’t know what to do with it. That’s my take home point. Get a game plan with the school. Talk about boosting STEM performance and legitimate engagement and interest from the students. It will happen…so long as their are mechanisms in place to help them understand the basics of 3D printing. 

3D Printing with ROBO 3D

New to the market is a really cool 3D printer, the ROBO 3D R1. There are several things worth noting that set this printer apart.

  1. It uses both ABS and PLA filament. No need to be bound to one plastic!
  2. It costs (on average) $1,500 LESS than the top shelf 3D printers…*coughMakerBotcough*
  3. It is fully supported on Windows 8

These three selling points are key to bringing 3D printing to your school. It is now more affordable, widely supported, and easier to use than ever! So if your school or district is looking for ways to boost STEM performance and engagement, start with a 3D printing lab!